I transitioned to college as a homeschool alumna, and I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of difficulty. So, even though I had aced every assignment so far in my English 101 class, I jumped at the extra credit opportunity. I wanted a high A-average for the class. The professor stared at me when I turned it in. “Lauren,” he said, “Why did you do this? We don’t have an A+ at this college. You can’t go above a 4.0 no matter how hard you work.”
I learned that day that sometimes we don’t have to do our best to already be at the best level. It’s a life lesson that I hope will be some motherhood encouragement to those moms pressured to do everything from play dates to baby swimming lessons to self-defense lessons to teaching your 2-month-old how to read.
Motherhood Isn’t Graded, So Stop Looking to Do More
The Temptation to Do More
Competitive motherhood isn’t a 21st Century development. We can even find it lurking within the pages of our Bible in stories like the rivalry between Leah and Rebekah. While the criteria that we judge each other and ourselves by changes between the generations, the motivation for this competition also changes from one mom to the next.
The only thing that stays the same is the nature, “How can I be the best?”
For modern moms, the competition tempts us to do more:
- don’t tell your daughter that she’s pretty, instead do more by complimenting her intelligence and kindness
- don’t tell your child that he’s smart, instead do more by praising how hard he works
- don’t just play with your child, do more with hands-on learning activities
- don’t just enjoy a movie with your child, do more by teaching life lessons through that movie
- don’t just play at the park, do more by enrolling in social activities every night of the week
- don’t just let your child play with toys, do more with art projects, sensory activities, and science experiments just perfect for a 2-year-old
- don’t just have multiple children, do more by helping them build lifelong bonds with each other
We can see this temptation by following any Mom group board on Pinterest. We can see it when we compare our Instagram feed to our Mom Friends’ feeds. We read the best snippets of everybody else’s activities and days on Facebook and are tempted to compare their best to our worst.
Before we know it, our motherhood is tied up by a hundred different voices telling us to do more than what we’re already doing.
Stop the Rat Race
In my first semester of college, I did an extra credit project that earned me absolutely nothing as far as my transcript was concerned. Motherhood isn’t even graded, yet we spend even more effort trying to do more. If we’re not careful, we’ll wind up exhausted, stressed out, and with no enjoyment in our life.
What do we gain from it? Our grown children, when they reflect back on their childhood, aren’t going to remember these things as what made us good mothers. Instead, they’ll remember the love that we showed them.
If we remember to pour love into their lives every chance that we can get, we have achieved the highest grade possible for our motherhood. This love will cover a multitude of mistakes in the eyes of our children as well. So it’s time to the end the race here:
- tell your daughter that she’s pretty, because she’ll remember that you spoke the words in love
- tell your son how smart he is, because he’ll know that you paid attention to him in that moment
- make silly faces with your child, because, in the words of the esteemed Cat in the Hat, “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how”
- watch a movie for no other reason than to spend some time with your family
- forget other social activities if they leave your family too drained
- don’t worry about fostering creativity, problem-solving skills, or academic skills every time you play
- don’t fret over your children who fight today because they’ll both be different people tomorrow anyways
It’s okay to have a messy home if you’re at the limits of what you can do in a week. It’s fine to feed your children PB&Js instead of the cute and well-balanced lunch you saw online. Most importantly, it’s fine if you can’t do everything perfectly. You have both strengths and weaknesses as a homemaker. This means that you’re not failing when you mess up, you’re simply practicing.