Dear moms who think I have it all together: Allow me to gently burst your bubble.
The amount of new and expecting moms that email me for advice sometimes makes me embarrassed. At minimum it makes me shake my head a little and chuckle. I suppose having a blog where I largely write about motherhood must project some sort of an image in young women’s minds as to the vast amounts of knowledge and wisdom I surely have about parenting. Surely.
(Ha. Ha. Ha. Can you hear the slow, sarcastic laughing coming from my direction?)
And I try my hardest to be real with you. I have learned a lot as a mom and I’m so grateful for a place to share that with others. But I also have so much to learn, and I often feel needy as a mom – needy for help, for advice, for affirmation, and for encouragement that I’m doing a good job and that I’m not permanently messing up these little humans who trust me so well.
Oh friends, if I wrote about every single insecurity and struggle and frustration and exasperated moment I have in my everyday life on this blog… I would probably send you running in the opposite direction. Fast.
So hear me now, sweet mama-friends: I sometimes quietly judge other moms without meaning to or even realizing I’ve done so. I can be harsh and critical towards myself when I don’t live up to self-imposed (mostly unrealistic) expectations. I am sometimes slow to forgive my own mistakes. I have been known to seriously consider trading my kids in when it comes to the hours between 4:00 and 6:00pm. Sleep deprivation literally makes me lose my mind (and sometimes my keys). I have backtracked on parenting decisions I’ve been adamant about. I sometimes google about parenting dilemmas when I should actually be praying. At times I can be driven by a fear of what people think of my ability to mother, rather than what my heart tells me is right for my kids.
I have moments of doubt, confusion, self-pity, and even outright apathy in regards to my mothering. I have days where I want to give up, days where I want a do-over, days where I want to run away, days where I want to ship my kids off to someone else to take care of while I get a “real” job (even though I know this one is more real and more right than anything else for this season of my life).
And then there’s those days where I wish my kids would be into a twelve-hour movie marathon so we could veg out and eat snacks and never have to do pesky things like meal-making and spill-wiping, talking and actual playing.
As much as I believe I’m the perfect mother for my children, I also sometimes shudder to think of how I might be screwing them up. I get fearful. I get anxious. I worry. I overanalyze.
This, my friends, is why I need Jesus in my parenting.
I sometimes feel that since I’m thirty-five I should well and truly feel like a grown-up by now. I should act wisely, plan carefully, choose discerningly, think maturely. And yet during difficult days I wonder how in the world anyone would think it’s a good idea to let this little girl have children of her own.
Before becoming a mom I was at a place in my life where I genuinely believed that I had dealt with most of my major “issues”. Not that I had arrived at some ethereal perfection, but the major weaknesses in my life were known and being addressed and the major hurts or hang-ups from my past had been largely worked through.
And then I birthed a couple of little teachers.
My children are teaching me that I am vulnerable, weak, susceptible to pain and heartache and rejection and a whole range of insecurities. They are teaching me that I’m not as patient as I once thought I was. That I have fewer answers and more questions than I realized. That I still have blaring weaknesses. That I sometimes hunger for control and thirst for my own way. That I hold tightly to my rights and sometimes just plain struggle not to harbor sin in my heart.
They are teaching me that my need for Grace is so much greater than I’ve ever understood before.
I’m not writing this as a solicitation for affirmation in my mothering. I’m not asking for pats on the back or fishing for compliments. I’m not writing in hopes that I might appear humble in my confession. (Because the truth is I’m still working through my own selfishness and pride, even as I write.)
I’m writing because, with all that I’ve learned in my short career as a mother, I realize that there’s a thousand times more yet to learn.
I’m writing this because—just like the young mother on the other end of the email—I too need advice, encouragement, and true connection down here in the trenches.
I’m writing this because we all need to remember that the woman parenting across from us likely deals with the same issues as we do. She probably sometimes feels at a loss for how to approach the third tantrum of the day before 8:00am. I bet she sometimes questions the nobility of her job as she labors over one more stinky load of grass stains and wet undies. She might feel guilty for yelling at her kids when she should have hugged them or for feeding them one too many chicken nugget dinners because that was all her weary arms had the strength for on a Tuesday.
I’m convinced the best way to empower mothers—young or new mothers especially—is to be open and honest about the whole motherhood package – the wonders and joys and the absolute fun, as well as the heartaches and failures, fears and insecurities.
If we want to empower other mothers, then we must be free within ourselves to share the journey. All of it. We just can’t do it well on our own.
I will continue to share my journey as a mom – the fun parts, the silly parts, the beautiful parts, the frustrating parts, the embarrassing or even shameful parts, the heartbreaking parts, the triumphant parts – all of it. And I will continue to hope that this online space will make room for other women to be encouraged, find community, be resourced, and find validation for the hard, messy, boring, thrilling work of motherhood.
Together we’ll figure out what we’re doing and learn from our mistakes and teach from our successes and we’ll celebrate the process.
I’m with you, dear mama. I support you, dear mama-to-be. I need you, dear mama-who’s-been-before-me. I am you, dear mama-in-waiting.
We need each other down here in the trenches of life with littles where the days move slowly but the years pass fast.
Yes, we need each other. And oh mercy… do we need Jesus.
Dear friends, are you guilty of putting other women on a pedestal in regards to how they mother? Are you guilty of judging them (positively or negatively) in ways that set them up to fail? Do you need the reminder today that we all struggle? That we all need one another? How are you purposing in your heart to empower another mom right now?