Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Universal Plight of Mothers

I've noticed recently, through poolside conversations, neighborhood conversations, text and email conversations, and conversations in the church kitchen while prepping snacks for Vacation Bible School children, that we who occupy that most blessed station of life known as Motherhood are suffering.

We are suffering as we attempt to establish summertime routines.
We are suffering with children who won't go to bed.
We are suffering with children who won't get up.
We are suffering with households held captive by incessant boredom.
We are suffering with the growing pains (or lack thereof) of young adults, freshly returned from the freedoms of college and now sitting on our couches, jobless, eating all our food with their feet up.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with children who do not want to participate in the activities we have selected for their summer fun.
We are suffering with children who want to participate in more activities than our budgets will allow.
We are suffering with children who push and demand and strive for more freedom than we think safe, or wise.
We are suffering with children who, although brought up to reap the benefits of hard work, seem to have been infected with a virulent strain of entitlement.
We are suffering with children who are never, ever full.
We are suffering with days that are too short.
We are suffering with days that never end.
We are suffering because none of this is going how we thought it would go when they were tiny and sweet-smelling, and the world was a bright, hopeful place.

Here's the thing, mothers.  We are all in this together.  Not a one of us is perfect.  No matter what we thought when they were new (or when they were prodigies who could recite the alphabet before age two), no child is perfect.

Perfection is not what we are aiming for, either for ourselves or for our children.

If you're aiming for perfection, stop.  Instead, look around you and take comfort in all the other imperfect mothers raising imperfect children.  Take comfort in the public meltdowns and sagging pants.  Take comfort, but never joy, in the poor manners and wrinkled clothes.  Take comfort in the exasperated sighs of your fellow mothers.

And then..

Aim for more love than voice-raising.  Aim for more good times than bad.  Aim for more positive reinforcement than (absolutely necessary) consequences.  Train your children in the way they should go, and even though they chafe and roll their eyes now, know that the knowledge of what is right and good and true will be stored away in their hearts for safe-keeping. (Proverbs 22:6, my interpretation)

*Mothers of young children, listen to me.  The best gift you can give yourself (and your children, truly) is to quit caring what other people think of your kids' behavior.  The things I most regret involve parenting for someone else's benefit.  Parenting for someone else's approval.  Parenting in a way that (ridiculously) demanded perfection.  If you can let that go now, you will be light years ahead of me and I will rejoice on your behalf.

Since we're all in this together, let's quit judging one another and our offspring.  Let's hold each other up in prayer.  Let's commiserate when appropriate.  Let's encourage.  Let's keep our eyes on the prize.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-2)

In my humble opinion, the prize is this:
1. Children who know and love and serve the God who knows and loves them.
2. Self-sufficient people who can one day leave us to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

And that's all.  There are so many things that I do (or make them do) that don't contribute to these goals.  I want to weed out the unnecessary and focus on the prize at hand.  I want to run this race.  I want to encourage you to run this race, and that's all.


  1. Thanks for the reminder of what is truly important!

  2. Love this. I needed this yesterday when I was banging my head on my desk and then complaining about how hard it is to be a "stay at home Mom" with a job. Ugh. Perfection will not be found at my house.

  3. well, said, friend! thanks for reminding us to stay focused on what is important and for realizing that we are NOT alone! julie

  4. Oh to leave the (attempted) perfectionism behind.

  5. I know, Tam. I should have mentioned that it's not easy and that I haven't mastered it myself.

  6. Great words! Thank you. I needed these words this evening! :-)

  7. excellent post. you should publish this one, buddy. send it off!

  8. Agree with Carey!