Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Virtual Motherhood Subculture: aka "That's not who you are"

There is this timewarp in our house- from the kitchen (the epicenter of activity) to the car in the garage.  No matter how much I've planned ahead and organized things, somehow it takes our family anywhere from 20-45 minutes to move between those places when we have to go somewhere.  Someone described it once as herding cats. Kids can't get coats, backpacks, lunchboxes, stuffed animals, blankets, snacks, drinks, WHATEVER together fast enough and they wander off on the way to the destination.  I know you know what I am talking about.

My 7 year-old is especially distracted.  I say to him a hundred times, "Go to the car. Go to the car. GO TO THE CAR."  Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.  He has real and challenging focus issues, and we spend a lot of time working through them.

So when I read this post about not hassling our kids to hurry up, I of course went into standard mommy guilt mode.  However, I immediately knew in my heart that this did not apply to us.  I did not feel frantic or like I was ignoring the beautiful way God made my son.  There are real timetables in life and no matter how much time I allow, there is distraction and dawdling. It also occurred to me that 75% of the places we are trying to go so quickly are FOR them, so I think it's reasonable to ask them to go there in a timely manner for the whole family.  So while I appreciated what the blog writer had to say, I did not plunge into a dark vat of guilt and vow to never say "hurry up" again.

That day, probably 25 of my Facebook friends re-posted that, plus I got it in email form from a few others. Again, I appreciate that it resonated with some people.  It still didn't stir me.

Over the next few months, other posts about motherhood emerged.  This one about bedtime taking a long time.  This one about "bullying" a child.  Again, great articles. Great writers. Women desiring to love their kids better.  All wonderful things.

The rate at which these things got reposted in all the social media platforms astounded me. Many of my friends comment things like, "This is me." Or "I am guilty of this." Or "Something for us all to think about." And it bothers me.  Here's why:

I know most of you.  I know how much you love your kids.  I know you spend most of your free time with them.  If you're not with them, you are thinking about them.  Or talking about them with your friends.  Asking deep, hard questions about how to love them better and how to help them.  You barely sleep.  You pray and pray. Your deepest heart's desire is that your kids would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them and you have done everything you can for them.

So here is what I want to say to you: Please, read these posts and take what you want from them.  And then put them away.  Don't label yourself as a "bully" or a bad mom because you "slip" and tell your kid to hurry up when you have given them every chance to get things done in a reasonable amount of time.  Or if you put your kids to bed sort of early to visit with your spouse.

Stop the guilt.  Don't put yourself in the box.  That isn't who you are.

Loving your kids looks different almost every day. Some days it looks like putting your 4 year-old in time out while they scream so you can teach them patience and to speak respectfully to people.  Some days it's taking all day to walk around the park with them.  Some days it's putting them to bed fast so you can connect with their father.

These women write these posts about themselves- their lives- their mistakes. And while they can send good messages and reminders to all of us, their conclusions for their kids and family are not and SHOULDN'T BE the exact same as yours. They certainly shouldn't weight us down with more guilt than we already have.

And here's the darker thing happening.  We read these things, take them as gospel truth, and then use them as yet another way to judge those around us.  We hear a mom in the store telling their kid to hurry up and we think, "Oh, she doesn't treasure her kid the way I do."  Or we observe a mom sternly disciplining her kid and think, "I bet she's a bully all the time to that child."  We pass things on and say, "You should read this."

We need to step back and see the whole picture. Of ourselves and each other.

So yes, I tell my kid to hurry, quite a bit. I could wake him up at 4 AM and he still wouldn't be ready for school by 8:00 without my prodding.  We are working on it. I don't scream in his face or think I'm tearing up his heart by saying it. One day he will hold a job and hopefully be on time because of the skills I am teaching him.

So please- read these posts and sure, repost them if you want. But don't tell yourself you need to feel more guilt or make arbitrary statements about your life based on them. Take whatever message speaks to you and appreciate it.  Don't worship it or tell yourself you are a bad mom.  Don't be pulled into the dark subculture we are creating that tells a part of the story online and ignores the reality of the big picture of our hearts.

Because I know you- and that's not who you are.


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