This post has been in the works for awhile. In fact, it is my best attempt to sum up thoughts that have been floating around in my head since shortly after I brought home that tiny, sweet bundle known as Joshua over three years ago now.
Motherhood is hard! Never have I taken a position that is so fulfilling and at the same time so completely all-consuming.
We had a speaker at my mommies group recently whose topic was "Identity." She was bright, funny, and most importantly real in speaking to the hearts of moms everywhere. How do we maintain an identity of our own when motherhood changes the way we look at everything, especially ourselves? And because we are so totally invested, we have never been so insecure and looking for re-assurance as we are as moms. We read books, parenting magazines, blogs, and constantly assess and interpret every comment and look wherever we go--hoping we measure up and are doing it "right." (This is true for me, I teared up and then almost made a rude retort to the lady behind me in line at Target today. She much less than kindly asked "do you mind keeping her from doing that?!" in response to Lydia's curious touching of her milk jug which she had of course loaded at the very front of her order--right in front of my ever-exploring, independent, and nap-needing little girl.
Did I mention she spoke straight to my heart? She managed to capture what has been floating around in my head all this time. We will always find someone doing better than we are, and someone we deem to be doing poorly than ourselves. It won't matter if the subject is appearance, attitude, or children's behavior, we are programmed to compare ourselves. And as she said, "as long as we focus our identity on those around us, we are aiming at a moving target...". The solution, of course, is to acknowledge that we are worthy solely because we are created and loved by God himself. When our focus is on Him we won't judge ourselves (or others) for good or bad based on the messages culture is constantly pushing at us.
It is simple, beautiful and yet overwhelmingly difficult. We are trained to listen to the voices around us and it seems impossible to shut them out. But I want to try. Partly for my sanity, for it all seems overwhelming when you're trying to be super-mom. Mostly though, I want to find peace and identity in being a chosen daughter of God for those I love. It all goes so fast, and I know that when I'm trying to be approved and accepted by those around me in order to identify myself as worthy it causes me to become short or harsh with my kids. I read this post today and I couldn't agree more.
Furthermore, I don't think misplaced identity and seeking acceptance are reserved for young moms. I think it is a struggle we all face each and every day, no matter what our gender, role, or life stage. Truly, as long as we are struggling to find worth for ourselves, I don't think we're very effective at reminding others of their great worth to God. And yet, we are all so hungry for affirmation, acceptance, and encouragement.
All that being said, I think this is a struggle that will rage on for me. I will need to remind myself and be reminded each day that my worth is found not in what I accomplish, or how well my kids behave, but in God's unconditional love for me. And on the days that it doesn't go so well, I'll need to remind myself that my worth hasn't changed. It's a challenge I want to take--anyone care to join me?