Laughing off homeschool mama guilt: can it be done?
I have a hard time laughing off parenting fails (said every homeschool mom, but definitely me).
But when I shared a genuine parenting fail with a friend, she laughed. She laughed!
I knew my heart was safe with her because she didn’t see my parenting fail as I did.
I also knew her well enough that I knew she would agree: I really didn’t approach my child the right way. (The combination of the two made her laugh seem all the more surprising!) So how to deal with homeschool mama guilt?
My friend’s laugh wasn’t a laugh of mockery.
What I heard in her laugh, and what I learned afterward from her, was that I surprised her because it didn’t strike her that I would approach my child like THAT.
(Even I surprised MYSELF in my parenting fail moment. Welcome to parenting! You don’t do as you thought you would do before you were a parent.)
Her laugh spoke to me: “Relax, you made a mistake. Oh well! Your ineffective parenting strategy was not a sign that you should self-condemn, heaping tons of mama guilt onto yourself. Accept your reality: you’re a human, also a parent. You’ll make mistakes.”
So how do we deal with homeschool mama guilt?
Being honest in moments of parental indiscretion keeps us humble (& also keeps us from judging other parents, because we know we’re not in a special league).
I won’t write an authoritative parenting book. I might be Mother Teresa (Teresa is my first name, ha), but I’ll never live up to the perception of that icon. (Just ask my kids, wait, on the other hand, don’t.)
So when a different mama shared her guilty feelings with me: that she wasn’t measuring up (a gentle mom who stops to chat with her child whenever her child enters the room, answers questions with patience, doesn’t seem to get annoyed by the noise of her children playing loudly), and she suggests she’s probably not spending enough time playing games with her kids, I quickly tell her not to buy into mama guilt.
Guilt doesn’t propel us to make useful choices.
In fact, we’re more likely to hide when we allow ourselves to be consumed by guilt. We’re less likely to make intentional choices and shift in a healthier direction.
And that’s actually what we NEED to do when we’re making a parenting choice that makes us feel guilty.
Yes, we all have reasons to feel guilt.
Sometimes we feel guilt because it is earned: our parenting choice really wasn’t the wisest one & we know it. (And I don’t need to give you an example here, because you already know to what I am referring. It’s the thing that you thought of when you began to read this article).
Sometimes we feel guilty because we are attempting to appease our unrealistic expectations (and sometimes others’ expectations).
Sometimes it’s a mix of both.
Mama guilt will do nothing to propel us to learn what we need to become the homeschool mamas we want to be.
Instead, we can decide that maybe there’s something we need to grow in, maybe we need to do the internal work that helps us to show up on purpose, in a way that we’re even proud of ourselves.