I have heard too many times by too many competent women that they are the Worst Mommy in the World. People come up with this deduction after they’ve done something “perfect” mamas don’t do. Perfect mamas don’t yell; they don’t spank; they don’t feed their kids boxed mac and cheese four days in a row because that’s all they will eat; they are teaching their children to read-speak French, or paint the Sistine Chapel. Their kids are potty trained before three, breastfed until they are old enough to go to the refrigerator and pour themselves a glass of organic, rBST free milk. They are home schooled and their kids are popular and kind. Their kids don’t eat crayons or money or cigarette butts. The moms don’t need time away; they never want to be away from their babies, not even in the middle of the night. I could go on and on, we all have our lists of what a “good” mommy does and doesn’t do. We’ll come back to that.
There have been times in my life I have felt like I was the Worst Mother in the World. I was having a serious episode caused by my bipolar disorder right after I had been diagnosed. Every day, Small, my daughter, would wake up and we’d have breakfast. Then if we had an outing – say – story time, we’d go. At home, however, if we were there, I was asleep. I gave my daughter, 1 1/2 years old, free reign of our house. Yes, it was baby proofed, so at least she had that, but it would have been very easy for her to get hurt very badly. God was gracious to me, for no reason other than that he loves us, and kept her safe through all of that.
Although what I did was wrong, I believe it was absolutely the best I could do. I try not to get in to the ring in the fight to become a perfect mother. I hear other mothers say, “My sons deserve better than me.” In most cases, it is not true. You are the parent God chose to give to your child. We can never know why. If you are continually and unrepentantly emotionally and physically abusive, that is one thing – you should most definitely seek some professional help. But if you’re not continually abusive, you’re making mistakes or missteps and you’re still feeling guilty, you need to get some help too.
Help starts with God, and one of the best ways to let Him in to your life is by holding a Christian’s sister’s hand. In our MOPS group today I heard women talking about how very hard being a mom can be, and no one feels they can be honest about their feelings. There is this secret in our hearts that keep us from sharing just how difficult things are. I think that there are too many fears: Fears our children will grow up to hate us; Fears no one will accept us or understand us; Fears for our marriage; Fears that others will judge us; Fears our acquaintances are skating around “A”s and “B”s while our report card is filled with “C-“s.
I have a big problem with this. Last time I checked there weren’t grades being handed, but we act like there are. Here is a longer list of what “good moms” are supposed to do, and what bad moms do. More examples: Good moms don’t work outside the home; Good moms work outside the home to help provide for their family. Good moms keep their houses immaculate; Good moms shouldn’t be spending all their time on house work. Good moms make their children elaborate Halloween costumes; Good moms don’t celebrate Halloween. The list could go on and on but the point is there is no way to grade yourself without comparing yourself to other moms, and this judgment is strictly forbidden by the Bible.
Matthew 7 says, “”Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Are you comparing yourself to other moms or dads? If so, reconsider, because all comparison is a form of judgment. Paul says, “I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.” This is not contradictory; he is not asking his brothers and sisters to judgment him, but to judge his words. The reason I add this verse is to help correct you and me. He wants to know if his words are sound. If a brother or sister is struggling with the feelings they are the “Worst Parent in the World” their words are not sound. These verses may be a comfort to them. Hebrews 4 says “ For the word of God is living and active…. it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God will look at the thoughts and attitudes, it’s His job to examine us, and of course He sees us like Jesus. Paul writes, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. I don’t even judge myself. 4 I don’t feel I have done anything wrong. But that doesn’t mean I’m not guilty. The Lord judges me.” He was confident to perform his roles as a servant of Christ, even as he was being judged. If you throw away your score card you are still going to have others judge your fitness as a parent, but it’s not something you have to accept. There will always be reasons to find fault with each other, but it’s not helpful and it doesn’t lead us to parenthood with joy.
P.S. I’m going to Mexico tomorrow so I won’t be writing for a week. Pray for us or wish us a Bon Voyage.