- Breast or bottle.
- Forward-facing or rear-facing.
- Homeschool or public school.
- Attachment parenting or cry it out.
- Baby wearing or stroller.
- Store bought puree or baby led weaning.
- Cloth or disposable.
- Early education or delayed instruction.
- Formal lessons or unschooling.
- Classical or Charlotte Mason.
- Textbooks or living books.
- Crafts or free play.
- Packed lunch or lunchroom.
- Organic or not.
- Essential oils or a doctor visit.
- Paleo or convenience foods.
- Homeschool for life or homeschool for now.
- Time outs... Positive reinforcement... Or spanking?
- And let's not even get into the decisions we make with our teenagers!
It never ends. As moms, we make thousands of decisions daily, big and small, and no matter where we look- our friends, family, media, and experts- are all telling us (directly or indirectly) that we are doing it WRONG. The world shouts that out of all the choices, the one we made isn't the BEST. There's a better way...
In our culture, there's always a "better way" and preoccupation with whether we have chosen "best" can almost consume me at times. I can have a simple decision before me, with a few good options, I can pray hard about it, and then I make the choice. And when I am all alone with my choice, I usually feel pretty confident about it.
But as I walk along carrying that choice- education, vaccines, birth control, the age our child has certain privileges, the clothes we allow them to wear, how many children we plan to have, what type of food we eat, how we discipline- I begin to see that there are even more options available than what I dreamed possible. Not only that, but all those other options can start to look BETTER than what I chose. Maybe I didn't choose the best way, safest way, smartest way after all...
Uncertainty. Doubt. Second-guessing. They all creep in.
How often do I choose a path for educating, parenting, scheduling, cooking, and (most importantly) disciplining... Only to have a new way or new perspective sideswipe what I thought was the best to begin with?
I've often allowed the infinite perspectives and voices of the world to tell me that the way I'm parenting- every single choice I'm making- is WRONG in some aspect.
Our own inner voice can be the worst at this: We scroll through Instagram for a "mommy minute" and see fantastic parties and playrooms and homeschool spaces and bagged lunches and mind-blowing crafts and immediately we begin to question ourselves about every decision we've made.
Are we messing our child up?
Are we short-changing them?
Would that other way be better, sweeter, funner, easier, smarter, more effective?
But here's the real raw truth of the deal: God made no one else the mother to your child. He chose you (biological or adopted). He knew every inner need of your child, and he knew every sin-soaked area of you, and he still chose YOU. And after choosing you, he commanded you. He told you to teach them. To lead them. To love them. To not frustrate them. To speak life into them.
He gave you the child then he handed you the authority to chose best for your child according to who you are and what His Word tells you.
I'm beginning to learn that the one true path to JOY in Motherhood- the path to NOT destroying our own parenting experience- comes from owning the authority that God has given us as a mothers and letting every single thing else fall away. Peace comes from seeing the decision, prayerfully considering it, making the choice, then OWNING that choice for the long haul... not from constantly second-guessing, which is what we often do.
When we walk around, constantly torn in every direction, questioning every little decision without end, we keep ourselves constantly torn. Who can have joy when you can never rest knowing you've done your best?
You are the Mama. No one else. And the sooner we all OWN THAT, fully and completely, the more freely and joyfully we can walk through the daily peaks and valleys of motherhood. We don't owe an explanation to anyone about our carefully measured decisions, and we don't have to keep trying to one-up ourselves or anyone else.
Have a parenting decision to make? Pray. Seek God's Word. Seek wise counsel. Discuss it with your husband. If applicable, look for a little current research (carseat guidelines would fit here)... Then make your decision, Mama...
Then let everything else go.
Own your decision with confidence and let the next Mama do the exact same thing. Applaud her and congratulate her on her decisions, even if they're the total opposite of yours.
You do you, Mama (according to God's Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit), and you'll be walking in abundant joy and peace.