There is NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT MOM. Sorry, hate to break it to you, but you will never be one.
Deep inside this mother heart, we love our kids... LIKE CRAZY. They may even make us feel a little crazy, cause us to say and do the things we swore "I will never...," and then there's the 9 months of being a human incubator, the contractions, the mortification over even the possibility that you might (gasp!) poop on the birthing table, the sore nipples, the sleepless nights... yeah, I'd continue, but I am pretty sure I already went too far... In spite of the beautiful battle known as motherhood, we love our kids. We LOVE them unconditionally. They grab a hold of our hearts and pull at them in ways we never imagined possible. It seems natural to want to be good at motherhood. Heck, who wouldn't want to be perfect at it? No one wants to "mess up their kids" or "get it wrong."
So we try to get it right. We look to Food Network, mommy blogs, Pinterest for the latest and greatest in ideas for our kitchens and homes. We compare ourselves to our friends, our moms, the woman who lives next door who has never once raised her voice, some random woman out in the blogosphere with great family pictures, creative ideas, and amazing themed birthday parties for her small ones. We live in a cycle of trying out a new routine, adhering to it, and then suddenly life changes and the routine goes out the window, the house is a mess and the kids are staying up too late... so we find a slightly different way of organizing our lives and go through the cycle yet again. We chase perfection. We chase the perfect mom identity. We buy certain clothes, buy certain foods, use certain products. We often feel like we are getting it wrong, not good enough, less than someone else. We chase perfection. And on top of it, we now live in a post Pinterest/mommy-blog society where you simply can't have a wedding/birthday party/home/get together without an amazing theme, unique favors, hand crafted signs, and hand-dyed coffee filter lanterns. (And I am not actually against these things. I think it's all fun, but...) The pressure we live under to achieve "good mom" status is pretty incredible!
Here's just some thoughts (disclaimer: these are just thoughts and certainly not judgments or accusations): I have never quite understood why the SUV got to be so popular. I understand that in some scenarios they are the best vehicle (i.e. family in the mountains...). But I never quite understood what was so bad about a mini-van. I hear people say "I will never drive a mini-van." Why? Because they are ugly? Because they have a reputation for being driven by crazy soccer moms carting their kids all over the town? They are just (typically) two seats and two benches on a car frame. They get decent gas milage. They hold a bunch of kids. The slider doors prevent reckless kids from dinging another person's car when they exit. For the size and number of seating, they are affordable. Am I missing something?
I still remember the commercial from when I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 years old. There's a car pool line full of beige mini-vans and a line of kids with baffled faces unable to determine which van belonged to their parents. And then, the ultra sleek SUV comes riding in and a couple of youngsters walk confidently out from amongst their confused peers to their very cool mom's SUV. They know who they are. They know where they belong. They have an identity. They are cool.
Like I said, please don't think I am accusing you of anything because you drive an SUV or want to drive an SUV. I am not. And like I said, I do realize there are reasons and maybe even some I haven't mentioned or realized as to why one would want to drive an SUV. The SUV isn't even really the point. I really don't care about the car. It's the heart of the matter that's important. We all want an identity. And preferably not a frumpy mini-van, crazed soccer mom one. We want to be cool. We want to be a good mom. We want to be enough.
And there it is: the heart of the matter, the reason I mention SUV's. I could be completely wrong here, but I have a feeling one of the reasons the SUV got so popular so fast is because women wanted an identity that said "I am a good mom." I don't drive mini-vans. I drive SUV's! I have an identity! You can't buy an identity that makes you a good mom. You can't craft or cook or crochet or hot glue up a good-mom identity.
Perfection doesn't exist. So if you have ever looked at a woman (or even this woman) and felt that twinge of I will never measure up... KNOCK IT OFF! I think of the "mommy bloggers:" we are our own life's photographers. We hand people snapshots of our lives. We focus in our project, occasionally throwing in a story, thought, or family moment. We often leave parts of our lives blurry so that what we are trying to convey is in focus. We crop our messes and edit our shortcomings. And even if we expose our shortcomings, we at the very least leave out the mundane activities and our constant stream of thoughts. We all do this whether blogger or just chatting it up with a friend over coffee. We highlight our successes and occasionally touch on our failures. We scramble to shove our messes into drawers when we find out we have last minute company. We all hand people photographs of our lives, and a good photographer understands that a good photograph doesn't capture everything... it captures the best things. Photographs don't lie; but they don't tell the entire story. And truthfully, who in the world wants to see me sitting in my frumpy fleece pajama bottoms, feet up, desk disaster, typing in front of a laptop screen?! And most often, my frumpy appearance, among other things, is simply not what I am focusing on as I write. The point? I am human. Crafters are human. Mommy bloggers are human. Pastor's wives, your best friend, your mother-in-law... all human. There is no super woman, no perfection... just a bunch of moms who are doing their little bit and giving you a cropped snapshot of it.
So, be you. Do what you love to do (and the things you need to do too, ahem, the dishes). And dang it woman, STOP COMPARING YOURSELF!
Stop looking at what other women do, and thinking to yourself if I could just be like that, do that, learn that... I could be enough. If I could just use a drill, sew a dress, make a homemade bow tie, knit a sweater, have cool organizational boxes with cute labels on them, bake muffins, cloth diaper, I could be a good mom.
WRONG! So wrong!
It doesn't matter whether your home is decorated in the trendiest grays and yellows with pops of coral and blue or your home is hand-me-down-couch beige and I-live-in-a-rental semi-gloss white. It doesn't matter if your pillows are chevron-patterned and accented with fabric roses or your pillows spend too much time in your kids forts or on the floor for anyone to know you have them or, heck, you might not even have any. It doesn't matter whether you buy your kids clothes from boutiques or whip them up pillow-case dresses or whether you walmart-$3.88-rack their wardrobes (you like how I just made that a verb?!). I could go on, but I think you get the point.
That whole Good-Mom thing... comes from the heart. It comes from trust. It comes from faith. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). You aren't enough. But God is. And you can't please God by thinking that you COULD be enough. You please Him when you trust Him. And, You CAN trust Him--with your heart and with your kids' hearts. You can trust that He can take your shortcomings and the shortcomings of your children and cover them in His grace and use them for Glory. "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28) The whole Good-Mom thing comes from trusting God, from Grace, from time invested, attention given, and LOVE. Definitely LOVE.
And that's it.
Christianity is summed up in two commandments: Love God and Love others. So is parenting.
Love God. Love your family.
Love them how YOU love best. YOUR talents, YOUR gifts, and YOUR affection poured out all over your family.
And yep. YOU. You are enough.
Minivan or SUV. Frumpy or put together. Neat freak and ducks-in-a-row or free-spirit soaring through the mess. Anthropology or Walmart. Crafter or mess-maker. Culinary skills or fire alarm skills.
You are enough.
Here's to YOU mom!
Happy Mother's Day!
Just in case it wasn't clear: I do projects because I enjoy them. I put them up on the blogosphere because I like to share, because I truly believe if you want to learn to sew or craft or cook YOU CAN, and because I love the opportunity to do just what this post hopefully did... give you the message of encouragement, peace and hope that YOU ARE ENOUGH... project-maker or not. Your worth is far above rubies and pearls... and your worth is far above your ability to cook, sew, or craft (in fact those things aren't even in the equation). You are unique, one-of-a-kind, and you can be a conquering housewife by simply trusting God... and, REALLY, it takes NOTHING else.