Let me explain.
My sister in law calls me “The Bulldog”. I have this personality that attacks everything I’m given, head on, full force. If I’m ever pestering her with too many details about some new idea I’m excited about, she texts me, “Grr, Bark Bark!” to remind me that I might need to tone it down a bit.
There are so many potential aspects of Motherhood, depending on your views. The definition of “Good Mom” is endless. For some, being a good mom means having regular Dr. checkups and getting every single vaccine recommended. For others, it means quite the opposite. For some, it means feeding the children nothing but goat’s milk and almond flour crackers, and for others, it’s about staying on a tight budget and buying whatever’s on sale. For some, it’s about staying home with the kids, and for others, it’s about making enough money to send them to the best schools money can buy.
Back when I had Gregory, I was terribly confused by all the varying opinions and options. I wanted to treat Motherhood as my calling, and I wanted to do it RIGHT. I threw myself into researching, even during the sleepless newborn days (wherein I was also finishing my MA degree!).
Guess what I ended up discovering?
When I viewed Motherhood as my calling, I actually became a BAD MOM.
I started viewing the whole thing as a job, and it made me hyperactive. I could never just “be” with my kids, because I was always trying to remake things and become better at it. That’s what you do with a job or with a calling, right? Work hard for a promotion?
Not only did I become a bad mom, but I also became a bad friend and wife. Because motherhood is not an 8-5 job, it was bleeding into other areas of my life. I couldn’t ever “turn it off” and be present with Jesse. I struggled with allowing my friends to parent in ways that were described as “wrong” from my research, almost like a CEO managing other departments. I also struggled greatly in confession, because I knew that my kids were definitely a higher priority in my heart and mind than my relationship with the Lord (I still struggle with this one, by the way).
As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that when I view Motherhood as my calling, or as a job, I become really bad at it, in the bigger scheme of things. Because with Motherhood, there is no promotion. There is only being. And when I was constantly trying to do things better, I wasn’t in the present. I was also always looking for validation from someone and constantly got discouraged when the praise or acknowledgment didn’t equal the work I put into things.
Instead, I’ve started viewing my calling as a relationship. I’ve been given two wonderful human beings to care for. My calling is to have two relationships with two very unique little boys. That means that sometimes, I will have to abandon my research, because it simply does not fit their personalities or needs.
And…because every family is comprised of entirely different personalities that add up to a completely unique recipe every single time, there’s no way that I can know what they “should” or “should not” be doing at any point in time. I can offer advice, but I don’t know. And, when I think about it, I don’t even want the responsibility of knowing. Parenting these two kids is enough responsibility to make me lose sleep, if I let it. If I let my thoughts wander about how I could improve every single mom’s parenting skills (let’s be honest, even the best intentions can turn into this)? It’s an anxiety attack waiting to happen.
For this reason, I know that I do not have a formula to offer anyone. I can only document what does and doesn’t work for us, and hope that someone else can benefit.
Motherhood is not my calling. Loving my boys and husband and honoring those relationships is.