A long, long time ago (or so it seems), I was introduced to a sweet girl named Ruth Schwenk. We met over a steaming pot of English tea, around a lovely little table thoughtfully set with candles and an artfully draped scarf, in Sally Clarkson’s hotel room at the Allume conference.
New to blogging, Ruth was just in the process of designing a website she wanted to call, “The Better Mom.” Her idea was to inspire moms to become better mothers, and her plan was to do that through offering inspiration and encouragement, advice and helpful tips from a group of writers who would work individually and together. This website has blossomed into just such a place! We can learn so much from one another.
The truth is, no one has cornered the market on one perfect way to raise children. I can’t imagine anyone thinking they had–especially not anyone who had more than one! This site was built on that very premise: that gathering the wisdom of many different women from different walks of life, who all center their mothering and indeed, their lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the best ways we all can grow–that we all can work toward becoming better moms.
However, there’s one thing I think we need to admit: if it’s possible to be a better mom, it’s also possible to be a worse-r mom.
It’s not popular to define “better” and “worse” these days. In the name of America’s newest ultimate virtue, tolerance, we tend to pat one another on the back over everything … Oh, yeah; I yell at my kids a lot, too. We had Frooty Loops for breakfast again, too. My kids took a run through the sprinkler instead of a bath last night, too. Everyone was sent to bed early at my house, too. The television babysits for me, too.
Let me just say first of all that those things happen in these four walls occasionally! No one has perfect days every day. Some days (weeks? months?) are just like that–without Frooty Loops and the sprinkler and a bit of TV, we wouldn’t have made it through, right?
Here’s the problem: what if we keep patting each other on the back and okaying all the not-great things so much that we’ve forgotten that there is any such thing as better??? What if we pat our ideals right into oblivion by telling each other how “okay” we are?
I don’t need condemnation, and neither do you. But I also don’t need everyone around me telling me I’m okay if the truth is that I’m really not.
We all want to be better moms, right?
If I am not regularly available to my child, to share his wonder, hurts, joys, and discoveries, that’s worse.
If I’m yelling at my kids on a daily basis, that’s worse.
If I never make breakfast … or lunch … or dinner … that’s worse.
If my children never invite anyone over because my home is in a constant state of disarray … that’s worse.
If I don’t make an effort to bring beauty into their lives so they can see the incredible glory of God and His creation and wonder at it … that’s worse.
If my children aren’t being told they are loved … that’s worse.
If I tell friends/family members negative things about my children to gain sympathy or because I’m jealous of my child … that’s worse.
If my children live in fear of a slap, an insult, a threat … that’s worse.
If I’ve given my children no vision for the call of God on their lives, that’s worse.
If I never read a bedtime story; if the TV is more available to my child than I am; if I’m not making an effort to train my children in righteousness; if I’m not growing in my own spiritual life … that’s worse.
Before anyone gets all uptight over this short list: please note I’m not saying you’re a terrible mother or that you should throw in the towel and give up if any of these things apply to you. Instead, I’m asking us all to face reality and the fact that these things are worse than their opposites, and that if we truly want to be better moms, we’re going to have to admit them and begin working toward change. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward disorder. That law holds within our homes and hearts, too. Without concentrated energy toward becoming better moms–time in Scripture, time in prayer, time with older, wiser women who can tell us the truth and inspire us toward better things–we’ve no choice but to become worse-r ones.
And that’s not acceptable. No one wants to look back on their children’s growing-up years and see nothing but regret after regret.
So let’s drop the “I’m okay, you’re okay” stuff, shall we? At least long enough to tell each other the truth: that we mamas are all desperate for Jesus, and there are areas in which what we really need is CHANGE. He is willing and able to do the work necessary if we’ll only admit our failures and our needa.
What’s the area you most need God’s grace in today, mama? I’d love to join you in prayer! (Mine is impatience, by the way–and I would so appreciate your prayers, too!)
Blessings, Misty Krasawski