I think even in this information-saturated, media overloaded society in which we live, there is still something very basic that moms need to really … hear. Not just hear, but grasp in the very soul of who we are – down to the essence of who we desperately want to be.
Mothering is much like a trek. Trek is defined as “a trip or movement especially when involving difficulties or complex organization; an arduous journey.” Mothering is the hardest, most demanding and challenging experience we will ever have.
When recently invited to lead a session for moms at a women’s conference, I pondered what it is that moms really need to hear. As a veteran mom of 3 boys, this was an area I felt I could share something helpful in, though I wasn’t sure exactly what God had in mind. Well, the day came and my breakout session was completely full! All these little mamas started spilling into the room, eager and hungry for a word along their mom journeys. Bless their sweet little hearts:) A lot of moms more qualified than me could stand before these women and share a wealth of wisdom, great spiritual insights, or tons of practical ideas about raising kids. But for this day, I felt keenly led to create an environment where we could speak honestly and realistically about this whole mothering thing. So up front, I told the mamas they should know this is not a lecture, not a session on how to be more organized, how to plan meals, how to save money, how to clean house, make scrapbooks, or anything remotely related to self-improvement. Or how to do anything better! We already have more than enough books, articles, blogs, and Pinterest projects to cover all of the above! I think even in this information-saturated, media overloaded society in which we live, there is still something very basic that moms need to really … hear. Not just hear, but grasp in the very soul of who we are – down to the essence of who we desperately want to be. Mothering isn’t just a job, a role, what we do, our identity, or our ambition. We can try to put it in these boxes, to label it, to define it, but the thing about mothering is that it’s always evolving.
Looking back over 22 years of mothering, I thought about our oldest, he’s in his first year out of school-working, doing well. Our 2nd son is college junior and seems to be getting it (so far). The 3rd is still in Junior high, so we’ll see! As I was preparing for this session, I was thinking about the years invested in this journey, and found myself in the midst of being grateful, but also lamenting a bit and even comparing. Wishing I’d done this or that with my boys, or done some of the things my other friends had done. And it was like God said – stop. It. Mothering isn’t a cookie cutter job. It’s gonna look different at different times and our family dynamic is not going to be the same as everybody else’s. For instance: I love all the cutesy fun stuff I see my girl mom friends doing!. I mean, seriously? I get the eye roll every time I even mention some of those fun ideas. Or the same as the really “spiritual” families that do all this really great volunteering and ministry stuff together and have family bible reading and devotions every night … that’s so awesome, but that isn’t us. We will cover this notion of comparison and expectation in the upcoming days.
The thing I did see, that God showed me, however, was that it had turned out okay – so far. I had done a pretty good job, in spite of myself, and by the grace of God. But how? I didn’t do everything on the endless perfect mothering checklist! What were the most important things along the way? What I can share that will be helpful to you today? Where you are as a mom today?
God gave me this idea – this visual of mothering being compared to a trek. How did I come up with that, you might ask? Well, our middle son spent last summer working with a Christian whitewater rafting/outfitter company in Colorado. As he prepared to spend 6 weeks of training and then the remainder of the summer working as a river guide and backcountry trail guide, and I became familiar with this whole outdoor adventure world, there were several aspects I thought we could apply to what I have called “The MomTrek”.
Mothering is much like a trek. Trek is defined as: “a trip or movement especially when involving difficulties or complex organization; an arduous journey; expedition; a long and difficult journey”. Mothering is the hardest, most demanding and challenging experience you will ever have. Made even more challenging by the variables found in each of our children, and by our own personalities, strength, and weaknesses as moms. So much information flooded across my path as I was preparing for this session. And I couldn’t share something I hadn’t observed myself, or something that God hadn’t led me to share. But what was very clear, was that there was a recurring theme that confirmed what I felt God was leading me to share with the moms who attended this conference.
When I became a mom 22 years ago, I was fortunate to be surrounded by solid teaching as I put down my mom roots, role models who set an example in practical ways as I set out to begin my mothering journey, and a church environment that nurtured young families. I didn’t set out to raise perfect kids or be the perfect mom. I just found myself doing what I knew to do at that point in time, and I realized while thinking about what to share, it was this mindset that shaped my mothering experience.
What’s troubling as that when I observe the landscape of motherhood over the last 10 years, I see that mothering has been impacted, attacked and undermined by our self-focused culture, driven by a never-ending bombardment of media influence telling us that we should be relentlessly pursuing perfection. We should have perfect kids, who excel in sports, academics, the arts, and who run in the perfect social circles. We should have perfect houses, perfect marriages, perfect jobs, perfect friends, perfect bodies, perfect cars, perfect hair – the list goes on and on. And this frenetic pace has taken a huge toll on moms. We climb higher and higher, running after this illusion. And we are tired. We are spent. We are exhausted. We’re not really sure who we are as moms anymore, or why we are moms, or where we’re supposed to be as moms. We didn’t mean to get off the trail, we didn’t think we would be swept away by the current, or lose our way up the mountain. Did we ever even know how to find the mountain in the first place?
Maybe we need to stop and figure out where we’re going. Maybe we need to regain our footing. Maybe we need a little push, a little help up the mountain, across the river. Maybe we’ve lost our bearings and it’s time to examine a few things about how we’re approaching this whole mothering thing. There are some real and honest conversations we need to have as mothers, I hope you’ll join me as we talk honestly about our mothering journeys and what we really need. We need to have an overall objective, the proper equipment, the essential skills, and the right traveling companions as we make our way on this adventure, The MomTrek!!