My heart sunk as I pulled the laundry from the washer. I had stuck a pen in my back pocket the day before and completely forgotten about it. Now, there it sat in the bottom of the washer, taunting me, making me wonder how many pieces of clothing had been affected. I looked quickly through the clothing, and much to my relief found no proof that the pen had leaked. Later however, as I folded the laundry, I pulled out one of my husband’s favorite shirts. One of his favorite shirts that now had a large purple ink stain on the very front. I had ruined his shirt. I felt horrible.
Have you ever done something that made you feel horrible or had a day when it seemed everything was going wrong and you couldn’t do anything right? Have you ever had a day when you wished you were a better mom, a better wife, or perhaps better at checking the pockets of your jeans before tossing them in the wash? I think we all have days when we feel like we fall short. We feel we fall short not only of meeting the expectations of others, but the expectations we have for ourselves as well. Expectations that we often allow to define us as moms, wives, coworkers, or friends. If the expectations are not met, we then label ourselves as a failure. Have you ever done that?
I read a blogpost the other day that had a list of what the author called “universal truths of motherhood”. “Universal truths” that she feels are true for every single mom on the planet. Now, as I first read over them, I was anxiously checking off those truths that I felt were true for me as a mom because I wanted to see how I measured up to the rest of the world. As you read over them, I’d like you to do the same. Ask yourself if these “universal truths” apply to you as well. *Please note that I’ve only included only a portion of those truths listed in her post.
- No matter how much you love your kids, there will be times when they annoy you.
- By the time you get everyone settled for dinner, yours will be cold, and they will be done.
- Any quiet time you get will only occur during screen time, which you will spend feeling guilty about letting them have screen time.
- If you choose to use glitter in your home, you have made a lifetime commitment. There will now almost certainly be glitter either on you or your dependents at any given time.
- There will never be a time where there is no laundry left to wash.
- This also holds true for your home. There will never be a time when every room is clean at the same time.
- Any extra money you have will go straight to your children. I hope you like your clothing. I am still wearing underwear from college.
- Sleeping in is a phenomenon left behind in your 20s. Welcome to 6 a.m., ladies.
- Just because you managed to potty train your children does not mean you’re done wiping (butts). That will likely last until age 5, maybe 6.
- You will grow to hate the sound of your own name, and the word “why,” and “no,” and “snack.”
- You will scream. As much as you like to think you’re a good parent and you got it all figured out, you will scream. And then you will cry about it.
- You will feel like a success. You will feel like a failure. You’ll feel like running away. And you’ll feel like never letting them go. Probably all on same day.
- You will learn to answer questions that have no answers, like, “Why is that a truck?” or “When did the air start?”
- You will love more than you knew you could. You will also develop anxieties you never knew existed.
- You will have to address topics you dread with no advance warning, like when your kids ask when you’re going to die. My older one asked this for the first time while I was going from entrance ramp to highway. Seriously.
- You’ll lecture them on the dangers of too much sugar, then eat all their Halloween candy after they go to bed. Don’t feel bad — I’m pretty sure your parents did it to you.
- You will find boogers in places where boogers should not be.
- At some point, you’re gonna have to catch some vomit in your bare hands. Spoiler alert: It won’t be yours
Other “truths” that I’ve heard that could be added to this list are: moms who have all boys have their hands full, every mom bonds instantly with her baby, once a mom has a baby she can’t remember anything, and moms can’t function without coffee. I’ve also heard that moms do nothing but worry all of the time, moms are always running late, and moms are usually a hot mess. And then there is one that I hear most often and have believed from time to time. The only way moms can get a break is to hide from their children in the bathroom (preferably with chocolate). What would you add to the list?
Some of these “truths” we can laugh at. There are others though that we probably more true about us than we’d like to admit. However, when it comes down to it, are all of these so called “truths” true for every mom? Are all of them true for you?
It seems like everywhere we turn someone or something is defining what motherhood should look like. It’s in the theaters, on Netflix, and in our latest podcast. It’s found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It even comes from family members, friends, and well-meaning little old ladies in the grocery store. Every day we are bombarded by ideas of what mothering should look like. For example: a good mom breast feeds, a good mom prepares nutritious, organic food for her family each day, a good mom stays home to raise her babies, a good mom keeps a tidy house, a good mom has kids that never throw a temper tantrum in public. A good mom . . . you fill in the blank. Everywhere we turn, we find the world attempting to define what motherhood should look like. And, if we are not careful, it can become the dominant voice we hear. The dominant voice that can determine our thoughts, our actions, and how we see ourselves as a mom. The world sets a high standard for us as moms, a standard that is often unrealistic, unattainable, and leaves those who strive for it feeling discouraged or defeated. Would you not agree?
In the book of Romans, Paul writes:
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:2 (MSG)
Don’t become so well-adjust to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking . . . In her book, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Valerie Woerners says, “That’s exactly the danger – that we accept the world’s subpar cliched version of motherhood without even realizing we could be living something better. It becomes second nature for us to stay in the pigeonhole the world puts us in. We think we have no choice but to live up to the stereotype of moms as worriers and hot messes. The life we live is often far below what God has graciously gifted to us.” “The life we live . . . is often far below what God has graciously gifted to us.” Think about that for a moment. Have you ever wondered if there was more to life than what you are currently living? Has your heart ever yearned to do more or to be more than you currently are?
Valerie goes on to say, “The cliche of motherhood is that we are either perfect or an absolute mess – there is nothing in between. But, maybe the reality looks more like this: we’re sometimes messy-mommas who are being refined into God’s image.” We all want to be that perfect mom, don’t we? But, is that really what our kids need? Do our kids need perfect moms? Think about your own mom. If she had been perfect, what lessons would you have learned from her life? I think in reality, our kids need to see messy-mommas in the process of being refined. Our kids need to see that we make mistakes and what to do when you’ve wronged someone else. Our kids need to see that we have bad days and how we handle ourselves when things aren’t going our way. Our kids need to learn that bad decisions and hard circumstances don’t define who we are. That’s what our kids need. They need a real life example. A real life example in you.
Lara Casey, author of the book Cultivate says this: “We dismiss the dirt and the mess as bad, trying to keep it off our hands and out of our homes. But dirt holds a certain magic, cradling new life. Your past mistakes, your heartache, your circumstances, and the tension you feel right now in your season- every bit of it is part of your growing ground” Your growing ground . . . You need a little dirt for something beautiful to grow. Philippians says,
“I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world.”
Philippians 1:6 (VOICE)
If you are frustrated that you yell at your kids every day, that you’ve served peanut butter and jelly for dinner for the fourth time this week, that you spend way more time on your phone than you should, that you spend more time cleaning your house than playing with your kids, or that you don’t measure up as a mom, take courage. God is still working in your growing ground.
It’s time to let go of the idea that there is a perfect mom. It’s time to let go of the idea that someone besides you could do a better job raising your kids. It’s time to remember that God is always working. He’s given you a beautiful life, and He wants to you to live it to the full.
Casey, Lara. Cultivate. Harper Collins, 2017.
Woerner, Valerie. Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in Motherhood. Tyndale, 2019.