Competition vs. Contentment in Motherhood

Since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed that I struggle with being content in two areas. I am naturally a competitive person, which is not a bad thing. It means I enjoy watching sports (I’m sure my husband liked having me get into last year’s NBA playoffs when we were cheering on our team!). It means I can get together with friends for board games and card games. It means I work hard to be the best I can be. However… it can also be a curse.

There is a line we can cross where we go from being simply competitive to being discontent. When we move past games and into our personal lives, the issue is that our discontentment with our lives causes us to compete with others in unhealthy ways. One area I’ve struggled with this is in motherhood. I constantly question whether I’m a good enough mom. (Notice: I don’t question whether I’m a good mom. I question whether I’m good enough. I’m sure most of us fall into the second category more often than the first!) Do I feed him enough healthy food? Do I feed him too healthily? Am I doing enough sensory activities with him? Should I be more purposeful in speaking to him about God? Does he have too many toys? Are his toys educational enough? Am I keeping the house clean enough? I could go on and on. And to be honest, social media does not help me with this struggle! I see so many moms who seem to be able to manage so much more in a day than I can. They can write blogs, clip coupons, do sensory activities every day, make all their kids’ food from scratch, keep the house clean and still manage to fix their hair and makeup.

I want to be a great mom, but I get lost in what will make me a great mom. My son won’t die if I feed him a French fry before he’s one year old. He won’t hate me forever if I don’t give him soda pop until he’s five. He won’t suffer if I restrict the number of toys he has, and he won’t be stupid if I let him have just a plain old football that doesn’t help him learn his letters, numbers, or colors. What makes me a good mom is one thing: that I point my child to Christ. I can’t force him to follow Christ, but I can love him with a Christ-like love, and I can serve him with a Christ-like heart.

I read a blog recently that talked about this sort of mothering. It really opened my eyes to what’s important. You can read it here.

Another area that I’ve been struggling with competition is with my son’s development. Once again, social media doesn’t help. I’ve compared him, without even thinking about it, to friends’ children when I see posts about the kids walking, learning new skills, being good sleepers, etc. But I think the thing that makes the struggle the hardest is other moms. I think we all do it, whether we do it with malicious intentions or not: we ask, “Is your son/daughter doing _______ yet? Because my son/daughter is doing _______…” When we do that, we encourage discontentment in people we call “friends.” After just such a discussion with another mom where she asked me if my son was starting to walk yet (because her daughter was starting to take steps), I was in tears. I prayed the following prayer:

Photo credit: Salway Photography

Photo credit: Salway Photography


I don’t know where those words came from, but in my sadness over this mother’s need for competition between our kids, those words popped into my head. Well, I guess I should say they popped into my heart. And maybe I do know where they came from… Since then, I’ve tried very hard not to compare my son to other kids his age. Have you ever noticed the age ranges given for some milestones? Kids can start walking when they’re 9 months old, or they may not walk until they’re 18 months old. And both are considered normal! Why, then, if both are normal, are we so competitive about whose kid walks first?

Since that day, I’ve strived to remove that phrase from my vocabulary. We should be encouraging other moms, not discouraging them. We should be walking alongside them, not sticking out our foot to trip them. We all already struggle with ourselves as moms, but we have no control over much of our kids’ development. I can’t decide when my son walks or talks. So why do we so often seek out opportunities to use our children to one-up another mom?

Another blog I read, entitled “The Tired Mom’s Creed,” addressed both of my struggles that I’ve mentioned here. I love the way the author approaches it: it’s a mantra, and one that needs to be repeated even more often and more loudly when we’re tired!

As you raise your child, remember these four things:
1. You are a good mom. If you ever doubt that you’re a good mom, it shows just how much you are one. I have a feeling that “bad” moms don’t care if they are.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Just be the best mom you can be, whatever that might mean for your family.
3. Don’t ever compare your child. Your child is made in the image of God. God created him just the way He wanted to. Yes, your child will need to be nurtured and even disciplined. He’ll need shaped and refined. But whether your child is extroverted or introverted, spontaneous or rigid, aggressive or sensitive, artsy or academic, athletic or clumsy, your child is just how God created him. Love him for who he is. If you don’t, he’ll be scarred. If you love him, and tell him so, he’ll grow into a healthy, confident adult.
4. Don’t ask other moms if their child is doing ______ yet. That phrase only stirs up discontentment and ill feelings. Instead, encourage other moms at every opportunity.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sheila
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 02:21:59

    Love this!! I have struggled with this myself.

    Reply

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