Saturday, January 18, 2014

mommy guilt, and how to cure it

It's Saturday … I'm on day four of antibiotics for a nasty sinus infection that has been lingering since Thanksgiving, and I am sloooowly starting to feel better.

I spent Lily's birthday, for the most part, in bed. I haven't been that sick in a long time, and I hope I don't get that sick again any time soon. Note to self: go to the doctor after something has been lingering for two weeks, not two months. Thank you. You're welcome.

Okay, self-talk aside…I just got the pics from Lily's birthday party off the camera and I want to cry.

Not because they were terrible - to the contrary.

It was perhaps THE simplest little party that was ever thrown for a four year old. I had some bigger plans…maybe a small dinner for friends and a themed cake, etc…but I might have ended up in the hospital if I put forth the effort to make that happen. The pre-holiday rush to get everything done, combined with Christmas itself, and then followed up by a move two days later (I kid you not- we did not have one box packed the day after Christmas, and somehow evacuated our house the next day) …ANYHOOT - all of that, on top of an already run down mama trying to ignore a sinus infection….well, it all came crashing down on me the day before Lily's birthday.

More accurately, it all came crashing down on me in the car, as Sam was driving me to the doctor. I was having a major attack of mommy guilt, and the result was a flood of tears and a sobbing confession that went something like this : "I feel like such a failure as a mom because of the sucky party I'm going to throw for Lily tomorrow and I don't even know how I'm going to make her a sucky cake let alone throw a sucky party and …….."  

You get the drift.

My daughter-in-love and her sister threw their sons the most amazing birthday party last summer. Everything was themed, right down to the vegetable tray, decorated like Elmo. One of my best friends makes the most amazing cakes for every child's birthday - a castle, a football field, a revolving merry-go-round… (okay, I jest. Almost.) Two years ago I did a pink and green themed party for Lily and coordinated her outfit to match the party- I even hot glue gunned hair bows for her with pink and green curlie-cues to match the ribbons on the tables.

And admittedly- I LOVE doing things like that. I love when my creative juices are flowing, I love how it feels to watch everything come together, and to see the excitement on my kids' faces when it does. I do love being that kind of mom.

And thus the tears.

Sam - my ever-encouraging optimist of a husband - reached across the car, put his tender hand on my knee, and smiled. "Relax, Mama. Lily is not going to know any different. She is happy, she is loved, and she does not care what kind of party you are or aren't giving her."

Which made sense, and did encourage me, and for a little while it stopped the tears.

We visited my doctor, got a prescription for antibiotics, hit the pharmacy, and raced home for a quick dinner of pizza. Sam took the children to church, and Lily and Hayden and I remained at home. I wanted to be in bed, but Hayden wasn't in the mood to snuggle peacefully beside me, and neither was Lily. So I made a feeble attempt at wrapping one of her presents for the next day, but Hayden (teething) screamed pitifully when I tried to leave the room in search of wrapping paper and tape.

At this point, all the mommy guilt that had been assaulting me in the car before, decided to come back with a vengeance - am I the only one who always feels a little bit oppressed when I'm battling sickness ? It's like I can't just be sick, I have to feel guilty on top of feeling cruddy, because I am not able to do all the typical things I do as a mom (make dinner, get kids to church, wrap birthday presents, throw parties….)

So what's a mama to do ? When she's stuck in bed or on the couch, and everything in her is screaming you're a loser and your poor kids are all suffering because of it, when she looks at her pathetic plan for her almost-four-year-old's big day less than 24 hours away and wants to cry, and yet she doesn't even have an ounce of energy to change one thing about that plan….what's a mama to do ?

I'll tell you what I did.

I took my husband's advice.


That's what I did.

  1. 1.
    make or become less tense or anxious.
    "he relaxed and smiled confidently"
    synonyms:become less tense, loosenslackenunknot 
  2. 2.
    make (a rule or restriction) less strict while not abolishing it.

I am very prone to anxiety. I've blogged about it here many times but anxiety and I can be best friends if I'm not careful. We get each other. Anxiety and I are so well acquainted, that often times I can't tell his voice from mine. His best friend guilt does the same thing to me. And if you're anything like me, when these voices start speaking their ugly lies to me - everything gets tainted. My view of my life, my view of the future, my views about the people around me - everything is skewed. And I have a hard time living in reality. Because I am too consumed with how I am just not measuring up, and I am too upset about what everyone thinks about me (because don't you know, everyone just spends all their time thinking about ME, right ? How I'm such a loser mom, etc. etc.) and that starts to bleed out into the rest of my life.

But that little word up there ?? The one I stole from good ole Webster to make my point ? It changes everything.


And did you notice it's a verb ? Which means it's an action word. It's not a noun - in other words, it's not something that I am. It's something I have to DO.



Or as my kids like to say…


I have to personally take responsibility for the barrage of guilt and angst and negativity warring against my soul and

I like what Peter has to say about this:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Him - meaning God.

Isn't that simple ??

I like simple. I'm a pretty simple gal. And when I'm sick and worn down, and I really don't have the brain power to get all theological, I just need simple.

Chillax. Cast my anxiety on God- give it Him and leave it there.


So I did- I prayed and asked God to help me feel better soon, to help me to stop feeling guilty about everything, and to help me to be the best mom that I could be, given my current condition.

And here's what we got as a result….

… Tyler wrapped Lily's birthday presents, Caleb and Abigail made cupcakes, Monique and Naomi came over to celebrate, and Lily was as happy as could be. I stayed on the couch, wrapped up in a warm blanket, Mackenzie took pictures, Koa opened Lily's gifts (at HER request - she smiled shyly every time Daddy handed her a present and handed it to Koa) …

…and somehow the world didn't end.

We sang Happy Birthday To You, we helped Lily blow out her candle, we ate funfetti cupcakes with bubblegum frosting, and we called it a night.

And maybe next year I will throw a wonderful, this-is-how-I-want-to-do-every-party kind of party for my girl. I am already dreaming of how fun it will be do so, and I know Lily will be that much older to enjoy everything just a little bit more.

But going back to the beginning of the post - I just uploaded the party pictures for this post and I wanted to cry. Because although they are devoid of any party decorations, elaborate cake, hoopla, or what-have-you - they are oozing with love.  The look in Sam's eyes as Lily shares a secret with him…the smile on Lily's face as she watches Koa open her presents for her…the joy in Koa's expression as he happily complies with her request to do so…even little Norah's look of wonder, as she watches those she loves around her… There is so much love and joy in these pictures, it makes me cry.

baby Macie in Monique's, belly, and Norah

Don't get me wrong- I love our big and special and detailed festivities too - but I'm grateful for these special moments, stripped of any hint of glamor, that are only decorated in love.


The winner of the necklace from Annie's Nest Designs is…

 Diane Saucedo said...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS!!! And many more...Mom you are blessed to have a wonderful family and a great husband. God bless

Diane, congratulations ! Please email me at to pre-order your custom necklace!

Lots of love,


Kelly Marin said...

Patti!! The best time your feeling this way please remember me and what I'm saying! You are not superwoman and you are an incredibly accomplished women of God , you put so many of us moms to shame , so I'm glad you did relax any those pictures are priceless ❤️❤️❤️

Amy P. said...

Guess what helped me be less anxious over being a super mom? I stay away from Pintrest. Seriously. It grieves me because I don't have the time or energy to even try to keep up with their supermomness

Amy P. said...

Oh and guess which birthdays my kids remember the most? The simple ones where instead of hosting a huge party they got all the attention from Mom focused on them. Happy 4th bday! My daughter is only 2 weeks older than you.

Anna Theurer said...

Feel better, Patti! Also, happy belated birthday, Miss Lily!

Danielle said...

Last year's Elmo party was MORE than this Momma of 5 could handle... guess who did 90% of the work for Koa & Brock's party? The Momma of 1.

And I remember back when I was a Momma of 1.. I did some elaborate parties.... I even managed a few big shindigs when I was a Momma of 3.... but 5?!?!?!? Heck no! and 11 (that's you) HECK NO even more! (:

and I NEVER did a fancy party when I was sick!

AND the pictures are DARLING. Such a precious precious day!!

And I love Lily soooooo much!!!

Happy birthday sweet girl!

P.S. Your hubby is smart!!!

Kristy Sayer @ Southern In Law said...

Oh Patti, think about everything you do for Lily on a daily basis - you definitely shouldn't be having Mommy guilt!

My best childhood memories are those moments filled with love - not fancy parties or expensive things. Lily's party looks like it was so full of love - and I bet she and everyone there felt that love. That's all that matters!

Plus, most 4 year olds I know don't even care about decorations! Balloons pop and they're scary - but cake, you've GOTTA have cake! ;)

Crystal Kupper said...

Great post, and sorely needed.

ckbrylliant said...

That is the cutest photo series ever. I love her face and your husbands face as Lily hands over HER presents. So sweet.

Faith Kopp said...

Holy Jamoly Patti, most of the children's parties around here are theme parties......IN COMMERCIALLY RUN PLACES!!! No mess at home to prepare or clean up after. Just find the "perfect" place, send out invitations and show up. OH and send out thank you notes after. When a little one is four the candles, cupcakes and presents are what matters. Sometimes not even the presents just the fact that everyone is focusing their attention on them.

Too bad you didn't listen to your very wise mother about going to the DR. HA HA HA Remember how long it took me to go to the DR this past winter? Didn't listen to my own have to go to a ENT for hearing loss in my right ear.

MamaV said...

Love it! I have been feeling the same way... I feel like I am too exhausted to do anything fun/special with my kids and that distracts me from being thankful for what we have. Thanks!

Lori said...

Personally, I enjoy the Norman Rockwell style party more than the Glamor one…wish we could have been there to have a cupcake...Abby is supposed to mail me one of those cupcakes though…please remind her :)

The Graham Family said...

Oh Patti, I sooooo hear you. :) I get caught up in the same stuff and you are right... all kids want is our attention and love. Lily looked like she was GLOWING as the birthday girl! Loved the photos.

cara said...

Those pictures truly are just perfect and so full of love!! I am sure Lily was thrilled! Can I let you in on a little secret?? We never do big elaborate parties. I decorate the table with a few things from the $ store. They get to pick out food for the day. Then we take them to dinner or not and do cake and a few presents. But they absolutely love their birthdays!!!! They think they are the best! Maybe one day we will do a party, but I am a bit nervous to get that started, ha. You are doing an amazing job!!!

I am so sorry you have been sick! Praying for healing for you!! Xoxo

Cindy said...

That mom guilt is horrible. And you're right, cast all your cares on Him.

Hope you're feeling better. Physically and emotionally. :)

Joy said...

You know what? I think this is what more kids' birthday parties *should * look like. I have been wracked with guilt over so many kids' birthdays -- birthdays that took place in the middle of yet another Navy move, or just after (we've moved 5 times in the past eight years) so the birthday kid doesn't yet have friends, and I can only do so much... Anyway, I've realized especially this past year that we can heap love on our kids and that's the best. The bells and whistles... at least sometimes... are just extra noise.

I love your family and how you love them! Thank you for being honest because I wonder how you do as much as you do!

mumofsix said...

It looks perfect to me. Happiest birthday lily and get well soon Patti xxxxxx