Tonight is the last edition of Favorites February. Please take the time to read the rewrite of one of my readers’ most popular posts: Mommy Wars. This is a lesson I continue to learn and relearn and learn again.
As a teacher I have learned one key principle when a fight between two girls breaks out in the classroom—call for help. I would choose to stand between two angry, swinging 250 lbs. football players a thousand times before I try to break up two brawling girls.
Why? Girls are emotionally invested in ways boys cannot begin to imagine. I’m ashamed to admit in some ways, as women, we haven’t matured past this adolescent drama. We grasp our perfect-mother ideals with the strength of Methuselah’s grasp on life. We refuse to let go. It doesn’t matter whether punches or words are thrown. The female fight is intense.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Few childhood statements hold more deception than this one. And I hate it. I hate the lie it touts. I hate the truth it hides. Because words destroy like no stick or stone ever could.
As moms, we labor with deep groans to teach our children the power of words, the importance of being kind to one another, and the value of compassion. But I wonder. Are we are following our own moral lessons?
We’ve all been there. A simple status update on Facebook can begin the onslaught. Something as mundane as Hey moms…Johnny has an ear infection. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, but I’ve heard about a lot of alternative treatments. Any suggestions?
Oh. Dear. Lord. Have mercy. The mud begins to fly. The conventional medicine camp rolls up their sleeves while homeopathic mommas tighten their belts.
We end up deeply divided and harshly critical of each other. We separate ourselves into the we’s and the they’s. Think about it. As moms, there are hot-button topics we align ourselves with, yet fail to ever consider the reasons behind the other-side’s choices.
Breastfeeding vs. Formula. Let-Them-Cry-it-Out vs. Rock-Them-Until-They’re 20. Working Moms vs. Stay-at-Home Moms. Homeschool vs. Public School vs. Private School. These are just a few wars we jump into as moms. And these wars can get dirty.
Embarrassingly, I too have been guilty of flinging some dirt. But it seems as if God has designed my deepest struggles as a mother in order to give me a unique perspective on the mommy wars.
In short, my daughter breastfed, my son would not—despite ten torturous weeks of work, specialists, and crazy-town. My daughter wouldn’t allow me to rock her to sleep. My son cradled in my arms at night until almost three. I was a stay-at-home mom for three years with my daughter. I have had to work full-time since my son was five-months old. My daughter was in a private preschool with plans to transition into a private elementary school. Plans changed. She is now thriving in a local public school.
I now look back and realize I have had the privilege, and I do mean privilege, to sit on both sides of many issues we as moms find ourselves at war over. This is what I have realized: We assume women always have a choice. We assume wrong.
You see, I would have chosen to breastfeed my son. I would have chosen to still be a stay-at-home mom. I would have chosen a different educational path for my daughter. But I am proof God sometimes instructs us to walk different paths.
The hurt comes when swords of condemnation slice open our hearts. When women flail first and fail to consider behind-the-scenes battles we each may be facing.
We bare the deep wounds of judgment. Judgment carried out by those we need the most—other moms. Judgment plated up as advice, served with a side of pride.
Our disagreements run deep, opening a chasm of pain and hurt, which struggles to heal.
We have a right to our opinions and the choices we make for our children. Always. God chose you for your children. He chose me for mine. We are free to educate ourselves on the best course of action for the deepest needs of our youngest hearts. We are free.
Our mistake is offering up those opinions without ever extending a measure of compassion or grace to our sisters. We spout all the reasons our choices were best, never stopping to ponder the pain another mom may be going through. Or any of the reasons she may be forced to make the choice she must. We wound each other in our greatest time of need.
Yet Christ has called us to a life of encouragement. This is the beautiful life—the life which holds a momma up when her own strength is gone.
All too often we forget we have common ground. Motherhood is the most difficult job on this planet. We must realize that we are in this thing called motherhood together. Because it really does take a village, and only together can we really survive.
We are mothers who love our children with an unmatched intensity. Mothers who want only the best for those we’ve borne. Mothers who will rise up with a primordial fierceness against those who would do harm to our offspring.
We bare the scars. Bleeding and wounded from words that have been hurled like sticks and stones. But let us bare new scars. Gashes received from standing in the gap. Standing and shielding fragile hearts of other mothers.
And let us bare the Balm of Gilead. Bringing forth the sweet aroma of kind words. Words which heal and mend.
The next time you see a momma in the deep trenches of motherhood, desperate for a drink of calming water, don’t offer an opinion unless requested. Instead, ask her if she’s surviving. And then tell her. Whisper in her ear.
Tell her she’s doing an incredible job, and Jannie will not be in therapy because the diaper wasn’t changed immediately. Say there will be days she wants to crawl back into bed and ignore the sun. Let her know she’s normal, and you love her. Remind her she is more precious than rubies. More valuable than pearls. Tell her she is part of the noble sisterhood of mothers and this is a sacred calling.
The next time you find another mom caught in the middle of the mommy wars, take the right side. Take the side of motherhood.
God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, MSG, emphasis mine)