Every day I feel like a terrible mother — how can I live with feeling like I don’t deserve them?
Stop feeling guilty, says our elder, and start treating yourself a bit better.
I don’t really know how to start, so I’m just gonna jump right in. Let’s say that I am the mother of seven beautiful, wonderful, amazing, talented children including six boys and one girl. We were gonna quit after the fourth child, but we’re surprised by a set of triplets There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t feel like a bad mother. I deal with guilt and self-hatred almost on a daily basis because of it. There are so many things that make me feel like a bad mom. I’m always worried about how well I’m raising my children. They’re good kids. They’re all well behaved, well mannered, kind, loving, compassionate, selfless, generous people. People compliment me on how sweet my children are and every time, I wonder how much credit I can take for it. Yes, I did always try to raise them to have all of those qualities, but sometimes I think I just got lucky with naturally good kids and a husband who knew how to raise them well. I don’t have much confidence in myself to successfully raise them to be so great. I constantly feel inadequate and inferior as a mother. I worry if my children get enough attention from me if they always feel loved by me, if they ever feel neglected or if ever do overlook a need one of them has, if I can always protect them and keep them healthy, and if I’m doing anything that could damage them. I feel like I simply don’t deserve them and like they need and deserve a better mother.
Just for a moment, a short, short moment that I deeply regret and am ashamed of, I felt myself almost resenting one of my sons. I didn’t mean to. I couldn’t control it, it just happened. I still loved him as much as always and I didn’t wish in that moment that I’d never had him or anything like that, but I can’t get over the fact that even for a second, I resented my own son for something that wasn’t even his fault. People tell me that it’s normal to resent your children or any other loved ones at one time or another, but I don’t see how it can be. I’m a terrible, terrible mother. I hate myself so much sometimes and I know I do not deserve my children. I love them so much and I want to deserve them, but I’ve lost faith in myself to ever do so. What am I gonna do? How can I ever live with myself after this? How can I live with knowing I don’t deserve my children?
Thank you for writing to Elder Wisdom Circle regarding your current situation. I am so sorry you are feeling so bad about yourself. You know you are fortunate to have so many healthy children and a supportive husband, I don’t have to remind you of that. I think it is possible to become so overwhelmed with our responsibility as a mother that we forget to just be grateful.
From what you have said it is clear that you are doing many things correctly to raise your children to be responsible and loving adults. I know it is easy to feel guilty. It seems women today have all sorts of guilt laid on them. My advice to you is to stop accepting the guilt. It is unnecessary and unfair to you to allow others to make you feel guilty. Remember we all make choices. Make the choice not to feel guilty. I’m sure your children don’t want you to feel guilty. It is better if you become your own best friend. Treat yourself better. Treat yourself the way you would treat a best friend. I bet you would tell your friend she is too hard on herself and to stop feeling guilty over things out of her control.
I think it would be helpful to you and to each of your children if you had a “date” with each one. Maybe surprise each one by spending an evening or day doing something special. It doesn’t have to be expensive just special. It has to be just him so that you can fully focus on them. Ask questions like “What was the best thing that happened at school today.” Be sure and ask questions that need a more elaborate answer than “fine.” Kids will talk if you listen. A great place for talking is in the car. I found that they really opened up when I wasn’t looking directly at them and they could think while looking out the windows.
Regarding the future: worrying about what might happen only steals your peace today. The only moment you have is the one you are living right now. You can’t change the past, you can only change your attitude toward the past. This starts by forgiving yourself for your mistakes. We all make them. We all lose our patience and we all get frustrated. Stop and breath deeply by focusing on you. Your children love you and see things differently than you do. They also remember things differently.
My oldest son is 40 years old. He has been disabled since birth and I remember worrying about what would happen and how we would meet the challenges of a special needs child. When he was three he began to read. He was an avid reader when he went to kindergarten at our local public school. I will tell you that his disability is purely physical. He uses a power wheelchair now and we have to take care of his personal needs. Over the years I had other parents ask, “What about college?” “What are you going to do?” We didn’t know but figured everything would work out. His high school guidance counselor told us his grades weren’t good enough for college. My son worked harder his senior year and was accepted to a local college. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in four years. His specialty is information technology and he now works for our state government in a job that is perfect for him. So you see worrying about the future wouldn’t have changed it. Now people ask us how we are going to continue taking care of his needs since we are now older. At this point, I am beyond worrying. Everything has worked out well so far and we will just continue to face each day as it comes.
You need to plan for the future but focus on today and right now. Now it is all you have. I also think you need a break. Take some time for yourself even if it’s only 10 minutes every day. Stop being so hard on yourself. No one asked or expects you to be perfect, except you. Motherhood is not a contest. You are not competing with anyone least of all yourself.
You deserve all the happiness, good times, fun and love of all your children. If your feelings persist, then I suggest you see your doctor for a check-up. There may be an underlying medical situation that you are unaware of and needs treatment. You might also ask for a referral to a therapist or counselor. Talking to a professional over a few sessions can be just what you need. If you attend a church or synagogue then it might be helpful to talk with the clergy person.
I hope my advice is helpful and that you will contact Elder Wisdom Circle again if you need us. We are always here.
Letter #: 449483