Parenting - Keeping up with the Mom-Joneses
Baby shower games. They’re cute, fun, silly, and ALWAYS show up in some fashion at a mom-to-be’s party. I was 23 years old when I became pregnant with my first son and as my due date approached so did my husband’s departure for a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan. I was young, I was scared, I was about to say goodbye to the father of my baby before he even had a chance to meet him, and I had no idea what motherhood would entail. Since I felt a little helpless I was elated that at my baby shower my best friend asked all of the guests who were already moms write out their best piece of advice on a notecard. Later that night I read through lots of suggestions and very strong opinions about the “right” way to be a mother. Some of the cards contradicted each other, which was even more confusing. God bless ‘em! The one notecard that stuck out to me the most simply said, “Trust your gut. If you trust your gut you will always be the best mother for YOUR baby.” I threw out the other notecards but tucked that one safely away in my Bible and decided that as a mom I would trust my gut and trust God.
We live in a society driven by comparison. We are always looking around at what other people are doing, how they are doing it, and beating ourselves up because somehow we perceive that they are doing it better than we are. Motherhood is no exception to this; we spend too much time agonizing over our self-declared shortcomings than we do playing into our strengths. We try to keep up with the Mom Joneses because heaven forbid we bring store bought cookies for preschool snack. One thing my gut and God has always encouraged me to do is operate within my natural skillsets. To focus my time and energy on things I know I’m good at and enjoy as a mother. For example I am NOT a crafty mom. I hate glitter and DIY projects. You will not find more than the minimum amount of art supplies at my house (AKA crayons) because frankly it isn’t my thing. I also don’t like spending my time in the kitchen and when it’s my week to bring snack I have no problem picking something up from the Publix aisle and calling it a done deal. What I do LOVE to do is take my boys on adventures and daytrips and giving them unique experiences. Technically I am a Stay At Home Mom but I prefer to call myself an On-The-Go Mom. To me spending the evening in the kitchen trying to make Ryder’s birthday cupcakes from scratch because last week Patrick’s mom made hers from scratch (and they were vegan!) is just plain old stressful. I’m stressed out and I’m doing something I don’t enjoy and I’m taking time away from my family to do it. So his cupcakes were ordered from the grocery store bakery and had horrendous food coloring bleeding through the 3-inch thick layer of frosting which I’m sure stained some shirts that day. It was a win for Ryder and I though because instead of standing in the kitchen we went fishing and he caught a bass. But that’s just ME and that’s MY love language with my kids. You might be a parent who loves to bake and make adorable crafts you find on Pinterest. If that’s the case, go mama!! As long as you are enjoying yourself and your kids in the process bust out all the glitter and glue sticks you want to and thanks in advance for the vegan cupcakes. YOUR skillsets are unique to you and they are God given. The Bible says in 1st Corinthians 12:4-6, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” God created us all with our own natural talents and abilities that translate directly into our role as a mother. THANK GOD they aren’t all the same! If you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed or like you are lacking in some capacity as a mother (we’ve all been there!) I would encourage you to take a step back and evaluate if there are some areas of your life where you are trying too hard to keep up with the Mom Joneses. I frequently find myself doing a gut and God check to make sure that my priorities are serving my kids and my King. The best gift I ever gave myself was the permission to say “NO” to things that I knew would turn me into a mommy monster. You can’t sacrifice your family’s peace and joy at the altar of keeping up with the Mom Joneses. It isn’t worth it my friends! God chose YOU to be somebody’s mother. He chose YOU to bring joy to your family and use the skill sets He gave you to mother in your own unique style. God called you to be your best for YOUR family, not the best compared to another mother.
Trust your gut, trust your God, and give yourself some grace. You are already ROCKING your role as a Mama and your kids think you hung the moon. Motherhood is a beautiful mess, but your mess is blessed!