The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God has to be the heart of a mother. But what makes our hearts so lovely also makes them so very fragile. So easily hurt. So easily discouraged. On good days our hearts are so full. The fullness spills over into confidence and optimism. But on the tough days, when our hearts seem to be running low, doubt and discouragement creep in; and take over.
And on days where simply a sudden movement will throw my toddler into a complete meltdown that includes hitting and kicking and throwing and screaming; I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of comparing myself to others; other mommies. And suddenly I look at my unshowered self, my disaster of a living room (kitchen, basement and any other room my daughter has graced with her presence). Suddenly I listen to the screams in my head that are saying, “I don’t know what to do in this situation – I have no idea how to handle this”. And suddenly I’m not enough. Suddenly I’m failing. “How in the world does she keep it all together?”. “Does she even sleep or is she awake all night doing her hair and makeup for the day.” “I must be a terrible mom because I’m struggling to keep up with one baby and she makes having four look like a walk in the freaking park.” When we log onto Facebook or Pinterest and see all the ‘perfect‘ moms and their ‘perfect‘ children. The ones who are wearing heals with white pants pushing a baby stroller and carrying a designer baby bag. The ones who have a ridiculously clean, organized house. The ones who have the time to DIY everything, full time. The ones who have unnaturally well-behaved children in their pictures and videos. Why are they kicking the butt of this mothering thing and I’m over here like “How do I even manage to take care of myself some days?” Anyone with me? Anyone…?
They say comparison is the thief of joy. And once our joy is stolen, we begin to weigh ourselves down with a picture in our head of what a perfect mom looks like. With what she allows her kids to eat. With the number of (or lack of) tantrums her children throw a day. With how early her kids reach certain milestones. With how long her kids keep their perfect outfits clean (or even on their bodies for that matter). When all God asks us to do is to love them. And to raise them to know and love him.
When you haven’t seen the carpet of your basement floor in weeks because you’re too busy playing with your kids, you are not failing. When your toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store because you won’t let them knock all the boxes off the shelf, you are not failing. When your kids refuse to smile for a picture or when they rip the perfectly pink bow off their head and wipe their nose with it instead, you are not failing. When your shirt has snot streaks all over it and you’ve used dry shampoo in your hair for the 4th day in a row, you are not failing.
When did Instagram and Pinterest become the means to which we measure our hearts and our ability to mother? When did we start looking at snapshots of others’ lives and think that one smiley second defines every second before and after? When did we start letting their highlight reels become better than our behind the scenes? Mama, sweet mama, stop trying to measure up to the unrealistic goals of this world. Stop assessing yourself using the crazy, earthly metrics that have now become the standard of a ‘good’ mom. Quit comparing yourself to the ‘realities’ you have created in your head. WE ALL STRUGGLE. We are all just figuring this out; one day, one tantrum at a time.
God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect. And newsflash – he is also very much aware that all the other mothers you think are perfect – are not. It’s time we realize that too. It’s time to compare ourselves to what God wants for us as women and mothers.
Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31: 25-30)
So, along with this ultimate challenge to myself, I challenge you and every mama out there – let’s stop stealing our own joy. Let’s take a break from social media. Let’s open up our bibles and devotionals. Let’s hang out! Let’s share a cup of coffee and encourage each other. Let’s be more transparent. Let’s love each other. And most importantly – let us love ourselves!