Have you ever experienced soul-crushing mommy guilt?
Immediately upon writing that sentence, I rolled my eyes…
What a ridiculous question.
For some unknown reason, being a mom and feeling guilty go together like wet goes with water.
It sucks, but it’s true. And it is to you, the overwhelmed guilt-ridden mom (or dad, if you feel it applies to you) who longs for permission to pursue her soul’s purpose but feels like sh*t every time she tries, that I dedicate this article.
When you stop and think about it, the idea of a woman having a right and responsibility to create a satisfying life for herself is mind-blowingly new for our species.
For millennia, women have been relegated to the backseat of society, almost completely stripped of any value outside of being a mother or object of sexual fascination and satisfaction. (Hey look! Boobies!)
Hell, just 60 years ago, I would have needed my husband’s permission and signature to open up my own bank account… and write this article.
Reflecting on this helps me realize that we’ve come a long way, ladies. We should feel proud. But the fight ain’t over yet.
There’s one more antiquated notion we’ve got to flush down the toilet we don’t have time to scrub if we’re going to reach the egalitarian utopia of our dreams.
As mothers, we must banish and stop buying into the ideas that…
1. In order to be a “good” mom, you must sacrifice everything you desire in order to responsibly take care of your kids, and
2. In order for your kids to be happy and healthy, you must fill their every need, even at the expense of your own.
This is an outrageously terrible and damaging way to view being a mother.
Yes, it’s our responsibly to care for the needs of our children. But that doesn’t negate our absolute responsibility to empower ourselves and live meaningful lives. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
And up there on the “Hey, this is an incredibly important life skill!” list is the need for our sons and daughters to know how to look within, discover their talents and then do something with them. Something fun and exciting. Something that’s all their own.
How can we teach our kids to live bold, happy lives of purpose, when we cannot or will not do it for ourselves?
How can we guide them into self-expression and wholeness when we aren’t doing the work in our own lives?
Being a mother isn’t indentured service. You didn’t sign your right to be a beaming, electrifying Lady-boss away, just because you decided to procreate.
Yes, progress has been made. We can buy and own houses and open our own bank accounts. But we still haven’t moved past this pathetically antiquated definition of what it means to be a “good” mom. It just doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did at all).
It’s lead us to “helicopter” parenting, over-protecting, and socially engineering our children’s lives in the worst way possible.
It’s made our kids self-doubting, insecure and suspicious of life. It’s the direct opposite of teaching them self-reliance, love and strength.
So what are we going to do about this? I offer this solution:
As you embark in your own journey into exploring and expressing your dreams each day, take your child on the journey within with you. Let them have their own experience and adventure right by your side.
Stop seeing your journey into Self as a burden on your family. Your authentic expression of who you are and what you want to accomplish in this world are some of the greatest blessings you could ever give your loved ones, particularly your child.
Your child is not and does not want to be your reason for not expressing your fullest potential.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to go out there and set the world on fire or your a failure. Many women feel their purpose is fulfilled precisely by being a mother. To them, I tip my hat. You go, sister!
But if you long from something in addition to your motherhood, then have the courage to show your children what following your heart looks like. Give them good principles and a good role model of what it is to live them.
In my own life I know this to be true; my daughter is infinitely better off with me showing her the messy business of dream-chasing like a champion, than she is with me checking the boxes of what society tells me I should be doing as a mother.
I trust her enough to let her see me at my best and worst. She’s watched me fail in my business and personal endeavors, cry like a baby, and celebrate the sweetest hard fought victories.
She’s seen me stumble and fall, brush that sh*t off, and keep on moving. And, yes, I let her see it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because now that kid knows. She’s not sheltered, nor is she scared. She’s prepared for battle. And because of it, she can’t be beaten and she’ll never be anyone’s fool.
She understands that the world is a tough place sometimes, but it can never claim victory over the indomitable will of the Human Spirit while committed to its purpose.
When you are aligned and living your calling, things may shake you, but they can never break you. This is one of the most profound and important truths we can teach our little ones.
Give that gift to your child. What they need, more than a perfectly planned Pinterest birthday party, is to witness the Light of your Soul in all of its magnificence, brilliance and glory.
It’s sacred presence in their life, not your guilt-induced self-sacrifice, will serve as the unshakable foundation they build their life on, until they are strong enough to find and shine a light of their own.
And that’s motherhood at its finest.
Yes, it’s a tough balancing act, but I know you’re up for it. You’ve made it this far carrying the baggage of mommy generations past. Just imagine how far you will go now without it!
Author: Heather Alice Shea
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Kourtlyn Lott/Flickr