Where do you have your eye popping AH HA, EUREKA, OMG moments? For me it is usually while driving down the Truman Parkway (probably waaaay over the speed limit... because... the speed limit is stupid). And suddenly I am like, "I need a pen! I need a pen! Where's my pen!?!" And E says, "Why? Whyyyy mommy? Why?!" And I'm like, "HUSH THE IDEA IS STILL IN MY BRAIN FOR TWO MORE SECONDS!!"
Ok.... you see how it goes.
Let me explain... For years and years of early motherhood, I have been SEARCHING for an answer to this burning question: "What are the metrics of motherhood?" or "In motherhood, how do we know, for sure, if we've been successful? How do we measure how we measure up? How do we know we've been living a life worthy of this job we've received?"
The question isn't about competition and mommy wars (although a lot of people use this as their measuring system. Unfortunately. Away from me you competitioning mommies!)... it's just about knowing, at the end of the day, when you lay your head down (or don't, let's be real), that "Yeah, I did good today" and then letting yourself rest. Every job under the sun has this possibility... except motherhood. But how do we moms do that?
In a day... in a week... in a year... How do we actually know if we've done enough? Or too much?
Or done enough well? Or just scraped by?
Or barely cut it? Or over did it?
We don't have performance reviews. There is no grading scale. There are a zillion opinions and standards out there, and we can simply never live up to all of them or please everybody. Our kids think everything we've done is either the unvarnished work of GOD (OMG PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST I COULD KISS YOU---AND I WILL---WITH A MOUTH COVERD IN SYRUP!!) or pure crap. Crap I tell you! (I hate you so hard for putting my blue socks on instead of my red socks! I could spit in your eye---and I will---Damn you woman!!)
It's like taking performance review from a Bi-Polar boss on crack with split personality disorder.
You learn early on that these little people are a terrible measuring tool. A terrible yard stick for sizing up your success at this messy mothering business.
I've been a mommy for almost 3 years... 4 if you count my pregnancy. Which I do. Cause... COME ON! Let's give women some credit for carrying the human race in their bodies for 10 months! Mmmmkaaay?!?!! Ok good. Ahem... So... 4 years. I've been a mommy for 4 years. I have never found a great answer to this question. I've found some answers... like Mommy Competition. But no great answers.
So then I'm driving down Truman Parkway... and it hits me.... *drum roll please*...
Measuring our success is SO important to us because we mistakenly identify the measure of our success with the measure of our worth.
Whoa. If I was speaking to you right now, I'd repeat that again...
I need an external system, or another voice, or a reliable measure in my own head telling me "You've done this well" so that at the end of the day, I can say, "Yeah. I'm worth my oxygen, my space, my food, my carbon footprint." My husband has his job. He has a reason. And he get's claps on the back and bonuses to tell him that he has done his reason well. And I covet that. Because I want to know that I've done my reason well. That I'm Worthy.
BTW, Worthy = Worth-y = Having Worth or Characterized by Worth. Full of Worth. Full of value. (We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to add: If you say Worth ten times fast, and stare at the written word, it loses all meaning. Worth.)
Let that sit with you for a second.
Is there anything more beautiful and affirming to the soul than Worth?
Is there anything more dehumanizing and painful than taking someone's Worth away?
One of the key reasons that Motherhood is so hard is because it removes us from the systems of measure that we have become familiar with using to gauge our worth. Grades. Promotions. Pay scale. Authority. End product. Affirming words. Recognition. Everything we have relied on for so many years from our parents, our teachers, our bosses, our coaches, etc... suddenly it's just kind of gone and we're doing this labor intensive, all-consuming, very invisible work and there is no one reliable to tell us we've done well. There's no one to affirm our Worth.
Sisters, let me offer you this with eager, gentle, humble hands...
Being removed from a system of external affirmations that define your worth is a BLESSING.
Being removed from the delusion that we can earn our worth or we need others to define it for us is a BLESSING.
Why? Because this will hyper-accelerate the deep seated understanding of one powerful truth: You Are Worthy. You. Just you. You. Are. Worthy. Loved. Beautiful. Deeply, richly cherished. Pure gold. You are Worthy. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are.
Sweet Mom-ing Girl, you don't feel super blessed because it's hard, but you are in a position that few in this world are priviledged to walk in... where you are forced to begin to understand that your Worth comes from within. No one can apply it to you. No one can define it for you. No one can give it to you in small bits or in giant douses. And no one can take it away. You are learning that just by being present, you are worthy.
Since we're in Advent, I was reading the song that Mary sings after the angel comes to let her know that she's going to be a mom. Go read Luke 1:46-49 (I linked it for you).
Why are all the nations going to call her blessed? Because she was super responsible, super sweet, super virtuous, super with it? Because she was the Pinterest Pro? Because she baked from scratch and healed all ailments with essential oils and vinegar? Because she never let her kids play with singing plastic toys or watch television? Because she never dropped the F-bomb?
She was probably great, but from her own lips she says, "They will call me blessed Because he looked on me." She was low. She was simple. She was an unremarkable teenager... and then he Looked on her. And suddenly she is transformed with worth.
Sisters, as you serve your children and your families and your communities and the world... he looks on you. On your humble state. On your roll as a servant. He looks on you. And you are Worthy.
Let the Worth he gives fill your soul. Walk in its strength. Everything you touch with an awareness of the Worthiness he has filled your being with is blessed.
Every scraped knee. Every sweaty forehead. Every chubby rashy diaper butt. Every weary husband. Every pile of laundry. They are blessed. Because he is good. Because he binds up the broken hearted. Because he redeems. Because he believes in the Best and Beautiful in you... because he made it.
You can believe in it too.
You don't have to hustle to be the perfect mom. You don't have to hustle for approval, or qualification, or back-pats, or a sense of pride. You just get to be free to live into this job with joy... because you're already worthy.
When we already have our worth, the pressure of perfectionism eases up.
The tantrums cease to be a public reflection on our personal failure to raise them up as non-selfish, non-outta control ass hats... and so the tantrums cease to be so humiliating. They become more, kinda, just... humorous?
The messes cease to be a reflection of our own failure to be orderly, peaceful humans... and become cozy chaos that we can live with like a nutty aunt until the time comes to tidy up.
That week where Little Son refuses to wear anything but shark swim trunks and a filthy shirt three sizes too big... next to his school buddies who only wear Gap and Ralph Lauren... it ceases to be a reflection on ME and just becomes a hilarious expression of his personality...
Because I'm already worthy.
My kids can be whoever they want to be... because I'm already worthy. Their journey toward maturity can be slow and steady, with room for failure... because I'm already worthy. Our house can occasionally look like a Hurricane Sandy crash site... because I'm already worthy.
Rather than trying to earn our worthiness through an external yard stick, let's let our internal worthiness ripple out into the work that we do.
Let your security make your children secure. Let your blessedness bless your husband. Let your freedom free up your friends. Let your Worth be loud and confident and beautiful... because he looks on you with adoring eyes. His little masterpiece.
Measure your success in motherhood by those eyes.
Then spread the love that wells up in your heart around like confetti.