I read a wonderful post yesterday that reminded me so much of my journey not just as a homeschool mom, but just as a mom in general. It got me thinking about how my approach to homeschool has evolved, as well as my view of myself as a mom.
We moms tend to compare ourselves to other moms. Almost obsessively. We watch our kids and we watch their kids, and based on whose kids are behaving better that day or dressed more fashionably or talking plainer or reading above their grade level, we walk away full of either pride or self-condemnation and despair. We see other moms’ posts on Facebook about the crafts they’ve made with their kids, pictures of the cakes they decorated for their kids’ birthdays, and how many kids their kids have led to the Lord this week, and we immediately fill out our “Mommy Report Card” with all D’s and F’s. If we haven’t achieved the milestone or made the popsicle-stick-picture-frame that they’re raving about, then we must be a failure. Now, as the author of the above-mentioned post made clear, there’s nothing wrong with posting or writing about the cool stuff you’ve done with and for your kids, or the cool stuff your kids have done. Have you or your kids accomplished great things today? Celebrate it! Share it with friends and family and cyberspace if you want. Moms will always be excited about things their kids have done and things they’ve done with their kids; it’s only natural to want to share about them. But often times, we read those posts without any grace at all in our thinking, and that’s where problems set in.
If you’re a mom, where do your thoughts go when you read about all the latest crafting adventures of your super-mom friend on Facebook? I know where mine tend to go–straight to the self-condemnation pit stop. I’m not crafty at all, so therefore my kids must be missing out because I’m not as good a mom as she is. I happen to have the world’s greatest crafty and fun-filled super-mom as a sister. She is constantly coming up with new fun ideas for her kids, and includes my kids when we happen to be in the same town. She thrives on it, but most of the time, thinking about doing the projects she does with flair makes me break out into a cold sweat. I am just not wired that way, I don’t enjoy it, I’m not good at it. So something must be wrong with me, right? Well, I am finally coming to see that since God is the one who wired me, and He does all things well, then it must be okay that I haven’t scoured Pinterest armed with my kiddos and a glue gun, duplicating every project that I see. And since God wired her, and all those other crafty moms, and they are indeed conquering Pinterest one project at a time, then they are doing well! Obviously, craftiness or lack thereof is just one example. Maybe your child doesn’t do so well in school, so you condemn yourself every time you read another post announcing someone’s straight-A report card, or maybe you can’t cook worth anything and you immediately shoot yourself down for that every night when all those chef-moms post what they fixed for dinner.
If you continually find yourself in despair reading and hearing about all that other moms are doing with their kids that you just can’t fathom attempting, stop it! Give yourself some grace! You are not them, and they are not you. You don’t have to mother your kids the same way that your best friend mothers her kids. You love glue guns and glitter? Haul them out and spend your afternoon merrily gluing and glittering. You’d rather curl up on the couch with a kid in your lap and a book in your hand? Grab a quilt and have at it! God is a God of grace, and that doesn’t just mean grace to get you into heaven. I am slowly beginning to see how His grace is applicable to every single corner of my life, and parenting takes up a huge corner in my life right now! God’s grace is there for me to be the mom I am. Striving always to become a more Godly and biblical mom, yes, but being myself. Not only is it true that I don’t have to be the mom that He made my sister to be, but I’m not even supposed to try to be her! God gifted me with my strengths and likes and personality, and He gifted her with hers. We are different, as we are supposed to be. I should not try to go against how He made me, and stress myself and my family out trying to be something I’m not. Neither should she. On the flip side, I should not judge her for being different from me, as she should not judge me and my lack of Pinterest projects.
There is so much room for grace in our mothering and in how we view other mothers, yet so often, we fail to walk in that grace. Instead, we walk a walk of comparison in which our mindset depends solely on whether we feel we showed better as a mom that day, or someone else did. Pride or despair. Those are the only mindsets we’ll have if we walk the comparison walk. But if we find grace in our mothering, we’ll live in joy, contentment, and have shoulders that are free of the burden of trying to look good to all those other moms. Comparison forces you to manipulate your children so that they’ll match the image you think they’re supposed to match. Grace allows you to enjoy the children you have without squeezing them into someone else’s mold. Comparison forces you to drive yourself crazy trying to accomplish achievements you were never gifted to accomplish. Grace allows you to be the mom God has created you to be.
To be clear, I’m not at all saying you should never try new things or venture out of your comfort zone once in a while and actually pull out your glue gun and some glitter. Maybe you are like me and have no crafty bone in your body but have a sweet little child who is more like her aunt than her mama in this regard! So sometimes we do crafts because my girls love to cut and glue and create, even if I’m counting the minutes until we can clean up! Don’t use the mindset of grace to justify never ever stepping into some of those waters in which you fear to swim. I’m just saying we should focus on our gifts and personalities, try something new every now and then, and look at ourselves and other moms through eyes of grace. There will always be moms who we feel accomplish more than us, and moms who we feel are accomplishing less. Grace comes in right here. Not pride. Not condemnation. Grace. Every mom is different, so give grace in the differences.
I am finally beginning to learn to think this way. Comparison is such an automatic place for my thoughts to go. But it is so freeing to look at my mothering with the fresh eyes of grace, and to look at moms who are different from me with fresh eyes of grace. Grace will free me up to be the mom I was wired to be, and free me up to love those who are different. So, sister, get your glue gun out and keep crafting, and I’ll curl up on the couch with my kiddos and a book, and when our kids need a change of pace, we can trade!