Mamas--Don't Be So Hard on Yourself

12:17 PMHeather

This week, within twelve hours, I heard from two very dear friends (who don't really know each other) via a phone call and an email.

The exact same dilemma. 

Feeling the weight of mommy fails.  Overwhelmed with a sense of not balancing it all well.  The reality of spinning plates that seem to all be crashing down.  Because they don't feel they are managing it all well.  They seem to feel they aren't efficient enough, they don't manage their time well enough, they aren't doing enough for their children.  In other words, I heard a recurring theme of "not enough" that seemed to indicate how they feel about themselves and their own efforts.  

Let me be clear.  These two friends of mine are rock stars.  They are legendary in the way they mother their children.  They both have more than the average 2.5 children.  And they both love their children with an intentionality and a fierceness that is shaping their children every single day.  On top of being incredible moms whom I admire, they are also both pouring themselves out for bigger endeavors.  You know, in all their free time.

And the thought that they are so hard on themselves leaves me baffled and heart sick.  

Because I think that these two incredible women represent a much larger number of women who struggle with the same thing.  I think I see and experience an epidemic among women and mothers.  

An epidemic of inferiority that has neither been earned nor is an accurate representation of the truth.

I don't know if it's some trickle down side effect of the lie that we can have it all and do it all...or if it's the fact that an information saturated age is constantly telling us "Five things every son needs," and setting up plumb lines of Pinterest worthy living. 

But here's the truth.  We all only have 24 hours in a day.  And we have limited energy and resources.  And yes, we can pursue the American dream and be working moms or stay-at-home-moms or corporate leaders or high achievers.  But, the reality is that we can't always be winning at everything we do.  We really can't do it ALL, all the time.

While we have amazing super powers, we are human.

And it disturbs me greatly that two of my dearest friends think they aren't doing it well.  What disturbs me even more is that I think these two are only the tip of the iceberg.  

I want to be clear.  I want to be heard.  I need every tired mama or man or single or married or guy or girl to know something.

Quit being so hard on yourself.  

Quit comparing your efforts to a movie or photoshopped images or pinterest ideals or television standards or even glossy magazine articles.  Quit comparing your home to HGTV and your efforts at work to Fortune 500 success stories and your mothering to Michelle Duggar.  Quit comparing your life to your perceptions of the people around you.  Just quit comparing at all.

Because personally, I feel strongly that in doing so, we are hearing lies from the pit of hell.  We are hearing and BELIEVING deceits about who we should be, what we should be doing, and what we should accomplish.  And in so doing, we are defeating ourselves.  We are cheapening our efforts.  We are blinded to our successes--however small they may be.  And we are missing some joys and moments and tiny wins along the way.  

Mamas, don't be so hard on yourselves. 

We are broken people living in a broken world trying to pour ourselves out for other broken people.

It won't be all sunshine and roses.  

And we will fall short and be self-defeating when we measure our success by results.  

The fact that these friends are concerned about how they are mothering is in and of itself a measure of their "success."  Their heart for doing all this well says all that they need to know.  It says that they treasure their children and want to be good stewards of the responsibilities they are undertaking.

We will miss the freedom of that truth every time we get wound up with wondering if it's all enough.  I guarantee you that our children know when our heart is all about doing it well.  They feel that love and that intention and it offers security and well being.  It sets a pattern of relaying to them that they are important when we strive to give our best to the assigned role.  

What's of vital importance is not that we never mess up and we always do everything perfectly and never stumble.  Not at all.  What's of vital importance is that our kids feel our love because our heart's desire and our efforts are all for doing our job well. And when we do mess up, we teach our children how to ask forgiveness and how to let disappointments or failures be a learning opportunity.  I try to tell my children that no experience is a wasted one if we can learn from it.  

We will miss the encouragement of the big picture when we pick apart the tiny details of the day to day.  When we overanalyze and criticize and critique our every effort we miss the moments of connection with our kids.  We miss that it's actually in these hard moments and even in the failures and the grunt work of pouring ourselves out that we are building a future for our kids.  We can tend to be nearsighted to the million tiny things we do in a day that are actually changing the world.  Because the truth is that children don't generally keep score nearly as much as we do.  

(And good grief, moms of infants and toddlers--don't you know that your children don't have permanent memories yet?  Sure, I know that bonding and attachment and brain development is happening.  But they won't remember some of the missteps as you work to parent well.  I personally believe God gives this gift so we have some time to get our feet under us.)

Let us remember a few important truths of Scripture as we go about our business.  First of all, God is the perfect parent.  And look how his kids turned out.  Adam and Eve falling for the fruit of the tree in disobedience.  Their actions and choices did not define what kind of Father that God is.  They were good people with a good God who made bad choices.  And our children's struggles and pitfalls and rough seasons also do not define our abilities.  But standing with them through it all does.

Please hear me clearly, if your children are hitting rough patches and you love them enough to be working hard to do this thing well, then that in and of itself says all that you need to hear.  

And let's not forget grace.  God's grace is scandalous in breadth and depth and height and length...just as his love is.  It covers over all of our failures.  If we cannot extend grace on ourselves (or others) then we are denying the grace He freely gives.  An inability to extend grace shows a disbelief in the grace he offers.  He paid too high a price for that.

Lastly, every single weary and overwhelmed and worried mama, hear this.  THIS.  Loudly and clearly.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:10-11

He sees.  He sees your hard work.  Every day.  Every last tantrum you try to navigate with your kids.  Every last angst you have because you want to do your mothering thing well.  Every last effort, despite fatigue and exhaustion.  Every last diaper.  Every last teenage worry and school project and for the love, just trying to get through to bedtime.  

Not only does he see your work, but he doesn't forget it.  He doesn't forget any of it because it is part of how you show him love.  When you help his people.  And continue to help them.  Day after day, dragging yourself out of bed to give it another go. With diligence and care and concern that is sometimes translated as worry and fretting and even feeling overwhelmed.  

Don't be mistaken.  Those treasures in your care are his people.  And when your heart is all about taking care of them well, he is ecstatic.  He is not a results God who keeps score and gives out gold stars only for good outcomes.  He is a God who loves a heart that is bent on doing what you do in such a way that you are doing it well.  He is a Father who remembers and loves a heart that longs to manage well the job you have as a mom. 

The fact that you even think twice about your mothering and keep at it, day after day after every long stinking day, is amazing! 

So give yourself some credit.  Better yet, give yourself some grace. 

Because while you sit there feeling overwhelmed, thinking that you are stumbling and stalling in all that you work to do, I see you running your race with a heart for your kids.  I see you running hard and running fast, with all those hopes to do this mom thing in a good way.  

I'm not the only one.  Rest assured.  Your Heavenly Father is not unjust.  He sees.  He remembers and he loves it!  

In every mundane, exhausting detail that you are worried about...he says he loves it.  Because you are helping and continue to help his people.  

So mama, don't be so hard on yourself!     

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