Guilt and Grace

There are moments every day where I lose my patience. Moments where I know I have overreacted to the situation, or that I have acted irrationally. There are moments when I just need five minutes of alone time, and everyone needs me for something. I try hard to keep it together and to be patient, but there are moments when I can’t do it any longer.

This is true during a normal time, but it is magnified during this COVID-19 pandemic. After this many days, we are all bored and we are restless.
We miss people. Other people. We miss going to places, even if it is just the library. (Which happens to be one of our favorite places.) I miss taking the kids to the park and letting them expel energy that doesn’t result in them fighting.

The fighting. The bickering. The tattling. It is never-ending. As homeschool children, they are always around each other normally. However, with this social isolation comes a change in routines. We can’t attend co-op or church, where they get to interact with other kids. Even now, as they are riding their bikes, they are fighting. One got to close to the other and she got annoyed, so she yells at him because she thinks I can’t hear them from my position on the porch.

All our attitudes are suffering. All our tones are harsher than necessary. Well, maybe not my husband. He has the same demeanor regardless of the situation. I can count on one hand the number of times he has ever used any kind of tone that could be considered rude. It is one of the hundreds of things I love about him.

I am finding myself constantly feeling guilty. I feel guilty about my attitude. I feel guilty because I tell my kids to go play when they are piled on top of me asking me a million questions. I feel guilty because I think that other moms out there are Cinderella mothers and I am the wicked stepmother.

My children deserve to have the very best version of me that they can get, and I just don’t feel like I am giving it. There is so much that I feel guilt for.
Rationally, I know that I am a normal mother. I am an imperfect person and an imperfect mother. Yet, my mind tells me that normal isn’t good enough. Normal is lacking and I should be extraordinary. I try, yet I come up short every time. I have unreal expectations and that is teaching me more about grace than I could ever fathom.

I extend grace to others daily, yet, I hope back when it comes to myself. I feel undeserving of grace. Yet, I am just as imperfect as everyone else around me. If I can forgive them for their shortcomings, why can’t I forgive myself? While guilt is a feeling I am well accustomed to, grace for myself is a new one. If I am irritated, and I get a negative tone, I don’t need to beat myself up and have unreal expectations for myself.

Instead, I need to realize that I made a mistake, and move past it. That’s what grace gives us the freedom to do. It gives us the ability to let go of unreal expectations and loves others and ourselves despite the mistakes we make.

Guilt and grace. Two ways of reacting to the same situation. One provides love and forgiveness. The other brings blame and shame. I am going to work toward allowing myself to feel the grace that I give others and let go off the guilt.

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