To you, mom of young ones, my heart goes out to you.
Not because your days are endless and exhausting and wonderful and difficult.

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Not because of potty-training or the temper-tantrums from a strong-willed two year old who was, five seconds earlier, a sweet, quiet angel.

Not because of sleep depravation or because of your lack of adult conversation.
No. My heart breaks because so many of you are caught up in the chaos of all the,

“You shoulda _____,
can’t believe you do or don’t _______,
good moms do ____, good moms don’t_____….”
You gotta compete with Pinterest. Gone are the simple bedrooms. Simple birthday parties. I know it’s great for ideas but don’t you ever get overwhelmed with all the possibilities? Creating – I love it, it’s part of who I am. Feeling guilty because I don’t have the time nor the energy to constantly create the “PERFECT” party, atmosphere, reading nook, room-theme, animal-shaped snack or homemade playdough…no thanks.

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You gotta compete with all your friends on face book. Looking at perfection that has been vastly altered from all spectrums of life can be so exhausting.

You gotta feed your kids right – I mean, get down and dirty in the dirt and grow your own or at least know where it’s grown and then process it on your own and never, ever allow any tainting of any kind whatsoever to be infesting the bellies of your children.

And then there’s the fiery topic of vaccinations! I’m not saying yea, or nay, but I am saying, I cannot imagine if you were in a room full of moms who were on the other side of the fence. I think it would be absolutely terrifying not to mention shaming and condemning.

And just where, how are you going to educate your children?
What about when they are old enough to date…or court, or whatever…how about unpacking that can o’ worms!

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I have four that have called me, “M O M.” It’s not like I raised mine with my eyes closed. My husband and I, as parents, made decisions, choices, sometimes, we swam against the current (and against the world view), sometimes we made mistakes. I learned to trust my own instincts rather than the persuasion of guilt. We made decisions on all of the above topics and a whole lot more. Some things haven’t changed…toddlers still throw fits, potty-training isn’t always fun nor easy, parents get overwhelmed, kids grow up way too fast.

But something has changed…
and that’s why I feel for you.

Cause there’s about a million voices SCREAMING at you, telling you…
you are doing it all wrong,

you are going to ruin your children by feeding them that…

you are going to damage them by administering that…
or allowing that…

you are stifling them and who they are cause you aren’t doing all of the things everyone else is…
you don’t measure up.

You aren’t an all-natural, got-it-together, looking flawless and thin and ever-ready to be cover-ready and neither are your jelly (gasp!) stained kids.

So, if I may, allow me to speak into your exhausted and weary eyes…
you are doing a good job.

You love your kids.
You want what is best for them.
Some days, just keeping them alive until bedtime is an accomplishment.

Your kids don’t need you to make their world Pinterest friendly.

They don’t have to have everything homemade.

They won’t be ruined if you make mistakes…because, I promise you, your parents made mistakes too…it’s been happening since Adam and Eve….

Your goal is for them to grow up and be productive, compassionate and God-fearing adults, right?

Then, how about you go after those things that have to do with the soul –
yes, you still have to feed them, dress them, provide, protect, nurture…
but you are naturally going to do those things.

So, lighten up, give yourself a break, even a pat on the back.
You are raising your kids in the most break-neck, warp speed, media-driven, distracting and delusional periods in all of history.

You face challenges in your day that generations before you never imagined!
Not only that, you have people who will be quick to judge, condemn, chew you up and spit you out if you don’t happen to adhere to what they feel is THE ABSOLUTE AND CORRECT WAY TO PARENT.

God’s Word talks about parenting. Some good stuff in there, check it out. I doubt if it even many mentions most of the issues you are beating yourself up over.

Your children aren’t meant to be your trophies. They aren’t meant to make you feel good in a sense that your only self worth comes from being a parent.

They aren’t meant to make your life easy either. They are meant to challenge you, cause you to get on your knees, make you realize that EVERYONE sins, no one is perfect and that everyone will and does fall short of perfection.

They are a beautiful and treasured gift from God and they are His. Therefore, I’m fairly certain God is way more interested in you loving your kids, making them mind, playing with them, teaching Him about His love and His ways rather than be totally stressed because you don’t look like a perfect mom to everyone else on face book, or whip up a Pinterest worthy party or meet someone’s standard of, “good mom.”

So, as I look deeply into your tear-soaked eyes for a moment,
I also want to tell you that you don’t have to worry quite so much.
You don’t have to be ridden with guilt because you didn’t spend equal times with each child today, read a classic novel to them, give them a bath or make them eat all of their veggies.

Now, if I could hold onto your tired hand, I’d say to you, “Take some time for you, every once in a while.”

It’s actually healthy for your kids to see you taking care of yourself.

Do you really want them to believe that the world will always spin around them? If you answered yes, consider some adults who seem like overgrown spoiled children.
And it’s OK and even wonderful and needed for you to spend time fostering and nurturing your marriage.

There is no greater gift you can give to your children then a healthy marriage!

And one more thing: Your child doesn’t have to experience all of life while he is with you. I know it seems shocking, but your sweet one will actually spend a lifetime doing life beyond your care and that’s a good thing. So the pressure is off to make sure your child does everything, participates in everything, has lessons for everything, sees everything, knows everything and accomplishes everything.

So, tired momma, I applaud you.

I’m letting go of your hand and raising to my feet and I’m giving you a standing ovation…because you deserve it.

You are doing the most difficult job on the planet.

You are attempting to mold, shape, care for and nurture a unique and sometimes, stubborn individual.

So, don’t listen, any longer to all the noise around you. Don’t be sucked into the images that have been GREATLY ALTERED IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE.

Stop being riddled with guilt because someone out there in the blogosphere tells you – YOU ARE A BAD MOM IF YOU______ OR IF YOUR DON”T ______!

Don’t be foolish enough to think that your living room is the only disaster area, or that other kids don’t get on their mom’s last-lovin’ nerve, or that you are going to ruin your child if you aren’t living up to YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS!

What’s God’s heart for your child?

What’s important to Him?

I really don’t think beating other moms up with judgmental blogs and overtones is close to His heart.

I don’t think making other moms feel incredible shame because they don’t measure up to your standards is His heart either.

So, take the hand that never leaves you and know that there are eyes always upon you…watching, protecting, providing, giving you strength and patience when it packed up and left last Wednesday.

God’s with you in this thing called parenting.

His heart is for you.

He isn’t tapping His foot with impatience, shaking His head in disbelief or throwing His hands up in the air because you aren’t getting it…

no.

He’s offering you grace and mercy, as a matter-of-fact, you are swimming in it.

He’s not beating you up, lecturing you, pointing out all of your mom flaws or attempting to confuse you.

Look to Him for what is best for your family. Look to His Word for the plumb alignment for your parenting.

He’s not only for you, He’s with you…in every nook and cranny of parenting. In all the good, bad, ugly, mundane, boring, exhausting, exhilarating, heart-breaking and triumphant emotions of parenting…He’s with you. Have you forgotten, just how many children God has graciously created and loved!?

So, here’s to you, momma and the outstanding job you are doing.
Here’s to you as you cry and muddle your way through another day, guilt-ridden and worn….how about, taking a giant step back and realizing just how hard your job is and realizing just how much you pour into your children and just how much you really, love them and would do anything for them.

How about you take a deep breath and tell yourself, “I am a good mom.”

And just maybe it’s time to take a break from all the blogs and discussions and forums that only scream at you, “If only you would, could, should.”

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Maybe it’s time to trust your own instincts and the brain that God gave you.

Maybe it’s time to focus on what you are doing with your kids and not worry about what everyone else is doing or what they think.

Most certainly, I want to tell you again: You are doing great. Keep it up. Relax a little and laugh a whole lot. This is hard stuff this mom business and you need people in your corner who will cheer you on not tear you down…so you go, mom, you go do what you do and remember, there’s a God of grace that pursues your child. There is a God of mercy who works in spite of your mistakes.

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May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!