A Sobering Moment: Guilt to Grace

Monday April 4, 2011

I sat at the keyboard with one ear trained on the little boys in the next room. Armed with their little trays and butter tubs full of Cheerios, they had settled down to watch Reading Rainbow.

I could stand and take three steps and see both of them. I could hear the slightest noise from the next room. They were busy and happy. Surely I could take thirty minutes to get some writing done. I had a deadline, after all.

A few minutes passed with my eyes riveted to the screen, my fingers flying. Then I heard oh-so-close to my ear, “Mama.” No panic, no fear, just “Mama.”

I blinked and looked to my left and my 2 ½ year old looked at me earnestly. “Mama. Come,” he said.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“No.” He shook his head. Then he grabbed my hand from the keyboard as he repeated, “Mama. Come.”

He pulled me up, still holding my hand, walking me into the next room. He sat behind his little tray with the Cheerios and stared at the TV, still holding my hand. After a few minutes (probably once he was convinced I was going to stay), he dropped my hand and smiled at me.

That moment is seared in my memory. It was a sobering one, the perfect source for some mom guilt. What was I thinking – ignoring my boys?

It was a bit of a wake-up call. Sometimes they just need Mama – not because something’s wrong, not because they need help … just because.

What better reason to be there for them?

It’s true today, too. Sometimes I get a call – just because. No crisis, no request for funds … just because.

We’ve all dealt with mom guilt. Instead of getting caught in the guilt of the moment, wallow instead in the grace of it. The epiphany that comes can serve to make us better at our mothering, if we let it.

What about you? Can you remember a moment that turned mom guilt into grace?


Jean Wise said...

My kids were almost adults so I left for the weekend to lead a retreat. Yes I felt guilty for leaving the entire weekend. At the closing worship service, both girls surprised me by attending. It took my breath away to see them and all of us singing praises together. What a mom moment

Heidi @ Decor & More said...

Just had one this weekend-- thinking my 16 year old was in a pretty good place emotionally after some trauma {can't I will it to be so?} and realizing--abruptly--that I need to tune in. Praying for wisdom and discernment here. Sometimes we have to be humbled to have our eyes opened.

Unknown said...

sometimes i have to say no to the boys - usually board games - due to work. but seeing/hearing them play with their dad is priceless. in today's society, kids get so little time with their dads. so when they can play, i let the guilt go and marvel in the grace afforded me.

Jennifer Fink said...

I think the other part of this is that we need to trust -- we need to trust our kids to let us know what they need, and we need to trust ourselves to respond. Were you doing a bad thing by getting some work done? Absolutely not. Your boys were fine -- until they were not. Then, your son sought you out. And you, as mother, recognized his true need and responded. That's the grace.

Shell said...

I have such mama guilt. I work from home and I admit that sometimes I tell my boys "not right now" and then I look at their little faces and realize what I'm doing.

Victoria said...

I have a lot of mom guilt too... I guess we all do. It's hard to not automatically blame ourselves, whether the issue is time, money, or even those little mishaps kids have. For me it's definitely a work in progress... Thanks for the reminder to use the guilt as an opportunity to better ourselves instead of internalizing it and letting it get to us.

Ann Kroeker said...

Love this story! I wrote a chapter along these lines in my book Not So Fast, about slowing down in our fast-paced world. Like you, I had writing work, but when he sweetly beckoned, I slowed down to love, to play, to be with my son.

Karen said...

Oh, Laura, yes, who hasn't. They become our teachers, don't they?

Tonya said...

I think every mom in the world has had some sort of mom guilt. My little one has been wanting more of my time lately, so I try to make sure that I make a conscious effort to spend quality, memorable moments with him throughout the day.

I enjoy your blog and I'm your newest follower!

Shonya said...

Thanks so much for this reminder--from a mom who's still in the trenches! :)

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