Before I had kids I was a teacher. I had hobbies. I was a musician. I was a size four (face palm). Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t trade my mommy badge for anything. But there is a learning curve when you step out of one life and into another. I was thrilled to be crowned “Mommy.” But it was more than just a change in title. It was an entirely new role in the universe.
A dear friend stopped by my house a few weeks after I had my fourth baby. She brought me groceries since I hadn’t been able to get out to the store for awhile. She sweetly asked me how I was adjusting to having four kids ages four and under. I burst into tears. We stood in the living room briefly and I cried while she hugged me and prayed for me. In that 60-second period of respite the two toddlers quickly emptied a bathtub full of water onto the bathroom floor. No time to feel sorry for myself. No time to even catch my breath between chaotic moments. I sent one toddler to the living room so he wouldn’t slip only to find him peeing on the carpet five seconds later. I quickly dressed him, but he got back into the bathroom while I was cleaning up pee and his brother dumped the rest of the contents of the tub on his fresh dry clothes. I thought about my friend’s question. How was I doing? My sanity was crumbling. I needed an anchor. I didn’t know what I was doing or who I even was anymore.
Thankfully the gospel doesn’t just tell us about Jesus. It tells us about ourselves. The first step toward being a gospel-centered mom is to recognize who we are in Christ. Unfortunately we allow forces other than the gospel to shape our identity as moms.
The Wall Street Journal recently printed an article stating that America’s rate of replacement has gotten so low it could have a negative economic impact in the future. Society doesn’t want the quiver-full of arrows or the olive shoots around the table (Psalm 127:5, 128:3). Society wants freedom and instant gratification. What does that say about moms? They are encumbered. They are being held back. If the world could have peeked into my life at that moment when things were falling apart it would have shook it’s head and said, “Why would you ever choose such a life? What benefit could you possibly be gaining from that?”
An article written by a woman named Amy Glass recently went viral on the internet. In it she sums up society’s view of motherhood perfectly: “Having kids and getting married aren’t accomplishments. They are actually super easy tasks. Literally anyone can do them. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing – why on earth are we settling for average? If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?” Nothing. Wow. That’s what the world thinks of what you do every day.
Some moms can huddle up in their Christian circles and easily shake off the negativity from society. But there’s an enemy much closer to home: other moms. Yes, even Christian moms. Those who should be the biggest source of encouragement are often the very ones who bring out our insecurities, pride, jealousy, coveting, and comparing.
But let’s be honest – your toughest critic is yourself. You are your most merciless accuser and your strictest judge. No one knows better than you do how precious your children are. With the overwhelming joy and thankfulness creeps in a feeling of guilt. You don’t want to mess it up.
There is only one thing that can silence the anti-gospel forces that shape our mom identity and that’s the gospel. The gospel tells us that our identity is in the very person of Christ Himself. At the end of the day when I fall into bed at night and come before the Father in prayer, one of my first thoughts is, “So…how did I do today?” I expect God to pull out my list of accomplishments and study it with a furrowed brow. “Hmm…” would come the disappointed reply. But He doesn’t do that. When He looks at me He sees Jesus’ list. How is that possible? Jesus traded lists with me. He took my list of sins and failures and gave me His perfect record. Our holy God would accept nothing less. If God does not grade me based on my personal standards, then why should I?
I don’t know about you but that brings a huge sigh of relief to this stressed out mommy soul. What pressures do you feel as a mom? How would you have described yourself before you were “mom?” How do you think your current role is viewed by people in your life?
(Photo used with permission from iseeyoupaintedyoursoul at flikr.com)
8 thoughts on “The Mommy Identity Crisis”
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I love this post! I'm giggling at the scene you described with the bathtub and removing one toddler from the danger of slipping only to find him peeing on the carpet. I have 19mo old twin boys and this sounds just like a typical day at my house 🙂 Thank you for your honesty in the midst of the chaos of motherhood. Your words and you reminder about where our identity truly lies is an encouragement that I needed today. It makes me feel less alone.
This post literally made me cry and laugh all at the same time. I don't know how many nails you hit on the head but it was quite a few. Lol as a work at home mother of three I can totally relate to the things felt and incidents in this blog. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and making me feel 20xs better
So encouraging to hear from moms going through the same things. You are definitely not alone.
Your blog has been very timely for me, and like the other reader said, I've been literally laughing out loud and crying all at the same time!! I'm so in need of seeing real life from other moms who can relate to having children, the messy truth of it, not just a clean version of what as they may be trying to paint so others don't see reality. Motherhood is what I've always, no outside career, no fancy business woman, just being home with my kids all day, homeschooling. But that life is hard!! And as my kids get older, homeschooling is getting harder, and time for me is almost non-existent, especially since the arrival of #3, who is now 16 months (older girls are 6 & 9). I can hear the Lord teaching me gently about His value and identity for me, being rooted in His Son. That's a huge paradigm shift to grasp, but I'm seeing it through new eyes in reading your posts! Seriously, very timely! Thanks for your transparency and honesty, and for sharing the Truth in a clear, practical way!!! 🙂
Motherhood is what I've always wanted…correction ('wanted' was accidentally deleted from my post)
Also, about the other moms….what I'm referring to are those Facebook posts, pics, and blogs of what are supposed to be 'regular' moms (always put together, perfect-looking), but what they present to the world is carefully chosen, and honestly it seems like there's nothing encouraging from an altered version of what a crazy day actually looks like…the mess, spit up, fights, etc. I want to know that I'm not the only one going thru it, does that make sense?
Rachel, you are so right – It is HARD! We definitely did not choose the simple life (especially if you throw homeschooling in there!), but it's so richly blessed. I keep reminding myself that God has stationed me exactly where He intends to receive the most glory from my life. If He could have glorified Himself more by giving me less children, giving me more energy, etc, then He would have. But He has given me just what I need to give Him the most glory. Yes, even in the mess! Thank you for your empathetic comments. We are all in this together.