I’m sure you have heard someone say it. Perhaps you have even said it. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you have at least thought it. The words, “I’m a bad mom.”
Yes. There are “bad moms” in the world - moms that have abandoned, abused, or even murdered their own children. These are the moms that shouldn’t have been ones in the first place as they didn’t steward the gift of life that children are.
If you are wondering if you are a bad mom, the fact that you are even wondering that means that you aren’t. Yes, there are bad moms. But I doubt that you are one of them.
The truth is, even the world’s best mom is a beautifully blundered one. Because at her very core, she is selfish, prideful, and possesses limited amounts of patience and grace. She is sinful. She is human. And she needs Jesus. And if we are being honest with ourselves, there is an overarching “she” in all of us.
(Yes, that’s right. We are sinful. We are human. And we need Jesus.)
Now, I’ve been guilty of not only thinking and saying the words, “I’m a bad mom,” but also wondering if the lie was refutable.
I mean, my list is pretty long…
I’ve accidentally clipped their tiny Newborn fingernails a little too short and they let out the saddest of cries.
I’ve ran their bath water a little too hot and set them in the bathtub before checking the water temperature – accidentally scalding the bottoms of their feet.
I’ve let them “cry it out” and wondered if I was creating any long-term emotional damage.
I’ve had upset dishes and one-year-olds and I comforted the dishes instead.
I’ve been exhausted by them. And frustrated with them.
I’ve lost my patience. And my joy.
I’ve reacted instead of responded.
I’ve disciplined without first giving myself my own time-out.
I’ve spoken to them a little too loudly, a little too harshly, and a little too impatiently.
I’ve let their poor behavior bring out my own.
I’ve said, “No” when it wouldn’t have hurt for me to say, “Yes.”
I’ve made them finish their supper when in fact they really were full (as well as sick) as it all came back up later.
I didn’t look when they urged me to and I failed to see them jumping, climbing, or catching the ball.
I’ve been more concerned about making sure the toys got put away than actually engaging the children with them.
I didn’t finish the book, craft, or game that I said we would later, because “later” was trumped by baths, brushing teeth, and bedtime.
I’ve rushed bedtime and omitted snuggling, stories, and singing in order to get to bed myself.
I threw something of theirs away that I called “trash” that they deemed “treasure.”
I threatened some form of consequence and then never followed through.
I followed through on some form of consequence that I shouldn’t have threatened.
I put off scheduling their dentist appointments, to find out they had a cavity.
I simply forgot to schedule (or to show up at) their well-child exam.
And we aren’t quite there yet, but I’m sure there will come the day when I’ll miss a game, a recital, or a special performance because of unforeseen circumstances.
Yes, I’ve had my fair share of “I’m a bad mom” moments…
And I’m sure by now your own guilt, shame, and regret has taken over and you are wishing for your own moments - along with their feelings – to leave you the heck alone. (And yes, I said, “heck” because a Pastor’s wife shouldn’t swear.)
In the last couple of years, I’ve turned the page when it comes to this topic. When my “bad mom” moments occur (and occur they do), I choose to extend grace to myself – the same kind that I would want my husband or my children to extend to me. I choose to not bathe myself in the guilt, shame, or regret of those moments. I choose to welcome His mercies that “begin afresh each morning” (Lam. 3:23) - and fail forward.
What I mean by that is since I’m flawed and sinful by nature, I’m going to mess up! Again and again. And I’m going to ask for forgiveness. Again and again. And I’m going to extend grace to myself. Again and again.
Philippians 3:14, 15 says it perfectly, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I have committed to fail forward. It has been incredibly humbling to get down to my children’s level and explain that their behavior shouldn’t affect my own. I’ve had to apologize to them and ask for forgiveness from them.
I have come to the realization that I am beautifully blundered. And so are you.
So, let’s fail forward! When we make mistakes, let’s learn from them. Let’s apologize and ask for forgiveness. And when we make a mess, let’s make it right!
The only way you can be a bad mom is if you stop being one altogether. Do not neglect doing the one thing that only YOU get to do.
I’ll leave you with this when it comes to entertaining those “I’m a bad mom” thoughts of yours…
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
You are not a bad mom. Don’t you dare think it. Don’t you dare say it.