Last week I asked several friends (and asked them to ask their friends) to take a brief survey that I'd put together. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, and I pieced together my top ten questions for Christ-following moms and sent it out, anxiously awaiting the responses.
To date, over 200 of you have taken the time to fill out the survey, and I thank you for that. I wanted to ask these questions because I think we moms as a whole, especially the entire community of believing moms, feel enormous pressure to be successful in raising our children. We feel scrutinized and criticized and sometimes even idolized, and we feel that we're on a stage for all to see, which terrifies us. We think we can't make a single misstep or else...SPLAT, we'll fall flat on our faces, being exposed for the imperfect mothers that we actually are.
We think everyone else has their stuff together. We think other mothers have memorized the entire Bible. We think we're the only ones who go days without consciously praying or spending time with God, only to feel awfully guilty and like failures in comparison to all of the "perfect" moms that surround us.
Well, guess what?
There are no perfect moms, only a perfect Father.
I don't share these survey results to give us some kind of pass on working hard to raise our kids well, or to hint that because we're all a mess we should just quit trying. We all know we can't and won't do that. I do hope, though, that you move from a place of feeling isolated and fraudulent into a more freeing place of vulnerability and realness, because the reality is that everyone's got their stuff, and you truly are not alone.
Ok, now on with the show.
1. Only 2% of the 200 moms surveyed spend intentional time daily with God.Yes, that's 2%. That might shock you; it definitely did me. I can't tell you how often I beat myself up because I'm not able to stick to a consistent daily quiet time routine (because LIFE). We wake up early to read and pray and the baby's screaming for an early breakfast. We try to read the Word before bed and we fall asleep reading the same verse we've "studied" for the past five nights in a row. Life as a mom is hectic and crazy, and we're all struggling here (obviously).
2. Only 16% feel they're doing a good job teaching God's Word to their children.Yes, family quiet time sounds wonderful. The problem at my house is that almost every evening during what we call "family fun time" (which is comical, because it's really not all that fun), at least one kid gets a spanking and another gets sent to bed early. And that's during our most pointed time together in God's Word. Apparently I'm not alone.
3. 79% of us pray only occasionally or when life gets tough.Yes, I'd like to be the mom who has a prayer closet, complete with a rug soaked in the tears she's shed while praying over her children. I'd like to be, but I'm not that mom. That's not to say that I don't pray for my kids; I do, and often. Prayer is obviously an area of struggle for many of us as moms, though, and it's understandable. We talk to little people all day long and sometimes we're just tired of TALKING. Praise God for His grace in our hard seasons, and His tender love for us just as we are.
4. 29% of moms feel they're fairly to very patient with their children.I'd like to meet these moms and shake their hands, but I'm too impatient to take the time to find out who they are. This statistic means that 71% of moms feel they struggle with impatience on a regular basis. We all lose our cool, to be sure. My theory, however, is that we don't give ourselves enough credit for the patience we do display, probably because we feel such a sense of frustration on the inside.
5. We don't always enjoy motherhood. 21% of moms surveyed enjoy motherhood less than 50% of the time. 37% enjoy it less than 75% of the time. 42% of moms said they enjoy motherhood 75+% of the time. Every season of parenthood presents new challenges and also offers welcomed reprieves. Motherhood is not a job we'll always enjoy. Enjoyment isn't even really the goal. Doing hard work isn't always fun, but it always pays off. If you struggle with enjoying the season you're in, you are NOT alone. Cut yourself some slack, take a deep breath, and realize that this season, too, shall pass.
6. Only 12% of moms surveyed feel they're doing a better job raising their children than their peers.This means that 88% (EIGHTY-EIGHT PERCENT) of moms think their friends are doing the mom thing better. It just goes to show that you're not the only one who struggles with comparison, and that our perceptions about others aren't directly linked to reality. We're all insecure (or at least 88% of us are).
7. 81% of moms feel that they don't get enough time for themselves.Taking time for ourselves is crucial, and it's apparent that most moms aren't getting the time we need to refuel and refresh our spirits. It's not selfish to make time for ourselves, but it's something we're just not great at as busy moms. That's no excuse, though, and it's time we made caring for ourselves a priority. Our kids need rested, mentally-healthy moms, and our husbands need wives who aren't tightly-wound balls of stress. We've got to figure this out, and sooner than later.
8. 32% of us have marriages that are in crisis or lifeless.Parenthood is stressful, there's no doubt about that. Unfortunately, one of the first relationships to succumb to the pressure and exhaustion of parenthood is that of the husband and wife, and it's easy to let life get in the way of keeping your marital relationship the main thing. However, if we can create time to focus on our marriages, we'll actually have healthier relationships with our kids because of it. Make your marriage a priority; it's never too late for God to resurrect what seems dead, bringing it back to abundant life.
9. 34% of women surveyed don't have a solid community of friends and family who support them. 34% is a LOT of women. We as moms have GOT to do a better job of standing in the gap for one another. Women are relational beings by nature, and we weren't meant to do life isolated and alone. It can be hard to jump in and engage with new people, but I want to encourage anyone who feels alone to take that bold step. Go visit a new church and introduce yourself to other young moms you see. There are SO many people in the same boat as the 29% who feel abandoned, and the most glorious response to loneliness is to suddenly realize that you've never, in fact, been alone. For those of us who DO feel connected to a support system, we have to have eyes for the lonely and disconnected mom. We must go out of our ways to bring her into the fold, because everyone needs someone.
10. Everyone surveyed wants to be better at something.The last section offered space for people to share about something they'd like to become better at as mothers. If you could only see how many people wrote so many of the same things. We're all a hot mess, and we all need Jesus to make it through this journey called Motherhood intact. Answers included:
patience with children
teaching God's Word to kids
having more fun with kids
trying to spend more one-on-one time with each child
spending more time personally in God's word
taking some personal time
working on marriage
finding joy in the menial tasks
learning to listen better to the kids
getting out of the comparison trap
Here's the deal, ladies. We're all struggling. This shouldn't be news to us; God told us it would be this way the second He found out that Adam and Even didn't leave well enough alone. We will falter. We'll fail. We'll grow weary and want to make a mad dash for Fiji.
THESE FEELINGS DON'T MAKE US BAD MOMS!
You're better than you think, and you're exactly who your kids need. I know this is true, because God gave them to YOU, and He's got it going on in the sovereignty department.
We'll dig more into these responses and areas for growth in the weeks to come. Trust me, I need it as much as the next mom. I know this because my youngest told me as I was tucking him in tonight that he'll never kiss me a "gallon" times again because I "made" him lose video games for a week because he lied to me this morning.