If you are anything like me you may have found (or currently find) yourself in a place of fear when it comes to motherhood as you scroll through social media. You see countless women talking about how their toddlers destroy their home, their babies leave them with dirty hair and living in leggings, and their young children are basically an inconvenience because they need help with school or meals. Social media has done a wonderful job of killing the joy in motherhood in the past few years. It praises pregnancy and makes you feel absolutely awful if yours is anything short of perfect but it proceeds to degrade motherhood by pointing out all the negative things that it can bring (most specifically, a child you are now responsible for). But I fully believe that the joys outweigh the struggles and you do not have to jump on the bandwagon of complaining about motherhood. You can choose to thrive in motherhood rather than just survive it.
How Social Media Taught Us To Hate Motherhood
A quick scroll through Instagram will give you a fairly quick assessment of how most of the world feels about motherhood: it’s messy, ugly, exhausting, not nearly as fun or as admirable as becoming CEO of a corporation while rocking a power suit and stilettos. I remember my pre-motherhood years, when I was still on the path of “I’m never having children,” I would see these videos or viral posts of mothers poking fun at how horrible being a mom is or quotes in pretty scripting that talk about how having children destroys our bodies or how all of our children are “assholes” – no joke, I really have seen mothers call their young children that word. On social media. On the internet. Where it will live forever.
At first, I honestly would chuckle at these posts. I mean, they were funny and witty and usually made in good fun. But then I started to really fear what I saw — I started to fear motherhood. Almost hating the idea of it before it was even a reality for me. My decision became avoid motherhood at all costs – it will strip you of freedom, finances, your body, your marriage, and your dreams.
I’m not quite sure of the exact moment I realized this trending hatred of motherhood was wrong, but at some point in the year leading up to my own pregnancy I realized that this sort of thinking was pointing myself and other women to only one conclusion – never have children. But the interesting part of the whole narrative is that there is a completely different approach to pregnancy on social media.
While this is somewhat off topic, I feel it must be pointed out that social media puts a laser focus on pregnancy. It becomes a source of revenue generating content for influencers. It’s represented by perfect pregnant bodies where the only weight is gained in the belly and the only hard part of the entire journey is simply waiting for the baby to arrive. Oddly enough, the newborn phase falls between the two extremes on the spectrum: most often colliding in a sweet photo of a sleeping babe with a fairly honest caption about how hard that stage is. But that is where the balance stops. For the most part, social media simultaneously says “pregnancy is beautiful” and “motherhood is a train wreck.”
What God Says About Motherhood
As with most things, social media and scripture do not seem to line up on the topic of motherhood. While the world is rattling on about “mom bods” and never having a hot cup of coffee again (which, I’m doing right now with my 7-month old happily playing next me), God’s word is telling us all we really need to know about motherhood.
Motherhood, according to God’s word, is nothing short of an immense blessing. It’s a worthy calling and it’s one that women were called to from the beginning (Genesis 1:28). And, unlike what the world would like to admit, it is a process (pregnancy) and journey (everything after pregnancy) that He uniquely designed women to experience (Genesis 2:18-24).
So what about what scripture says about the curse upon the woman? The one about pain in childbearing? Well, yeah. It’s part of the fall. Just like many other things men and women struggle through in this life. It’s part of what happened when Eve, the mother of humanity [(Genesis 3:20), was deceived. But, what I find to actually be encouraging is that throughout the Bible we see childbearing compared to the crucifixion (John 16:21). We see that what Jesus would do for us on the cross becomes a mirror of the sacrifice of motherhood (Labor With Hope, Gloria Furman). We know that Jesus counted His suffering as joy (Hebrews 12:2), so why should we, as mothers, do anything but try to emulate Him in that way.
How to Love Motherhood When It’s Not Instagram Worthy
Here’s the thing: when you find your self starting out on your motherhood journey your priorities shift a lot. Your own appearance, the tidiness of your home, and other visual parts of your life will take the back seat while you focus on your newborn. I used to tell myself it wouldn’t happen that way for me but now I laugh at my former self for thinking that. When you’re adjusting to being the source of comfort, food, and everything else for a tiny new human you have to let some things go. That doesn’t mean you won’t pick them back up – possibly even within a few weeks or months – but for a period of time they will cease to matter. And social media usually doesn’t show you that.
We all know THE girl, right? The one that just had the baby and still has a clean house and still puts on real pants and a full face of makeup. And she posts those perfect photos to Instagram and makes you feel really awful about your own tear-stained face, baggy clothes, and messy home. The thing is, social media isn’t a real look into someone’s life. We all know that but it can be hard to believe it when it seems like you are the only one struggling. Motherhood is a journey unlike any other and comparing your journey to someone’s perfect photo is only going to make it harder.
So, here’s what you do: you look to God’s Word instead of Instagram. I know that is super cliché and seems like unhelpful advice. But, it’s the only real alternative. Look at what God says about motherhood, women, children, and what living a meaningful life looks like (Proverbs 31:28-31).
There’s nothing wrong with sharing pretty photos on social media. The problem is that too often we think the pretty photos other people post are an accurate representation of their lives. So, the best advice I can give you is to stop comparing your motherhood journey to the perfect photos and instead compare it to God’s Word and your own standards for your home, life, and yourself. And always keep in mind that you are the one in charge of how you will be a mother – it is your decision and yours only.
How To Handle The Hard Moments Without Complaining
While we’re on the topic of how motherhood is far from picture-perfect let’s address what becomes a very “trendy” way to approach being a mom: complaining about it. Telling everyone who will listen how awful this calling is because it’s hard. Something that is difficult is not the same as something that is bad. Rather than approach motherhood with contempt and dissatisfaction we should do our very best to approach it with gratitude and eagerness to serve in this calling.
Do I always do that? Nope! My husband has been on the receiving end of my complaints almost daily. This is a learning process. Motherhood is a full time job with no training, no pay, and no vacation days. So, something I do genuinely pray for each night as I put my baby girl to bed is that I will be a better mom tomorrow than I was today. Motherhood is about growing so it’s to be expected that we will have hard moments and difficult days. We will feel like failures and sometimes think we are not deserving of the children we have. But, we don’t have to sit in those feelings.
Instead we can choose to rise above them. We can choose to aim for better tomorrow. We can choose to understand that God CHOSE us to be the mother to our children and it’s not something He chose lightly. With all our faults He still decided to trust us with His most precious creations. Wow. How could we ever be anything but grateful?
We will certainly have days when we just want FIVE MINUTES TO OURSELF. And it’s okay to ask for those five minutes. Just remember that you can recognize something is difficult without complaining about it. You can acknowledge that you are still learning without thinking you are unfit. You can be a mom that isn’t perfect and still strive to be the very best that you can. It’s the most important job in the world. And we get to do it every day from the moment we learn that little peanut is growing inside of us until the moment we leave this earth. What a privelege that is.