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Stop Making Motherhood Your Idol.

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I can remember the first day it happened. It was 2007. Miley Cyrus was still a normal human being. I was a new mom to a very colicky newborn whom would projectile vomit every time she was breastfed. Blogs and parenting books were on the rise, and all I knew to do in an immediate nature was cling on to some vaguely appealing form of parenting and hold on tight, almost like choosing an identity for myself at a checkout line. My husband came home to sobbing wife in a living room full of unfolded towels on the floor, a book in my lap and a laptop in the other, and a screaming baby in an infant seat, and me viciously trying to figure out online what was wrong with my baby when I KNEW.

I KNEW deep down, as a woman who left her career to stay home with her baby, whom had never had any semblance of parenting experience whatsoever. I knew what was wrong with her.

Breastfeeding. She was not getting enough milk, and the milk she was receiving was making her puke. As a now eight year old, she still does not do well with dairy, which I had to cut out of my diet while trying to nurse her.

But when well meaning advice and internet and books and ladies in the stores will tell you, “breast is best”, you stick with it, even when your gut tells you NO, because that’s the motherhood identity that you chose at checkout, right?

You chose this identity of breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, organic eating, oil diffusing, homeschooling, cooking from scratch, or maybe career-pursuing, private school searching, daycare seeking, balancing it all, and while all of those are beautiful choices (really, they are), they do not line up with the heart of who you are on the inside, the hidden heart that no one else sees, but you go along with it anyway, because you sold your soul to the identity that you presented to the world.

Because that’s the thing: you read that paragraph above describing two women, to distinct “choices” and began to identify with one of them.

That? Why, that is the spell that current society has cast on the art of motherhood. It has slapped certain “labels” on it that persuade a mother, especially a new one, to prescribe to a certain set of parenting and behaviors almost as if stay at home mothers and work at home mothers are some sort of rival sports teams or religious sects.

They are not. But we all describe ourselves in this fashion. We feel the need to “create” this superhuman by describing them as such:

“Hey! I’m (fill in the blank). I’m married to (fill in the blank) and we have (fill in the blank) super sweet kids. I enjoy (fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank) and couldn’t live without my (fill in the blank)!””

Your fill in the blanks are not your identity. I can assure you this in freedom because I am a fill in the blanker myself.

It seems, for a season, that prescribing to an ideal in motherhood somehow makes it easier, that you live by these certain unannounced rules and OH MY WORD do not give my baby that cracker since it is not organic, but by the time baby #3 comes around, you are eating pizza 3 nights a week so save your sanity and carefully neglect to share THAT in your fill in the blanks. Because that does not “line up”, now, does it? (We still eat pizza and hot dogs quite often. Go team!)

I once posted a photo of my kids eating Lunchables at a Target Cafe right before we went to the park. A mother tried to “help” me by commenting that those are “full of junk and the crackers are not EVEN whole wheat”. Well, MERCY. Guess that did not line up with the mama agenda I had tricked the world into thinking of which I was a part. Guess what? THEY WERE ON SALE. And my kids loved them. And right now I am justifying a choice that is SO MINOR compared to the troubles of this world. Really, people. We’ve got it made and don’t even see it.

This generation of mothers has turned these false identities of motherhood into idolatry. We worship this idol of who we want to be instead of embracing who the Creator made us to be. We send out the trumpets of judgement every time someone posts a photo online of messy homes, or kids in the buggy without a germ free cart cover or babies deemed “too old” to use a pacifier. Since when did the world become our conscience? Since when did we allow virtual reality to define what REALLY happens in the waking hours of our lives?

If I could do it over again, and go back to the Hannah Montana days of the mid 2000s, I would have skipped breastfeeding three times over, dusted my mantel with those cloth diaper prefolds, listened to my gut and my grandmother instead of a parenting book, stuck to the jarred baby food that PEOPLE GAVE ME instead of making my own, and STAYED OFF OF THE INTERNET AND PLAYED WITH MY BABY IN THE FRONT YARD THAT WAS OVERGROWN.

Yesterday at church, the pastor put weight to this idea of a “motherhood identity crisis” that has been brewing in my heart for some time. He noted that when we wake up, to ask ourselves these two very simple yet profound questions:

Who am I in Christ?
What will I BE for Jesus today?

Jesus does not care that I no longer make my own laundry detergent. Homeschooling is not a religion, clean floors are not next to godliness, and guess what? Sometimes I still raise my voice.

But who I am in Christ, and what I will be for Him that day is really the only identity I need to worry about.

(PS: If you want to read about what happens when my children wake up too early, click (here) or what I do every night at midnight is (here) ).

36 thoughts on “Stop Making Motherhood Your Idol.

  1. THANK YOU! I am sharing with every new mom I know. Our youngest, and most likely our last, is nearly 3. I wish I had embraced this in 2001 when my 1st was born instead of crying for days because things weren’t exactly like they were supposed to be!

  2. Girl, preach. We’d all do well to pay closer attention to what is going on within the walls of our own homes. I say, if my husband and children call me blessed, I am one blessed lady.

    I do think it’s helpful to identify with women in similar life situations, but I agree that I am not defined by my fill in the blanks. Now I just need to make sure I act like I believe that. 🙂
    Sarah recently posted…Sunshine, smiles, and thinking about summer.My Profile

  3. Let it be known my kids get pizza 2-3 times a week. I’m grateful to Little Ceasar’s for cheap dinners and my sanity. I went through extreme postpartum for months with my last and I think that it only made more pressure for myself by the things “I ought to do.” But now we buy disposable diapers in bulk, have a cleaning lady come once a month and eat a lot pizza and turkey hot dogs. Because 3 kids under 4 is hard. And like you said, I would rather play with my kids then pretending to be the mom I think I ought to be.
    Tammy recently posted…Why I Decided to Start My Own Small Business {in the midst of everything else!}My Profile

  4. I dont read blogs for all the same reasons you wrote..but a freind posted this on fb and I am absolutely Loveing your honesty and realism! Im a mother of 4 and Lord knows im not perfect ! I do the very best i can with the grace given to me everyday! Honestly, its taken me “three trials” to get more than a few things right by the time # 4 came ..and yet still I found more things i needed to improve on im my parenting Haha! But by my heavenly fathers mercy and unfailing love , He makes everyday new . A new day to start fresh and be the best you can be to His children that HE entrusted us with. Take one day at a time. Breeth through the hard moments and laugh through the good and praise the Lord through it all! Thank you for such a great lil blog post! Maybe ill blog! Hahaha

  5. I love this Christie! You are spot on! We need to give ourselves grace in motherhood. Just because I identify with the organic, crunchy, cloth diapering, baby-wearing mamas, doesn’t mean that I can’t also use disposables when I am attempting to get the baby to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. And while I love to garden and have for the past 8 summers, realizing that it just isn’t going to happen this year is OK. Thanks for this post, it is just what I needed!
    Heather recently posted…Finding Local Food in Your CommunityMy Profile

  6. Thank you for this post! What a great reminder to submit our lives to the Lord. He created us each for the good works he planned for us, and how can we see that when we are trying to create our own selves and plans? I’m sure what he made each one of us for is far greater than what we could try to make of ourselves.

  7. Every morning I ask myself….”How can I help my kids to become a benefit to society and not a hindrance”.
    The rest…
    Come what may we’ll figure it out.

  8. YES! I feel like I’ve waited for and then fought for my little guy so long- whatever I do is never enough. I’m judged for being too upset or not upset enough. It was the same way when I was recovering the loss of our first baby. I’m tired of people feeling like they have to tell you every little thing and it’s usually done in a hurtful manner. Everything from why I need to get my seven month old son to stop sucking his thumb ( doctor says fine for now) to how people ask “are you sure your car seat is safe enough?”
    Kari recently posted…The Day Is Waiting by Don Freeman and Linda Zuckerman: ReviewMy Profile

    1. Yes, I hear you! It is difficult navigating the waters of other people’s thoughts and opinions. I am simply trying at this point in the journey to keep my focus on the Lord and not the world. But man. It is hard.

  9. Christie, what a breath of fresh air you are 🙂 I think after having 3 kids (we are a family of 5 as well) you just learn to roll with what comes much better. I certainly agree that nothing says you have to be all or nothing. So good to see an honest mommy with a heart for God and her family.

  10. I lOVE your posts…they are so inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for being so honest and open about your experiences as a mommy. I am married to a firefighter, so I can understand being married to the love of your life who is gone alot. ThaNk YoU!!!!

  11. Thank you! This is something I have struggled with for so long! I want to be able to do it all, but I just can’t. I always seem to forgot that God doesn’t care if I made a home cooked meal everynight or if I got in n out or if I just can’t imagine using one more cloth diaper, disposable is great! My focus definitely needs to shift, my kids don’t need to see a stressed out mommy trying to do it all and then eventually having a total break down they need to see Christ in me daily.
    Thanks for this! 🙂

  12. Amen!! I struggled with this and didn’t even know I did until the last year when God used a season of anxiety for one of my kiddos to open my eyes. This confirms His refining me to not allow motherhood become my idol nor my identity be solely about me as a mom. Your words were written as if I wrote it myself. Praising God today for your words!!

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