“Where are your shoes?”
Frantically you search for your 5 year old’s sneakers without the holes—evidence of his toes dragging on concrete to slow him down when riding his back yard scooter rides.
Giving up, you strap the holey ones (ahem) on his feet and hope no one notices the sock-covered-toes sticking out at the tips like blazing white lights.
Looking at your ragamuffin child, it triggers a memory from a few weeks ago… an older lady when you were out running errands stopped you—and delivered a humiliating experience.
Could you blame her though?
With your hair disheveled and greasy going on day 3 of no shower, crusty bits of who-knows-what stuck to your shirt and stained rainbow sandals (probably from spit-up bursts splashing on your feet) you looked quite the mess. Add to this carting your screaming baby around the store with a puke stained onesie (with no shoes or socks on of course), a frolicking two year old with a lions mane for hair and dress hem dragging like a tail behind her (because she won’t let you dress her in anything else without a fight), and a whining 5 year old with holes in his shoes, knees, elbows—anywhere that hits concrete—and you get a pauper-looking family.
With silver hair, she comes up to your mess of a self and puts cash in your free hand with a pat saying, “Go do yourself a favor hun and buy some nice clean clothes for you and your children to wear.” Wide-eyed and speechless, you finally get your words unstuck after a few seconds of shock.
“Oh! I’m sorry, thank you for being so generous but my kids already have a closet full of good clothes, so do I! We just hardly ever get to wear them!” You thought she caught your sarcasm.
She grabs her money back, gives a little “humph” and walks off leaving you in a shocked mess—oops. A little chain link of guilt and shame attaches to your heart. Clink.
A scream jolts your senses back to reality.
“Kid’s play nice!” you auto respond to their 7th squabble that morning. Just as you’re heading out the door to preschool, you realize your 2 ½ year old never ate breakfast you prepared—banana and buttered toast.
But the clock is ticking and you have to leave… NOW!
Glancing around, you see a half-eaten sandwich bag of goldfish crackers on the counter from yesterday’s snack time.
“I can’t give her that… But she will be starving and melting down at preschool if I don’t. Oh goodness, hopefully no mom’s see me once I get there trying to wrangle it out of her hands… or hopefully she will finish the bag before we get to the classroom.”
Weighed down but a decision made, you grab the bag as you rush out the door—clink.
Your only a few minutes behind schedule as you drop your tiny tots off to preschool and manage to slip the bag of goldfish crackers out from your two year old’s grasp before heading into the classroom. Finally, WIN! But just as you try to sneak out the classroom door, 6 month old in tow, your son’s teacher comes out asking, “Hey can I talk to you for a minute?”
She lectures you on how your son has been quite disruptive in class. Sigh. She wants to know what kind of rules you instill around the house and then as the nerve to ask if he’s been checked for ADD. Really?!—clink.
After the 5 minute pep-talk that ended with me saying “so sorry, I will work on this with him,” you slink back to the safe haven of your car.
Just before you open the car door, you are stopped by a friend/acquaintance who you haven’t seen in forever. Exchanging pleasantries she asks if you are still working part-time.
You politely say, “No, I decided to stay home with them now instead because it was getting so hard on the kids to be gone for such long days at work, especially now that my third here was born…” Right after those words fall out of your mouth you want to reel them back in. You just remembered she has a brood of 4 children under 5 and she works full-time.
You notice her face falls a bit as she begins gushing about how she wishes she could stay home with her kids and not have to work full-time to support her family, but her husband’s job just doesn’t support them enough. Oops—clink.
The day is feeling heavy and it’s only 8:58 am.
The rest of the day you’re thwarted by social media posts of mom’s all doing it right and you doing it all wrong… at least it appears that way—clink.
From conversations to random people at the supermarket to well-intentioned friends when together on a playdate that afternoon, you feel the guilt and shame of motherhood adding up—either too much or never enough. Too strict or too laid back. Too healthy or too greasy. Clink, clink, clink!
Do you have decisions weighing on you regarding which option to choose—private, public or homeschool? Cry it out or coddle and hold? Breastfeeding or bottle? Enrolling kids into sports or investing the time and money into family vacations? It’s nauseating and stressful, isn’t it?
Oh momma’s I get it. I. GET. IT. I’ve so been there. And sometimes I still get weighed down again and again with these chains of guilt and shame in motherhood.
But there’s freedom to be had from these chains. You can cast these links aside! Don’t forget the deeper truth behind the lies—truths gleaned by TRUTH of God’s Word which says:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10, ESV)
Who are you trying to please? Don’t fear what others think of you. Don’t seek the approval of other’s. Seek only to love God and through this pursuit to love and know Him you will know what is best for you and your family and not be weighted by what others think of you.
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1, ESV)
She may breastfeed and you may bottle feed. She may feed her kids organic and you may only have time for fast food. Look at the common ground that you both want to provide food for your child. That is good. They are both good! Put your judgments aside.
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Prov 22:6, NLT)
There are so many parenting techniques our there… find one that fits well and works with you and your belief system. As long as your intentions are rooted in genuine love, you won’t steer your kids wrong.
Oh sweet momma’s let go of the guilt. Let go of the shame. Don’t let negative expectations of others decide your worth as a mom. You are loved. It all boils down to love.
Are you loving on your children the best way you know how? Stick with that then. If it means working full-time, great! Working part-time, wonderful! Staying home with them, awesome! Don’t let others stones or opinions knock you down. Root yourself in Christ and what He wants for you and your family and be confident in that.
You doing a good job momma. You really are. And someday when you look back at these foggy days of messy-hair-don’t-care and #momlife hashtags of #bombedlivingroom with loads of #laundrypiledhigh, toys strewn like #landmines to trip over and memories of feeding your kids #goldfishforbreakfast, you will smile at these days 15 years from now and grin knowingly at these mom’s—a distant memory of a life you once knew as you stroll by them through Target without the familiar pull on your leg or baby spit-up perfuming your wake.
I honor you momma’s. And I’m chanting this same tune to myself. Allow those links to fall. Soon a fragrance of grace and confidence will follow your wake wherever you go.
From your fellow momma breaking chains,