Go ahead; pull up a chair. Imagine you’re grabbing coffee with a group of my closest friends and me. About the time the caffeine hits, the conversation turns into a no-holds-barred chat about motherhood. We’re going to get real about what’s going on in our homes and dare to share the secrets of what’s brewing in our hearts.
Before we dig too deeply, let me introduce you to the other moms.
Kristie is the homeschooling mom of four children ages 6 to 14, as well as being a foster mom.
Jordan is a new mom with one bouncing baby girl.
Victoria got pregnant on her honeymoon. Now she’s learning to balance motherhood, graduate school, and a job she loves as a high school teacher. I’ve had a front-row seat to her rapid transformation from single woman to bride to mommy.
These are great moms who love the Lord and see the value in raising their children with purpose. But they’re breathing the same air as you and me, and sometimes they feel suffocated by the realities of parenting. Some are aware of the lies the culture has told them about motherhood, but struggle to hold on to God’s truth; others simply wonder why mothering is so hard.
These women have helped me identify the lies that moms believe. They’ve done so by seeking God’s truth in their own lives and by helping me identify lies wrapped around my heart. I hope their honesty will lead you to discover areas where you’ve been tricked.
Why does pinpointing lies about motherhood matter? Why should we keep talking about the problem instead of jumping right in to find a solution?
Until we know how we’ve been deceived, we can’t weed out the old lies and replace them with God’s truth. We must take this step so our hearts can become fertile soil in which God can plant the seeds of His truth.
Lie #1: Motherhood is a roadblock to my happiness.
“I sometimes feel like being a mom hinders my happiness,” says Victoria. “My life changed so fast. My husband and I could do anything we wanted before becoming parents. We would go on mini-vacations or spend time with friends. These activities completely changed after our baby’s arrival.”
Maybe you’re not missing vacations or adventurous weekends. But most moms are guilty of thinking that the responsibilities, sacrifices, and demands of motherhood are a giant roadblock on the path to their daily happiness.
Jordan is brutally honest about the fact that she wrestled with this lie in the face of sudden loss. “We’d been married for three years when we started trying to have children. After four to five months, I conceived, and then miscarried at six weeks. We’d only known I was pregnant for a few days when I lost the baby, so the emotional toll was minimal. In fact, I was relieved. And then I felt guilty for being relieved. I knew a baby would completely shake things up and I didn’t want things shaken up! I liked my life. We had a cute apartment full of adult things, not baby-proofed. My husband and I had fun going out to eat in the middle of the week and seeing movies back-to-back without worrying about getting home for the baby-sitter. And not to mention the money! While we weren’t rich, I liked going out to eat and getting massages. I didn’t want to spend that money on diapers and sippy cups.”
Jordan eventually got pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. But her transition into motherhood wasn’t easy. She still wrestled with many of the feelings she admitted to after her miscarriage and, like Victoria, Jordan often felt if she wasn’t a mom, she would be so much happier.
This lie can be traced, in part, to the feministic messages that promised equality in the workplace and at home would make all women happy. Clearly, happiness does not hinge on one life choice, whether it is work, marriage, or children. But a deeper root is more likely responsible for sprouting crops of bitterness, disillusionment, and discontentment in many mothers’ hearts. Perhaps that’s why we see mothers nibbling on this lie all the way back to ancient Jerusalem.
In Ezekiel 16:45 and 48, we find God chastising the moms of Jerusalem for their bitterness toward their families: “You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children. … As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.”
Ouch! God’s harsh words put this lie into clear focus. He says the bitterness of these moms toward their husbands and children is worse than the sins of the women of Sodom. You remember them, right? Their sins warranted a punishment of fire and brimstone!
In other words, blaming our husbands and children for our discontentment is a big deal. The hard truth is that most us have happiness ADD. We look to education to make us happy, but the fulfillment is short-lived so we look elsewhere. The same thing happens with our marriage, our jobs, and eventually our children. We define happiness as whatever makes us feel good in the moment. But when change comes, we blame whatever or whoever keeps us from having what we want when we want it.
The Bible teaches us to pursue a version of bliss that is not impacted by sleepless nights, screaming children, or restricted schedules.
Second Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It is easy to blame our children when days don’t go exactly as we want, but God’s truth shows us we can choose contentment in all circumstances, and that the frustrations of motherhood are actually blessings if they move us to press on in the power of Christ.
Lie #2: The ultimate goal of motherhood is perfectionism.
Remember Kristie? Homeschooling mom of four and foster parent? She’s one of my motherhood idols. She runs her household beautifully and manages to have good hair while doing it. I’ve never seen her lose her cool. She’s a woman who seems to love every part of being a mom.
Kristie mothers well because she sees the value in making her family her top priority. Yet she admits that she’s felt the sting of our culture’s obsession with perfectionism, especially when it comes to motherhood.
“I hear two main messages from our culture: first, that motherhood is a distraction, an interruption from what should be important to me—mainly myself and a career. Second, if a woman does choose motherhood, the only way for it to have meaning or value is to do it better than anyone else, to be a supermom who perfectly balances career, cooking, chauffeuring, cleaning, personal time, and date nights … a supermom who has a perfect house, perfect husband, perfect job, and perfect kids—because if you’re going to focus on motherhood, it is only worthwhile if everything is perfect.”
You feel the pressure to mother perfectly, too, don’t you? We all do. And the lie that perfection is the goal of mothering—or is even possible—has put many of us in bondage. A part of each of us wants to forget who we are at our core—specifically that we are prone to sin and desperately need God’s grace and help in our hearts and live.
James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways.”
Paul knew this truth well. He wasn’t a mother, but he understood what it was like to be in a tug-of-war between his desire for perfection and his inability to achieve it. In Romans 7:19-20, he said, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Maybe Paul understood motherhood after all.
I want to be a perfect mom who achieves perfect balance and raises perfect kids, but I cannot do it, no matter how hard I try. That’s because I am not perfect and never can be. But we can find great hope when we confront this lie with God’s truth.
In Philippians 3:12, we read of Paul coming to terms with his imperfections. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
You cannot mother perfectly. But that should never have been the goal. You can mother with purpose because Christ has promised that where you are weak He is strong.
In fact, I want to encourage you to make 2 Corinthians 12:9 your new motherhood mantra: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
How would your world change if you let yourself move away from the notion that you need to mother perfectly and toward the radical idea that motherhood challenges are a gift because they clear a path for God to work in and through you?
Replacing lies with the Truth
Clearly, when it comes to motherhood, plenty of land mines exist that we risk stepping on. It’s easy to be deceived, and the results of believing lies can be disastrous. So, what can you do about it?
First, you can recognize the lies you’ve believed as a mom. Ask God and wise mothers to help you with this step.
Then, do the hard work necessary to focus on God’s vision for motherhood. No simple solutions exist. We can’t wave a magic wand and change the culture or reprogram ourselves away from lies and toward God’s truth.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).
Beyond Bath Time
©2012 by Erin Davis. Used with permission from Moody Publishers.