I’m going through motherhood stress again. Maybe I should pick up this book called Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God and listen to that nice lady who wrote it. She writes about God giving moms strength when they feel weak and inadequate! What a smart lady! What a concept!
So, yeah, I feel weak. I’m working through a lot in my mind about motherhood, particularly my perceived ideal of what a Christian mom should be. There are long lists punctuating my head that mock me and tell me I’m not measuring up. Lists like:
- Have family devotions. Every day. Include scripture memory.
- Play with your children. Every day. Get on the floor and mess with legos and dollies and Barbies and such.
- Provide healthy snacks (not Reeses Peanut Butter Cups) when they walk through the door from school.
- Or, better yet, homeschool them and teach them how to create their own “healthy snack” business so they can learn to be entrepreneurial as children so they’ll grow up to be ultra-industrious as adults.
- If kids are in school, go on every field trip.
- Treat boys like knights (give them a sword when they’re thirteen). Treat girls like princesses (give them a promise ring of purity when they’re thirteen).
- Become a room mom (not an option here in France. Parents aren’t allowed through the LOCKED gate!)
- Connect deeply with each child, especially as you “date” each one once a month.
- Read nightly.
- Meal plan.
- Make bread by grinding your whole wheat from a food mill.
- Teach your children about sex without giggling or turning red.
- Have a beautifully-timed system of shopping and food preparation that takes minimal time, provides optimal nutrition, and includes children.
- Be utterly consistent with chore charts.
- Be utterly consistent with discipline.
- Sing songs to children, particularly worship songs or hymns.
- Enable children to achieve their maximum potential by providing various lessons and sports opportunities. (and nag about practicing)
- Manage the family calendar with finesse.
- Teach children every possible life skill including cleaning fingernails, brushing teeth, choosing clothing, managing money, staying in good physical shape, etc.
- Do all this with a June Cleaver life-is-so-wonderful smile while memorizing Proverbs 31.
Mind if I just throw up my hands?
I’m not making this list to torment myself (though it may seem so). I’m doing it to show me that it’s all a ridiculous head game. It’s not that other moms have put this ideal on me; it’s that I’ve picked up bits and pieces here and there and synergized them all into one big horrible list of motherhood perfection, a perfection I can never reach.
There are two things I want you to take away from this post, and both relate to advice two good friends have shared with me.
- Be wary of becoming EVERYTHING for your children. If you are everything, then they will have no need for Jesus. No human can fill another completely. Only Jesus can. It’s best to rest on that, confess your parenting sins and shortcomings to your children in authenticity, and point them to Him. I fear many of us are trying so hard to be Jesus (read: perfect) to our children that we take His place.
- Consider this: God has uniquely chosen you to be the mother of your children. He has equipped YOU for this task. You may not be a play-on-the-floor mother. You may never be a team mom. But you are you. And God chose you to mother your wee ones. You have capabilities, talents and parts of your heart that your children need to succeed in this world. Consider that today and rest. Be yourself. Revel in how God created you. I used to think that I’d be that mom who had every kid from the neighborhood in my home after school. I’d bake cookies and counsel wayward kids. The truth? It’s not me. I’m not that mom. It hurt me to realize I wasn’t what I thought I would be. But I’ve realized, too, that it’s OK. God created variety for a reason. We would be a sorry lot if we mothers became clones of each other, like Stepford moms.
The underlying message of this post is grace. What would it look like if you offered yourself grace today? What would positive parenting look like? As a pessimist, I realized I have missed some of the beautiful things resulting from our parenting, preferring to focus on my failures. A friend reminded me to write down the good stuff. Like Sophie praying for her friends. Like Julia giving pictures away to sad friends. Like Aidan hankering to give money to church. These are things to focus on, to treasure.
We moms speak about grace, how our kids should extend it to each other, how a marriage can’t live without it, but we forget to grace ourselves. Choose today to shed the list in your head, to still the mocking voices. Give yourself a break from the self-condemnation. And rejoice in your children and that God uniquely gifted you, quirky as you may be, to be their mother.
And He will equip you to walk the journey of motherhood.
After all, you’re an ordinary mom, following hard after an extraordinary God.