I recently found myself with a few spare minutes, and picked up a magazine. I started reading an article by a woman who was very anxious to point out how great a Christian she was. The piece reeked of legalism. She explained that she got up early every morning to shower, have quiet time, and pack her husband's lunch. She crowed about eating breakfast with her children instead of doing other things, like cleaning, while they ate. She always has dinner ready when her husband comes home from work. They eat as a family, because that's so important. They only listen to Christian music. And her children, unlike some of her friends' children, are well disciplined. She does not allow some of her friends' children to be around her children because she does not want their bad attitudes or behaviors brought into her home.
I read this with a cross between admiration and annoyance. And then I saw the author bio. Her kids? They're one and three years old. Holy crap. Now, I'm not from the south, but I think the phrase I'm looking for here is, "Bless your heart."
See, in the south, a big haired woman will smile, pat your hand, and say, "Bless your heart," much the same way us California chicks say, "Omigosh, are you totally clueless?" Southern women are just more polite about it.
I suddenly understand why the Bible tells the older women to teach the younger ones. Because we're pretty much all so clueless at that phase. I remember being the perfect mother when I only had 2 little kids, too. I looked down my nose at the mom whose child was tap dancing around the post office with a pacifier at 4 years old. Never did it cross my mind that the little girl could have special needs, only that the mother (who clearly didn't know what she was doing, allowing a child who could walk to have a binky!) needed to control her child.
How the mighty have fallen.
I'll be the first to admit now that I'm flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I think you learn to be flexible when your kids hit their tweens, if you haven't already. And then you learn it over and over and over again with your teenagers. I'm on my 5th teen, and I haven't got the creatures figured out yet.
How about instead of trying to validate our own perfection, we accept each other where we're at? Moms can be so insecure! The older I get, the more I realize, it's all okay.
I can use cloth diapers and disposable diapers, and neither one makes me a better or worse mom. My babies were nursed 8 weeks, 4 years, and not at all, and once they're in kindergarten, nobody cares. I've had home births and hospital births. My kids are in public school, private school AND home school. We're doing what works for us.
Stop judging other moms. Stop comparing yourself to them. Whether you do it to make yourself feel better, "I would never let my child..." Or heap inadequacy on yourself, "Soandso has it all together. Why can't I be like that?" Neither of these is productive.
A book I'm reading for an upcoming review says, "Your sex life only has to please 3 people: You, your spouse, and God." Your parenting should have the same criteria. You don't have to be like the mom at soccer, who always goes overboard when it's her turn to bring snack, unless that's your thing. You can just be you. As long as you're at peace with how you parent, and your spouse is happy with how you're parenting, and you're not parenting contrary to God's Word, it's all good.
There's nothing wrong with only listening to Christian music, or not watching television, or eating as a family! I'm not trying to say this young mom is making incorrect choices. But when you hold yourself and everyone around you to an impossibly high yardstick, you're being Judgey McJudgealot, which nobody likes, and I think you set yourself up for depression when, at some point down the road, you don't measure up, either.
I had to stop following a couple of blogs a while back because I found myself comparing too much. "How can they afford to adopt over and over and over again?" "How can they handle all those special needs, when I'm barely treading water some days?" "Look at their gorgeous house!" Stop. Be content with where you're at right now. I'm speaking to myself, here, too.
Years ago, I remember telling people, "I'd love to adopt someday," but not really expecting it to happen. We can't see what's ahead of us. We can only do our very best, today, right where we're at.
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