Of all the things about adulthood that I didn’t expect, susceptibility to Mom Guilt is probably the most surprising to me.

Healthline defines Mom Guilt as the pervasive feeling of not doing enough as a parent, not doing things right, or making decisions that may “mess up” your kids in the long run.

Urban Dictionary adds a bit of flavor: Guilt a mother feels anytime she takes time to do something for herself, outside of work, that does not involve her children.

I am not a person who coexists with regrets. While I certainly have my moments of despair, my natural mindset is how do I deal with now or what is the next best step right now. I guess because I am a project manager at heart. I like maps and outlines and project plans. I like confidence and I like decisiveness. And maybe above all I like clarity, both in how it’s going and where it’s going.

Parenthood comes with the complete opposite of all those things.

The opposite of plans and clarity is way, way, way outside my comfort zone. And being way outside my comfort zone on the most important job I have just doesn’t feel good. And so Mom Guilt gets a little traction in my brain and before I know it I’m laying awake at 3 am wondering if the decisions I’ve made will result in humans who are go-getters or who are spoiled or who feel stifled or who are self-aware or who can think for themselves or who are paralyzed when it’s time to make a decision.

Worse: will my not loving (or understanding even a tiny little bit) the 876th hilarious TikTok they’ve shown me today result in children who don’t want to share things with me?

Or even worse: will my refusal to cave to a last-minute activity request result in an 18-year-old who tattoos profanity all over her body before she runs off to the Lollapalooza of the 2020s so she can find herself and her soulmate?

Sometimes it’s very easy to wonder if you’re getting it all wrong, like at 3 am when you’re brain is stuck in panic mode or when your child stands in front of you and says you’re no is ruining EVERYTHING.

The only thing that really fixes that wondering for a time is the occasional glimpse or insight into what my children think when they are not having “a moment.” Of me, of the world, of people, of God.

This week I was blessed to find this gem in the bouquet of Mom things Audrey made. It’s a reminder that I have a lot to live up to, and also that maybe I’m doing OK even though I have those moments when I’m sure I’m not.

Suddenly, everything was right with the world. At least for a few seconds, until she shared that she added the one that says she likes when I cook because that’s what all the other kids were writing about their Moms. She didn’t color that one, like it was lacking truth. Or maybe just lacking flavor, much like some of my cooking. Raising truthtellers is not for the insecure.

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