Ever since sweet Lily made her appearance in this world I have been asking myself the same question over and over, “Am I Doing This Right?” There are plenty of blog posts and quasi articles on social news cites that will tell any mom asking this same question that, “why yes, you are doing this right. Just do what feels right to you.”
How can you go wrong if you just do what feels right to you? Right?
I’m sorry but I simply don’t believe that philosophy is the correct way to approach motherhood. Maybe it’s my perfectionist mentality, or my people pleaser personality, or maybe it goes deeper. Maybe it’s my deep fear that I will screw up the way my parents did, mess my child up the way they hurt me, stunt her personality and crush her confidence until it takes years for her to recover. Maybe, more than likely, it’s that I realize just what a treasure my daughter is. A treasure God has entrusted to me and I am terrified at times that I don’t deserve this treasure, that I will disappoint the One who gave it to me.
If I am honest this question stems from all of these things and more. But knowing where it comes from isn’t always enough to stop the guilt that accompanies it when it floats through my mind at 2am, after a hard day of screaming toddler tantrums, too much coffee, too little patience, and far too little grace for my little. I love her so very much, I would do just about anything for her, but sometimes I just can’t take her sassiness for another minute.
And sometimes, in my moments of greatest frustration, I yell. It breaks my heart to admit it to myself, that I cannot handle the stress of mothering gracefully all the time.
Sometimes, I am glad for the moments when I can escape from my home to run an errand while just to get my heart back in the right place and my mind on track. I pray fervently that I will not lose my cool again. That my every word won’t be “no,” and “don’t,” and “stop.”
There is a lot of guilt associated with every aspect of mothering. Whether you stay at home, work part time, full time, volunteer, home school, or send your littles to daycare or public school. Everyone has an opinion about what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how you can be a better mommy. Facebook groups and bloggers bash mothers who don’t do things the way they think is acceptable. No matter where you turn, the guilt and pressure and strain surrounds us. We live in a world where motherhood is being examined under a microscope, and the schemes of Satan are to deceive us and make us fear messing up.
I have stayed at home for all of Lily’s life and I have taken great joy in watching her grow and learn and explore. I am beyond grateful for all of this time I have gotten to spend with my precious girl, time that is an amazing blessing, but also a burden at times. No one knows just how truly isolating parenthood is more than a stay at home mother or a single mother. I am only one of these things, but I have felt the loneliness of my position time and time again.
Returning to school and getting a new job are exciting steps I have taken in the past few months towards achieving goals that I have for my future career. But along with these accomplishments comes the feeling that I might be making a mistake. That I am squandering the gift of being a stay at home mom, that I am being selfish, that entrusting my child into the care of others is a mistake. The enemy plays on my fears and insecurities to make me doubt the things I know are true. He does is to all of us.
Our love for our children can be an amazing gift, a tool to further advance the work of God’s Kingdom, a blessing to our families and others. But if we let it, it can be used against us. If we let fear and insecurity mingle alongside our love, the enemy will use it against us. He will fill our hearts and heads with lies, and he will spread hatred to the point that instead of coming alongside one another, helping each other, and lending one another grace when we need it; us women, sisters, and mothers turn on each other and spread lies, gossip, and jealousy. We condemn each other for not making choices we think are acceptable. For not loving our littles all the same way.
But God does not call us to love our littles the way society, social media, or our fellow mommy friends deem acceptable. He calls us to love them, as He loves us. To raise them up to be solid followers, true Christ Lovers, and workers for the Kingdom. He calls us to give them grace and mercy as He gives it to us; but more than that to give ourselves and our fellow mothers grace, mercy, and love. To sacrifice for one another and build each other up.
So whether you are working or staying at home, home schooling or sending your kiddos to public school, adopting as many children as will fill your household, or just having one or two children to love on as much as possible; God calls us to stand united with one another respecting the choices mothers make as they raise their children, and linking hands to form a strong front against the enemy’s attacks against us. If mothers are weak, then the whole family is weak. If we fall, our families do. And if we don’t have grace for ourselves and others then our children will never learn how to give and receive grace of their own.
So lets stop the mommy wars, starting with the battle we wage on our own hearts. Lets join hands with God and our fellow mothers and say no to guilt, condemnation, and anxiety. And when we yell, or walk away, or say something we shouldn’t, lets give each other grace and take one another out for coffee, and pray together.
Let’s stop asking, “Am I Doing This Right?” and lets start making declarations of faith and trust in God, to help us with this mommy thing, and to protect our children when we fall short.