Not-So-Happy Side of Mother's Day
Written by Darlena Fields
I do not have your typical Mother's Day message prepared.
Philip asked me to share on Mother's Day and I started praying about what to say as a beautiful tribute to all the mothers.
But all I could think about was how many Mother's Day sermons that I've sat through that just made me want to sink down in my seat.
I did not feel like I deserved to hear all the wonderful accolades expressed by the pastor or guest speaker, because I did not feel like I measured up to the standard of the "ideal Christian mom".
All of us women know, if you have been a Christian long enough, comes from Proverbs 31.
I cannot sew. I do not garden. I cannot even bake homemade cookies and I'm Mrs. Fields!
To this day I do not wake up before sunrise.
So the story in my head told me I was a bad mom.
Well to those pastor's credit, doing their darnedest to honor all the moms that were staring at them. I will admit, that at the moment, the pat on the back felt good.
It was like an "Ah, someone is finally making me feel appreciated. Acknowledging all that I do and sacrifice. All the sleepless nights, the diapers I have changed, and meals I have cooked."
But the minute I picked up my little ones from the church nursery and their hair was in shambles and their shoes were off and the nursery worker handing them back looked the same.
Or the moment during the Mother's Day lunch that the girls no longer used their inside voices and the table and floor around us looked like a food bomb went off and I felt like the whole restaurant was staring.
Or the second I walked in the door of my house and saw toys all over the floor and laundry piled high when all I wanted was to just relax and have an afternoon to myself.
I would go back to feeling like a bad mom, just like that.
So that is what I want to talk about today.
The not-so-happy side of Mother's Day.
Because it is real. It's a thing.
When you're a mom and Mother's Day is coming, whether you have little ones or older kids, you begin to think,
"Is anyone going to get me anything?
Will everyone remember?
Is anyone going to make me feel special and acknowledge me in any way?"
Then one of two things happens:
They don't remember. They don't get you anything. Then you feel like a bad mom.
They go overboard. They get you all the gifts and take you out to lunch. Do acts of service and make me feel special.
No matter what Mother's Day looked like, I would still end the day with the same narrative playing in my head. "I didn't deserve it. They probably didn't even mean it. They were just trying to make me feel good. It was their duty."
And these feelings do not change when your kids get older... In some ways, it's harder!
Why do these feelings get worse as they get older?
The number one reason is you can no longer control them.
When they were little, you could get them involved easily.
As teenagers, you can bribe them with money or things.
Once they're on their own as young adults or get married and start to create families of their own, you feel like you've lost all ability to influence them.
Secondly, you cannot keep them at home anymore. Their lives are on public display for all the world to see.
Your neighbors, relatives, friends, and church get to see your teenagers and young adults sneaking out at night or slouched down in their seat at church zoned out in their phone, or act like a heathen at a family gathering.
Or maybe they just didn't grow up as you'd dreamed...
They didn't turn out as you did...
Maybe "they" (all the people I mentioned before) find out your kid got kicked out of school...
Your kid refuses to attend church and pursue God...
Your kid is partying and acting out sexually...
Your kid got pulled over for a DUI...
Your kid even attempted suicide...
All these people whose opinion you value so highly hear through the grapevine that you child:
Dropped out of college
Doesn't have a job
Struggling with addiction
Got pregnant out of wedlock
Living with their non-Christian significant other
They've come out of the closet as gay
Has become a liberal and supports those ideals
Wants nothing to do with you because of how you voted
All of these things I just listed as happened either with my kids, my family, or my friends within this community.
If any of these scenarios, which are typical "unspeakables" to a conservative Christian mom, apply to you teenager or adult children, and hearing me speak of them makes you want to drop your head or crawl under your chair because you feel responsible, to blame, unworthy, or not good enough to be listed in the ranks of good Christian moms, you probably struggle with feeling like a bad mom too.
Maybe your the mom whose child wouldn't come to church with you.
Maybe your the mom whose child won't even come to see you, because they blame you for their unhappiness.
Maybe your the mom whose child doesn't come around anymore because they know you don't condone their lifestyle.
Maybe your the mom who stayed at home because you didn't want to even acknowledge Mother's Day.
IT'S OKAY. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If you've identified with anything I've said so far, then probably the last thing you want to hear this morning is another happy Mother's Day sermon from Proverbs 31.
If you're anything like me, what would really make your day is to have someone simply empathize with you and hear another mom say, "You're not alone".
So you do not have to tuck your truest, deepest feelings about Mother's Day safely away in your hope chest one more year.
Even though it feels good to be doted on, feel-good sermons don't help anyone change, transform, or heal.
WE HEAL WHEN WE GET REAL.
I have a point in bringing all those things that you may not like hearing out into the light.
It wasn't to remind you of what you would like to forget, point my finger at you, or be a Debbie-Downer.
No, I want to expose it, call it for what it is, invite God into it, and trade it in for what He has in exchange and experience some soul healing.
If there is any part of you that feels like you are a bad mom, whether it's constant or occasionally, this is NOT just what today's Mommy culture calls, "Mom Guilt".
This issue runs much deeper.
It means you have consciously or unconsciously handed over your worth as a mom to your kids and/or all "those" people I have mentioned.
Your self-worth as a mom has gotten hitched to one or all of the following outcomes:
How your children have turned out
What others think of you
How your children treat you
You have become a prisoner of perfecting, performing, and pleasing.
What you're really struggling with is "Mom Shame".
What's the difference?
Mom Guilt = You did something bad.
Mom Shame = You are bad.
If you believe that you are a bad mom, THAT IS A LIE.
Doing bad things doesn't make you bad.
It makes you a GOOD MOM that has done some bad things.
Here are the first 3 things you need to know about Mom Shame:
All moms experience it on some level.
No mom likes to talk about it.
The less we talk about it, the more control it has over us and our families
Shame is the fear of loneliness and disconnection.
The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are hopelessly flawed.
SHAME DERIVES ITS POWER FROM BEING UNSPEAKABLE.
The number one shame trigger for women is appearance and body image.
The second shame trigger for women is Mom Shame.
If the enemy can keep us believing that we deserve our shame, he can keep us in bondage to it, armored up, and hiding behind a mask.
The irony of this is despite how hard we try to hide or disguise it always shows up or shows out.
We can mask our shame depending on the circumstances with perfectionism and numbing.
How can we build Shame Resilience?
Practice Courage and Reach Out
Own Your Story
Being vulnerable is the key to healing and freedom.
The vulnerability happens by getting real.
It is easy to get real when we know we are loved.
Many times shame creates a barrier between us and the Father that prevents us from experiencing His love.
So my prayer is that the Lord removes your shame, then leads you into a love encounter with Him.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2