At first glance you might think my title is a little odd. You may say to yourself, “Of course all moms struggle with parenting their children. What kind of topic is this?” But here’s the truth about the current culture in which we parent. Our concept of parenting is not formulated solely by observing those around us or influenced by how we were parented. Our parenting self-worth is heavily influenced by the world of social media. The major problem is that in the social media world parenting is AMAZING! Through all forms of internet socialization we assume that our friends’ children are wonderful. They score 10,000 on their SAT’s and have a full ride to the college of their choice. They win all their swim meets and they are on the honor roll for the 20th year running. They climb Mount Everest and learn to speak 4 languages while mastering calculus all by age 4. Okay, maybe the last part was over the top, but you know what I mean. By contrast, here is what you never see on the internet. My daughter barely squeaked on to honor roll because her dyslexia is so challenging that she attends tutoring 6 times a week just to keep up. My son is usually combative at home, but this week he only talked back three times and we are celebrating his progress. Ever read a tweet that says, “My youngest looked in the mirror this morning and was broken-hearted because her acne is out of control and kids are unkind?” You will never see a post that reads, “I yelled at my kids today for no reason. I am worried about finances, my husband and I are not on the same page, and quite frankly sometimes I don’t enjoy the duties of being a mom.” I feel pretty sure that has never been on a Facebook page.
Please do not misunderstand me. In theory I do not think it is wrong to share special things about your children or to celebrate their achievements with others. You will find some neat comments and great pictures of my children on Facebook. I enjoy seeing stuff about my friends and watching their families grow up. I am also not suggesting social media be turned into some type of public therapy sessions in which to vent the ills of life (for the sake of your kids, please don’t). I think our mothering journey should be one worked through within the realm of our private world. The core of the trouble is not the information that is posted, but is our perception of the information. Too often we perceive that our friends and their family are always successful. We find ourselves thinking “they have got it all together and I don’t”.
So, here is what I really want you to know. I am a struggling mom. My three amazing daughters are not always so amazing. They make mistakes and do not always choose God’s best. To make matters worse, sometimes I stink at being a mom. I forget to put peanut butter between the bread and only send bread to school (true story). I threaten and don’t follow through (also a true story). I yell at them sometimes and am often not the mom I want to be for them. Even more revealing is that I am a clinical therapist and women’s ministry leader who has been working with other moms for years to help them with their parenting. Yet, my journey is wrought with mishaps, fumbles and out-and-out mistakes that I wish I could take back.
Here is another important TRUTH I want you to know. I know a whole bunch of other fabulous mothers who are in the same boat as me. They too are “sometimes messed up moms” who are parenting” occasional messed up kids”. Even worse, sometimes we can hit a home run as a mom, parent them perfectly, and our kids do not follow suit. Our kids go their own way, and sometimes it is not the right way! THAT IS THE TRUTH AND DON’T LET YOUR PERCEPTION CONVINCE YOU OTHERWISE.
This is the last and most important TRUTH I want you to know. You are not alone! I, and you, can live under the guidance of the greatest parent of all. Our Heavenly Father is our perfect parent. He loves us with an everlasting love even when we are not so amazing. He is the one who whispers in our ear when we yell at our kids so we can model saying we are sorry. He is the one who picks us up when we are too tired to think. Most importantly, He is the one really parenting our children. HE has a future and a hope for them that you or I could never imagine. I pray you and I will desire to spend more time seeking Him and His vision for our mothering. To learn to Pause and look at Him instead of looking around. I encourage you find other moms to jump in the boat with you and plan times to meet face to face with them. Don’t think you know any? Just look around at the moms sitting next to you in church, the one who works in the next cubicle, and even your mom friends on Facebook.
After reading this, send a note to one of your favorite struggling moms and give them a word of encouragement on Facebook or send a sappy text. Better yet, do it the old fashion way. Write them a letter, call them or meet them for coffee. Pray, laugh and seek the Lord together as moms AND try to turn off your media a little more.
The Lord appeared to him from far away, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3