Several weeks ago, I came across a video on Facebook that described “the different types of moms you meet.” I am not necessarily endorsing it (mostly for language reasons), but the mom stereotypes portrayed were pretty amusing. The characters included the “PTA mom,” who has everything organized and under control; the “crunchy mom,” who only wants the most natural things for her children; the “expert mom,” who has all the answers on parenting; and of course the “hot mess mom,” who…well, you can probably guess. (We’ve all been there before, right?)
Beyond the entertainment, though, this video did bring to my mind an interesting question…If I were to be portrayed in such a video, which mom would I be? How might other people see me as a mom? How do I see myself as a mom?
We can probably all think of examples of how we might like to be portrayed…Or perhaps more accurately, we can all see the type of mom that we wish we were, but aren’t. I wish I were the mom whose house is clean and organized, and whose furniture and décor actually color coordinate. I’d love to be the mom who runs half marathons and has washboard abs. Or perhaps the homeschool mom who absolutely loves every second of teaching, or the “fun mom” who is always doing activities and crafts with her kids. But I’m not any of those moms. I’m just…me.
Isn’t this attitude typical, though? Rather than recognizing the gifts we do have and celebrating the differing gifts of our friends, we are constantly tempted to compare. Sometimes it makes us feel better about ourselves, other times worse, but the underlying thought is the same: This is what makes a good mom. This is the measure of my worth.
What a devious, joy-strangling lie this is! Your value is not dependent on you, but was proven when Christ gave His life in your stead—you were worth it in His eyes. His love for you was never earned, and it can never be lost. You are neither more nor less than any other mom, whether you are the Mary Poppins of motherhood or the one who makes the “hot mess mom” look good.
What’s more, the very objects of our motherhood—our children—do not measure us by the standards we put on ourselves. Granted, their immature minds might temporarily consider us horrible for not letting them eat cookies every meal of the day. But what will they most value about us when they reach adulthood? Chances are it will not be the firmness of our abdominal muscles, or whether we made sure the throw pillows matched the curtains. They probably won’t even recall most details of the lessons they were taught in school, or the particular activities we organized. But they will remember whether we gave them love, understanding, encouragement, and words of wisdom. I know I personally need to work harder not to become so engrossed in the “what” of my parenting that I forget all about the “how.”
And then there is other reason we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards: to “keep up” with the other moms. That’s probably not how we think about it, but that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? We want to look good (or at least passable) when compared to other women. But there are numerous problems with the comparison game.
First of all, it is totally an issue of pride. Whether we think highly or lowly of ourselves, it doesn’t matter—it’s all about boosting or damaging our pride. But motherhood isn’t supposed to be about us. It’s about loving, enjoying, and training up these little people whom God has entrusted to us.
Secondly, comparison isolates us from other mothers. If we are always thinking about how we measure up, we probably aren’t thinking about ministering to others or opening up to them about our struggles. We are busy either building walls to keep them from finding our faults, or wallowing in self-pity that the faults are on display for all to see. Yes, there are many judgmental people out there waiting to tear us down, but the truth is, it’s probably because they are insecure about themselves. We can always remember that our identities are secure in Christ and that, though we are very flawed, we are forgiven and are being made new.
Third, as mentioned in passing above, it strangles our joy. When we focus on all the qualities we don’t have, we often fail to recognize and enjoy those gifts we do have. By the way, if you are strong (or want to improve) in one of the areas on my “wish list” above, I am absolutely not criticizing that…More power to you! Having these talents, goals, and interests can benefit both you and your children. If you are not strong in those areas, however, or if there is another area in which you struggle with jealousy (let’s call it what it is, people!), we can’t let that poison our attitudes. Recognize that God has gifted each one of us differently and equipped us with exactly what we need to accomplish His work. We can rejoice in using the gifts that He has given us while also celebrating the gifts of others, rather than allowing them to make us feel inadequate.
So what kind of mom do I really want to be? Long story short, I want to be the mom who is confident in who I am in Christ—being content with the way He made me, and doing my best to please Him (not others, not myself) above all. As you can probably tell from this post, I’m not there yet…not at all. But at least now I have somewhere to aim.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6