By Erin Davis
Disclaimer: This is not a current events blog. As a mom I neither have the time or mental capacity to keep up with current events nor the appetite to re-hash them. I assume you feel the same way, so I don’t try to write about every little news story that may or may not affect how I mother.
Now that you read the fine print, allow me to tackle a mothering topic that has been in the not-so recent news. (Forgive me, I have a stack of magazines three months old that are yet to be read and emails that have needed a response since the Bush administration).
But I did catch a glimpse of the latest TIME Magazine cover. It features a real mom from
Los Angeles with her three-three-year old son nursing while eying the camera with a
toddler glare. The cover story for the issue asks “Are You Mom Enough?” and hones in
on attachment parenting.
If TIME was going for shock, they got it. If their goal was conversation, they’ve created plenty of that. But the reason for the firestorm, isn’t the momma’s exposed breast or the age and size of her still nursing son. The reason people are talking (and I am writing) is because the magazine dared to ask a question we are all asking ourselves; “Am I mom enough? Do I have what it takes to mother well? And if I fail, what price will need to be paid.”
This week, attachment parenting gets all the buzz. Next week, it will be breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Inevitably, the co-sleeping, babywearing, organic mommas will look down on their noses on those who put babies in cribs in their own room, push them in a stroller and look the other way when their baby eats who knows what off the floor. And those mommas will in turn think (or perhaps say) something snarky about the crunchy granola mom with the kale in her cart. And then there’s the merry go round we all seem to love to ride — the working moms vs. stay at home moms debate. Moms in both camps feel the need to defend the arrangement their family has made in terms that sound absolute.
Sheesh! Can I propose a colossal time out?
The problem with the comparison game is that everyone loses. When moms constantly compare notes the result is only guilt, laced with unrealistic expectations. The mom who plays loses because she feels like she isn’t succeeding as a mom. Her kids lose because they are evaluated by someone else’s measuring stick.
Your mothering instincts are real. You know when your baby is ready to move to his/her own room, stop nursing, or go to school. Someone else’s child may be on a completely different timetable and that’s okay. Likewise, you know what you have the capacity to handle as a mother and which battles are worth fighting in your house. For example, in my house I love to cook and I do my best to feed my children nutritiously, but occasionally they have pop tarts for breakfast and popcorn for dinner.
I understand that nutrition is really important, and veggies are our friends, and plastic is my frenemy, but eating organic is simply not my war. However, if you are a mom who has strong convictions there, send me your address and I will ship you the tofu I bought last week on a whim.
My point is this — let’s lay down our weapons moms. Let’s stop looking over the fence and comparing notes every chance we get and work harder to stick together. Because motherhood is tough. It is made tougher when we exhaust precious energy second-guessing every decision.
It starts with you, Mom. You can’t make another mom stop comparing or start doing things your way. You must make the choice to put an end to the comparison game in your own heart and to ask God to help you prioritize mothering as an alternative to following
I will help you with a simple exercise. Leave us a comment below listing what you do really well as a mother. I understand it is easier to think of what you do poorly, but that is not helpful. What are your strengths? What do you do that helps your children thrive?
Then make me a pinky promise … as you read other mothers’ comments, do not think to yourself, “I wish that was my strength.” Instead, be thankful that we are created by a God with infinite abilities to equip us to mother.
I know it is hard to stop playing the comparison game. But it’s time to lay comparison and guilt and shame and doubt down and to mother our own the best we know how. We can trust God to take it from there.
For more on the question, “Are You Mom Enough?” check out these great posts:
• Are You Mom Enough? (Mommy Wars) by Rachel Pieh Jones
• Mommy Wars are Spirit Wars by Carolyn McCulley
• Five Minute Friday: Identity by Hyacynth
Note: For more on being “mom enough,” hop back on the blog Wednesday!
ERIN DAVIS is the founder of Graffiti Ministries, an organization dedicated to addressing the issues of identity, worth, and true beauty in the lives of young women. She is the author of Beyond Bath Time, which addresses the importance of motherhood as a sacred role. A popular speaker, author and blogger, Erin has addressed women of all ages nationwide and written several books including Beyond Bath Time, Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves, True Princess, and The Bare Facts, co-written with Josh McDowell. Her quest for the perfect scoop of ice cream is never ending and her children Eli and Noble are her constant source of entertainment.