The Mommy Stalker

11:57 AMHeather

She seems to lurk at every corner. She appears to constantly be just a few steps behind me, watching my every move and stalking me relentlessly. She's the Mommy Stalker. 

It's as if she is constantly taking photographs to cover a wall somewhere with every documented failure. Photographs of every misstep, every mistake, every moment--all the moments. But the hairs on the arms particularly bristle in our off moments. Our not-so-good moments. Because that is when I can feel her eyes fixed upon me, staring intently, from her hiding place, just out of my view.

I can remember vividly when my life began to be watched and taunted and tormented by this stalker. It all began in 1997. When I went to my first prenatal appointment for our first pregnancy. And the doctor callously and glibly announced that not only was I not pregnant but I had never been pregnant. Insensitive to the magnitude of his words, he said something about me being young so I could keep trying and not to go too far because if he was wrong and I had a tubal pregnancy, I might need to be rushed the ER.

The nurse looked embarrassed at his rudeness when she saw the tears streaming down my face. At my insistence, she agreed to schedule an ultrasound and bloodwork. And then, as confirmation came that I had indeed been pregnant, I sat like a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the painful miscarriage that did come, graciously, within a few days.

That's when I first thought I caught a glimpse of her. The Mommy Stalker. As she pushed her stroller of joy and cuteness and taunting me about my empty arms. Everywhere I went, there she was. Darling and adorable with her perfectly reproducing body and arms full of baby.

While in the months that followed, my mourning turned to fear that I might never be a mom.

There she was. With a sinister laugh and smirk, stalking me. 

She was never far away when I did indeed become pregnant with my first born. She stalked me with jeers about her perfect nutrition and weight gain and lovely and text book pregnancy. Feeding my anxieties about my own pregnancy. Fueled by my stalker's presence, I fretted about my own health and the health of the baby. I became neurotic about every warning sign I read in What to Expect When You're Expecting. I felt sure that it was her doing. Her next attempt to stalk me with worry and concern and comparison.

This Mommy Stalker has indeed been relentless over these sixteen years of mothering. I find her on the playground with her brilliant and athletic children who never fight and always obey. I see her in the articles telling me all the perfect ways to say the right things and mother the best way and raise incredible children. When I drop my kids at school, there she is. Delivering a nutritionally well balanced meal in her darling little work out clothes with her magazine cover body, attenting to her children with a standard I can never meet.

This Mommy Stalker is there. Always there. On my Facebook feed, with her statuses about the nightly family devotions and incredible Jesus loving children who read their Bibles by their own volition every single morning. 

She is also on Instagram and Pinterest. With her head-over-heels love affair with her husband, with whom she always finds time for date nights while perfectly managing a beautiful household and cooking up admirable meals and never missing a beat.

This Mommy Stalker is at the schools. Never missing a chance to chaperone her children's events and lovingly tending to her children's teachers with regular gifts and love and acts of service. She's at every PTA meeting and at every volunteering occasion. And she seems to give me the stink-eye when I do show up. Because she is quite aware of my shortcomings in all the above categories.

Cause I'm just over here trying to get through a cold and maybe run a brush through my hair and hoping my kids don't fight too loudly and praying that I'm not completely messing this mom thing up.

The Mommy Stalker is there, lurking in my mind all too often. She makes her presence known on a regular basis, making sure I see her watching me. That I see her noting my every shortcoming. That I see her capturing it all in her mind's eye all the times I miss the mark. 

She prowls around, throwing out silent accusations, when I get a phone call from the school or my children struggle or we all have a bad day that just needs to be over. She is there, feeding me my lines. Throwing out her plumb lines and shaking her head with a tsk-tsk when I don't measure up.

This Mommy Stalker has invaded my past and my future, as well as my present. She reminds me of past failures and teases me with impending doom that will surely be the end result. Her presence feels nearly constant. When I sit on the couch at the end of a long day, and neglect a chance to prolong bedtime with my child, perhaps reading a story or a devotion or a time of prayer together. Because all I have to offer is a kiss on her cheek and an, "I love you, now go to sleep." 

When I allow our family to sit in the living and "be lazy" with our dinner. She whispers, just within my ear shot, about how I should have gathered them at the table for in-depth conversation. How I should turn off the television and enforce a family game night. 

The Mommy Stalker is in the television shows, the commercial ads, the magazines, the iPad, the iPhone, the billboards, the doctor's office, the library, the grocery stores. She is everywhere. That's part of her job, as the One Who Stealthily Pursues Me. Deliberately. Sinister. Accusing. Like a game of cat and mouse where I am the prey. 

She visits my day with regrets and future worries. She invades my thoughts with reminders of goals unattained. She ends up in my mailbox with advertisements about private schools or learning opportunities or magazines like Family Fun. She ridicules me with what I am NOT doing that I should. Or what I am doing that I should NOT.

And it's just so exhausting. This Mommy Stalker. I'm tired of feeling her breath on the back of my neck, gaining speed on me as I try to run from her. I'm tired of feeling the pressure of her presence. I'm weary of her chasing me down. I'm ragged from trying to evade her.

So I want to tell her something. I want her to know this.

I see you. And I'm done with you. I'm on to your game and your tricks and your accusations. And you need to know something. I'm done playing. I'm not entering your contest and competition for Mother of the Year. You can go on with your bad self and all your glory and good luck with it all.

Because this mothering thing is hard enough. And I'd much rather us cheer each other on than work against each other. If you want, Mommy Stalker, you are invited to be part of reminding each other one thing. But only ONE thing.

Our presence in our children's lives is more important than our perfection.

And we can not doubt God's choice to make us the Mom to be present with the children he gave us. It was his choice. He thought we were up for the job. He knew we'd fall short. So he pours out his grace to fill our gaps. He multiplies our efforts every day to make it enough. He gives our children an ability to love us, faults and all. Just as we love them without condition. He answers our calls, every single day, to equip us for this job that he called us to do. 

And if we listen really closely, we can hear his voice drown out the Mommy Stalkers and their accusations. We can see his presence overshadow theirs. We can fall into his arms of love and be protected from all those in search of our shortcomings.

He says run hard! Let us run the race marked out for us--for each of us, because my race is different than yours. He says I will show you how, day by day. He says I will equip you for each day's needs with fresh mercies. He says my faithfulness to you is GREAT. He says my love can fill you up when you are drained. He says my grace can fill the gaps of your failures. 

He says you are the one for THIS job. You are the one hand-picked here. 

So may we turn our gaze from the Mommy Stalkers and fix our eyes on Jesus.

The one who promises that he gently leads those of us who have young (Isaiah 40:11). 

So take that, Mommy Stalkers. I'm shining the light on you, there in the dark shadows of our minds and around every corner.

Your days of getting the best of us are done.

Because I am a daughter of the King of Kings, equipped by the One who made the entire universe, to do the job that he gave me to do. And I can daily surrender my kids to his ultimate care. Because he has plans for them. He has plans for them that will blow my mind. Plans for their good and their future and a hope... not plans to harm them.

And he's given me the privilege of a front row seat to all that he wants to accomplish in and through my children. As he asks only for my availability to participate and not for my abilities.

So there. 

Be gone, Mommy Stalkers!

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