What mother, already in those first seconds of skin to skin contact, hasn’t felt the piercing fear of not being enough? Fast forward 13 years, and that same bundle of joy is staring you down with two primed lasers of hate. Parents teeter on a cliff between joy and desperation. Every day.
I have produced pages of journaled entries over the last quarter of a century — my history of mothering. Penned fears that I would someday live with ‘mom regret’. I begged God, there in the midst of exhaustion and frustration and the impossible task of balancing motherhood with ministry with me, to spare me from regrets. How I dreaded the year 2020, when my final girl would leave home. That was the day that I would have to look back over 25 years of momming, and face my failures. I believed that the regret would crush me.
I come with baggage. We all do — even those with stellar parents. I didn’t have a mom — not really. A woman who birthed me, yes, but a mother, no. A great-grandmother who loved and raised me, yes, but a mother, no. So, as I mothered my girls, I was always aware of the gaping deficit from which I began. And that knowledge intensified my fear. The spectre of regret dogged the corners of my decisions, even stole my joy at times.
I’m on the other side now. There are no longer little girls running through my home (and yes, I teared up right there) or teenagers sulking in their rooms (I teared up there too). My last girl is tucked away at university and I am an ocean and continent away in a big, empty house (tears). And, I need to tell you that there is regret. God did not answer my prayer. If prompted, I could start a regret list faster than you can pull out a breast to nurse. It would be long and it would be painful. It would make me cry. Maybe it would make you cry too. (Well, I’m already crying… so, whatever). If mom-regret is something that can be avoided, I never found the magic recipe, not even in prayer and pleading. My clear and distinct prayer, “God, please don’t let me have regrets when this stage of mothering is over,” went unanswered. It did. That’s just honest.
If mom-regret is something that can be avoided, I never found the magic recipe, not even in prayer and pleading