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The Motherhood Lies We Must Stop Believing

As soon as I closed the door to my oldest’s kindergarten class the tears started flowing. With a pinched face, I desperately tried to control my breathing and keep the deluge of emotions down so I could make it to the car before I completely crumbled.

I was a mess of emotions.

My breakdown wasn’t primarily because I was sad to not have him by my side, or that fact that I wasn’t ready for him to grow up just yet. I was torn up because I was disappointed in myself. I had spent months and months of researching and planning toward homeschooling. I’d built it up in my mind as the best option for our family of five. It was what the super-moms did—the really strong, spiritual ones kept their kids at home and shaped their hearts and minds in the best way possible.

We had attempted a trial month that summer to test the homeschooling waters. It was a miserable failure. What I had idealized and idolized was an absolute nightmare. My five-year-old had the attention span of an excitable dog with a squirrel nearby. My three-year-old was as clingy and sassy as could be. And my one-year-old was into EVERYTHING and continually fought for the seat in my lap that the three-year-old just wouldn’t give up.

It was a nightmare.

THE LIES

As I completed the walk of shame back to my car on that first day of kindergarten, feelings of failure overwhelmed me. Even though I knew my child was supposed to be in the public school that year (because the other option = mental breakdown), a great disappointment plagued me. I wasn’t enough. I was a bad mom. My kids were going to be less-than because I couldn’t get it together enough to homeschool them.

Yikes. The destruction and falsehood of these lies are clear to me now. And whether it is about your school choices, food choices, discipline choices, or any-other-thing-related-to-parenting choices, my guess is that you’ve listened to these lies as well:

“I’m not ______ enough for my kids.”

“I’m a bad mom.”

“My kids are going to suffer because I can’t get it together enough to ___________.”

Ladies, we must kill these lies. Our thought-life is a breeding ground for either destruction or victory in every area of our lives. If we allow lies to run rampant and reign our inner life, everything else about our reality will be affected. We must fight for freedom from these lies.

DON’T FIGHT THE LIES ALONE

I’ve learned to be engaged in this fight—the long journey toward healthy thinking—and it is certainly not over. I still worry about whether or not the choices we are making are right and best. I still wonder how I am messing up my kids by doing or not doing something. I still forget that their development and growth is not all up to me.

Perhaps that last one is the kicker: It’s not all up to me.

Today, as I walk into my tenth school year as a mom, though the lies don’t hold as much power over me as they did, I still hear their siren call. I still have to grab them, throw them down, and tell them to flee. Then I have to replace these lies with truth:

I am not defined by the type or quality of mother I am.
I have choices (in food, school, etc.). That fact is evidence of great blessing.
I am not enough, and will never be enough. But I don’t need to be.

My kids need to find sufficiency in Christ, not me.
My kids need to find their security in Christ, not me.
My kids need to find their significance in Christ, not me.

God is in control…even if I get the choices all wrong.
God loves my kids infinitely more than I do.
God is working in my kids in ways I never could.

His faithfulness is not dependent on my actions.
His goodness is not something I have to earn.
His provision and protection for me and my children are steadfast. Always.

BE OPEN TO CHANGE; TRUST THE LORD

I’ve also learned to take it a kid at a time and a year at a time. Every choice I make is not immutable. We can change our path at any time. We’ve moved twice since that first day of school and have been in and out of different schooling options. I’ve been all sorts of types of a mom. Stay-at-home mom. Work-at-home mom. Work-outside-of-the-home mom. Homeschool mom. Public school mom. Car-line mom. Bus-rider-kids mom. Baseball mom. Theater mom. Band mom. This year, for the first time, I’ll be a virtual school mom for my middle child.

Along the way, each stage had its benefits and downsides, its joys and pains. But as I look back through all our changes, I can see the unchanging and faithful hand of God leading and guiding us as we make these important decisions. More importantly, I can see the faithful hand of God changing us in the process.

Lord, as we navigate aaaaall the choices we face as parents, will you remind us of who you are. Help us cling to the truth of what the Bible tells us about you, more than we hold to the social norms and what’s “best” for our kids. Don’t allow us to put our kids at the center of our lives. Instead, keep our focus centered on you.

The post was originally published over at LifeWay Voices.

Dealing with Opposition, and How I’ve Become a Better Mom

I shared my heart a few months ago, about my struggle with being a stay-at-home mom. It was a post that I knew I was supposed to write, but felt myself extremely frightened hitting publish. For the most part, the “bearing of my soul” was incredible well-received, and you all just showered me with encouragement and stories of your own struggle.

Thank you, for that.

The more I share my heart, the real me, the more I realize that there are so many others out there that also struggle. This is all so strangely freeing.

To know I’m not alone in my depression and struggle with motherhood.

Of course, I know the struggle is mostly in my head—that I am not the only imperfect one. But getting it to sink deep down into my heart? That’s a different story.

Most of this is about the battle to connect my heart’s cry with my what my mind knows.

Dealing with Opposition

So, I said that it was mostly well-received. There was a bit of opposition. I’m not afraid of opposition, and I am so thankful for those comments. We all need to be able to hear the criticisms, and take them to the Lord. He has given us each other to point us to Him—sometimes through difficult conversations.

I did take the concerns to the Lord, and to my husband, but came out from it back where I had landed—that this IS the best place for us now.

Yet, I find myself feeling a bit mis-understood.

It is difficult to communicate by heart, and all of my story in 700 words. My struggle with being a stay-at-home mom is only one part of the journey. The words of the concerned commenters were very kind, but I could hear the worry in their words—the worry that I was going off the deep end, losing my focus—and my children would be the ones to pay for my “mistake”.

I don’t know, maybe this is all about the same issue, that I care too much about the ideal and what other’s think. But it still weighs heavy on my heart—that you all might be out there thinking that since I have given up my pursuit of being the typical stay-at-home mom, I am now giving my kids second-best.

How I’ve Become a Better Mom

There are certainly other factors involved, but the bottom line is that the pursuit of the ideal had led me to depression, and as I have taken steps away from trying to fit into a certain “homemaker” mold, my depression is lifting. (That, and a certain little blue and white pill.)

I did not making it lightly, this decision to not homeschool. Nor did I flippantly make the decision to start working outside of the home. Neither were made out of emotions—on solely what I feel. These decisions were prayerfully, slowly, and carefully made by my husband and me.

I was absolutely against going back to work and putting the kids in childcare, even for just a few days a week. It felt like a deferring of my God-given role to someone else. I had my heart set on homeschooling and continuing the typical full-time stay-at-home mom pursuits. But there was one big problem.

It wasn’t working.

Honestly, I was a really bad mother most of the time. Extremely irritable; completely un-motivated to do anything around the house, while I wallowed in my “failures” because my time at home didn’t look like so-and-so’s.

I was so overwhelmed by all that I wasn’t, that it paralyzed me from being who God made me to be.

I have been searching the scriptures lately, on this phrase in Titus 2 to be a “worker at home”, this phrase that so many see as the lynchpin to motherhood. I’m kinda surprised by what I have been learning, and observing…

…but that is all for another post.

Do you feel the pressure to be a certain “type” of “good Christian” mom?

Where do you feel you may be trying to fit into a mold God never designed you to be in?

Have you experienced this “walking away from the ideal” to find that it makes you a better momma?

 

My Struggle with Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

I really struggle with being home with my little ones. I love them, incredibly, but after six years of being home full-time it has become clear this is not a good place for me, right now.

It has been a hard pill to swallow, this realization that I can’t be the stay-at-home-mom I think I should be.  

Somewhere along the lines I have bought into the lie that to be a good Christian mom I need to stay home, keep my house clean, plan out my meals and bake my own bread. I must homeschool my kids, with a well-thought out plan for each day, and I should enjoy it every step of the way.

Fact is, my house is a wreck, my awesome husband does most of the cooking, and I dread making plans for our day. I am continually looking for ways to divert my children’s attention away from me, and I breathe a sigh of relief when they are all finally in bed.

I don’t like being a stay-at-home mom. There, I said it.

The Bible is clear that my family must come first. It is clear that I am to love, serve and teach my children. I am to be a worker at home—my home ministry is to be my base and what is most important. However, it is not clear on many things.

There is no command in scripture I see that says I must educate solely from home (as much as I wish I could homeschool). The Bible does not forbid me from having a ministry outside of the home, or working and putting my kids in childcare. I will not be condemned for feeding my kids McDonalds or letting them watch more than an hour of TV a day.

No one has said these things directly to me, but somewhere along the lines I have believed these lies. Slowly I have bought into the thinking that there is only one type of mom that is the “ideal mom”.

It has proven deadly to my soul.

We’ve made some big adjustments, in the last few months, in order to change the unhealthy trajectory of my well-being. I am settled and content with where the Lord has me. I have a messy house. I don’t meal plan, and when I do cook it usually involves a can opener and a microwave. I am not a homeschool mom. I work part-time, and a few days a week, my kids are childcare kids (and to my surprise, they love it!)

I have had to let go of what I thought the “ideal” mom looked like, and as I have, it has freed me up to become a better mom.

Life: UnmaskedLinking up with Joy.

Hard Decisions

Tears welled up as I left my little boy at the door of his first grade classroom. He was proud and excited to be there.

My heart was crushed.

We were supposed to homeschool this year. I’ve spent months researching philosophies and curriculum. We’ve carved out space in our house for a school room and have decked it out with supplies, maps and boards. Chris made a built-in desk that runs along the wall. We prayed over our space and our homeschooling time. We purchased our books and curriculum. In July we had our first day of school, filled with baskets of goodies for our homeschool year.

Yet, something has just not sit right with it all. It’s not because getting into a new routine is hard, or trying to manage the little ones while we try to do school. I knew it would be hard. There has just been something unsettling about it. That unsettling feeling which the Lord usually uses to tell me something is not where it should be. God has led both Chris and I towards the realization that this is not where we need to be, at least for now.

This has been a hard pill to swallow.

Most of my closest friends, including my sister, homeschool. They love it. I long for what they have. But, it is just not right for us.

I long to be with my children, to train them up into the knowledge of Jesus and all He has done for them. I want to be their main influencer. I want our family to spend good, quality time together. I want to take them on fun field trips and do experiments together. I want to live life beside them and show them how to walk with God.

Yet, I know I can still do these things, whether or not we homeschool. I can have “Bible class” and read them all the fun books we had planned. We can still go on nature walks and field trips. I can still be a part of Kenneth’s days through volunteering in his class regularly. I can and will continue to teach them about Jesus and model to them the best I can how to walk with the Lord.

Ok, so I am just giving myself a pep-talk right now, thanks for sitting in on my self-dialogue. I am sad. But, I know that God’s will is always best. I am fighting all the mommy guilt that comes along with this decision. I am fighting the “What are people going to think about me, since I keep changing my mind?” that echoes through my head. But, I know it is all a lie. Psalm 143 continues to be the comfort and truth I need.

So, I say goodbye, for now, to homeschooling. Trusting that the Lord had His perfect plan in leading us in every step we took this spring and summer towards homeschooling. And knowing that He has good plans for us ahead, especially as we choose to walk in obedience to His will, regardless of how I feel about it.

How have you navigated through tough decisions? What truth do you cling to as you battle mommy-guilt?