mommyhood

 

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Judgement. We are all so quick to do it but man, does it stink to be on the receiving end.

Nothing prepared me for the judgement I would receive as a mother; especially by some in my "tribe". (Insert pathetic and self-pitying whine here).

Ever since our first was born, I have absolutely fallen head-over-heels with motherhood. Yes, motherhood comes with its trials (and errors), but for the most part, I have loved a majority of all that's involved. I've also fallen so in love with our children! They bring us so much joy and are experts at wringing every last ounce of selfishness from my self-absorbed body. (God knew what He was doing, didn't he?!)

I'm a naturally inquisitive and curious person, so as soon as that plus sign appeared, I began researching and reading everything I could get my hands on about childbirth and rearing. There was SO. MUCH. Oh my gosh. But on the upside, thank goodness we live in 2017, when there is so much great information (and lots of fearmongering information, too) and thoughtful/super helpful baby gear at our fingertips! Motherhood will never be the same. When we know better, we can do better, amiright?

I grew up in a family of five children and my parents, although very strict by today's standards, did a great job. They weren't too different from other parents back then and were so lucky to be parents in an age without Google. Okay, joking:-) They weren't perfect by any means, but the most important thing was we had a wonderful childhood full of love and sound moral guidance, and they created a home with a very good balance between being protective parents and letting us figure things out on our own. I hope to instill this same balance in our home as we raise our children. Again, there is so much more information that makes it obvious we know much better than when my parents did over 30 years ago. We know more about carseat and sleep safety, product recalls, vaccines, nutrition, toxic chemicals in personal care products, screentime, internet security/safety, abuse, trafficking, and all the other not-so-fun things to worry about as a parent. But again, thank goodness we know this information now!

That being said, with so much information out there in this age, how can anyone expect mothers to mother the same now compared to 5 years ago? 20 years? 50? You probably see where I'm going with this.....

I was warned about "mommy wars" between current moms, but nothing prepared me to be outspokenly critiqued and judged by older generations of mothers. I did expect them to offer their wisdom and advice, but never harsh criticisms and judgement. It's both perplexing and frustrating. And since our hearts really desire to be the best mom our children can have no matter what generation we mother in, golly does it hurt. Especially when it comes from a loved one we respect and admire.

Does this sound like something you are going through? Let me offer some encouragement.

First, GOOD JOB! You're doing a great job! How long has it been since someone has told you that? Feels amazing, doesn't it? I'm very rarely told that by other adults. Not that I'm constantly seeking affirmation and approval, but it feels good when it happens! And if it rarely happens to you, let me tell you this: in your domestic Cathedral, you are enough and God sees it all. He sees you wipe up the poop smudged all over your little one's crib first thing in the morning, for the 3rd time this week. He sees you brush away the tears when your little one is throwing an epic tantrum because they can't find their favorite t-shirt they JUST HAVE TO WEAR today! He sees you slump on the couch in defeat when you've received word that a family member, who you often try too hard to please and impress, continues to criticize you behind your back for how you're raising your kids. You're never good enough for them. It hurts. A lot. The point is, He knows your heart. You aren't working for them and there is nothing you need to prove to them. You aren't doing mother work. You're doing His work. And His opinion of you is all that matters.

Second, empathy. As Christians, we are called to be merciful like the Father. We're called to be charitable and forgiving. Just like we feel very misjudged in these situations because they don't know the whole story and may not know you very well as a person and mother, do we really know them that well? In times like this, I have to wonder: Where is this coming from? What was their childhood like? Do they feel guilty for how they raised their children? Did they have a poor or non-existent relationship with their mother/parents? Were they constantly judged and criticized for their mothering skills by someone close to them? The quote, "Hurt people hurt people" rings true in this case. Sin and brokenness are cyclical. So let the cycle end with you. Let peace begin where you are standing.

And as hard as it is to do, forgive them. They may continue harping on you, lecturing you, talking poorly about you behind your back, or saying cruel things about you to "poison the well" so others develop a poor opinion of you before they really get to know you. Forgive them again. It hurts and it's terrible. But again, it's not about you. It speaks volumes about what is in their heart and reveals possible hurts they've experienced.

In motherhood or any area of your life really, when things like this happen, I love praying the Litany of Humility. It packs a punch and is very hard to pray sometimes (okay, it's really a spiritual kick in the a#$). It really helps change the trajectory of our reaction to these experiences.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

I also highly recommend the St. Francis Prayer. The passages, "Where there is hatred, let me sow love" and "not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand" are especially meaningful.

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen
 

When these instances first began to happen, I was just angry at this person and kept trying to think about ways I could speak up for/defend myself. I began judging them through my reactions and assuming the worst in them, too! Needless to say, I was not in a good place, spiritually. Over time, the more sorry I've felt for the perpetrator. I can tell Christ has been hard at work in my heart.  Through prayer for this person, Christ has helped me see them as He does, and the humility that prayer brings has helped me see the pain behind their actions and the words they are saying. I may not know the source of their pain, but it doesn't matter. What matters is they are a beloved daughter or son of God who's just as broken and flawed as I am; just in other ways.

A couple of months ago, I began reading Story of a Soul by St. Terese of Lisieux. You really need to read this book! There are a couple of passages where she remembers being accused of something or someone spoke ill of her, and even though these things weren't true, she was so humble and knew they didn't matter. She knew that God saw everything and knew what was in her heart, so she kept silent and offered these transgressions up to God. Wow. I was blown away by her humility!

In any conflict; especially when someone sins against us, we have to remember that how we  react and respond reveals what is in our hearts, as well. I want others to see Christ and His mercy in my heart when I react/respond. It will take some hard work, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I hope you are, too. And when we're the "older and wiser", I hope we're all more supportive to the moms who we see ourselves in when our kids are having children of their own. The next generation of moms will know more than our generation did. But we'll ALL know three solid truths:

Momming isn't easy for anyone.

We're in this together.

And it is all SO worth it.

What lessons have you learned from motherhood that you never expected to learn? I'd love to hear yours!