Beginning the Year with Mary
by Libby DuPont, consultant for Marriage and Family Life
Moms, raise your hand if you’ve ever logged off of Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram feeling like a failure. We’ve all done it. We see Organic Mom’s photo of the nutritionally balanced bento-box lunch that she packs her first grader and wince as ours will only eat hot dogs. We see Crafty Mom’s post of the intricate character-themed birthday cake she made and hope that no one will notice the generic store- bought cake that we put candles in.
We women love to compare our own weaknesses to the strengths of others. After all, we only post what we are proud of. I do not post Facebook pictures of the clutter on my counter, or my children covered in yogurt, or the bank statement reporting that I overdrew my account. I allow myself to feel inadequate for not living up to others’ triumphs, but neglect to see that each of these women also struggles, just as I do.
Several moms I know in real life and online have responded to this idea of “mommy comparisons” by candidly admitting to their faults, often in a Facebook status or blog post. It’s as if moms across the country needed to hear from one another that it is okay to not be perfect. While this is refreshing, it can also lead to the opposite kind of comparison. It can make us comfortable in our faults, minimizing the effect they have on our families. After watching “Hoarders”, the clutter in my spare bedroom suddenly doesn’t look too bad!
So what are we to do? Not share anything about ourselves at all? Of course not. We are women, and that might cause us to explode. What I do think we need to do is to compare ourselves rightly and to the right people. I am blessed to be surrounded by some amazing moms whom I have had the honor to get to know fairly well. In honesty, we probably talk most about our difficulties, but there are other, unspoken parts to these women that call me to grow. I watch the generosity of a mom suffering through a difficult pregnancy and find strength to be more patient with my kids. I see the twinkle in one mom’s eye as she speaks about her husband and I am challenged not to take mine for granted. The strengths of the women I know call me not to feel guilty or inadequate, but to rise to the standard they have set with their example.
This leads me to the one mom I think all of us Christian mothers should compare ourselves: Mary. Comparing ourselves to the one human on earth who never sinned (and the
one who was married to a saint and who raised GOD) may seem counterproductive, but it’s not. In Mary we see all the struggles of a woman who lived in poverty. She worked hard, knowing the joys and profound sorrows of motherhood. Most of all she was woman of profound humility who listened to the Holy Spirit. By humility I mean that she saw herself very clearly. She knew who she was and whose she was. This enabled her to do profoundly courageous things like bear a child that was not her husband’s, live in a foreign country with a newborn and ultimately, to watch her son be brutally murdered.
Isn’t that what every modern mom needs most? If we knew at our core whose we were, we could strive to improve without giving up hope. We could make unpopular decisions that we know our kids will hate but that they are inwardly begging us to make. We could face our demons knowing that ultimately, our holiness is more about listening to the Holy Spirit than about some unrealistic to-do list. We might even be able to laugh at ourselves when the project that looked awesome on Pinterest is a total bust.
This January, let’s focus on the Mother whose feast began this month and this year. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!