Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why We Don't Have to Believe in Typical Motherhood

A few months ago I read an article on Scary Mommy (which I'm not typically a fan of) that really disturbed me. The title of it was "Being a Good Mom is Making Me a Bad Wife." She described how often, when her husband comes home, she's exhausted from the work of the day and still wearing sweats. 

I felt sorry for the writer. She seemed genuine in her concern for her marriage: she wondered what it meant if her children were getting her at her best and her husband always at her worst. She mentioned how much she loved her kids and all the "good mom" stuff that she did for them throughout the day. But...

There's where I want to stop. I get frustrated when we complain about problems but aren't willing to fix them. Mothers have been raising kids for years. And before someone says that mothers had less to do then because there was no internet and no outside jobs, let's consider that they had to grow their own food and make their own clothes. I think we have it easier all things considered. 

There are two extremes in motherhood: neglecting your mothering and making your motherhood first in your life. Both are problems but we're focusing on the second one today. You are not a mama first. You are a woman, a Christian, a wife first. Your children should not be your life although they take up a good portion of your time when you are raising them. 

Life and motherhood can coexist. But it's work. We don't like work; we like shortcuts. We want a shortcut that doesn't involve slowly training our children to engage in activities that don't lead to pandemonium at dinner time. (It helps that they outgrow some toddler behaviors.) We want a shortcut that doesn't involve reigning in our own emotions and not melting down when things are overwhelming. We want a shortcut that doesn't involve taking ten minutes to change clothes and brush our hair so we feel refreshed. 

We don't have to believe in typical status quo motherhood. We don't have to make our children the center of our world, let ourselves go, neglect our marriages, and always be knee-deep in some sort of accident. Well, we might be physically but we don't have to be mentally. 

When we put our eyes on Christ, we start to remember that while we are admonished many times to teach, train, and love our children, we are not instructed to make them the center of the universe. We are not instructed to drop every bit of work to focus solely on mothering; we find no example of that in Scripture. 

Friends, I believe in the importance of mothering. You know this if you've been reading here. Hear what I'm saying: we don't have to do motherhood that way. 

We can develop an eternal perspective. Then when we are knee-deep in accidents and messes and frustrations (and we will be) we will remember that we are raising humans and this is part of the process. We will also remember that we're growing ourselves and this is part of the lesson. 

We can train our children and ourselves. We can train our children not to cry over every little thing (and yes, some kids take way longer than others). We can train ourselves to only use our phones when it's time to. We can consider alternatives when we are having problems with our schedules and rhythms of life. We can develop some rhythms of life: how do you think I write this blog? 

Pick one thing. Work on that for a week. Then the next week add something else. 

Set meal and snack times. Establish nap/quiet time. Fit everything else around those. Teach your children to help you clean for fifteen minutes right after breakfast. Teach them to sit and play with specific toys for twenty minutes while you make phone calls or update your budget or plan an instrument. 

Get out some coloring pages or play-doh or paper dolls (maybe not in my case but I loved them when I was little) and sit your kids at the table when it's time to cook dinner. Or use the Crock-Pot and go out and run around in the yard when your husband arrives home. 

Slowly teach your non-napping children to have quiet time (Pinterest is full of ideas) so that you can dabble in a project that interests you

Determine an amount of time you want to be on the floor playing with your kids and do it every day. Read out loud to your kids every day. 

I'm not interested in telling you how to do motherhood; I don't care if you don't follow any of my suggestions. I am interested in your considering how God wants you to do motherhood. This isn't about neglecting your children to just work all day and it's not about neglecting your responsibilities to be drug around by your kids. This will look different for each family and possibly each day. But if we're erring too far toward either side, change is possible. 

These are not easy changes. But it's too easy to complain and never change. If you aren't willing to change, stop complaining. 

We don't have to lose ourselves in motherhood. Motherhood makes us better people when we don't quit or give up. Approach motherhood with the same grace and grit you would an outside job. Would you show up in old, dirty clothes? No, you wouldn't, because that makes you feel horrible about yourself and no one takes you seriously. Maybe you have to change clothes twice in one day. Do it. Take five minutes and braid your hair or pull it up in a cute topknot. Put on some concealer and mascara. Life's not over because you have small children or children in general. This is the best training ground for yourself that you could possibly have. 

Does this mean you'll never experience frustration in motherhood? Please, do you have kids? This isn't a magic pill that will fix all the problems and create smooth sailing. But it might keep you from giving up on a life that matters

This isn't just me. I'm not anything special; motherhood is not naturally easy for me. I have friend after friend after friend who excels at this. They aren't perfect but they attempt change when they need too.

You can too. 


  1. Hi. This was a good post. One this that was suggested to me early in motherhood was to ask my husband what he desired of me, the kids, and my house when he returned home from work. This was a way as a mother I could submit to my husband as his wife. I don't meet everything every day, hello not perfect, but I am able to know what he desires to come home to and aim for that each day. This helps give me structure in my daily tasks and I'm how I manage myself and my time so that I have that next step to take. I worked before children and, for me, knowing what is expected or desired of me and my time/productivity helps me greatly not get lost in motherhood. It is a great way to remember God, wife, mom... :)

    1. Yes! Sometimes we think our husbands want something and they don't care about that at all! That's such a helpful idea. Thanks!

    2. Yes! Sometimes we think our husbands want something and they don't care about that at all! That's such a helpful idea. Thanks!