Something about motherhood makes me feel exposed in ways I never have before – like that first sunburn of the summer. All the sudden, discomfort can come upon me and make me question both my course and my capability. I let outside voices get in my head. The book, the friend, the stranger, the blog, the talk show, the magazine – they all have something to say about my parenting and my children. An odd look from a passerby can suddenly make me think, what am I doing wrong? I wonder if other moms deal with this or if it’s just my oversensitive, people-pleasing nature at its worst. I know that many moms feel judged by their kid’s behavior (which I generally disagree with) and I am no exception to that feeling. In fact, I’m quite familiar with it. I know I’m a spectacle at the grocery store when I have 2 boys sword fighting with celery sticks in the cart, a baby strapped to my chest, a mile-long list of food to grab while trying to read ingredient labels. You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear, “You’ve got your hands full.” from the random Joe or Jane. I’m not even sure what that is supposed to mean but it gets to me. When I talk to my husband about it, he innocently tells me not to care. So I try really hard. I give myself a pep talk, “Next time I hear how my hands are full, I won’t care. Repeat: next time I hear… I won’t care.” It’s amazing because my hubby sincerely doesn’t care. It must be a guy thing. It just does not get under his skin but no matter how I try to brainwash myself, the fact is, I still care.
So, God in His kindness, has started to teach me a new way. Truthfully, when I try not to care about the judgements of others, I begin to stop caring about that person. For me, “not caring” is a defense mechanism which distances me from the offender. I’m not comfortable with distance. I don’t like to see burned bridges, even if it’s a total stranger. Instead of “not caring”, I need confidence…confidence in God and His wisdom in giving me my exact 3 children in this exact city at this exact time. I need confidence in God’s constant presence with me, and His ability to direct me and redirect me at every question mark in my day. I need confidence in the decisions I have prayerfully made in how to raise our 3 treasures. This may sound overly simple and perhaps it is. Sometimes the simple is the most profound.
Over these short 5 years of parenting, He has etched this question in my head, “How would I parent if the Bible was my one and only resource?” I love how that question has clarified my thinking in countless situations. It’s like putting in earplugs – all the outside voices go away and I hear only His. Thankfully, His voice is gentle, confident, wise, tender, and strong. To the random “judgers”, it feels better to think, “I really do care about you and your thoughts but I’m confident in my choices because of the God who is guiding me.” He knows my weaknesses, knows my children, knows the desires of my heart, and knows exactly how to refine my heart. What a perfect parent He is!
Watch out grocery store, the spectacle is back but with a caring and confident mama this time!