I used to hear about the dreaded “mom guilt” when it came to kids but I never fully understood what they meant.

I mean, sure, I carried the heavy weight of always wondering if I was being the best mom I could be to my toddlers, if I was feeding them the right foods, doing enough to help the development of their brains. I remember struggling with the way I parented compared to others – was I doing it right or was there a better way?

But that mom guilt seemed to come from within – it was a weight I put on myself because of how I viewed (or misconstrued) social norms of what it meant to be a parent.

But, holy hannah, the weight of the mom guilt my kids are able to heap on me is overwhelming at the best of times. We are in the pre-teen and teen stage of our lives and while I know the time they move out and leave me with an empty house is getting closer each year, I’m beginning to believe this stage is worse than the toddler one.

Watching my kids face life lessons time and time again is hard. Especially when I know that I could step in and help them succeed when all they do is fail, time after time after time. But it’s even harder when I face the fact that the reason they are failing is because I’ve stepped in one too many times.

My one daughter tends to leave things to the last minute. And by last minute – I mean ten minutes after we’re supposed to have left she is still packing for a week at camp – or for our two week holidays, or …. the list goes on (if you are a parent, I’m sure you understand…). Even despite having a week to prepare, to make sure she wasn’t missing anything, that she had everything…it wasn’t until we are actually at the camp (3.5 hr drive from home) that I find out she’s missing major things. Now…a nice mom would have driven into town to buy all the stuff her daughter left at home. A good mom would have pestered her daughter to make sure she had everything on the list. An awesome mom would have packed or at least helped pack with her daughter.

Apparently I’m none of those things. I’m the mom who decided enough is enough. I’m the mom who gave her daughter a smile when the realization she will be canoeing in jeans really hits, the mom laughed sarcastically when her daughter realized she only brought one pair of shoes and it’s extremely muddy outside.

See…I’m also the mom who made sure her daughter had the list of things she needed, who offered to go shopping for anything she didn’t have, who suffered through multiple eye rolls and nasty attitudes when all I wanted to do was ensure she was adequately prepared for spending the week at a camp where her daughter would be riding horses, swimming, canoeing, learning archery and much more.

So I may be a bad mom, the worst there ever was…but I guess it depends on who you’re asking. Either way…the moment I drove away, the mom guilt hit me hard and the lesson in that hour was for me to let my daughter suffer so she could learn her own lesson.

And who knows…she may have an amazing week despite not having half the thing she needed. It may turn out to be one of the best weeks of the summer for her and all this mom guilt would have been for nothing (fingers crossed).

Tell me…what would you have done? (no judgement or guilt here…we all parent differently and that is okay!)