Nov 21, 2017 • Written by Judy Episcopo
An important part of Women’s Ministries is helping women be the moms God has called them to be. I can’t even begin to tell you how controversial that gets.
It has nothing to do with “predestination or free choice”. It is not even a “feminist issue”. Instead I have noticed the irony that one of the most loving and life-giving roles a woman can have also has the ability to drag her into some of the most potentially vicious, isolating and divisive conflicts. Yes, I am talking about the “Mommy Wars”.
Mommy Wars begin even before conception. With questions such as:
Should we wait until we are older or have children while we are young?
Should we use the natural method or the pill?
Once conception has occurred, the questions come at a more rapid rate:
Should I run a marathon or keep my feet up?
Should I eat nuts?
And what about delivery; a water birth or an epidural?
And the conflict continues with a wide range of parenting questions in a variety of categories:
- Education (homeschool, private, public, charter, daycare)
- Food (breast, bottle, organic, sugar, fast food, whole foods)
- Clothing (cloth or disposable diapers, thrift or dept. store)
- Vocation (to work or to stay home)
Does it ever end? Just wait for grandchildren.
These topics elicit intense and passionate responses from all shades of the spectrum. Again, another irony: it seems the more choices and resources we have available to us the more judgmental, insecure and entitled we become!
Mollie Hemingway, another mommy writer, points out a third irony that exists. Dare I say it? “We live in a society that wouldn’t risk passing judgment on even deviant sexual practices, but we can’t let women make their own decisions on how to diaper their children.”
She makes the comment that much of the hype comes from the all-consuming intensity of motherhood. It causes sleep deprived and overworked moms to think that these crazy child-rearing conflicts seem completely normal. But I see it as more serious than this. I have listed three possible reasons for the bloodiest of battles:
- As a mom, we naturally understand our role as life giving. Without us, our babies die! Or so it seems. Therefore everything needs to be scrutinized in order to have the best for our babies and kids. We engage in Mommy Wars as if the life of our child depends on it.
- Our children are seen as an extension of who we are and we want everyone to think we are good moms. We may not always know what we are doing, but don’t let anyone else find out. Or they may call social services! We participate in Mommy Wars as if our reputations depend on it.
- We think we are in control. The decisions about whether to eliminate bottles and processed foods are extremely important because they affect how our children actually turn out. As moms we think we have control as to whether or not our child develops allergies, bumps his head, is good at math and doesn’t end up in jail. And granted, we have some control with a lot of responsibility, but seriously, we have far less control than we think.
Parenting is one of the most important jobs we have and we want to be successful! This is good, but it gets dysfunctional and sinful when it becomes a matter of pride, control, identity or self worth.
Our indecisions, our fears, our desperation ultimately make us our own worst enemy in the Mommy Wars.
Come with me for a minute to Romans 14:3-4.
“The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
What does this verse have to do with Mommy Wars? I realize this passage is specifically dealing with the issue of eating meat offered to idols, but the phrase, “God has accepted him” jumps out to me.
Acceptance means favorable reception, approval, or a safe place.
This is what all moms crave.
Kimberly Wagner who wrote “Fierce Woman” observes that the people to whom Paul was writing were getting “bent out of shape, puffed up in pride and offended at fellow believers who weren’t in line with their way of thinking. They had a superior, judgmental attitude.“ (Hmmm…sounds like a Mommy War to me!)
She points out, “But God accepted this one who practiced something that others found questionable”. And maybe it wasn’t the best decision. But God still “accepted him”. What if God had not accepted me? What if He’d been unwilling to offer “favorable reception” to me when I cried out to Him for help and acceptance?
Again, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs we will ever do. It can suck the life out of you. Literally.
As moms we should know best how to encourage each other instead of tearing each other down. We need to find ways to bless each other, not condemn each other. Think how differently things would be for you if you knew without a doubt that you could be accepted for who you are by other moms. The good news is, even though other moms may not always accept you, God will. Because of the cross, God accepts you as you are with all your imperfections and failures.
It helps to remind yourself that God has sovereignly placed you and wants you with all your idiosyncrasies to be the mother of your children. Not the neighbor lady. Not YOUR mom. Not the Sunday school teacher. It’s YOU.
God has made our families unique so how you are supposed to care for your kids will look different from how your friend does it. Mollie Hemmingway makes a good point when she says “that as long as you are not sinning you are free to serve your children as you see fit”. You have the responsibility to feed your children and you can fulfill that task by making pizza from scratch with gluten free crust or ordering out instead. You have the responsibility to make sure your child is fed, educated and cared for, but you have the freedom under God to decide how that gets done. And that is the key right there. Your freedom is under God. He is the only one you need to answer to. You know, the One who accepts you. So talk to Him about these things.
Ultimately the ONLY perfect parent is our Heavenly Father. And what is most important in our parenting and our families is how we respond to His lead, His acceptance of us.
What our children see with regards to our love and faith will have the biggest impact on their lives. This is how we win the Mommy Wars.