Mom guilt: the tendency for moms to feel guilty for taking any kind of break for themselves, even though breaks are vital for emotional, intellectual and spiritual health. I can’t speak for other countries, but I know for a fact that we have an epidemic of mom guilt here in America. Call me nostalgic, but when scripture was originally written, people wanted more kids because that meant extra hands for the family business and the running of household affairs. However, it seems like family structures have been turned on their heads with kid’s hectic school, sports, and extracurricular schedules taking precedence over every spare moment of family time – especially for moms.
In our modern society, the fruits of the Spirit have been replaced by one abiding virtue: productivity. Moms today feel pressured – nay threatened – that if they don’t take their kids to 6 sporting classes, music lessons, and birthday parties, that somehow their kids will end up scarred for life, or resentful for missing out on important milestones or opportunities. We here at Mama Bear think that is rubbish. Or at least, we strongly believe in balance.
In this episode, Rebekah and I discuss the phenomenon of mom guilt, as well as the reasons why rest is not only important, but commanded by God (and modeled by Jesus!)
How is this important for apologetics you might ask? There’s an old saying: “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Rest is an important part of spiritual development and is absolutely vital to intellectual and emotional well-being. When you are unrested, questions like “Who made God?” seem to just get shuffled away.
Sometimes ladies, for our kids to have more of us, they need less of us – and that “less” is time that we must take for ourselves to rest. An exhausted mind has difficulty connecting with anything but a pillow. Susanna Wesley, the theologian John Wesley’s mom, had something charming she would do when she needed alone time. With 19 kids in a small house, there was little opportunity to get away. So she made her own little “sanctuary” – by flipping her apron over her head. Everyone in her family knew that when mom’s apron was over her head, Do. Not. Disturb. Rest is not easy. Most things that are “commanded” are not easy. And yet we are stilled called to rest. For many moms, I think this might be as simple as feeling like they have permission. (Spoiler alert: you do!)
And for you single moms or mother’s of large families (for whom some of these suggestions feel impractical,) we will have a blog post up soon with some tricks and suggestions for how to have rest in your busy schedules or when you may or may not have the support of a second adult in the home.
Summary of topics discussed:
- Definition of mom guilt – the propensity of moms to feel guilty for taking any kind of break for themselves, even though breaks are vital for emotional, intellectual and spiritual health
- “Soul training exercises” at the end of each chapter of the Good and Beautiful God – first one was to sleep as long as you can
- Breakdown in community with older women discipling younger women on how to be good moms
- We go to the internet, and that alone is overwhelming with information, and it’s hard to filter
- Young moms are very isolated and very overwhelmed
- Most important advice Rebekah can give is for moms to REST
- If your children won’t sleep in nap time, they still have to have quiet time in their bed
- It’s hard to be imaginative when you are exhausted
- Kids can do the same thing over and over again and not get bored. We don’t have to have a huge repertoire. (See 2nd Chesterton quote)
- Find a group of women and use them as mentors
- How does this relate to apologetics? Rest is important because as a well rested mom (woman, man, child, whoever):
- You are able to interact purposefully
- Your children will have more of you
- You will be able to better connect with God and others
- The fruits of the Spirit come more naturally (love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control – Galatians 5)
- The list of 1 Corinthians love come more naturally (patient, kind,not jealous, doesn’t brag, isn’t arrogant or rude, doesn’t insist on own way, rejoices in truth, perseveres, believes, hopes, endures )
- Your discipline will be more consistent
- We are experts at beating ourselves up, but even Jesus had to take alone times
- If Jesus needed alone time, we probably need alone time
- According to Chesterton, rest is a primary need to most other desires – including productivity and cleanliness.
- We take pride in being on one end of spectrum or the other – extremely laid back, or extremely productive
– When we’re tired, we forget our sense of wonder
– It’s ok to relax, take a break!
People and resources mentioned
- The Good and Beautiful God – James Bryant Smith
- James Bryant Smith discipled by Dallas Willard and Richard J. Foster (who wrote The Celebration of Discipline and Classic Devotions (look up)
- Chesterton essay “On Lying in Bed” (Excerpt from “Tremendous Trifles“)
- Coram Deo school in the DFW area
– We alluded to a quote by Chesterton about how kids have unending appetites for repetition, but didn’t quote it. It’s too good to leave out: “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” – Chesterton, Orthodoxies
– “The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy.Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality.” – Chesteron, Tremendous Trifles pg 25 (The whole piece is worth a read though.)
– 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Jesus, Matthew 11:28-29
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is coauthor and editor of the Mama Bear Apologetics book, and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for over 12 years. She is working on her second master’s degree, and yet can’t seem to figure out the simplest cooking recipes.