Guilty Mom

Image courtesy of twobee /

It happened on one of those sweltering summer days. The kind that feels like a hot wet blanket covers you all over, and you need to take a shower after standing outside for two minutes. The kids were bored and at each other’s throats after being cooped up in the house all day, so we went out in the yard for a few minutes, despite the triple digits. I sank into a chair, not particularly wanting to move in the oppressive humidity, only moving my eyes back and forth to watch them. My eldest came up to me, whining to sit on my lap. I shooed him away by crankily snapping, “It’s too hot for that, you’d be like a blanket, sit beside me instead”.

He sank to the ground, a pool of himself, it seemed. That’s when I noticed he wasn’t breathing right.

I jump up and rush my first-born in, my baby (to me) even at four years old, to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room so he could just breathe. The nurses swarmed around us to check his vitals and rushed us back immediately, the only time I’ve been in an ER with no wait. I saw their encouraging smiles and cringing eyes as I held my son down, both of us equally terrified; him scared of the mask over his face and the unknown….me of the possibility it may not work. I held him down as he screamed and tried to flee, his eyes searching mine for a sign he was going to be okay. The doctor with the pinched face told us it may be asthma, pneumonia, or possibly cancer.  We waited, and waited, and waited for a prognosis. Finally we were told it was bronchiolitis, a common illness of the respiratory track. They discharged us with a prescription and we scheduled follow up appointments.

Hours later, I sat in CVS at 2 a.m. waiting for the rescue inhaler the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room prescribed. To pass time, I sat in the blood pressure chair, mind blank as the cuff squeezed my arm. The machine registered my vital signs as zero. “I am dead,” my thoughts rushed in, “I fussed at him while he was struggling to breathe, so selfish, and now I am dead like I deserve”.

Part of me wanted to scold myself for being so dramatic, and remind myself  to keep a clear head next time there is an emergency. The other part of me wanted to cry salty crocodile tears as I felt all the extreme terror I suppressed at the hospital.

I go home to my son and listen to his ragged breathing throughout the night, despite the Nebulizer treatment.


marys boys paintThree boys within eighteen months…  Is it any wonder I don’t take every whine that comes out of their mouths seriously? Or that my first instinct after hours of fussing is impatience? Or are these just excuses bad moms tell themselves?

Best friends and worst enemies, my boys will play together, their laughter sounding angelic. I swear, if you could box up their happiness, you could sell it to nursing homes and cure all their residents of their ailments. But their fighting? Imagine being tied down, force-fed caffeine with toothpicks prying your sleepy eyes open, all while having to watch 10 straight hours of Calliou and Sponge Bob simultaneously. Well, okay, maybe I am exaggerating…. not by much though. You could give these boys a free trip to Disney World and they’d still find a reason to fight–among having the best times of their lives.

It’s a wonder I haven’t ripped my hair out.


guilty mom paint
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong /

All moms feel guilt, even for things beyond our control. Whether it’s yelling at a sick child, the inability to soothe your little ones because you don’t feel well yourself, or leaving for work while your baby screams inconsolably “Mommy! Mommy!  Don’t go!”–the reasons are infinite and the list is never ending.

There’s one other thing all us moms have in common though, besides feeling guilty. We need to forgive ourselves.

Our children watch (Including going to the bathroom!) There is no such thing as a “personal problem” once you have kids. One of the hardest, yet most important lessons we could teach them is forgiveness. This is a skill we ALL need. No one holds the power to keep us unhappy if we forgive them, or in my situation, forgive myself. Learn your lesson, try to set things right, and move on to heal so you can be the best parent possible.

Much easier said than done…this is a goal for which I pray daily. Let my children learn forgiveness, and let me learn to forgive myself.

What lessons hard lessons have you had to learn as a mom?





  1. I loved the story and believe that every parent, mom or dad, experiences times when we feel guilty about our actions concerning our kids. Like you said, Mary, we need to forgive ourselves so that we can continue to be the best parent we possibly can. Our kids are counting on us! We need to be active parents in our children’s lives, whether young or old, as this teaches our kids that we do care about them. They require our support but, in return, we need their support to help justify our treatment of them.


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