How can we build moms up?
In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re focusing on moms this month. That doesn’t mean everyone else should tune out, though. As Laurie Gauger-Hested reminds us, we can all play a role in supporting the moms in our lives. After all, each mom is a gifted, precious soul that Jesus gave his life to save. As such, we should be kind to one another.
Often the moms I know are toughest on themselves. Wendy Heyn shares the familiar struggle of feeling as though she is not measuring up—to her own expectations or to those of her children and her God. Discover how she comes to peace when her focus changes—and how you can find that peace too.
It strikes me lately that we moms can be really hard on each other. We veteran moms can be the worst. My kids are almost grown up, and I know how easy it is to forget the infant and toddler years. I need to remind myself how excruciatingly long those days could be, how hard I tried to be the perfect mom, how guilty I felt when I failed, how tired I was, how overwhelmed, how bored.
Truth is, we veteran moms tend to romanticize and sanitize our memories so much that we forget all about our kids’ tantrums at Target and the Cheerios that lived under the sofa cushions for years. Years.
We need to ask God to help us be kinder to ourselves and others, which brings me to that famous saying: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
That woman whose kids are a little naughty? Her dad was far too quick with the paddle when she and her sisters were little, and she’s trying very hard to break the pattern. She may be more permissive than you’d be, but considering where she comes from, she’s doing great. So let’s be kind.
That woman with the detached look on her face while her toddlers are rubbing mud all over her yoga pants? God made her an introvert, and if she doesn’t get a few minutes of alone time soon, she’s going to implode. So let’s be kind.
That woman who’s always late? She’s low in Vitamin D and can hardly walk down the steps in the morning. She feels emotionally and physically tapped out before she even starts the day. So let’s be kind.
That woman who’s gained so much weight? She’s not lazy. She’s not overeating. Cortisol is coursing through her veins because of stress at work, her gut bacteria are all out of whack, and the doc put her on a new med for her fibromyalgia—all of which led to extra pounds. So let’s be kind.
That woman whose house is dirty? God put music in her, and every time she starts dusting, the dusting turns to dancing and melodies fill her head. She puts down the dust cloth, sits at the piano, and scribbles on staff paper. So, yeah, her house isn’t the cleanest, but—know what?—when she sits at that piano, that’s the moment she’s also doing what God gifted her to do. So let’s be kind.
We need to pivot.
What happens if we remind ourselves that just because we all have two X chromosomes doesn’t mean we have the same gifts?
We have different levels of cooking, cleaning, and organization skills—and frankly, some of us don’t care that much about the surfaces at all.
We have different levels of patience and empathy. Different ways of communicating love.
Some of us are naturals with babies, and some of us fumble around until the kids can clearly express their desire for peanut butter in English. Some of us love dealing with the drama of adolescence, and some of us enjoy kids best when they’re adults. Honestly, some of us are uncomfortable at almost every stage of the parenting process.
What if we just stop analyzing and comparing? We’re all human, and that means the calluses on our feet are not always buffed off, our bathrooms are not always swished and swiped, our e-mails are not always read, and our hot dishes are not always hot.
We lose our tempers. We’re a little frayed at the edges. We cry when no one is looking.
And we’re also amazingly gifted by God—every single one of us—some as administrators, some as teachers, some as healers, some as creators, some as communicators.
God made us, and he declares us gifted, precious souls through his Son, Jesus. That same Son forgives our failures and, being human himself, completely understands our weaknesses. He loves us and accepts us as we are.
Maybe we can try harder to do the same for each other. Happy Mothers’ Day.
Laurie Gauger-Hested and her husband, Michael, have a blended family that includes her two 20-somethings and his preteen son.
I often feel like I don’t measure up. I’m not as fun as all the moms on Pinterest who make creative projects with their kids. I feel bad that I don’t have time in my schedule to volunteer for every field trip and to say “yes” whenever I am asked to help someone. I can be short-tempered and respond negatively to my children. I fall short every single day. When I feel that I have fallen short, I need to be careful to identify my measuring tool.
I’m not as fun as all the moms on Pinterest who make creative projects with their kids.
Comparison. When I compare, I always come up wanting. If I think of 50 other women and list one talent from each of those women, the list is 50 talents long! My list? How do I compare? Yet this is often the measuring tool that I use. False measuring tools like this leave me feeling defeated. Each mom is a complex creation to whom God gave special talents and abilities. God made me and chose me to be just the right mom for my children.
I feel bad that I don’t have time in my schedule to volunteer for every field trip and to say “yes” whenever I am asked to help someone.
Unrealistic expectations. I often feel guilty that I cannot do everything and be everywhere. My children will even add to my guilt by saying things like, “Everyone else’s moms came.” Yet I am only one person who has 24 hours in each day. Measuring myself against unrealistic expectations—whether my own or those of others—only gives me false guilt and makes me second guess my choices. It is wise to prayerfully consider how my time can best be used and then to set limits. There may be things that I would enjoy doing or even that I am gifted at doing but that my family life does not allow time for. My first responsibility is to care for my family, and I honor God by doing so. Saying “no” sometimes is part of being a good steward of my time.
I can be short-tempered and respond negatively to my children.
My own sinful behavior. Using God’s Word as my guide, it is clear that I do not measure up. My shortcomings aren’t a result of a bad self-esteem. They are real. I don’t meet God’s mark. Thankfully that doesn’t matter anymore. My Jesus does meet the mark. He lived a perfect life, died, and rose. Through faith, his perfection is mine.
When I want to shed my feelings of not measuring up, I know exactly where to look—God’s Word. God changes hearts. He can help us be the moms that he wants us to be. He can help us to be moms who let go of our mistakes and bask in his forgiveness. God is the one in whom we boast.
Although time is often limited, time with God is time well spent. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” When we make time and spend it quietly with God, our focus changes. We stop seeing our own weakness and focus on Christ’s perfection. When God is first, our attitude about our family life will change. Pinterest, our own expectations, and the expectations of others will matter less—and the opinion of God will matter more.
Wendy Heyn and her husband, Juerg, have three young children.
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Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016
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