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On Motherhood and Expectations

On Motherhood and Expectations

I sat in church and looked around at the other women smiling up at the pastor. It was Mother’s Day and he was speaking on the importance of our role as mothers and the influence we have in our homes. As everyone nodded their heads I fought back the tears. My kids were four, six, and eight at the time. I was exhausted. I doubted my worth, my purpose, and the direction our family was headed.

I was constantly on edge. I lacked the kindness and compassion I knew was important in building healthy relationships with my children. I was easily angered and then I’d beat myself up for losing my temper. I set high expectations for myself, yet continually failed to meet them. I woke up each morning hoping this would be the day that things would fall into place and I would get this mothering thing right.

“God, how do I change? I need Your direction!”

I asked, “What’s the root of this discouragement, frustration and impatience I am experiencing?”

I was shocked by what came to mind.

God reminded me of the time I visited a college friend. Each morning I’d wake up to find their mother already out of bed, dressed, with breakfast ready and laundry started. Wow! She was nothing like my mom; I wanted to be like her!

Without realizing it, I made a vow that I would be a certain kind of mother. The problem with vows, either positive or negative, is that they prevent God from operating in a specific area of our life and they keep us from becoming who He uniquely created us to be.

I realized I was carrying bitterness and resentment for the years in high school when I showered, ate breakfast, and left for school all before my parents were awake. They weren’t neglecting me nor being lazy — they just didn’t have to get up as early as me.

Without even knowing it, I clung to an image of a motherhood that was not meant for me, at least not at that time in my life. As a result, how well I thought I performed affected my day. When I got up early, read my Bible, prayed, got dressed, and cooked breakfast before the kids got up, I felt good about myself. When I was kind, compassionate and helpful, I gave myself an A+. But, when I didn’t live up to those expectations, I was frustrated and impatient. I created an impossible standard by which I measured myself.

What about you? Does this sound familiar?

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I have created an unrealistic expectation in which to live by, a standard not from You. I repent for any bitterness or resentment I have towards my parents. Forgive me for comparing them to others and clinging to the image of a perfect mother. Speak truth to my heart Lord and show me the mother You created me to be. In Jesus name, Amen.

Motherhood will look different for all of us and there is no one way to do it. Our spouses and children have different needs than others’ families.

In the book Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day Blessings, Brother and Sister Bear have a surprise waiting for Mama Bear after church. While driving to the Chapel in the Woods, Mama shows the cubs the different faces of motherhood throughout the neighborhood. The cubs are surprised to find out that mothers are everywhere and that they come in different shapes, sizes, and professions. Not only does mothering look different for everyone, the love they received from their family is just as varied. This is a lesson I wish Mother Bear could have taught me when I was younger.

I was so thankful to find the root of my discontent and let go of the image of a mom I couldn’t possibly be at that stage of motherhood. The freedom I received allowed me to become the mother God created me to be, one that my family needed.

If perfectionism is your struggle as well, I invite you to let yourself off that punishing hook! Today, just be you, and allow God to bring out the best mother within you to serve, protect, train up, and love the family He has given you.

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