Category Archives: Womanhood

Let’s Just Be Mothers

It started a year ago. Oh, she was a long way from being born. I had yet to know that she existed. But I was a mother a year ago. How strange and beautiful that she knew me before I knew her. That second line showed itself, and it was shock and giddiness and such a deep joyful thankfulness that He looked at her, and He looked at me, and He said “yes, you will be her mother”. There is an honor to motherhood.

And we trash it.

You wouldn’t think that it would start so early, these “mommy wars”. I didn’t. I started researching all of the choices that I now had to make, discussing them with my husband. Choices about our pregnancy, our birth, our parenting. And then I started discussing them with other women, and naturally met those that made different choices than me. Some felt so strongly about their decisions that it felt as if a line had been drawn. I was either on this side of the line or that side of it. I either fit a label or I didn’t. There is, apparently, a right way and a wrong way to be a mother, and this – this giving of guilt, this culture of second-guessing, this my way or the highway mentality – this is what they call the “mommy wars”. As soon as you’re pregnant, they start. They start the instant that you make a decision. They war on your pregnancy, your birth, your motherhood from baby to teenager.

And I understand it. It’s because we love our children. It’s a scary big love. Motherhood and marriage bring Gospel love to life in an incredibly real and humbling way. There is not a single thing that I would not do for her. She is so helpless, so needy, and she has so much to learn and so far to grow. I think of how fiercely I love her, and my capacity to love is broken and flawed and cracked. Holy love, Gospel love, that is the stuff of legends. That’s the stuff that shakes heaven and hell. That’s the stuff that saves and heals. And I understand that holy love just a bit more by loving my little girl.

Now, I’m new to this. I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have that scary big love. I see the choices in front of me and I see the little child cooing to her animal friends on the playmat, and I absolutely do not have it in me to make any choice that is not for her good. Sometimes what is for her good makes things much more difficult for me, or it is something that my heart desperately wanted to avoid but I just have to set my pride aside. Every mother is like this. Motherhood is an honor and a deep responsibility. A lifetime mission field. It is so much a part of who I am, of my identity.

And so, when I hear another mother speak out against my choice, in person or more often behind a screen, what I hear is someone saying that I don’t have her best interests at heart, that I don’t love her enough, that I’m doing wrong by her. Perhaps they mean nothing by it, but I bristle. I’ll shy away, taking the guilt that they’re handing me without contest, or I speak back and unnecessarily add my voice to the noise. It’s the mixture of loving our children while simultaneously not having all the answers (oh no, say it ain’t so!) that creates this tension, that feeds these “mommy wars”.

But here’s what someone once told me – an informed decision, made out of love, is never a wrong decision.

I am not a better mother than you. I am not a worse mother than you. We are both mothers that are doing our best out of love for our children. We have different hearts, different needs, different children, different strengths, different struggles. Our families are different. Our support systems are different. I can respect your decision to use formula while you respect my decision to stay at home. We can discuss the things we know, the tricks we’ve learned to get the littles to sleep, how to soothe a crying carseat while driving. We can question the things we don’t understand. We can talk to the mothers on the next step, decide if their decisions work for our hearts or not. We can give each other grace enough to change our minds halfway through. We don’t have to feel guilt or be defensive when we mother differently.

The sisterhood of motherhood needs all of those differences. The differences add richness. It needs the breastfeeders and the formula feeders, the mothers that go back to their careers and the ones that stay home. It needs the sleep trainers and the co-sleepers, the mothers that swear by essential oils and the ones that go to the pediatrician. It needs the paleo all-organic family and the premade chicken nuggets, the mothers that space out their two kids and the ones that have seven kids back to back. Pinterest-perfect or yoga pants, there is room for all of us.

I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We’re mothers. Let’s just be mothers.

Open Your Mouth And Speak

My heart was designed to ache with wonder at the majesty of God, to beat with the bass of dancing songs, to pause for a second when a kiss lands on my forehead. And somewhere buried beneath a lifetime of you’re not enough and others do it better lies is the other thing my heart is supposed to do – be crazy passionate about what stirs it up, a trigger woven in among everything else when the breath of life filled my lungs. My voice can sing how great Thou art! and comfort hearts (or tear them apart), but it’s also meant to shout, to echo the voices of those that can’t speak.

Tied up with what makes my heart stir and my voice sound is what God called me to do, the outline of the adventure He has set my feet on, or so I’m told, and I believe that there’s truth there. If all of us broke for everything, if we truly could have the heart of God for even a moment and see the need in the world, we’d be so broken that we’d be paralyzed. God is good. God is gracious. And God has given me a piece of the need to attend to.

I see young women who have been ripped apart by misuse of the very thing that makes them a woman. I see soon-to-be mothers with hopeless eyes as they face a future of raising a family alone, punching out on one time clock just to punch in at another, and all the minimum wages in the world can’t fill both a rent check and a pantry. I see girls kidnapped and sold to ease the gap for some grown man’s soul in the most wretched of ways. I see children raising children. And women with bruises and breaks, and women with sparkling eyes traded out for meaningless sex, and women mothering on their own, and women who break down at the thought of that and abort, and women who have a past but where is their future? And women, and women, and women, and these are the women of my world, where we have “rights” and “privileges”, so how much worse is it across oceans…

God’s daughters, who should be fierce and thick to the fight, are sparse. So few churches give their women freedom to be the Church, either pushing them – us – to the sidelines or treating them – us – as an afterthought, an oh yeah, we were going to include you, we’ll make a note of it for next year.

Proverbs 31 is a lighthouse in an ocean full of what does a woman of Christ even look like? Yes, be thrifty! Be hard-working, be trustworthy, be loving, be smart and wise and strong. Be responsible, be generous, run your business. This is not the meek and mild mold that many feel they must fit in order for a space to be saved on a pew – this is a woman of valor. An eshet chayil. Yet before the tenth verse that starts it off, there is an eighth and ninth verse.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor. – Proverbs 31:8-9

I am to have a gentle and quiet spirit before my Father, to be still and know Him… but if the Church is to be His body and I have been branded and adopted as a daughter of God, then not only have I been called to be the feet, the hands, the arms, but also to be the voice. If my heart aches for anything, if it stirs for change and boils up at all of the brokenness being borne by other women around the world and within my city limits, then I have to do something. I have to speak up. Any timidity, any second-guessing, any doubts – those are from the human part of me, but that part is dead and dying and being reborn because God has not given me a spirit of timidity but of power and love. And that’s the Spirit, that’s the living God.

There is too much hurt in the world for any one person to heal. One voice yelling for change and redemption is just one more sound in the din of noise. But if I speak up for what’s written on my heart, and he speaks up for his own, and she adds her voice, and we fall as a Church into the words of the Spirit, then maybe there will be change. A heart healed, a past forgiven, a hope rekindled. Jesus is in the business of this, this binding up of wounds using words, the Word, the Spirit.

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