I saw this meme written by Bunmi Laditan of The Honest Toddler while scrolling through Facebook over the weekend:
How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of indepedence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, mulitlingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil.
How To Be A Mom in Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
I laughed so hard when I read it, and shared the post on all my social media accounts. I received many responses, all of which echoed the idea of “Yes! LOL! These insane standards are why we are crazy!”
Don’t get me wrong. Motherhood has never been an easy gig. We are raising people, for crying out loud! It is the most gratifying, terrifying, frustrating, amazing thing we will ever do.
Modern motherhood is a different beast. We have taken an already difficult task and added pressures and burdens we were never meant to carry.
The reason the meme makes us laugh isn’t that the goals mentioned are foolish. We all want the best for our kids.
The meme’s humor stems from the sheer number of duties listed for mothers to accomplish or die trying.
And parents are dying, if not physically, then mentally and spiritually, when we try to keep all these balls in the air. We are taking on way too much. We take on more and more until we crash instead of taking on fewer responsibilities and a few more hours of self-care. We drink just a little too much at the end of the day to numb the unnecessary feelings of ineptitude and exhaustion that stem from overextending and never meeting an unattainable goal. We snap at our kids when they want our attention that is being pulled by yet another task we deem essential, but in the grand scheme isn’t. While I laughed at the meme, I also saw many truths in the words. I know the trap of perfection all too well.
I’m not writing today to talk about where the blame should fall for the unrealistic expectations of modern motherhood. I also don’t want to pass judgment on mothers who value items on this list such as intentional parenting, nutritional standards, and educational excellence. I appreciate all those things.
I am here to gently remind us that we are finite beings with limited resources. We are trying to control things outside the realm of our control. We are running ourselves into the ground doing things “for our children” when what they need is a present, healthy, whole mom with a clear understanding of her limitations which will set a healthy example of adulthood.
I want to do many things for my children in the short time they will be in my home. I want to cook healthy meals, teach them to care for their bodies and spirits, teach them compassion, humility, and how to wash their laundry. Teach them to read, balance a budget, and to stand up for themselves.
The reality is that no matter how hard I try, there will be things I do not get to in their time at home. We were not made to do it all, and when we try, we sacrifice being present with the people we love.
Breaking the cycle of overcommitment is simple, but not easy. First, we need to recognize our boundaries. Admitting you have limitations takes practice and humility.
Next, we need to prioritize what is most important. This will look different for each of us. That is a good thing! With a larger sphere of influence due to the internet, we are spending too much time observing by the priorities of others and wondering if they should be our priorities as well. The comparison is not healthy.
Take some time to write down your priorities in raising your kids. Your list should be short. When everything is a priority, nothing is.
Lastly, we must admit we have limited resources of time, energy, and finances. Learn to work within those limitations without guilt.
The priorities and resources tests ensure we are doing things we should be doing. For example, feeding my family nourishing, whole foods is a priority for me. But sometimes I lack the time and energy to cook dinner. Enter pizza night. I have zero guilt about pizza night because I realize I am not perfect, and I am conserving my energy and time for something else, such as meaningful connection with my family. Because nutrition is a priority, I do cook most days and set up my schedule and let go of other things to make sure I usually have the time and energy to do so.
Here are some things I don’t regularly do because they either are not a priority or I don’t usually have the time/energy:
-Dust my house. (I have added this to the kids’ chore list because I simply do not care to do it but know it has to happen at least once in awhile. Several other housekeeping items fit this bill such as cleaning baseboards)
-Volunteer in my community
-Have annual birthday parties
-Enroll my kids in many evening activities
-Read my Bible or pray at a particular time every day. I try to say a few prayers throughout the day and read a Psalm. No long quiet times around here.
-Wash my windows
-Teach at a homeschool co-op
-Volunteer for the kids’ ministry at church
-Iron clothes. Never.
-Make photo albums and scrapbooks.
-Sew or knit
-Do planned crafts with my kids.
-Decorate bedrooms/nurseries with matching themes and bedding.
-Read the news
-Buy everything organic, non-GMO, etc
This list is just the beginning, but you get the point. If some of my no’s are your priorities, that’s awesome! I need to be friends with the craft moms so my kids can make macaroni necklaces, and I am beyond thankful for the teachers at our homeschool co-op who give me a much needed free day.
Let’s all agree to stop the madness and live within our God-given boundaries. Celebrate the diversity of parenting priorities without thinking you have to do it all. You are already doing a great job. Let’s raise our glasses of wine, diet Coke, La Croix, Starbucks, Slurpee, kale juice, or homemade kombucha and toast our fellow mothers with only love and a fistbump. We need each other.
But don’t forget the coconut oil :).