An unequal distribution of momness

While waiting to pick up our WIC checks yesterday, a Mom of 4 came in to the waiting room. She was stylishly dressed with a cute, new haircut, and her children, in the few minutes I watched them, seemed well-behaved. As they waited, she pinned back her 3-year-old daughter’s hair and bounced the baby on her lap.

Even after she told the girl at the counter that she never leaves her house, I envied her. She seemed so put-together. And there I was, kidless yet exhausted and wondering what I would seem like if I was there with my two by myself. I could only imagine.

A week earlier, another mom both inspired and guilted me. She was a mom of 6 — 4 biological, 2 adopted. And she was calm. She helped each child in turn with the craft project. She established boundaries for how many sweets they could eat. She smiled a lot. She, too, was dressed well — not overly fashionably but attractively.

I stared. A lot. And compared my lot to hers. I had just spent the better part of the hour chasing my 20-month-old around the library trying to ensure he didn’t pull every book off the shelf or dig in to the cookies before it was time, and I nearly caused a scene pulling the 3-year-old out of story time to take her to the potty.

Looks of pity. That’s what I sense when I take my kids places, and I feel it’s a reflection on me. They fight. They bite sometimes. They run crazy. They don’t always listen. And I feel like I’ve somehow messed up.

How do other moms do it? I wonder. And how do they do it with MORE?

They must be created differently, I conclude. God has given them an extra dose of momness and I don’t have it. They thrive in motherhood; I’ll be lucky to survive.

These are the things I tell myself, and for some reason, they don’t encourage me.

I recently listened to a sermon series by James MacDonald on insecurity. (Stop me if I’ve shared this before.) He quoted Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” which studies success. Gladwell discovered that it takes a person 10,000 hours at whatever it is they want to be successful at to achieve success. Talent or predisposition to something does not guarantee success.

Applied to motherhood, I realized that I have a long way to go. Merely having had children for 10,000 (or more! I didn’t do the math.) hours does not mean I will be a good mother. I must give them active time. I must practice good mothering. Consistently. Over time. And maybe, just maybe, I will be the kind of mother people stare at, not because they can’t believe how awful her kids are but because they don’t understand how she can still be smiling.

Even if that happens, I won’t pretend that I have it all together or always have had. I’m a mess, frankly, and I’m not sure that’s going to change anytime soon.

But at least I can be assured that God didn’t make a mistake in making me a mother. I just need more practice.

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2 thoughts on “An unequal distribution of momness

  1. Or, maybe these ‘other moms’ were just having a good day? I’ve been where you are – I’ve watched others and wondered ‘why not me?’ and I’ve come to realize, it all depends on when and where you see them. I have embraced the idea of simply, who cares what they think they don’t know me or what my life is like, are my kids happy, healthy, and know they are loved? If so, then who cares what we look like in public. šŸ™‚

  2. I think that just because your kids may be appearing to be running around doesn’t mean others look down at you. You’re not cursing and putting them down like some do. You’re also letting them be Them, be freespirited and maybe a little crazy. I think that that is awesome. Finding a balance between doing that and having some semblance of organization is super difficult it always feels like you have to give one up for the other. I think that if you have to give one up the organization is what to give up, it’s more important for them to know that they are deeply loved for who they are no matter how ‘naughty’ or silly they may act or what they may do. Too often discipline becomes a cruel leader that infringes on kids being themselves and knowing that no matter what may happen they are loved. I know for a fact that there will be a day when my whole life feels like it’s chaos because of my family, but the thing that I hope that I never lose is that idea of forever love and safety. Just because you may look disheveled or feel down doesn’t mean you’re not an amazing mom, it means that you pour yourself into your life and your kids and we all need a little bit of time to gather ourselves when we live that way. Hopefully when I’m in the position when I feel completely worn down and out you will have some sage wisdom for me about feeling that way (or just be able to say that it gets better)

    Also, I know that I’m not a mom yet, but most of this advice comes from working with the boys at Sophie’s b/c I was a stand-in mom, just got a little more time away than most moms.

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