I have an announcement to make: My kids are not perfect. They never have been; they never will be. They throw fits, argue with one another, cop attitudes, and don’t always listen very well. They’re kids. And I love them more than anything.
And here’s my second announcement: I’m not a perfect mom. In fact, I don’t know any mom who is. I lose my temper, feed my kids fast food more than I should, let them watch too much TV, and probably should scale back on their activities.
But I’m doing the best I can. You see, when my oldest daughter, Maddie, was born, the hospital sent me and my husband, Mark, home with her and some diapers but no instruction manual. Thirteen years and three more kids later, we’re still stumbling our way through this whole parenthood thing. Each year and each kid present different challenges and different surprises.
Maddie is nothing like Alex, who is completely opposite from Riley, who is totally different from Kacey. Therein lies the challenge. When it comes to parenting, one size does not fit all.
We have an entire day devoted to honoring our mothers. But do you know who expresses the least love for mothers? Other mothers. Don’t believe me? The next time your child has a complete and absolute meltdown in the middle of the grocery store, watch how many eyes focus on you, waiting to see how you will react.
If you yell, some will judge you for being too harsh. Don’t yell, and you’ll be accused of coddling your child or somehow enabling the behavior. I speak from experience — from both sides of the temper tantrum.
Also, time and time again I have watched mothers of multiple kids scoff at the frustrations of moms with only one child, as if having only one offspring makes a woman less of a mom.
Some working moms demean stay-at-home moms as having it easy, and some stay-at-home moms imply that if working moms really loved their children they would put their careers on hold to raise them.
But why? What is it that makes moms turn on one another so quickly and harshly? Aren’t we all trying our best?
I often wonder how we mothers would have reacted if we had been around in Jesus’ time. Would we have clucked at Mary’s son who didn’t quite fit the mold? Would we have wondered amongst our friends why Mary didn’t get hold of that son of hers and set him straight? Couldn’t she control him?
Being a parent is difficult. Nobody has all the answers. Wouldn’t it be better if we all tried to be a little more understanding of the fact that we’re all trying our best?
As a friend of mine said when I posted on my Facebook page that I was writing about this topic: “Raising kids is a team sport. We all should have the same goal — happy, healthy kids who have empathy, compassion, and a desire to make the world a better place in some small way.”
With that in mind, I have a challenge for all of us moms out there. Let’s be nice to one another, especially this month as we celebrate the blessings of motherhood. Here are some suggestions for ways that we can lift up and affirm our fellow moms:
Speak up. Pay a mom a compliment about her child. People always seem quick to point out what kids are doing wrong. Turn the tide and point out things like how kind their child is to yours.
Don’t judge. If you see a mom who looks overwhelmed, offer your help. Have a friend who needs to vent about her unruly 4-year-old? Just listen. Better yet, offer to take the child off mom’s hands for a little while. (You never know when you’ll need the favor in return.)
Be kind to ourselves. Try not to play the compare-and-contrast game with your fellow moms. Each child is an individual, so don’t worry if you do things differently from other moms. You know your kid best.
Say a prayer for your fellow moms. Every mom has her own story and struggles. Don’t discount that fact. Rather than tear our fellow moms down, lift them up to face the challenge motherhood presents.
Be the bigger person. When you hear people trashing a fellow mom — or dad, for that matter — speak up. I know it’s easier to just go along, but I’m sure you would want someone to stick up for you in that situation. Remind them that there are no perfect parents.
Enjoy your blessing. The privilege of being a mom really is a blessing, one which not everyone is able to receive. Be aware of that. Recognize how truly blessed you are not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.