Sunday, January 18, 2009

This is a copy of a post from My Charming Kids

it was a post that I resonated with deeply and I'm sure lots of mothers will too!

The Lord has been so good to show me over the last month or so a lot of my own insecurities. It's been so freeing to know that I am accepted and loved by the ONE who matters despite my contined failings and weaknesses. I don't have to get it all together in order for Him to be ok with me.

I love it! It's so freeing! I am free to be me in Christ. I'm still trying to figure out who that me is. One thing I learned that brings me comfort in it all is that God accepts me!! I don't have to be perfect. Jesus was and His counts for me! I am free in the grace of God to be all that God wants me to be. Free to discover who God has made me to be and confident in the reality that that "me" will be different from others...which is as it should be.

I've learned that I tend to be a rule follower. When there God's rules that's great when there not that's bondage. I am also free from that!

I'm excited to see what God's plans are for me and very trusting that they will be the best plan I could ever imagine. God is just good like that.


What's up with mother guilt!?

See, I was struck with some kind of small epiphany late this afternoon as I drove our MSC to an outing. MckNugget's face was dirty. And I'm talking really dirty. Like, there were probably still 14 calories on there dirty.

And when faced with the strong impulse to wipe his face clean of the honey/almond butter/marker/bread crumbs/goodness-knows-what-else mess before we entered our public destination, I stopped short and asked myself a few questions.

Does how my child looks in public really matter? Do I sometimes try to find my self-worth in how my children behave/look/smell? Do I unnecessarily impose mother's guilt upon myself? Is this just another way of trying to control things in my life? Am I afraid of having that child?

You know that child, don't you? That one with shoes on the wrong feet, snarly hair and ketchup on his shirt who's not quite potty trained but really should be? The one who embarrasses us in the grocery store? The one who we think makes us look like bad parents because of their misbehavior? The one who isn't perfect? That child who is just average?

I decided once and for all today that I do want that child. That I accept average. Down with mother's guilt! Unlike opinions that I held strongly before having children, there actually is nothing wrong with allowing my children to enter a public establishment with a drool-stained onesie, an outfit that doesn't match, or behavior that is less than adorable. That it doesn't display bad things about me as a mother when my children act like children.

And so I left MckNugget's face dirty, and we entered the establishment with our heads held high.

And then, after I realized that I do want that child, I realized that, accept it or not, anyone with children already has that child. No child is perfect, just like none of us are perfect. All children are messy, all children disobey, all children have accidents in their pants and all children are born without the ridiculous notion that how they look in public matters at all.

Because it doesn't matter. And people aren't looking at or paying attention to us or our children even half as much as we think they are, anyway.

What if, instead of trying to play the comparison game just to make sure our kids have a leg up on others, we just let it go?

Besides, where did all this mother's guilt come from, anyway? In the Garden of Eden at the fall, of course. Although I had my fair share to do with the promotion of mother's guilt. Especially before I had children. You know, when I was the perfect mother. I used to silently judge mothers who had to drag their tantruming sons out of Target by their belt loops, cringe at mothers who let their daughters walk around with food stains all over the fronts of their shirts and swear that when I had children, I'd never have that child.

And then, when I became a mother, I let a lot of that go. I realized that having children is hard. And dirty. And messy. And imperfect. And that that child was my child! But in turn, when I let that go, I picked up a new unhealthy habit: I found myself clinging to what I did do well, and propagated mother's guilt oh so subtly upon others that way.

My children always potty train really early. I use cloth diapers. We eat organic food. Look how nicely my children sit while we lunch at the Community Center. Blah, blah, blah, blah. As if any of that proved that I was a fabulous mother.

And that brings me back to my epiphany from earlier. I realized today how I long to reject mother's guilt.

Early potty training works for our family. But I am not a better mother for it. There are scads of 2 year olds who can produce much clearer words that the toddler babbles that still come out of the mouth of our 2 year old. But there is nothing wrong with our parenting because of it. Health and wellness are valuable to me and I love natural parenting. But I am not a better mother for making those choices. I didn't make enough breastmilk for Small Fry and I had to stop nursing her much earlier than I would have liked to. But I accept no guilt for that.

See, mothering is hard enough work without allowing ourselves to be burdened by others' guidelines for our own children. It's hard enough without giving mother's guilt to ourselves. It's hard enough when we do fail and have to face legitimate guilt, so it seems silly to add false guilt over silly, meaningless things to the mix. Mothering is hard enough!

So, here's to letting go of potty training stigmas, to allowing ourselves to be okay with being imperfect mothers, to dirty faces in public being socially acceptable and to feeding our children whatever we think is best for them. And to, instead, focusing only on what really matters.

Down with mother's guilt!!


Brian and Ella said...

amen, friend!!! thank you, thank you for posting that! So true and something I need to be mindful of daily!!

and let's definitely get together for a play date at the museum...we're pretty flexible...let me know what works best for you. Fridays are great...let me know when. we would love to play!!

Anonymous said...

Praise God to see you back on here. It's so good to always hear what God is doing in your life. Praise God!!!