Recently, I watched a video that appeared on my Facebook feed. Filling the comments section was a litany of moms who claimed they “couldn’t even watch the video because they were so distracted by the fact that none of the kids were buckled into their carseats correctly.”
It got me to pondering…
There are a whole lot of moms in our society who seem unable to:
- manage their children in a simple grocery store run
- train their children to consistently obey them
- enjoy being around their children, because they’re constantly talking about the need to get away from them
- raise children who know how to eat healthily, and in moderation
- raise children who interact respectfully and appropriately with people around them
- raise children who sleep in any dependable pattern (not talking about newborns here… I’m talking about *kids* who “won’t” nap, or who regularly wake all hours of the night for years on end)
- train children to consistently do chores and help around the house
AND YET, our culture is filled with parents who practically have a phD in:
- carseat installation, including up-to-the-minute changes in the law
- which essential oils or homeopathic remedies to use, for which ailments
- obscure parenting practices (like tandem nursing or infant potty training)
- why soy, kale, or quinoa (or some other non-allergy ingredient/food) is good, bad, or ugly
- the latest toy fads
- backyard chickens
- all varieties of babywearing wraps
And here’s the deal: I probably just offended some of you.
But… honestly, I wonder if sometimes we moms can get distracted by all these side issues because we fear we aren’t doing the main thing well.
Or we don’t know how. Or we feel inadequate/not strong enough to do the things we know we ought to do. Instead, by focusing on these side issues, we can feel a sense of accomplishment in some aspect of our mothering.
It’s not that vaccines or carseat installation or whether or not to circumcise aren’t important issues; they are. I’ve thought each of these things through too, as we’ve faced them in our family’s decision-making. (And we LOVED having backyard chickens, so please know that I’m not knocking anything on this list, per se.) I’ve thought these things through, too, so it’s not the TOPICS I’m altogether concerned about.
Rather, I fear that too many moms of our generation “major” on these controversial, blood-pressure-raising, attention-getting second- or third-tier issues, while missing the basics:
- character development
- the day-in-day-out business of RAISING ENJOYABLE, CHEERFUL, KIND CHILDREN who are growing in their understanding of God and the world He has made.
Moms who fall into this trap are focused on the side-issues but missing the major things.
So – what I want to ask you is this:
WHAT ARE YOU MAJORING IN?
- dialed into obscure culture-warrior parenting issues that raise your blood pressure?
- regularly embittered by a Facebook post or article that opposes your strongly-held views on a second- or third-tier parenting issue?
- tempted to use extreme, emotional words (“barbaric” “heartless” “reckless” “idiotic”) when describing parenting decisions that other rational, non-abusive parents regularly make? Or that, perhaps, nearly everyone did 40-100 years ago?
- spending a lot of time researching and getting firmly-entrenched opinions about issues that aren’t biblically spelled out?
- stressed about not only your own parenting decisions, but regularly stressed over other people’s parenting choices as well?
Or are you:
- parenting your children in ways that are forming their character and body to be healthy in “big picture ways”?
- seeing to it that your children obey you, not just in eating kale, but in life in general?
- focused on doing the basic things, in your own home, well?
- day by day, encounter by encounter, focused on your children’s spiritual development and growth in wisdom?
- applying yourself to the purposeful discipline, maturation, and discipleship of the children God has given you?
You can’t do everything well.
You can’t be an expert in everything.
Your energy has limits.
Being angry about every other parent out there who chooses circumcision uses up energy that maybe ought to be used to help your son learn to take naps even when he doesn’t feel like it, to fight the hard battles with your son against his angry yelling fits, or to combat his tendency toward laziness and inattention to detail in his chores and schoolwork.
Investing time in learning about and being riled up about one thing, by definition, reduces your ability to do other things with that same amount of mental time and energy.
And I get it! Mothering is:
- HARD WORK
- non-stop, 24/7, without end
- sometimes humiliating
- not, culturally, a well-respected place where you get awards, medals of honor, and raises in pay.
Plus, we all want to feel validated in the choices we’ve made.
Believe, me– I get it. Mothering is not a cakewalk, and we all want to do our best.
But, can I prod you to ask yourself:
Are the controversial side-issues taking up so much brain space, passion, and energy that you’re missing the main things of motherhood?
What is it you’re zeroing in on? Is it eternal? Is it beneficial? Is it edifying? Is it worth it? Is it really what God has given you to do, today? Is it something that’s clearly spelled out in Scripture?
Or is it stealing time and energy from the basic, central things you really ought to be honing in on each day?
What say you, Mama?
- Are the little things eclipsing the big things in your home?
- Is your parenting inordinately focused on the side-issues?