Word To The Mother

I know I’m treading on thin ice here as I delve into the plight of the American mother. Obviously I am not a mother, but I have a mother and I am married to one! I’m keenly aware my credentials don’t exactly set me apart, but I do recognize being a mother has to be simultaneously the most difficult and rewarding job on earth. There is an almost visceral sense in our culture that no matter what, mom will always care the most for us and when the chips are down, mom always has our back.

A recent survey conducted by parenting.com has revealed some interesting secrets about American mothers. 26,000 moms were asked about secrets and confessions they keep hidden from other mothers as well as friends and relatives. I was surprised by some of the answers. However, as I thought more about the answers, I began to be more surprised that I was initially surprised! I think us non-mothers get tripped up into thinking mothers are immune from the temptation of selfishness, pride, vanity, impatience and anger.

Here is where I knew my thinking was really flawed. As husbands, I think we all know our wives can struggle with the aforementioned temptations, but when viewing our wives as mothers we seem to flip a switch of expectation that assumes these qualities simply aren’t applicable anymore. The obvious paradox here is the expectations have changed…not the person!

As we ultimately reconcile the disparity in our expectations, the only viable option we are faced to accept is the expectations placed on the mothers in our lives are unreasonable. The tragic end of unmet expectations is often depression, frustration and burn-out. The answers provided to the survey described above teams with all three of these sad states of mind.

I began to think about how much more pressure the christian culture places on our moms to be the quintessential patron saint of motherhood. Imagine a quaint Tuesday morning bible study with eight women circled around a table when one blurts out, “I honest to goodness do not like my son most of the time and knowing that KILLS me.” I can picture a pretty awkward silence. The previous statement happens to be one provided in the survey.

I can recall a patient of mine who happened to be a new mother. I attempted to make conversation by asking how she liked being a mom. I expected the usual pleasantries, but was taken aback as she equated motherhood to be like “someone literally sucking the life out of me one day at a time”! We both got to laughing so hard we had a difficult time collecting ourselves. But you know, it was a good laughter. She was worn out and she didn’t mind letting me know. As I read the article about the parenting.com survey I couldn’t help but think these mothers just need to accept the fact that being a mom isn’t easy and nobody could do any better…I know I couldn’t.

Maybe I could go one step further and say mothers in the church need to tell other mothers it’s okay to have bad days. Once again we can see an opportunity for the gospel to be lived out through the context of relationships in confession, forgiveness and unconditional love. I can’t help but think of Paul’s letter to Titus where he calls on the older women to urge the younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:3-4). I assume he wouldn’t have to ask them to “urge” if loving us was supposed to always be easy!

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