To say the cover of this week’s Time magazine is provocative would be an understatement:
When I saw the photo, I sighed. I get that extreme parenting makes headlines and sells magazines, but I’m so tired of this worn-out song. Look at this model mommy – she looks like a million bucks AND practices attachment parenting like a pro! She probably even got to shower this morning! SHE WINS!
But beyond the titillating cover shot, the headline is what bothers me most: “Are You Mom Enough?”
Demanding, defiant, pushy, probing – it’s exactly the kind of gut-punch-to-insecurity question that drives me nuts about today’s treatment of parenting in the media. Enough with the mommy wars, enough with the attachment parenting debates. Parenting is not a competitive sport. It’s not a test to be aced or a contest to be won.
It’s a relationship – a way of being with others in the world. It’s a calling – a lifelong commitment. It’s a leap of faith – a journey we start without knowing how it will end.
I am a mom. A pretty new mom. Equal parts clueless and hopeful. I make a lot of mistakes, but I want to learn. I love my kids fiercely.
I think that’s enough.
While parenting shouldn’t fall prey to the self-esteem movement either – everyone gets a trophy! - it deserves to be treated as a complex, challenging calling. No theory will neatly solve its dilemmas, no ideology will produce perfection, no single decision will promise success. In fact, I wish we could banish “perfection” and “success” from our parenting discussions entirely. My inner critic doesn’t need any more help; does yours?
We’re called to be faithful parents, not successful ones.
Faithful parents keep their children’s best interests at heart and work hard to make choices that will speak to their changing needs as they grow. They stay true to their kids, not a theory or an expert.
Faithful parents know they need partners in parenting, and they find the help they need to raise their children: friends, family, doctors, nurses, teachers, day-care providers and babysitters. Faithful parents seek out community so they don’t have to go it alone.
Faithful parents try to forgive themselves for their shortcomings and forgive their kids for being human, too.
Faithful parents learn that they can’t do everything, but they can do enough.
In two days we’ll celebrate motherhood. Biological, adopted, foster, step, grand, and “other.” Flip through Mother’s Day cards at Hallmark and you’ll see this beautiful diversity: women who are faithful to the children in their lives, regardless of relationship. None of those cards are about success. None of our mothers “won.” But they were faithful. And that is enough.
Are you mom enough?
You, with your insecurities and doubts and fears? But your fierce, faithful love for the children in your life?
Yes, you are. Enough.