I distinctly remember a time before I believed The Lie.
I was heading out for a walk with a neighbor. We were both strapping our babies into strollers, tucking blankets around chubby legs, securing pacifiers and squeaky, soft teething toys, juggling bottles and baby wipes.
I’m not sure why I said it—probably in response to something she said, but I told her, “I think I’m a Good Mom.”
The look on her face was one of utter disbelief, shock. Not because she thought I was a Bad Mom. But because I actually thought I was a Good Mom.
And I did.
I believed with my whole heart that I was a great mother to my little baby girl, and also to the baby boy before her. It never struck me as odd to think it or say it. Until that day.
Fast forward almost fifteen years and The Lie invades my thinking and the thinking of almost every Mom I know. This Lie defies logic and reason. It jumps to conclusions based on emotion or mistakes or comparison. It agrees with the angry child or the disapproving stranger. It has an opinion about every thing I do (or don’t do) from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed.
Who do you think you are? Good Mom?!? Good moms don’t do it like this. Good moms have this figured out. You are not a Good Mom.
You are a bad mom.
I AM A BAD MOM.
I was curious how The Lie sounded to other Moms, so I asked a few Facebook friends to finish this sentence:
“Good moms (fill in the blank). I don’t do that. Therefore, I am a Bad Mom.”
Here are the actual responses I received, along with a few of my own:
- Don’t yell at their kids or lose it. Ever.
- Don’t get easily frustrated or annoyed with their kids.
- Don’t talk to their pet in a nicer manner than they do their children.
- Don’t count the minutes till their kids are in bed or gone to school.
- Don’t procrastinate on their kids’ school projects.
- Don’t feed their kids McDonald’s.
- Don’t order take-out Chinese for dinner, even when they’ve been at children’s activities all evening.
- Don’t overschedule the kids.
- Don’t swear (in their heads or out loud).
- Don’t need a glass of wine before helping with math homework.
- Don’t have to wash paint off of the dog or scrape dried concrete off of the youngest baby’s shoes.
- Never “check out” on the computer but are always “checked in” to their children.
- Never consider watching an episode of “House Hunters” to be bonding time with a child.
- Never have to rely on other Mommy Friends to let them know what is happening at school.
- Never take away from family time to be with a friend.
- Never let their children stay on electronics all day.
- Never feel burdened or need a break from the children.
- Never sleep in.
- Are never too tired.
- Never express their needs.
- Never complain.
- Wake up early and stay up late.
- Do whatever it takes to keep the house clean, chores done and exercise, so they can focus on mom business while kids are awake.
- Survive on very little sleep and are completely okay with that.
- Dive into any and every activity their child is involved in and have no selfish pursuits of their own.
- Have successful careers and show their children by example of how to be a contributing member of society.
- Volunteer at school.
- Stay home.
- Keep a spotlessly clean house.
- Are not bothered by a messy house.
- Keep up on laundry.
- Know how to let chores go so they can focus solely on their children.
- Make their own laundry detergent, baby food and use cloth diapers.
- Keep a fully stocked pantry.
- Cook wholesome healthy, organic meals every night, which their children actually eat.
- Only serve dessert once a week, as a treat.
- Always do and say the right thing when it comes to discipline and never go too far or ignore it all together.
- Are always patient.
- Have chore charts and teach their kids how to cook meals and clean bathrooms.
- Do family devotions.
- Reuse milk cartons and egg crates to make crafts.
- Think paint and Play-Doh are awesome.
- Play with their kids—like really play, with Hot Wheels and Barbies. And they LIKE it.
- Are always up for something fun.
- Love having a house full of chaos.
- Are organized.
- Make every holiday, birthday and vacation magical and memorable.
- Take beautiful photos of “everyday fun” and post them on Facebook and Instagram.
- Are spontaneous.
- Teach their kids to read in preschool.
- Love helping with homework and never once utter the phrase, “I can’t believe the stupid way they teach this!” or “Go away. I’m done.”
- Bathe their kids on a regular schedule.
- Take their kids to church every Sunday.
- Organize regular play dates.
- Keep kids busy in activities that will enrich their lives.
- Keep up with all school papers and info that can only be found on the school’s (poorly kept up) website.
- Stick to a healthy routine for wake-up, meals, school and nighttime.
- Enjoy spending every minute with their kids.
- Treasure and cherish their children all the time.
- Remember everything.
- Do it all with joy and gratitude. And good hair. (That one was mine)
Sweet Baby Moses in a basket, WHO IS THE FICTIONAL SUPER-HERO GENETICALLY MODIFIED MOM FROM OUTER SPACE WHO ACTUALLY DOES ALL THIS?
Never mind the sheer volume of qualifications for The Good Mom—But did you notice how so many of these things are directly contradictory to one another?
A Good Mom has a career, volunteers at school AND stays home?
Keeps a spotless house BUT doesn’t mind the mess?
Rarely sleeps BUT is never tired?
Do you see the deception in this? What we do to ourselves, Moms—it makes me cry. Truly. I cried when I read the responses in succession. We are walking around, trying our hardest to raise our precious children, all the while burdened and broken and believing a Lie. Embracing the identity of Bad Mom.
It’s time you know The Truth.
A Good Mom knows she is flawed. She has many weaknesses and makes daily mistakes—sometimes really big, hairy mistakes. But her flaws and weaknesses and mistakes are what keep her tethered to the feet of Jesus. She runs to Him a thousand times a day for strength, patience, wisdom and rest. She calls to Him from the kitchen counter and from the mini-van, from the rocking chair and from the behind the locked bathroom door. She asks Him for forgiveness when she loses her temper or her patience or her mind. And she asks her kids for forgiveness, too. She may not realize it, but this pattern of exposing her flaws and weaknesses, messing up, and then asking for forgiveness is what is teaching her children how to navigate their own flaws and weaknesses—and so they also will stay tethered to the feet of Jesus.
A Good Mom knows her limitations. Being a Mom can be Crazy Town, so she asks for help, hires people, takes a nap, takes a break and says “no.” Sometimes all on the same day.
A Good Mom pays attention. She sees her children and does her absolute best to notice all the little idiosyncrasies that comprise each individual child. And she’s really good at it, too. Ask her anything about her children—anything at all, and the answer is at the forefront of her mind. She intuitively knows what’s best for them because she’s been studying them and interpreting their cries since the day they were born.
A Good Mom knows her children need to eat, and does what she can, when she can, the best she can to put food in their bellies. Sometimes that means an organic, home-cooked meal with cloth napkins, matching dishes and dessert. And sometimes that means running through the drive-thru on the way to the next thing, passing paper bags and Styrofoam containers to the back seat.
A Good Mom knows her family dynamics are unlike any other on the planet. Her husband (or lack of one), the ages and temperaments of her children (no matter how many), her gifts, talents and resources, along with a million other factors, comprise a Beautiful Family Identity that belongs to her, and only her. She probably doesn’t realize that each gift, talent, weakness and flaw of every family member was hand-selected by The Giver of Life. Therefore, what works for other Moms may not work for her. What worked for her last year may not work this year. So, maybe this Good Mom pursues a career. Or maybe she leaves that career to stay home with her babies. Maybe she chooses to homeschool. Or maybe she sends every last one of them to public schools on a bus. Maybe she keeps a beautifully decorated, meticulously organized home. And maybe her best parenting happens amidst laundry piles, in messy kitchens. If she believes she must be like Other Moms, she will never fully come alive to the Beautiful Mother God designed her to be.
A Good Mom knows that some Mommy Moments are hard. Really hard. She doesn’t much enjoy those. In fact, sometimes she wishes them away entirely (the moments, not the children.) (Okay, sometimes, also the children.) But other times, her children simply take her breath away. Their scent, their wit, their charm. The sound of their giggles. The way their strong arms pitch the ball or their slim fingers move across the piano keys. She’s enraptured. She seeks out these moments. She cherishes these moments. Truly, wholly cherishes them, no matter how frequent or how few.
A Good Mom would do anything to protect her children. Even she is surprised at her visceral reactions when something or someone threatens to harm them. She would die for her children. In a heartbeat.
A Good Mom keeps showing up. No matter how long the days get, or how much her children resist. No matter how inadequate she feels for the task or how loud the voice of the Accuser screams “BAD MOM!!!!”
These are her kids—she loves them with a tenacity and a tenderness that is other-worldly. Because it flows directly from the Heart of God into hers, and it keeps her strong. Therefore she is determined to do her best. She’s on a godly mission. A holy endeavor. Of this, she is certain. Because nothing else could possibly be this all-consuming, overwhelming and amazing at the same time.
Deep down, she knows Good Mom/Bad Mom has very little to do with schedules or Hot Wheels or food.
It has everything to do with purpose and calling and love–even when it’s hard. Even when she struggles.
This is YOU, Mom. You recognize yourself here because the Truth is, YOU ARE A GOOD MOM. It’s okay to believe it. To say it. To embrace that identity.
Rest in the God’s grace for you today.
Silence the voice of the Accuser.
Expel the Lie.
You are a doing a great job.
You are a Good Mom.