We all know it we all see it unless we have our heads buried in the sand. There is this disgusting competition that happens between women, especially moms. I can say I have been there, I am ashamed to say I have joined right in the heap to scrap around and compete with those around me.
In mom land it can get weird and confusing. Depending on who you are talking to you may need to present Pinterest mom or Hot Mess Mom to enter the competition ring. It takes about 4 seconds to gauge which file you need to pull. I’ve watched it happen and been involved in both. You can compete for best made cake or you can compete for messiest house. Neither is an encouraging conversation in the end. I promise.
If you’re not a mom or by some miracle have never witnessed one of these back and forth competitions for messiest home let me give you an example. During mothers day Walmart had t shirts that proudly and in pretty fonts said. GOOD MOMS HAVE STICKY FLOORS AND DIRTY DISHES. Or something like that. Well that day I won the award for sticky floors. Most days I would win that award. However I have friends who can do both. Keep house and mother. It’s a beautiful thing. I harbor a lot of jealousy for these people. On the days when the comparison game ends I love being in their homes. It comes natural to them to have things tidy and organized. There brains are wired to know how to organize their day and their homes. Mine is not.
When the back and forth ends and the dust settles the women look at one another and may realize instantly how ridiculous they sound and quickly try and add how Mom A is wonderful at task whatever (it may be cooking it may be keeping their temper under their hats). We attempt to build one another up once we have each torn ourselves down. Pretty sure people call that fishing for compliments.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t recognize God’s work in the lives of our friends but these compliments don’t start out with the phrase God has…It starts out with You are… We place their and our identities in what they are doing. Sometimes its good things we place our identities in sometimes not.
The exchange of confession for advise or confession for a compliment looks like the following.
Oh you suck at cleaning…the meatloaf you made last week was awesome and I can give you a book on how to organize your home it’s fabulous and organic.
Oh you didn’t help little Jack with his spelling and he failed his last test…you keep your home beautifully maybe what you need to do is love your child, invest in them and give homeschooling a try.
You got mad\ and yelled at your husband…he probably deserved it you were entitled to that I mean look at all you do for the kids and have you been praying enough and reading enough scripture because if you were those outburst would be gone.
When women open up like that those are confessions. But what they receive afterwards is far from absolution.
The above exchanges are not exact quotes but you get the idea. When I do this I am trying to help. I’m trying (and failing) to make my friend feel better. I am trying to help her justify herself.
And that is exactly why it doesn’t work. I’m trying to help her justify herself. I’m trying to help her find righteousness or goodness from within her. It always comes back around and bites me in the…butt. Because what happens when the house is a mess and the meatloaf burnt, what happens when Jack bombs his spelling test and your home smells like a toilet, what happens when you yell at your husband and your kids all day long? Despair. When I point my friends to themselves or their actions I will eventually always lead them into despair. They may have a few good days after if things pan out but life will get messy again.
And what happens when our friends open up and confess something ‘big’? Something we can’t play the balancing act of good things vs bad things. Where do we go when we can’t even think of any 123 advice that will fix it.
Before I go on I do need to say that I am horrible at this. I am rock star awesome at pointing people to themselves. Giving them something ‘good’ about themselves to make up for the ‘bad’ about themselves. So don’t think that I have got this figured out and I am some type of wonderful counselor friend.
What we need to do is remind each other of two things. The first is hard for me to give others and to hear about myself. When I enter this place with others I worry that they won’t like me anymore. When I have to stare in the mirror and look at my ugliness it hurts. We have to look at our friends, we have to look at ourselves and say your right we do stink at mothering and Christian living…but Jesus. That’s the second piece to the simple puzzle. Jesus. I know that sounds ridiculously simple. I know it sounds so simplified…but Jesus.
We can take ourselves out of equation and be okay to not have a response or answer. We can sit in the septic system with our friends and not have to fix it because some things are un-fixable this side of our heavenly home…but Jesus gives hope. We can encourage one another to gaze at the cross instead of ourselves.
Here is an example of what it looks like from Kimm Crandals “Christ in the Chaos”
“I’m sorry you are having a bad day. I had a really horrible day like that last week and yelled at one of the kids. I found it so hard to be patient with all the crying and just wanted to hide. I had the same thoughts you are having right now, but the Lord reminded me that I’m not the one who saves my children; only he can do that. Believe you are receiving his grace-right now at this very moment. Believe his love for you had not changed despite the fact that you have not loved your children well today. God’s love is never based on our behavior. Look to Christ when you are tempted to yell, and remember he lives in you. He will help you through the most difficult times. Go to your little ones and ask them to forgive you. Tell them that Mommy is a sinner who has a great Savior. Pray with them and believe there is nothing you can do to thwart God’s plan for them. WE ARE ALL BAD MOMS. THAT’S WHY WE NEED JESUS.’
What I do, almost unknowingly, when I attempt to balance my own good and bad or my friends good and bad is remove Jesus from the equation. If it could be balanced, if we could be perfect mothers, if we could even be good mothers, and perfect if we tried hard enough we wouldn’t need Jesus.
Jesus is why we can stare all that ugliness in the eye when we look in the mirror or all the ugliness in the eyes of our friends and remind them ‘WE ARE ALL BAD MOMS. THAT’S WHY WE NEED JESUS.”
It’s not about being a messy mom or a clean mom. It’s about being a mom because God has called you to this.
Because we can confess all of our junk even if we don’t have a friend next door that we can confess to and receive a verbal absolution.
We have a God who loves us not because of our character but because of His. We are all loved in spite of ourselves not because of ourselves or actions.
It’s not about which kind of mom is better a ‘Pinterest Perfect mom’ or a ‘Hot mess Mom’. Its about living in our freedom to live life where God has placed us, knowing we are bad moms, but resting in Jesus and all he has done for us. We don’t just need him on the ‘hot mess days’ but on the ‘Pinterest perfect’ days too (if those exist).