Best parenting advice I ever received....

Recently I was asked to speak at a local MOPS meeting. If you’re unfamiliar with it, that stands for “Mothers of Preschoolers” and it’s a faith based support group for moms.

I seriously just love MOPS gatherings.

I kinda feel like they are “my people”. It’s like we just understand each other.  I mean we walk into these events with a look at each other like “Whoop whoop! We made it out tonight!  Lord help my husband at home (or whoever has the kids), but thank you Jesus for this moment, and pass the cheesy potatoes!”

Am I right?

Recently I came across a few funny comments describing being a mother in today’s culture, here are a few of the best:

“I’m just a mom, standing in front of my husband, trying to say something I can’t remember because our kids interrupted us 175 times.”

“Being a mom means you consume 99% of your calories in the bathroom and after 8:00 p.m.”

“Much of being a mother means hiding in a closet eating something you don’t want to share.”

“5 year old son to his father while he is loading the dishwasher: “You and mom make a good team!”

Father: “We do?”

Son: “You do it first, then Mom does it right.”

RIGHT? I know...SO right.

Now I’ve been in and around the MOPS organization for the last nearly 15 years. When I was a younger mother and a member of MOPS I would love the time being around other moms who were going through some of the same experiences I was going through.  It helped me to know I wasn’t crazy.  You know what I’m saying?

“Oh you haven’t slept solid in 3 months? - Me either!”

Walking around with spit up on my shirt because I still needed to do laundry was approved of among these people.  I received so much great information and encouragement along the way - and it’s been fun raising my kids with many of the same mom’s I met in MOPS.

But it wasn’t until this last year that I heard some of the BEST pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received from a woman named Cindy Bultema.   It literally is something that has changed my life, and I wish I had known about it YEARS ago when I first started mothering.  

(I was like EVERYONE needs to know these things!)

So are you ready? BEST ADVICE EVER? Here it is:

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOM’S.

There ya go. Let it simmer.

I honestly believe that this is one of the most dangerous traps you can fall into! I mean there’s so many different kind of parenting styles to compare against your own, am I right?  I mean just in my world there are:

Pinterest Moms

Healthy Moms

Athletic Moms

Gluten Free Moms

Organic Moms

Homeschool Moms

Grow your own garden Moms

Sports Moms

Club Moms

Crafty Moms

Fun Moms (whatever that is, my kids tell me I am not!)

Working Moms

Direct Sales Moms

Stay at Home Moms

Moms of multiples - just to name a few….

So here’s what we do….we watch them. And then we try to emulate them. Right?  I mean, we will honestly deceive ourselves into thinking that whatever they’re doing is incredibly better than what you’re doing and we will try and become them.

Girls - I’ve DONE it!  I’ve bought the clothes! I’ve walked around in yoga pants JUST to give the impression I’ve worked out in order to keep up with the “fit moms”.  

Listen, can we be honest for a second.  Here's an example from my own life.  I don’t cook.  I have zero interest in cooking.  Now I know some of you who know me personally may be shocked by that - but my figure should reflect that I like EATING - not cooking. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve shared the recipes on Facebook “Crockpot Dinners for 4 in 30 minutes with 5 or less ingredients!” Yayyyyyyy - right? But I've never made em. And not because I didn’t think about it, I just lack the drive for it. I just don’t cook. But my “cooking mom" friends loved that post!

I seriously can’t tell you how many times I’ve berated myself over not cooking like “so and so”. I would literally panic when the sign up sheet was passed around in church asking for people to make meals for new moms. I was like, "Can I just order them pizza?"

I've learned though, that it’s not that being a “cooking mom” is a terrible thing - it’s not! God bless those who cook! But me comparing my inability (as well as lack of desire), to cook - to those who have a natural propensity to - is just wrong.  

Certainly feeling poorly about myself is.  

You know who cooks in our family?  My husband.  And He LOVES it.  His family owned a restaurant growing up and he simply enjoys the kitchen...and I LOVE to eat his cooking! It works for us!

Now don’t misunderstand! I’m alllll about being inspired to try something new and/or being stretched by our gifted friends to mature in many different areas.  The problem is when we start twisting it and start comparing our lives as if there is some sort of “holy gauge” that determines if we are successful at this mom’ing thing by how we cook.  

Or how we clean.  

Or how frequently the laundry actually gets put away after it comes out of the dryer (because maybe we push dry again to shake out the wrinkles from sitting so long…) I get it.

Oh, and homeschooling moms? Ya’ll are amazing. I mean it. I am not so Godly. (Oh! Did you see what I did there?! Comparing my “Godliness” on whether or not I homeschool…) Girls I’m telling you- we do it all the time. At least I have.

We are beautifully different! And we should celebrate that!

But what do we do instead? Compare ourselves. And there is a dark force driving us there.  You know what it’s called?

Envy.

Oh man! And do you know where so much of it comes from? SOCIAL MEDIA!  I seriously have a love/hate with social media.  I am entirely guilty of this. (Feel free to stop reading if I have disappointed you with my honesty.)

I never knew I could look as good as a snapchat filter can make me look!!! No joke - all my blemishes just disappear with a little swipe and then you know, I’m totally posting that one. Right? Even if I’m not REALLY at pretty as this filter can make me look - I’m gonna post it so I can send out the message that I’m maybe not as screwed up as I feel.  Or as I AM. Feel me?

I don’t think there’s a woman reading this who doesn’t want to be “all she can be”.  I mean I get it - we WANT to be the best daughters, wives, mothers, business owners, employees and ministry leaders. Don’t we? So we try to do it all.  And in the quietness of feeling exhausted and like we are failing - we allow the depression of “not being able to do it all” to set it.  By the way - it is a false notion that we should somehow being able to “do it all.” We cannot.

But then, we weren’t ever supposed to.

Sometimes we might think, “I wish I was more like her. I wish I parented more like her. Quite frankly, it would be easier if I had her kids, they're so quiet and well behaved. Mine are lunatics. And look at how her husband helps her. Mine would probably help me more if I had her looks, her talent, her figure, her intellect, her resources, her life. Why am I just me?”

Envy. It’s so ugly. And so incredibly deceptive.

Rick Warren writes, “Truth be told, you cannot be happy and envious at the same time. In fact, one of the greatest secrets of having happiness in your life is learning how to eliminate envy.

God says the way you change envy is by changing your perspective.

To change your perspective, the first thing you have to do is stop comparing yourself to others. The Bible says satisfaction comes from doing your best, not comparing yourself to others: “Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.” (Galatians 6:4 LB).

When you strive to be the person God made you to be, you’ll find real meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Sister - You can’t focus on your purpose while looking around at other people.

Girls - can I be honest?  I can feel so inadequate at times. As a Christian, as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a ministry leader.  I can think, oh man - I haven’t been as loving as I should have been. Nor as kind or forgiving. I can have a wonderful quiet time and feel all filled with the Spirit, ready to conquer the world...and then the kids get up. I am reminded that in my flesh, I am completely inadequate.  I am born a sinful woman in a broken environment.  But then I remember - Christ is completely adequate.  He is completely sufficient.  He lacks NOTHING.  And He lives In ME!  Therefore, by allowing Christ to reign supreme in my life - that I can be more than adequate! 

How do I know that?

Because 1 Peter 1:3 says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life…

Everything.

It’s true we can’t “do it all!” Although “all” continues to be elusive to me anyway. Beware of also falling into the trap of thinking that somehow God is ranking us against each other.

He’s so not.  His goal is that we become more like Christ, not like another person.

Maybe we just need to be honest with ourselves that we’ve been spending too much time looking at others to set the standard of how we should parent and/or live this life...I heard a pastor say this weekend that if we want a deeper walk with God, we need to pray and ask Him to reveal and then remove anything that is setting itself up as a detriment to your walk with Him and your faith journey here on earth….

I decided to do that.

You know what He revealed to me, about MY life?  The thing that can totally open my heart to envy and comparison? Yes, it was totally social media.  I don’t know about you - maybe you’re an amazing time manager with this ridiculous time sucking app, but I’m not.  I’ve had to remove it from my phone more than once because it’s just too easy to check it "really quick" and then have an entire hour pass having done nothing but scroll and “like”. Maybe that’s just me. I just know that if you take prayer seriously, God will seriously respond to your prayers. He wants you free from the comparison trap!

The world is assaulting mom’s in today’s culture.  Saying everyone is or is doing “more important” things than what you are doing.  Listen to me….they are not. Rather, know this:

You are valuable.

You have purpose.

Embrace it.

Don’t rush it.

Take lots of pictures.

The most dissatisfying life is living one that isn’t yours.  

I don’t know where God finds you today, but if you’re feeling like the mom who just can’t “keep up”, or is feeling inadequate to the parenting task at hand - I want you to be reassured God is near.  He is your Helper.  You don’t need to be anyone you are not.  He desires that you find peace in who He has made you to be.  And if you have been living with some sort of dissatisfaction of where your life is “compared” to someone else’s (and there will always be a someone-else), He is calling you to lift your eyes off of them and on to Him.

Choose today to let go of envy, comparison, and be the mom God created you to be.  You are enough because Christ who lives in you is.