(5 Minute Read)
My sister-in-law wrote this and I NEED the world to read it.
The pressure to become the perfect mom begins before your child is even born. Any time you log on to the internet there are new articles and opinions on whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, to send your toddler to preschool or to keep them home, or that you need to strictly feed them organic. One site says sleep training is crucial because solid sleep is imperative to infant development, but the next says sleep training is cruel and inhumane. Don’t give them anything plastic, but also the BPA-free alternatives might be even more dangerous. No matter what you do, do not EVER let your child watch television, but another article says if they never watch TV you’ll have a socially-awkward, sheltered human on your hands.
As a mother, I wonder which of the other mom’s is really getting it right and who I need to be most like.
The comparison race carries over into all of our social media and it becomes our fear, doubt, and anxiety. We see lives portrayed as if everything is easy and flawless and we ask ourselves if we’re succeeding in the same way.
The truth is, this is all just a highlight reel.
And there is nothing wrong with that!
Our media accounts are like a modern family photo album. We generally don’t paste photos into our albums of the all-nighter we pulled washing sheets for our sick child or rocking a colicky newborn baby at 2 AM. It would be fairly unusual to find a picture of the sink full of dishes or a video of the moment when everything was so overwhelming that you more closely resembled something from a horror movie than the Proverbs 31 Woman you swore you’d try to become the last time you walked out of Sunday service.
But friends, we need to remember when we start scrolling through people’s highlights, that they are just highlights.
Not long ago I found myself stuck in the attitude of feeling forgotten, unimportant, and like I didn’t measure up. Deep down I knew that raising tiny people is a big deal and raising them well is one of the best things a person can accomplish, but I felt like in the eyes of the world I was accomplishing very little.
Everyone but me seemed to be buying a new house, starting an exciting job, going on an epic vacation, and arriving home to their simmering crock pot dinner pulled from the stash in the freezer that they prepared in advance.
All great things!
But, meanwhile, I had a hard day with a teething baby and an over-tired toddler and I had to call in the healthy choice of takeout pizza while they watched a Paw Patrol episode.
I love my kids with all my heart and they are an enormous blessing, but I’m sure any mom will understand when I say that sometimes it is just plain hard. It can be really discouraging to feel like you’re accomplishing a million things throughout the day on a never-ending to-do list only to turn around that evening to see you’re fighting another uphill battle.
I love the quote that says cleaning your house with kids around is like brushing your teeth while you eat Oreo’s!
The laundry you almost caught up on has somehow multiplied itself and the wiped-down counter tops are covered in toast crumbs, once again. Adding to this, there’s the lonely feeling that no one really notices all you do or really sees you and that it doesn’t amount to much. You’re not getting a promotion or a “job well done” award and your life isn’t making headlines so it can be easy to feel like you’re not doing big, significant things.
As I prayed to God telling Him I didn’t feel like I was living up to my potential, He spoke to my heart: While laying down your life for someone is not necessarily the world’s definition of success, it is one of the best ways to let Me lead you into becoming more like Jesus.
That’s my significance.
It’s like the song that says, “I don’t want to leave a legacy, I don’t care if they remember me, only Jesus.”
That’s what success is.
I’ve come to see that being a mom means I get to leave a HUGE mark on the world just by showing my kids Jesus every day and raising them to be world changers.
What an honor.
I love that being a mom chisels away at the selfish corners of my heart, and I love that it’s a daily reminder of what is really important in this life.
It reminds me of what Paul writes in Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
That’s the legacy I’m going after.
The truth is, I don’t need to be the perfect mom, or “successful” in the 21st century sense of the word. And you don’t need to be the perfect anything either. To think we need to measure up completely minimizes what Jesus did for us. Finding our identity and self-worth solely in the way we raise our kids or how we do anything else in our lives (be it work or achievements) is futile.
That’s why keeping our worth and identity in Christ is everything.
He perfectly “measured up” so we don’t have to. Any time we get our sights away from God and try to please Him in our own ways, we’re bound to fall short. And that’s OK! It just shows us why we need Jesus all the more. When we try our best and fall short, He’s there filling in the gap.
And as far as the anxiety that can build worrying if you’re raising your kids the right way? I’ve decided to try my best and lean on God’s strength, not my own. Ditching the internet battles and handing everything over to Him is the only thing I can really do.
After all, He formed their innermost parts and knows them infinitely more than I ever will. He created them with a purpose, a hope, and a future. He’s got them in His hands.
I’m not meant to do it all on my own.
And neither are you.
I think one of the best things we can do when we’re overwhelmed with choices is to hit our knees in prayer.
Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
This tells me God gets it.
He knows this season of life with my little’s, and that the responsibility it brings can be challenging.
But He gently leads me with more than enough grace for each day.
And He leads you with the same grace, too.