"You'll regret it if you never take your kids to Disney World."
"You better sign your 4-year-old up for soccer now, otherwise he won't make the travel team when he gets to high school."
"So once your kids are back in school full day, what are you actually going to DO with all your time?"
"So how many camps did your kids go to this summer?"
"Your kids don't have an iPad? Those poor things! Why not?"
These are all comments and questions that I've been asked in recent months. They were honestly all very well meaning. But they were all very much in tune with the culture of our generation. A culture I am admittedly deeply embedded in. It's the generation of motherhood that says: Consumerism is king. Busyness is glorified. And you better do everything you can do manufacture a magical childhood that includes every educational and technological luxury you possibly can.
I know not all of you reading actually subscribe to this philosophy. But you know what? I totally bought it for a while. I absolutely joined in the game. I started panicking when my kids weren't signed up for team sports at age 3 because everyone else's kids were. I started thinking that if they didn't learn to use all the cool apps on the iPads they would be behind all the other kids. When I closed my Etsy shop a few years ago, it was because I was burnt out and stressed and not sleeping. But all the stay-at-home moms I knew were doing something "else" in addition to taking care of their babies all day. I needed to keep up! If you notice a trend there, it was all about comparing myself and my kids to other people. And it was all about staying busy. And it was ugly.
I would never claim that I am immune to all of that today, but I can tell you that I finally decided to lean into what the Lord was nudging me to do for so long.... Stop. Rest. Pray. Seek Him. And after that, be confident in the choices I was making for MY family. Every family makes different choices. And every family has different circumstances. Some of you are working moms. Some of you are single moms. Some of you are married moms with a husband who works crazy long hours and you feel like you're doing it alone. I just know that for me, I was tired of making choices based on what other people were doing instead of what felt right for me. What was God calling me to invest in? What were the intentions in my heart for doing the things I was doing? Was it to impress others? Was it to fit in? Was it to actually benefit my family? And most importantly...what it to glorify me instead of God?
Search me God, and know my heart.
My 4-year-old had a blast playing on a sweet little basketball team this past year. But we didn't sign him up because all his friends were doing it. We signed him up because he genuinely showed a huge interest in it and we had the time in our schedule. And no I am no longer worried about his chances of making the high school basketball team in ten years. I've adjusted my decision making process and it feels great.
Our culture is great at manufacturing a desire for busyness isn't it? The busier we are, the more important we feel. And although social media is a wonderful thing, it can take you down a slippery slope of comparison and envy if you're not careful. We are now more aware of what other people are doing than ever before. You can't help but wonder why your home or your kids or your vacations don't look like someone else's.
Please hear my heart here -- not all busyness stems from the wrong intentions. I have just been tender-hearted to examine my own life and the precedent I am setting for my children. Am I modeling for them that a full calendar means I'm more valuable? We are all consumers in some form, but am I modeling consumerism in a way that reflects our family values? Am I prioritizing enough family time for rest, reflection, and time together? Lord, give me wisdom!
I know every mother reading this desires to be a good steward of her time and resources. And I know that looks different for everyone as God has given each of us different strengths, callings, and convictions. So let's spur each other on to live vibrant, productive lives without the baggage of glorified busyness and worldly consumerism. Let's remember God's word where He reminds us in Romans 12 to not be conformed by this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds and discern the will of God for our lives.
Press on, strong mamas!