We live in a culture flooded with images and thoughts from social media. The modern mom is not just getting input from her friends and family how to parent her children, but from countless sources through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. There is pressure to be a “Pinterest Perfect Mom.”
You should have the perfectly DIY-decorated house, that you woke up at 5am to get perfectly clean, with your perfectly dressed and, of course, perfectly behaved children. And after dropping said children off at school in your perfectly sporty cross-over (because minivans are obviously no longer cool), you should head to the gym to get that perfectly toned mom-physique.
The “Pinterest Perfect Mom” is the modern-day Proverbs 31 Woman. A renaissance woman. All wonderful things to try and attain, but an incredible amount of pressure.
All wonderful things to try and attain, but an incredible amount of pressure.
I recently attended a women’s event where the key speakers for the day discussed how to create better eaters and well-behaved children. Again, both things any mom would want and tries to achieve. The presentation began well and I even took away a few practical tips I could try at home.
However, then the tone began to shift toward judging the mother with the wild child in a restaurant, the picky eater, or the child without perfectly behaved manners, and I couldn’t help but cringe as I listened. How would the mothers in the room currently struggling with those issues be feeling? We are so quick to judge why your child still sucks his thumb or why my child won’t sleep through the night or how you could let your 3 year old play on a tablet at the grocery store. Why can’t we learn to listen a little more and extend a little more grace?
Well I, for one, am here, fellow mom friends, to say I DON’T JUDGE YOU.
God first blessed us with our daughter. After surviving the first few months of colic, she was a dream baby. She played contentedly on the floor while I cooked dinner. She slept through the night at 10 weeks. She could sit quietly on our laps through a church service. She would even join me and happily sit in the jogging stroller during boot camp workouts held in our neighborhood. As parents, we thought we had it together.
Then enter the scene baby number two. Beginning with our first night at the hospital, up until age 3, he was a HORRIBLE sleeper. I remember drowsily thumbing through every baby book imaginable to get that child to sleep: Happiest Baby on the Block, Baby Wise, The Baby Whisperer…you name it, I read it. None of it worked.
I must be doing something wrong.
The graceful transition with our daughter to her crib and then to sleeping through the night did not go the same for him. People were always giving me advice, as if I must be doing something wrong to create his horrible sleep habits.
And that was just the beginning. He’s the baby that could never be set down to play independently, but needed to be eternally entertained. The kid who’d whine and cry at my feet the entire time I made dinner. The kid who would dump out the laundry basket of freshly folded clothes. The kid who smeared poop all over his walls – not just once- almost DAILY for a stretch (insert the sound of my crying here). The kid who’d try to run into the road. The kid you told not to touch something over and over…and over…and over…and over….and over. The kid who dismantled the vacuum cleaner. The kid who looked at the sweet cashier and said “I don’t like you.” The kid who could have a two hour long meltdown. The kid who could boycott every food put before him and survive a week on only milk. And the kid who, at 18 months old, was scaling the 2 stories tall slide at the bouncy house to his parents’ shock and horror.
Does he have any admirable traits you must be wondering? Sure. Plenty of them. But he is the kid that humbled me. And he continues to humble me every day. I can’t thank the Lord enough for stretching me and challenging me with that beautiful little boy to knock out every ounce of pride left in my bones.
You see, he is the reason I don’t judge you. God made this spirited, energetic, charismatic little boy to teach me that it’s not all about me. His choices are not always a direct reflection of the quality of my parenting. Some of our kids’ antics are just about that beautiful, and unique, little mind God has put in them.
That, and as parents, we are all trying to figure it out. We are stumbling through the dark trying to figure each of these little people out, doing the best we can.
Are there some absolute rights and wrongs? Of course. Pre-babies, I worked in Child Welfare and know first-hand there are some absolutes. Don’t shake your baby. Don’t leave your kid in a hot car. Don’t leave your three year old to babysit the newborn while you get high with your boyfriend. I could go on. But I am not talking about those sort of things. I am talking about all the gray areas where we judge and tear each other down instead of extending love and grace.
Have I made my share of mistakes? Certainly. But I need the freedom and the room to learn how to get my three year old to eat his dinner, as opposed to you sending me an article titled “The Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Your Fault Your Child Is a Picky Eater.”
I need the freedom and the room to learn.
Instead of pointing a blaming finger, we need to extend encouragement to each other as we wrestle with the hardest, or at times the most monotonous, challenges of parenthood.
I first and foremost want my babies to grow up knowing that their Lord and Savior Loves them and to see their parents following Him. After that, everything else will fall into place, right? And let’s be honest, we’re all going to give our kids some reason to need counseling as adults. So let’s just take a deep breath and except that fact.
As for the “Pinterest Perfect Mom,” I am not her and won’t be striving to be so. I want my children to witness a mother who needs Jesus, not someone who thinks she can do it on her own.
And for the Proverbs 31 Woman, I don’t think she ever intended to lay on the pressure in the way its been felt. I love how one book I recently read pointed out that the qualities of this ideal woman (who, by the way, some scholars believe was written about Ruth) were not all achieved in one day. The Proverb is written poetically. It’s not written as a historical account documenting this mother’s task list of the day, but as poetry, and thus needs to be read in such a way. It was more likely a snapshot of her life, a song of praise about her virtues over the years, not of a single day. How freeing is that?!
So if you run into me anytime soon, there’s a good chance my kids’ hair won’t be brushed, I’ll have baby spit up on my shirt and bags under my eyes, and it’s a toss up if my preschooler will greet you with a hello or honk at you like a goose. And I’m okay with that.
I’m not judging if you aren’t.