Mama Confessions

So maybe this is a good indication of how many times I have to “check” myself as a mama, but every week or so I like to unburden myself of the times I’ve gone a little awry.

Last week was sort of a crazy week. We were displaced from our house for five days. We spent a couple in a hotel and a couple with some friends who were gracious enough to host us. In summary, we did not have our usual routine and we were around other kiddies, a lot.

At the end of the week I was so weary. I love my house. I love to be at my house. Fine, I admit it. I’m a homebody. I actually schedule days in our week where we don’t have anything. Like, at the beginning of every week I look to see what’s already scheduled and map out two days to stay home. That doesn’t mean we stay inside our house, but it does seem to balance the fun of motherhood [playdates, going to the park, shopping (even if it’s groceries, I’m weird)] with the responsibilities I have to my family [a clean house, clean clothes, a sane mama]. So to be away from my house for a week kind of stressed me out.

And it brought about a realization. And I think it’s one a lot of other mamas share with me. I have a problem; it’s kind of a secret. I am a comparer. I don’t want to do it. I know it’s wrong. I’m not a Judgey McJudgerson. I’m not looking at anyone else and saying what they’re doing is right or wrong. I’m… noticing [and worrying about my kids]. For example:

A few weeks ago we had our Parents As Teachers (PATs) evaluation for Lucy. I was nervous because Landon had his last month and landed in the “Needs Improvement” column on kind of everything. Physically, he doesn’t want to walk yet. Communication-wise he prefers a good grunt over a “mama”-yell. You name it and [according to the evaluative tool being used] he was lacking. So I started to think of Lucy at that age [comparing]. I started to think of the other kids his age we know. Counting up how many are walking. How many are talking. When they started to show their skills. [comparing]. I started to question what I was doing as a mom to cause him to fail [because really, it felt like I was the one being given the “Needs Improvement”.] Am I not pushing him to walk enough? Should I spend hours in his face saying words so he can watch my lips move? Should I read to him more? I’ve read the parenting books, I need to get on this. Right?! No. No, Beth. As Lucy says, “Chill out!”

So I was trying to relax about Lucy’s test. My kids are healthy. They’re happy. They’re safe. And they’re loved. We got this. So, willing myself not to be a pageant mom, I sat back and watched as our [amazing] PATs helper asked Lucy questions, had her stand on one leg, listened to her pronunciation, drew shapes with her. Lucy nailed it. She really did. She was “Above Average” across the board. So I asked her teacher if I was doing something wrong to have one child succeed so much and one so challenged [man, does this read selfish or what (me, me, me)]. And Kris, our PATs helper, was so sweet when she answered with a gentle, “no”. Kids are different. Kids do things in their own time. And I know that. I need to own that. I need to relax.

So the next time we have a playdate and Lucy’s friend knows all of her shapes and colors [Lucy calls everything blue. Colors, shapes, doesn’t matter. The answer is blue.] I need to be okay with that. And that’s where God’s grace came in this week. I’ve been reading “The Mission of Motherhood” by Sally Clarkson. What a perspective-changer. Motherhood isn’t about raising the smartest, best mannered, most popular kids. My kids aren’t a challenge to overcome; they’re God’s children and my greatest task is to lead them to Him.

Mrs. Clarkson said on motherhood, “Now most of the time I stay home. I spend a great deal of time doing things that will need to be done over and over again -washing clothes, cooking meals, cleaning messes, correcting attitudes, teaching, and training- over and over and over again….I have given up my personal rights to the priority of addressing my children’s needs first. When we choose to sacrifice our own goals and desires to serve our children, we, too, are furthering his eternal work. We know that, through our labor and love, over time he will faithfully build our children into a righteous heritage.”

So she says, “If we focus on intellect, social status, or wealth, it’s almost certain that we will eventually feel we don’t quite measure up. How comforting it is, then, to realize that the goals God has called us to as parents are accomplishable. Any parent in any station of life has the ability to reach his or her child’s heart for Christ and his purposes. All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack. The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children. He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies, to prepare their hearts for what he has in mind.”

What a relief. God knows my weaknesses. He’s got this. When I embrace motherhood. When I shift my efforts from trying to figure out if my kids are on the right track- if they’re measuring up to eachother and everyone else- to just loving them and leading them to Him. Spending my efforts on being the kind of servant that I want them to be. Showing them patience, loving them unconditionally, and having right responses to the surprises life brings.

I’ll end with a quote from the book, one the author’s son said to her during an ’emotional crisis’: “Mom, when you are happy and content and easygoing with life, even if it’s not all perfect, we feel good. We don’t need everything to be perfect; we just want you to be happy. But when you start feeling like a failure and overwhelmed with life, it makes us feel guilty, as though it’s our fault and that we haven’t done enough. We feel like we have disappointed you!”

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11 thoughts on “Mama Confessions

  1. caseyneeb says:

    Man, that comment by the son at the end there totally cut my heart. Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this, Beth. And so eloquently, too.

  2. brittani says:

    Beth I love you and this post was encouraging/humbling to me as always!!!

  3. mommalovescookin says:

    Thank you!!

  4. Finally at 5am, when I’m nursing Rye I have time to read your amazing blog :) I compare / catch myself comparing Lilly a lot of the time with her cousin… it’s really been on my mind a lot now that we have another little one – especially since they’re both girls.
    I’m glad however that it’s a concern of mine and something I can bring to God – because if it wasn’t… well bad news bears yo ;)
    As always – very encouraging mamma beth!

    • heybethbaker says:

      I agree. It’s that second kid when your instincts kick in and you say, “this is different and this is different.” :) I have been really working this week on appreciating their differences. Because, really, they’re both so very, very great. And so strikingly different. :)

      • I had a couple dr. appointments today, which equals, lots of time int he car to think… and then of course that’s when God talks to me ;) He brought to mind that I not only compare my kids, but I compare myself to other moms quite a lot. Like, am I doing as well as them, have I lost as much weight as her, are my kids as well fed as theirs, do I teach my kids as efficiently as she teaches hers, do I basically do as much, as often, as well???
        A lot of the time I find myself in my eyes coming up short… Mentally, I know that these thoughts are seeds from the enemy, but they still seem to creep into my heart and I wonder before I fall asleep if those thoughts are true.
        Am I the only one? Do you have any advice?

      • heybethbaker says:

        You are definitely not the only one. :) Oh my goodness. It’s incredibly easy to compare ourselves as other moms but I see a common theme at the bottom of all your wonderings, and it’s that you want to make sure you’re being the best mama you can be. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that! I think in your particular case it’s giving yourself grace [which is hard, we’re our best critics]. You just had a baby! You’re moving to another state! You have lots of things going on right now! Hehe. I think you need to make Philipians 4:8 your mantra for the next few months. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right and pure, if it is lovely, if it is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy- I’ll think on these things.” Recognize that the negative thoughts that come up are not from our loving Father. Accept yourself as He does and push your mind and heart to Phil4:8. I love you girl. You are a GREAT mama!

  5. I’ve written Phil 4:8 on a couple post its and have them stuck through the house and my car :) Thank you so much! You rock! :)

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