Every mother in this day and age has probably come across a webpage called Scary Mommy. Besides being a site with various articles, it’s also a place where you can leave comments, or confessions, anonymously about your motherhood experiences. And because they are completely anonymous, people feel free to be honest without fearing judgment or negative repercussions. As I read some of them recently, I have to admit I giggled to myself and nodded in agreement. But then, as I continued to read, I began to feel more than a little disturbed. Here are just some of those “confessions”:
“Everyone is always impressed that my four-year-old can read. Honestly, he taught himself because I’m too busy to play with him. But, I take all the credit.”
“She’s potty trained, but I put her in a pull-up when she wears a snow suit. I’m that lazy.”
“I get ridiculously excited to do our taxes every year. It’s the only thing my MBA has proved useful for as a stay at home mom.”
Now, I’ll be the first one to say that parenting is HARD. I can easily relate to the woman who posted that she joined a gym just for the free childcare so she could read magazines and blogs in the locker room, in peace. Or the one who fantasized about dropping her son off at the lost-children sign in the mall and pretending he wasn’t hers. I get it.
There is something to be said for being real and not pretending every moment spent with your kids is fabulous. Because, let’s face it, it’s not. We are raising tiny neanderthals who think the world revolves around them and training them one exhausting minute at a time to become productive, responsible adults who hopefully also love and serve Jesus. It’s no easy task.
However, I feel like we are caught in a trend of mommy martyrdom. As if the world and our children owe us something for bearing and taking care of them. We act like they get in the way of us pursuing our dreams, having “me time”, or romantic encounters with our husbands. We start treating them with contempt. I hear it from the mouths of mothers every day in stores, parks, moms’ groups and yes, even from my own. That annoyed, irritated tone which conveys to a child that they are an interruption and your (fill in the blank) is more important than they are. I’m not saying we should indulge our kids by giving into every request, or that play time by themselves isn’t important. They should learn how to delay gratification. But our attitude seriously needs to change. This irritation is the under current running through all of the confessions I quoted above and countless others on scarymommy.com.
Long after they’ve lost interest in all those childhood toys and had fun on all those great family trips, they will remember our attitudes towards them. Did we treat him like a nuisance, or like the blessing God gave to us? Did we act annoyed when she made messes or mistakes, or extend grace to her? Were they burdened with the expectations we placed on them and our despondency over our supposed mundane role as mothers, or were they delighted in and celebrated for being exactly who God created them to be?
Now I’ll make a confession: as a mother, I don’t really consider it all joy to serve my kids. I’m not particularly fond of the “used up” part of servanthood that mothering often requires of me. Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me… in as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 & 40) Do I serve my “hungry, thirsty, sick” children as I would serve the Lord? Am I dying to self out of love for Him, or because “this is just what I have to do”?
Mothering is an opportunity for us to participate in the miracle of shaping small human beings with no regard for personal space, no awareness of social cues, and hearts bent on evil into reasoning, rational, emotionally and spiritually healthy men and women. It is our calling to gently lead our children’s hearts toward Jesus in all of the seemingly monotonous, irritating “distractions” throughout the day. He refines us too, in the process. When we confess those longings, frustrations, and regrets to Him and lay them down at His feet, we can parent with grace and humility (read: not perfection). We may even enjoy the children we have been entrusted to raise, instead of simply enduring the daily drudgery of cleaning up messes, changing diapers, and breaking up fights!