My mom does not understand the concept of mom wars.
“When I had you, I was way too busy worrying about taking care of you to bother with what everyone else was thinking about me!”
She’s not alone. I’ve talked to plenty of moms in her generation who just don’t get what the big deal is. Suzie feeds her kids organic food; Sally feeds her kids chicken nuggets, but as long as the kids are getting fed, who cares, right?
Instagram cares. And if Instagram doesn’t care, Facebook cares. And then there’s Twitter.
I could go on and on talking about the platforms that allow us to offer a full platter of curated content that makes us look good to others and feel awful about ourselves. Even our “raw” posts are perfectly posed messes with awesome filters and attention-seeking hashtags.
In a world where we mother so publicly, it’s fair to ask the question: who exactly are we mothering for?
A Break From The Battle
“Our children, of course!”
The answer may seem obvious. However, our execution appears to uncover another audience.
And I understand this. Motherhood — especially stay-at-home motherhood — can be lonely. Our days look so much the same that they begin to blend. We complete the same mundane tasks over and over again. We live our lives with less adult stimulation that the average person. And often, we’re surrounded by little people who are not capable of expressing gratitude and are hardwired to take our sacrifices for granted.
Community can be hard to find when it means getting your child and all of their accessories to go for a playdate that may or may not interrupt naptime, which may result in a colossal meltdown.
I once overheard a woman saying, “I wish I could be a stay-at-home mom. I’m just the kind of woman who needs intellectual stimulation on a day-to-day basis.”
Newsflash, lady: we all do!
It’s just something that’s all too easy to sacrifice when we’re not in the workplace.
Or, at least, it used to be.
Enter social media.
A Brand New Battle
Suddenly, motherhood doesn’t seem quite so lonely!
Stay at home moms can connect with other stay at home moms. Breastfeeding moms can connect with other breastfeeding moms. Toddler moms can connect with other toddler moms.
It’s a beautiful and brave new world.
And it’s chock full of minefields.
Because not only can we meet likeminded mothers — we can also endlessly compare ourselves to them.
The comparison battle usually breaks down into two camps: keeping up with the Joneses or outdoing the Joneses.
It’s All About The Joneses
In camp one, we have the mothers who believe the hype of the Instagram filters. They gather around a popular mom personality like moths to a flame, soaking in every picture, every paragraph, every product review. They are the ones who constantly worry about whether or not they’re making the right decisions for their children.
In camp two, we have the mothers who leverage the Instagram filters to their advantage. They are the platform moms. They have their favorite mom agendas, and will push it at every opportunity. Maybe they’re anti-vaccination, anti-circumcision, anti-formula, anti-grains — but they’re anti-something and they want everybody to know!
Now, lest anyone read this and assume I think I’m above the fray, full disclosure: I, like most moms, flip-flop between the two. I am always worried that I’m missing some essential ingredient in loving my son well. And in my quest for that key ingredient, I often turn to platforms to discover exactly what it might be. I’m just as much a millennial as any other twentysomething mama who is figuring everything out right now; I’m just not enough of a hipster to deny it.
An Audience Of One
I don’t think Instagram is evil.
I jokingly call mine “Wynnstagram,” because I use it to post endless updates on my little boy. I love being able to scroll through and see his growth. And I also love connecting with other mamas who are in the same stage as I am, experiencing the same things, or far ahead of me, and ready to offer (hopefully solicited) advice.
I love the C.S. Lewis quote that says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!” And my forays into social media have given me that wonderful feeling time and again. I’ve got online acquaintances who help me keep my head on straight when I’m worried about Wynn, and some of them have become some of my dearest friends.
But. And this is a big but. When we allow that online community to rob us of the beauty of our roles as mothers, we’ve allowed it to have too big a role in our lives.
God gave us our children to train and teach them for Kingdom purposes; not as accessories to validate our day-to-day lives or little guilt trips to take our eyes off of the cross.
My Son’s Mother
My son’s mother is not perfect.
And I’m not saying that in the “sepia-toned photo of the dirty laundry that hides his week-old poop stains” kind of way. I mean that in the “I am a wretched sinner in need of grace” kind of way.
I am messed up. And it is not cute or “lol, so relatable.” I have a disease that, without treatment, would eventually kill both my body and my soul. Christ’s death on the Cross was the cure; and, ultimately, I will be made whole in glory. In the meantime, that disease of sin resides in my flesh and turns, even good things like connection and encouragement into wicked things like comparison and envy.
This Mother’s Day, gift yourself with the knowledge that your service to your kids isn’t measured in how the audience of the world rates your performance. It’s measured by a holy standard that has already been met by the Son of God.
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I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…