The other day, I had a moment. This particular “moment” actually may have lasted a few hours- perhaps a day or two- but whatever. We’re mincing words here. The general theme of my freakout sesh: OMG AM I SCREWING MY KIDS UP FOREVER?
Now, my friends. This question has been a long-standing theme in my eight and half year tenure as mother. In fact, this question taunted me even before my first child took his first breath:
“The guy at the gym actually told me I shouldn’t be stairstepping while pregnant! OMG AM I SCREWING MY KID UP FOREVER?”
“I just chugged a fully-caffeinated latte like nobody’s business, and now my unborn child is surely maimed for life. OMG AM I SCREWING MY KID UP FOREVER?”
Once he was born and that warm, snuggly, always-crying-never-sleeping bundle of joy was in my arms, the doubts just grew louder as I navigated the typical quandaries of young motherhood. Breast or bottle? Work or stay home? Cry-it-out or pick-him-up? Everyone had an opinion. I was overwhelmed. And all I could gather was that I was probably wrong and that OMG I WAS SCREWING MY KID UP FOREVER.
Flash forward a few years, a couple more kids, and a whole heckofalot parental second guessing, and you’ll arrive at my most recent freakout moment: our school choice.
A bit of background. I live in a county with an insane number of school choices. Private and charter and magnet and homeschooling and year-round and modified-year-round. And then. Then there’s the standard, run-of-the-mill, traditional neighborhood public school, where we happen to send our kids. (OMG. Am I screwing my kids up forever?)
Another crucial piece of info: we absolutely love our kids’ school. The teachers, the administration, the families, the culture. It’s been a great fit for us, and I am very, VERY grateful. And yet, there was that fateful night recently in which I lost my ever-loving mind.
“What are we even doing? So-and-so is learning a dozen languages in first grade! They’re probably learning rocket science while our kids are just learning normal things like reading and math! Normal! My snowflakes are going to be normal! And the test scores!! Maybe we should be looking more at test scores!! Because COLLEGE! Don’t we want our kids to go to college one day? Also, scholarships and jobs! They need those too! And we’re ruining their chances by sending them to a just-average school. Oh my gosh they’re going to be NORMAL, and WE ARE TOTALLY SCREWING THEM UP FOREVER.”
Here’s the thing. We live in a day and time in which everybody’s business and opinions and perfectly-filtered-lives are constantly in front of our eyeballs, and that can make things… tricky at times. But you know what I’ve found? That maybe the so-called Mommy Wars are actually settling down a bit. That I’m not surrounded by an angry mob of judgey-pants moms after all. That the judgement is typically coming from within my own messy heart.
Because the other night when I was doubting all of our parenting choices- when comparison got the best of me and my pride clouded out my view of God’s faithfulness- I was the one at fault. It was my sin at play. My eyes darting around, taking notes on everyone else’s lives. My silent declaration of “God, not thy will but MINE be done. Or maybe those people over there… their wills look pretty great too.”
So, before we demonize social media for adding fuel to the Mommy Wars fire and point blaming fingers at everyone else, maybe we should stop to check our own selves first. Because I can talk a big talk, but you know the truth? Many days, I seek man’s praise more than God’s. And, more than I desire God’s will, I want to measure up. My KIDS to measure up. I try to match the omniscience of our all-knowing God by researching and analyzing every decision until I can pat myself on the back and declare, “Mama knows best.” I compare, doubt, second-guess, and fret. Oh, I fret. And I walk around with a white-knuckled grip on my kids’ lives, completely sold on the lie that the buck stops here. That my kids’ futures lie in MY hands. That my excellent decisions will yield perfect children. That it all comes down to me.
Say what you want about the Mommy Wars. But all that right there? That seems like a much more legit battle to be fought. Because until I can see our God for who He is and put myself back in the right position (read: NOT ON HIS THRONE), the Mommy War that is dangerously waging in my own heart will never cease.
So, for today at least, my battle cry looks a lot more like a prayer of surrender:
Hey God, this parenting thing is crazy hard. In a world with so many voices and platforms and Instagram accounts, I pray that your voice would be the loudest. Your Word the truest. Your faithfulness my anchor.
Although I spin my wheels and bust my butt to know-all and be-all things for my kids, I acknowledge that all sovereignty, knowledge, and power actually rests in you alone. Forgive me for trying to steal your glory by exalting myself up as Sustainer of All Things rather than pointing my kids to You, Lord. Because the truth is- apart from you, I am not enough. My power is insufficient. And my wisdom is faulty at best.
But you have given us your infallible Word and your guiding Spirit. You have promised that your love is everlasting and your grace sufficient. So, when my eyes start darting around as they tend to do, comparing notes with every other parent out there, may they ultimately rest on your goodness and sufficiency. May your truth guide me.
And in those moments when I cry out in desperation, “Oh, my God! Am I screwing my kids up forever?,” may your love and mercy wash over me as I am reminded once again that I have never had that kind of power over my kids’ lives anyway.
And thank you, God, for that.