How many of us know a mom who seems to always be talking about the latest achievements of her children? Words. Words. Words. Brag. Brag. Brag. Our response? We often either pity her, condemn her, or compare ourselves to her.
I remember as a young mom with two toddlers and a baby, feeling very frustrated that my kids weren’t learning their colors, shapes, alphabet, and numbers like my friends’ kids. I remember feeling like a bad mom or somehow that I must be not doing something correctly because my boys weren’t potty-trained or reading when my friends’ kids were. Maybe, my kids had inherited a slow gene or maybe I just hadn’t pushed them hard enough. Sigh.
I knew I read to my kids — read to my first-born when he was a wee babe and had no idea what mommy was doing with that object in her hands. He liked reading — more because of the cuddle time with mommy and hearing his mommy’s voice. I really don’t think that my reading made a huge educational impression at that point in his three months of life. What did make an impression was the interaction I had with him, teaching him about security, love, kindness, and how love is an investment of time.
Then, I’ve found myself listening to other young moms talking about their kids and then wanting to chime right in with my own comparisons or not just wanting to but doing it. I’ve walked away from those conversations, convicted by my own pride and selfishness.
I’ve then had to ask myself, “Why did I feel the need to compare or to do my own bragging?” Suddenly, I understand the hearts behind the bragging moms or “Mompetitors.” Insecurity. Fear. Depression. Those fears stem from wondering if you are doing it right — if your kids will be failures because you didn’t give them everything at just the right moment and in the right proportions. It’s the pressure of perfection. The unending voices that we listen to that tell us we should be parenting this way or that way or another way.
The results? Instability. Insecurity. Anger towards ourselves and even our children because they don’t measure up to our standards of perfection.
Exaggeration? No! I think one of the greatest dangers of motherhood are our unreasonable expectations and comparing ourselves and our kids to others. It’s looking around us too much for our sense of well-being and affirmation as mothers and for help with raising our kids. Oh, help can be great — true help! The problem is we are too quick to follow the latest advice and trends on the social market. We are too quick to compare our kids to Susie and Johnny “who do everything perfectly and are advanced in every area.” We are too quick to try to fit ourselves into the personalities and gifts of others.
We want to be Pinterest-perfect in our creativity, organization-skills, and decorating. We want to be able to sew like an expert and cook like a chef with a Master’s degree. We read the blogs, and every blogger seems to be much prettier, smarter, more articulate, and wiser than us. Compare. Compare. Compare.
If we homeschool, we find a mom who is more organized than us. Or we find one who is less so we can condemn her and somehow feel better about ourselves in the process.
I recently bought a book off Amazon — thanks to a B’day gift card I had received. The book is called Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. The book has been amazing and just the book I so desperately (no pun intended) needed to read! I have under-lined paragraphs, written exclamation marks, starred pages, and written “Amens” all over this book.
I think some of the thoughts that have stood out to me the most were the advice to give more grace to ourselves and our kids, to not compare, to accept how God uniquely created me and my kids, and to not follow everyone else’s advice. This doesn’t mean we don’t listen to godly advice, but the key is godly — finding the right person to listen to — not just anyone and everyone. There are so many voices — too many is the problem. There is only One voice we really must heed: that of the Lord’s. The beauty of it is that He created us and loves us unconditionally, in spite of our failures and imperfections. He is not sitting up in Heaven with a great big paddle, waiting for us to mess up so he can take pleasure in exerting His God muscles in punishing us. Sad how we get these twisted perspectives due to our own imperfect “lenses” from which we view everything and everyone, including God.
I recently experienced a situation at church where I felt condemnation. I believe the individual thought that they had me, my husband, and our kids all figured out. The problem is they don’t. We aren’t like certain other families. Church doesn’t give the full picture into our lives. Oh, there are basic principles to parenting, but there are also so many variations — variations because we are uniquely designed individuals and families!
I remember the smug feelings I had before becoming a mom. I thought I knew all about parenting due to training, classes, experiences I had. The problem with that is you don’t really know about parenting until you become a parent yourself and even then, that doesn’t make you an expert on other people’s lives.
I know that a lot of people are simply trying to help and there is good advice out there. The problem, young moms, is that there is too much — too much advice, too many voices. We can become so concerned about pleasing everyone out there that we miss the whole point of our own calling. Motherhood isn’t about pleasing everyone else. In fact, you never will please everyone else so you might as well forget about it. The point is motherhood is about finding what God’s plan is for your life first, then your family, and then for each individual child. Motherhood is about serving the individual needs of your children — not the needs of those who wish to condemn or critique your parenting.
Motherhood is also about courage. It means that sometimes you do what is not popular within your social networks. It means being willing to meet the needs of your family and children because of who God uniquely created them to be.
Sometimes, it also means parenting “blindly” because you don’t know the end results. Sometimes, it means we don’t have all the answers and neither do all those around us. Sometimes, it means you walk by faith and press forward even when circumstances are very discouraging. So long as you know that you are doing and walking how God called you to walk, then by faith you press forward, even when you don’t know the outcome. This, my friends, can be agonizing to the heart of a mother who would like to see immediate results and grieves over a child whose heart is not right. It means surrendering ourselves, our goals, our lives, our plans, our dreams, and our children into the merciful and loving arms of our Heavenly Father.
Dear friends, accept the gift of whom God created you to be. Discover those gifts within yourself and your kids. Walk in your calling. Encourage your children to walk in theirs. Embrace His plan for your life and your children’s. And breathe. Allow your children to breathe.
Enjoy the dance of life with those precious ones! The dance of life is so brief really. So dance and dance it well.