Jul27ThuJuly 27, 2017
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Parenting is a difficult yet rewarding venture. There are days when I would prefer to lock myself in a room far away from reality just to be alone with no responsibilities. There are also many other days when I celebrate the pure joy it is to have a daughter in our home. Most days, I feel nearer to the middle of that spectrum.
Suddenly, I was in a race that I didn’t realize I had been entered into and my every move was being judged by others around me.
When motherhood was finally gifted to me, I honestly thought that my social awkwardness would be instantly cured because I was now ‘normal’. No one would have to tiptoe around me wondering if they would say something to hurt my feelings any longer. Having a baby in my arms made me acceptable in social circles. It made conversations easier as there always seemed to be something to talk about with a new baby in the home.
In an amazingly short amount of time, the conversations began to turn to what seemed to be competitions. Suddenly, I was in a race that I didn’t realize I had been entered into and my every move was being judged by others around me. As an adoptive mom, this competition in motherhood has been particularly troublesome to me. To be allowed to adopt a child in the province of Ontario, we had to complete a homestudy and wait to be approved by the government. In our quest to become parents, we were under a lot of judgement and scrutiny from the moment that we inquired about adoption. We were judged as to why we didn’t further pursue fertility treatments. We were judged as to why we took so long to decide to adopt. Our home was thoroughly scrutinized to ensure it would be safe to place a child in. As a perfectionist, I feared we’d never measure up to these standards!
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am oversensitive about my parenting because I anguished and screamed and prayed and yearned for years until God’s perfect timing came to pass and a child was given to us. I knew that I had certainly lost any race in our circle of friends to have a child first. But, to be given such a precious gift as a child and then to have strangers tell you that you’re doing parenting wrong can be a crushing blow.
When our daughter was placed in my arms and her adoption became official, there was an instantaneous bond that was created. I would do anything for this child that I had waited so long for. I would defend her with my every breath. My inner mama bear was created that day. I simply knew that I had to protect this child with all that was within my power. Having gone through the adoption process, I knew there would be questions from those we encountered. Some that were simply none of their business (being strangers and all) but some that I knew I would have to encounter just because parenting seems to be a corporate effort in modern society.
I can still recall the very first night we had our daughter in our care. From Toronto (where we adopted her), we had a two hour drive to our home. We visited all of our local family and then headed home. It was late but we were surviving on adrenaline! When we went to visit our baby in foster care that day, we didn’t know she would be coming home as our daughter that very night! Her foster family had graciously set her up on an amazing schedule and by four weeks of age, she was accustomed to it very well. I knew that on that drive home she would need to stop for a bottle. Even on that emotionally intense first day and night with our daughter, I was fully prepared for someone to approach us at the rest stop and tell me that I was doing my child a disservice by bottle feeding her. How amazing it is to me that even in those first few hours of motherhood, I was already living defensively! Thankfully, it was past midnight on that first night so the rest stop was quiet and my fears of judgement never came to pass.
So often I have witnessed mom-shaming over the silliest of things. In the eyes of eternity, does it really matter how I’ve chosen to feed or clothe my child?
As I’ve navigated the waters of motherhood for the better part of the past decade, I’ve come to realize that people want to share advice with you whether you’ve asked for it or not. My mom has always offered advice freely and most of the time it’s very welcome as she has 40+ years of experience being a mom. I’d like to think I turned out pretty well so she knows a thing or two about being a mom! The times when the advice hasn’t been as welcomed, I can let her know how I feel because she’s my mom. The strangers and acquaintances that overstep boundaries to tell me what they feel I’m doing wrong in my parenting are not as welcome.
Psalm 101:5 – Whoever slanders their neighbour in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.
Adding to the general pressures we put onto ourselves to be the best mothers we can be is social media. Social media has become a part of parenthood where the passive aggressive can post whatever they like in near anonymity. On any given day, I am bombarded with posts of impassioned people claiming their version of parenting is the best version on the planet. And, maybe it doesn’t cross their minds that by posting such bold statements, they are in essence condemning those who hold different views. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never been convinced of wrong doing by being publically shamed. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The time is now to really start showing our love to one another and extend grace to each other.
Our Heavenly Father calls us to encourage each other and build each other up. So often I have witnessed mom-shaming over the silliest of things. In the eyes of eternity, does it really matter how I’ve chosen to feed or clothe my child? In the eyes of eternity, all that really matters is that I am doing what the Lord has called me to do as a parent and that is to lead and teach my child in the ways of God so that she will come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. All the other things that seem so important to us pale in comparison to the gravity of importance that our children’s eternal destination should hold.
Comparing other kids to your own doesn’t build anyone up.
3 John 1:4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
So, fellow moms – adoptive or natural – let’s put an end to the competition. There really is no need for it. Unsolicited advice rarely strengthens a friendship. Comparing other kids to your own doesn’t build anyone up. Instead, let’s focus on showing the love of Christ to each other and our kids. I say this in knowing that I am not immune to the comparison game. I struggle with feeling that I am incompetent and unworthy of motherhood. But, it is a calling God has placed on my life and as He has walked with me through every journey in my life, He will join me in this as well. I pray that we will all look to Him for the strength to be Godly mothers to the children He has entrusted to us.
1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.