A few weeks ago, I caught myself thinking about whether or not I am a “helicopter mom.”
I thought about it a minute.
And then I thought, “Does it even matter?”
As moms, I think we like to know what we should be doing. At least, some of us are that way. We like to know what is the best thing to do so that we can do it. We were probably the “A” students in school, and now parenthood provides a new arena in which to succeed or fail. What do we need to do to ensure that our kids are smart and healthy? Okay, we’ll do that.
The problem is that the “right thing to do” is not always clear, and the information out there can make our heads spin. In fact, the information is often conflicting!
This digital age is a hard time to be a mother. Moms have always had their decisions scrutinized by strangers, but Facebook has magnified all that. People seem to think that if they have “proof” that something is correct, then they should go ahead and say it. Plus, we know so much more about the details of people’s lives. And not just our closest friends – LOTS of people. It can lead to a lot of mental clutter!
I should really be providing my kids more structured activities. They are probably not learning as much as my friend’s child who does crafts every day and is involved in three sports. I’ll pick up some information about swimming lessons while we’re out at Target picking up groceries. Oh, scratch that. My goal for the new year was to start buying all of our produce organic and locally grown, so we better go to the farmer’s market instead. I wonder if my husband will be okay with spending a little more on groceries this week? I don’t think I’m going to be able to stick to our budget with all the organic produce we need. But he just said we need to get serious about doing Dave Ramsey. All of our friends are debt-free, and we still have a car payment. It’s a pretty high car payment too. But if I don’t buy healthy food we’re probably destined for large medical bills, which would surpass our car payment anyway. I need to stop thinking about this and just get out the door. Hmm, I have a minute. I can check Facebook first. Oh look – so-and-so just got back from exercise class and posted a picture of her kale smoothie! I can’t remember the last time I was in a gym. I just don’t have time for that with everything else that’s on my plate right now. Oh yes, errands… “KIDS! GET YOUR SHOES ON! IF YOU DON’T COME RIGHT NOW, I’M GOING TO TAKE AWAY THOSE TOYS YOU’RE PLAYING WITH!” Oh wait. Taking away toys is a punishment, and I was going to stop doing punishments after reading that article on parenting last week… I’m never going to get this right…
Have you ever noticed that the Bible doesn’t get super specific when it comes to motherhood? The Bible doesn’t tell us how clean our houses should be or how much time we should spend on various tasks. It doesn’t tell us which school our children should attend or how many extra-curricular activities they should be involved in. It doesn’t tell us how much to weigh or to what degree we should be “in shape” or how long we should breastfeed our children, if breastfeeding even works out at all.
So, what are we commanded to do?
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
I think that Titus 2 is sobering, and yet freeing.
It cuts right to the heart of the issue, removing the comparisons and the distractions. When our eyes are on ourselves, we can feel overwhelmed – like we are juggling a million different balls (education, health, meals, discipline, organization) and we can never hold them all up. When our eyes are on the Lord, we realize that He is in control of all those balls! He knows our needs and our limits.
Titus 2 is sobering because it contains the warning that we will dishonor God’s word if we fail to love our husbands, fail to love our children, fail to be kind, fail to care for our families and homes. At the same time, there is room in Titus 2. There is room for both the organic mom and the chicken nugget mom. Many on the internet would probably disagree with that, but it’s true. I’m not talking about issues of sin (laziness, anger, neglect), but there are many, many areas of conscience in which we have freedom. We need to feed our families healthy food. What exactly does that look like? It might be sandwiches at one house and something from The Pioneer Woman at another. We need to love our children. What exactly does that look like? Some moms will throw an awesome birthday party. Other moms can’t bake a cake to save their lives (ahem…). We need to be busy in our homes. What exactly does that look like? It looks like different sized laundry piles, different budgets for home decor, and different to-do lists. Because no two homes are the same!
When we compare ourselves to others, it creates anxiety and despair. When we look to the Lord, there is HOPE because the commands He has given bring clarity and peace to our lives.
This year, the women’s ministry at my church is working through the Bible study “Be Not Afraid” by Kristie Gant. In the fourth chapter, we studied Psalm 27. This psalm, written by David, reflects the cry of a heart that trusts the Lord and yet struggles with fear and anxiety in this life. In verse 4, he says,
“One thing I have asked from the LORD,
that I shall seek;
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.”
The word translated “beauty” here means “kindness, pleasantness, delightfulness.” So what does David desire to do? He wants to truly SEE the Lord. To seek out and reflect on His kind and pleasant character. God’s character brings perspective in the midst of a crazy life.
Psalm 27 ends with the source of our ability to trust in God.
“Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!”
In other words, we are to be strong, and as we do that God’s strength fills us. Oh, the simplicity of devotion to the Lord! As moms, may we desire one thing – to know Him above all else and to honor Him in our homes. To do the tasks that He has given us to do each day with a heart of contentment, seeking to love Him first and foremost. To allow no other pursuit to clutter our minds to the extent that we forget about Him. To follow the leading of our husbands – not every article we find on the internet. To love our children with their unique needs within the scope of our own homes with the resources of time, space, and money that God has given to us. When anxiety hits, pray that God will show you what areas you genuinely need to change and what to not worry about. God will not hide sin from us. If we are seeking Him, He promises to direct us in what we should do (Proverbs 3:5-6)! We must work hard as moms, and yet our working should not be a burden – we can have peace!
Here are some practical tips that have helped me when I am feeling pressure from others:
(For example, when someone says, “I can’t believe you’re still going to that doctor!” or “Did you know that those water bottles leach chemicals?”)
- Quickly decide – Is this an issue that I need to come back to for further thought or fact gathering? Or should I just forget about this?
- Check my source of trust – Is my confidence in my information and my smart decision? Or is my confidence in the Lord?
Have you heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy?” I think it’s true. Don’t analyze your mothering by what everyone else is doing! Confidence in the Lord and obedience to Him is the source of peace and joy!