So often, we moms evaluate our own mothering by our worst days and compare ourselves to other moms on their best days. But both measurements are wrong and can result in a whole lot of unnecessary (not to mention ungodly) anxiety, false guilt, and self-pity.
When we get back from that awful trip to the grocery store with three small fussy children, or endure an entire day of teenage sullenness we conclude that this “worst day ever” is the measure of our mothering: total failure.
But then we go online—where a whole lot of mothering “best days” are to be found—and assume other moms have it altogether.
We read a mom-blog with gorgeous photographs of a creatively decorated, perfectly clean and organized children’s room and we assume this must be what this woman’s entire house looks like all the time.
Or our Facebook feed is full of parental reports of children’s latest sibling-loving, super-adorable, mature-beyond-their-years comments and we assume that this is what conversations in those homes must sound like all the time.
Or we pop over to Pinterest only to conclude that every other woman must serve fresh, delicious, beautiful, organic meals to her family all the time.
What we can’t see online are the ten messy-house, fussy-children, cereal-for-dinner days for every one Pinterest-perfect moment. So we must be alert to our temptation to compare ourselves to a false standard—a picture that someone else is trying to portray, or that we have filled out in our own minds based on a single snapshot.
And if browsing routinely leaves us prone to compare, overwhelmed, and guilt-ridden, then it may be a sign we need to cut back online and return regularly and ruthlessly to Scripture: to remind us that each day (for every mom!) has enough trouble of its own (Matt 6:34), but also that “as your days, so shall your strength be” (Deut. 33:25) and that if we do not grow weary in doing good, in due season we will reap if we do not give up (Gal 6:9).
Rachel, I can and do agree with much of what you say in your book regarding the ways in which either poor biblical interpretation or patriarchal customs have sinfully oppressed women. I would join you in exposing churches, books, teachers, and leaders who have imposed a human agenda on the Bible. However, you have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task.
As a woman also engaged in trying to understand the Bible as it relates to gender, I had hoped for better.
It’s that time of year when Christmas begins to creep up on me faster than I expect—only eight more weeks!. And while I haven’t even begun to think about shopping and baking and decorating, things are already looking very Christmasy over at 52home. Janelle has rolled out a bunch of new products that make fun and creative Christmas gifts for family and friends. She’ll be featuring some of her new products this week on the blog, and I will be adding them to my personal Christmas wish-list!
Mike and I have a new best friend. It’s the man that drives this truck. He just crawled under our house and removed a dead and decomposing opossum. Unpleasant thought, I know. And while that is a terribly unpleasant thought, let me just tell you, “unpleasant” doesn’t even begin to describe the smell. By this morning, the odor had spread through the entire house, making it impossible to even stay there anymore.Thank you Lord for Chik-fil-A and a mom and two sisters who let your crazy family crash at their houses. Our new best friend did give us some good news as he was leaving- the smell should only last a couple more days. Seriously?!?!
Before we get to some more specific thoughts on gospel-centered parenting, we want to talk about a few sources of discouragement for moms. Unruly children aren’t the only cause for despair; a big source of temptation can also come from comparison with other moms.
Meagan sent is this insightful comment about Janelle’s post:
It was nice to be assured that some one else has children who throw themselves on the floor and cry as if the world is ending when they don’t get their way and that I’m not the only one who doesn’t get around to gourmet meals every night. So often all people post about or share are the great, creative things they do. Like gourmet meals and hand sewn clothes and perfectly dressed kids. And all the status updates are about the latest adorable thing their child has done. (No one posts about the latest tantrum their kid has thrown.) And please understand, I’m sure I am guilty of the very things I am complaining about! But one can walk away from all of these posts/updates thinking that everyone else has there act together and this is what it must look like to be a “good” mom and wife. And when one doesn’t measure up to these standards one’s heart can be sorely discouraged and guilt laden.
As one pastor recently quoted Will Farrell (not someone we ever thought we would be quoting here on girltalk!): “May your life one day be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.”
Now I don’t think most of us mean to “pretend” or even to be fake. But this raises an interesting point—both about what we as mothers post and how we interpret what others post on social media.
In our recent series, The Connected Heart, we noted that there are endless ways that we as mothers can benefit from social media and the Internet. But we must also be alert to the fact that it expands the sources of temptation as well.
When I was raising my children there were only my friends and neighbors with whom I was tempted to compare my mothering. Today, with Facebook, Pinterest and the like, we measure ourselves against countless women every day—many of whom we do not know and whose “real” lives are mostly hidden from view.
So while we can glean many creative and useful mothering tips online, we can also be tempted to measure ourselves against a virtual standard of motherhood: a perfect, composite mother who doesn’t, in fact, really exist at all.