They had to forcefully remove me from the hospital after my daughter Piper was born. I was scared! This tiny little human life was depending on me and her dad for survival? Uh, no way! I just wanted to stay in the warmth and security of the maternity ward (and keep that call button handy!) I worried to the lovely nurse who had to eventually toss me out, “But what if I mess her up? What if she ends up on a leather couch someday complaining to a therapist about her awful childhood?” That very wise nurse simply said,”You WILL mess up, Jen. There’s no such thing as the perfect mom. But you’re gonna do great.”
As I look back on that story, I realize now just how right that nurse was. I did mess up a lot–and I still do! Back then, though, I was terrified of not being as good of a mom as my own mother had been. There was no way, I thought, that I could reach her standard because, well, because she’s my MOM.
And you know what? I never have become the mother my own was–because I am not my mom. It hit me one liberating day that I did not have to be exactly like her to be a “good mom.” I looked around my church, my friends, my small group, and I saw moms of all shapes, sizes, and sleeping philosophies being “good moms.” I saw moms who nursed, moms who bottle fed, moms who used cloth diapers, and moms who used off-brand disposable diapers– being good moms. Moms of one child and moms of many were good moms. Moms who worked outside the home and moms who stayed at home all being–you guessed it–good moms.
How is that possible? Well, as much as I love and admire my mom, I began to understand that she was not the standard for good mothering. God is.
But wow, the months leading up to that realization were exhausting! I pulled out every stop trying to make sure I was doing this whole “mom-thing” just right. I read every book. I watched all the right shows. I subscribed to parenting magazines. I even busted out a Better Homes Cookbook from the 70’s for recipes for homemade baby food.
It was all in vain–and all very confusing and discouraging! My eyes were fixed on the wrong standard. I needed to get my nose out of those magazines and into God’s book! God is the perfect example of what kind of mothers we are to be. He is good, honest, and truthful. He is loving, kind, and full of grace. He disciplines His children and allows them to feel the consequences of doing wrong–but in a way that brings them back into His “right way.” He fully communicates His expectations to us, yet He is patient and encouraging while we sometimes meander our way to those expectations.
Who have you allowed to be the standard for your mothering? If we look to the world, to social media, even our friends in playgroup there is plenty of guilt to go around. We simply can’t be the mother that someone else is . . .because we’re not them! As believers, we do have one thing in common, though: Our Lord wrote the book on parenting. Follow His words and His example and “train up that child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
What an amazing promise to rest on–and there isn’t a Mom out there that doesn’t need some rest! Happy Mother’s Day!