As I’m sitting here on my couch drinking my chamomile tea, I’m thinking about the pressures we as women put on ourselves to be a perfect wife and mom.
For me, I envision that my house must be spotlessly clean, my closets neatly organized, my children always clean and well behaved playing together nicely, my baby perfectly content all the time, a gourmet meal every night set on a perfectly decorated table, and my appearance at the end of the day all clean and fresh.
So when reality strikes and the house WAS clean before I started making dinner and my cabin fever kids destroyed it in less than 5 minutes, The meat didn’t thaw out in time so we’re having fish sticks for dinner. The baby is teething so he has spent the day crying and wanting to be held. And I was clean and smelling good this morning when I took a shower, but since then my little one has spit up on me more times that I can count.
Now don’t get me wrong, having a good meal, clean house, well behaved kids and looking nice when my husband comes home aren’t bad thing at all! I believe we should strive for these things every day! But my problem was that I was putting my value of being a good mom and wife in these superficial things. Maybe you can relate? This pressure on being a “perfect” mom and wife, that when you fall short by something so small as dinner being a little late, you mentally beat myself up.
Then there is the comparing…how many times have you compared yourself with another woman to “rate” yourself good or bad for how your doing? I know I have. I’ve found myself comparing myself with other moms and wives who seem to have everything together. And fell into the trap of thinking that my “rating” of being a good mom is if I breastfeed for a year, if I do cloth diapers instead of disposable, if I have super smart kids, if my kids never argue and are always well-behaved, etc. And that I’m a good wife if I make a delicious meal, have a spotlessly clean house, and my husband doesn’t have to lift a finger, as I have everything under control. But the Lord has been showing me quite a lot this past few weeks, that I’ve had it all completely WRONG in my focuses!
He showed me how I have been basing my worth in all of these superficial things and when they don’t happen that I mentally tear myself down and think I am a terrible mom and wife. The biggest problem with everything was that I was trying to do all these things, which in and of themselves aren’t bad, but I was doing them in my OWN strength and looking to make MYSELF look like the perfect wife and mother. Instead of looking to the Lord for HIS strength to run my house smoothly and HIS approval and to find my worth. Let me give you an example…
My little guy by the time he was a few weeks old, was on the right track. He slept great, only waking up once in the middle of the night, was the best one to breastfeed out of all my 3 little ones and was by far my easiest baby. From my past two kids as well, I probably had a little pride in the fact that I had my kids on a schedule and sleeping through the night at an early age. But when he hit 4 months old everything went downhill with the dreaded 4 month regression…then 5 month regression. He started not sleeping at all at night and then started not nursing as well either. What did I do? I started mentally beating myself up as I rated myself on how good of a mom I was because of how my baby slept and ate. I kept questioning myself and wondering what I was doing wrong? I mean, I must be a bad mom and doing something wrong because I can’t get my baby to sleep or eat good!
Then one night I had finally hit my end and was so exhausted at a lost for what to do. And while I was talking to my husband telling him that I must be doing something wrong and that I’m such a bad mom because I can’t keep everything running smoothly right now. He said, “Erin, he’s a baby. A unique baby. No matter what you may read on the internet, every baby is different. You have to stop stressing over it and questioning yourself. You’re a great mom and him not sleeping is not a reflection of you. He’s a baby.”
It was like a wake up call to me! The Lord used him saying that to truly open my eyes that evening to how much I base my worth and value as a wife/mom on things so superficial like how well my baby slept/ate. He whispered to my heart how I needed to stop stressing over things like that and put them in His hands. And trust that the Lord would equip me with what I needed for the day and wisdom when I come to things with my little ones, as I kept my focus on Him.
Another example is that when I know we have people coming over and I will start rushing around trying to clean everything. And my husband is always reminding me that everything doesn’t have to be perfectly clean when people come over. And I’ve always quick to say that it’s a reflection of me and how well I keep our house. While that is true in some ways probably, the Lord again showed me how I’m looking for people for my value and identity and looking to what others think of me more than the Lord. Again having a clean house when people come over isn’t at all a bad thing (I’m sure people appreciate that! Lol), but it was my motivation in having that clean house, so I could look like a great housewife. It brings to mind this verse,
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
I share all this with you all this because I think it’s such a problem for us women. This unrealistic expectation we have on ourselves to always have everything perfect and we can’t. And us looking to other people to find our approval or to out do each other as moms/wives. We have to let go and let the Lord guide our days. We have to stop stressing over the baby not sleeping and realize that it’s not going to be forever that they’re not going to sleep but to snuggle and enjoy our little one because they grow too fast.
I think about what I want my kids to remember me as when they are older…how mom always kept a perfectly cleaned house and did this or that…or that mom invested in the small things, took time to enjoy them and made things fun and enjoyable. I don’t want to be a frazzled overtired and overworked mom, I want to enjoy my kids and this beautiful season that we are in right now. I want to show my girls what a woman of God truly looks like, so that they can walk in that as well. I want my husband to have confidence that his wife has everything under control at home and that I’m fully looking to the Lord for my strength.
If everything doesn’t get done on my to-do list, who cares. Instead I’ve been asking myself these questions at the end of the day: how did I redeem my time today? How did I make the most of the time with my kids and husband? How did I honor the Lord with my attitude throughout the day? These are the things that truly matter.
So let’s stop putting our value on superficial things and instead put our value in who God says we are and how we are walking out our calling that He has given us. That is what truly matters and is going to make a difference more than the most organized and clean house ever could.
“…being a good mother doesn’t mean being perfect. It means becoming dependent upon the only One whole is. Whenever I lean fully and completely on Jesus Christ, He faithfully points me to His perfect pattern for motherhood, one situation at a time.”
-Leslie Ludy, “Set Apart Motherhood”