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I met Shelly Wyrick, author of Dear Mimi, From Mama, on the Blogger Link-Up email newsletter. I am so glad that God put it in my little brain to pound out an email to her. I have been looking for advice on transitioning from one to two kids, and Shelly was just the mom. I mean, just wait until you read her words. It’s like she is giving you a virtual hug and telling you it’s going to be ok. And, all of her posts are this heartfelt! My only problem…I’m still trying to figure out how to do it with one. Gulp.
Having a second child brings a flurry of emotion: anticipation, a little fear, love- yes just as much love as overflowed with the first. And for me – there was guilt.
Guilt came like tsunami when I had my second child. A month after he arrived, I remember parking the car as I got ready to enter our church. Up until then, I had always carried my daughter across parking lots. I got out and set the baby, in his car carrier, next to some bushes, and unbuckled the toddler. I explained that Mama didn’t know if she was strong enough to carry both of them. She cheerfully replied “It’s okay mama, just do your best!” It’s so annoying to me when they use your advice on you. In effort to show integrity, I attempted the feet, holding a toddler in the left and a car seat carrier in the right. With arms quivering from muscular tetany, I barely made it to the sidewalk before my left biceps gave way and the two year old slid to the ground- what I’d give for four upper appendages.
And on it went for the next 5 months. I couldn’t read enough to her, and wasn’t cuddling him as much as I should. I was resorting to TV in ways that made me feel delinquent. When my eldest started having nightmares I was sure I had caused them. The baby wasn’t hitting the milestones the first had, and the older occasionally stuttered- that was me too. I even turned the baby’s easy demeanor into a source of guilt. I convinced myself that when he lay there happily doing nothing it was only because he had become accustomed to being ignored. There was so much I could do better. I even felt guilty for wanting a break and got little satisfaction from any time I was able to sneak away.
I sought solace in friends who sympathized, but offered no help. “Oh,” they’d tort with a chuckle, “I feel that way all the time!”
Here’s my experience with guilt. First, it can have a purpose. You can boil it down and use it to be a better mom. If it weren’t for a little failure, we wouldn’t strive so hard to improve.
But be careful, because it’s like the spinach I hide in lasagna. A little serves a Popeye purpose. But if you add a smidge too much, it takes over the meal and suddenly no one will eat what you’ve just spent half the day preparing. Too much guilt will consume you. And it’s a lie. God doesn’t call us to be shuffling around with our head hung low feeling like we’ve failed our families. That’s false guilt – and dare I suggest even a sin to believe. Wallowing in self guilt is still wallowing in self. Get that. Wallowing in self guilt is still wallowing in self. Our parenting isn’t supposed to be about pleasing ourselves, but I believe it’s supposed to please Someone bigger.
The point- I’m not perfect. My parenting is not perfect. I can either wallow in my imperfection, of give it to God, allowing Him to make me into a better mom.
I’m choosing Him.
Shelly Wyrick, MPT (Mama Pour Trois) is a play-at-home mom of three and freelance writer. For her meanderings in motherhood visit her blog at www.DearMimiFromMama.blogspot.