The Mark of a Good Mom

“Mom?” My voice was already cracking, shaking words tearing at the seams as they fell in a slur from my mouth. I was in the tub soaking in hot water and I was shivering. “Mom…” I paused to catch my breath. “Mom, I don’t know how to do this mom thing. I’m doing it all wrong!”

I’d cried all day, the girl who doesn’t cry. I just couldn’t shake all that condemnation I’d been branded with by a doctor. I’d felt it from other women…other moms…but it’s a whole new level when it comes from the professional. I was tired, weary, haggard…up to my eyeballs and beyond in life and trying, praying, striving to be a good mom, a selfless mom, a perfect mom.

The story came tumbling out, with occasional gasps from my incredulous mother. Incredulous gasps from my mom basically means that my story was just as terrible as I thought.

“You’re a good mom, Renee,” She soothed. “You won’t get it all right, none of us do, but you are a good mom.”

It wasn’t a pity-party; I’m not one for those. This was a struggle with the heavy weight of condemnation.

The Sunday school class we talked about condemnation, everyone wanted a chance to talk. There wasn’t enough time, and since when do we run out of time in Sunday school? But this condemnation thing? We know all about this one.

Maybe too much?

 I always knew that women were infuriatingly competitive. Me too. (I think it’s one of the reasons I have almost always said I just wanted boys. Way  too much drama.)

Then I became a mom and I discovered that moms were a whole new level of competitive, a level I didn’t imagine existed. And I quickly discovered how easy it was to condemn or be condemned in the mommy world. 

In the short time I’ve been a mom, I’ve wrestled heavy with the competition, the measuring-up, and the condemnation that comes with the mom shoes. I don’t get it, how so much of everything becomes a touchy subject, and then I find myself reflecting on how my own spirit cast a shadow of condemnation over someone else. 

Sigh. Will I ever get this right, God? Satan even uses our realization of the condemnation we inflict to condemn us. 

I’m a young momma and I sure don’t have it all figured out. Most days I’m wondering if I have anything figured out. It sure doesn’t help either, that I’m kind of not your run-of-the-mill person. You know, I’m one of those radicals who don’t dig vaccinations, one of the young generation who still holds to a more archaic view of child-training, strongly opinionated about not using formula (unless you have to…)…stuff like that.

But the day I came home from the doctor’s office, deeply wounded and feeling like a total flop? That day set some things to rights in my mommy world. My woman world. 

Whatever opinions I have about vaccinations, breastfeeding vs. formula, or hey, anything else…mommy-related or not…share them with grace. I am only called to raise my children, no one else. 

However frustrating it can be to be a mommy in the minority group, live that mommy role with grace. I don’t have to hide my point of view because I know it might step on someone’s toes, but my view won’t become more accepted by continuously shouting it from the rooftop either.

This mommy thing is a wild, infuriating, amazing adventure of grace. Learning to give grace, to express grace, to be grace. 

Condemnation will always come calling, whether you’re a mom or not. But there is grace. 

Amazing, sufficient, saving grace.

I don’t know one mom who has got it all right, and I’m light-years away from getting that medal.

But I’ve got grace.

And by that grace, I will give grace and be grace and live grace.

If there was one thing I could say, from my mommy shoes to yours?

God doesn’t ask you or equip you to be perfect. He fills you with grace. 

Good moms have messy houses, imperfect hair, children with sin natures and varying viewpoints. 

Contrary to my doctor’s opinion, a good mom will not always sleep her baby on their back, might just rock their baby to sleep…you fill in the blank. Regardless…

The mark of a good mom is a mom full of grace. 

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7 thoughts on “The Mark of a Good Mom

  1. I have not forgotten that sunday school class…I was incredulous at how no one wanted to be left out of that discussion. And time ran out and we could have said more. It opened my eyes to how deep of an issue this condemnation thing is… So grateful for the grace to live above condemnation no matter the source. Love you and thanks for sharing Renee.

  2. Hmmm…I’m not really a girl. I shy away from competition and trust me, you’re just fine. You’ll just be fine. You are an awesome Mom – I can tell from your love. There’s no way “to be a mom.” You are the only Mom that is just like you. The only one. And your child is lucky enough to have that.

  3. Reminds me of something Dorcas Smucker said at the women’s seminar. I sometimes dreaded those seminars because perfection as a wife and mom often seemed to be touted as the ideal, and of course I fell short of the ideal. She said, after she gained this insight following a visit to a sad orphanage in Africa: “Just BE there. Be a mom, no matter what that means in your life and with what you are given. An imperfect mother is infinitely better than no mother at all.”
    Those words stayed with me forever.

  4. Renee- your words are full of truth and beauty. The way of grace is not an easy path per say, but it is the only path to the fullest life.

    I’m glad that you have a mom could speak words of healing to you that terrible day.

    And just ditto, ditto to what Peg said. I also remember feeling hope and peace about my mothering after hearing Dorcas speak.

  5. I don’t even know your mom, but i love her for being able to comfort you when you need her!
    I also don’t know everything the doctor said, but… SINCE WHEN IS IT BAD MOTHERING TO ROCK YOUR BABY TO SLEEP?????
    …Just my opinion, of course… and i’m one of those not-perfect mothers, anyway… 🙂

  6. Oh goodness, how well I can relate. I feel the condemnation from people and realize how people probably feel condemned by me. Even though [most of the time] condemnation is the farthest thing from my mind. I’m a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering, homemade-baby-wipes kind of momma. I love these things I do and I do them because I love them, no other reason. But I realize that talking about these things can make people feel like less of a mom because they DON’T do these things. It feels like a conundrum. This is my life and when one relates to me in my life these things just might come up. It can feel like a walking-on-eggshells existence. But I do want to be sensitive…. Oh to be gracious and yet not so overly concerned that I deny who I am as a person/mom. These are good words, good thoughts, something I need to be reminded of… daily.

    And no matter what the doctor says, you’re a good mom. My opinion of that doc is… not so great. Let’s leave it at that. Love ya sis!

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