A recent blog post on the Christian website Desiring God is titled: “A Better Mom is a Broken Mom.” In Christian-speak, this refers to a mother who is aware of her weaknesses and utter dependence on Christ in order to be a good parent. (But in light of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, my first thought when I read it went to domestic violence.)
It doesn’t get much better after the title, though.
Author Kristen Wetherell writes:
Often, we compare ourselves to other moms, who seem to have their acts together (especially on social media), and we don’t feel we measure up. So we favor self-care and temporary, fleeting comforts that delude us into thinking we’re a success — that we’ll be better moms as a result of having these “gains.” But apart from a broken spirit that sees how much we need Christ first and foremost, these betterments are futile.
They are loss compared to knowing him more.
I’m not a parent, but I can understand the futility of comparing yourself to other moms based on what they share on social media. At the same time, there is nothing wrong or selfish about self-care. Even Jesus took time away from His disciples for Himself when he needed it. I hope Wetherell’s words don’t implicitly tell other new moms that it’s selfish to ask for help every now and then just so they can nap, shower, or clean house.
Moms, everything within you will tell you that you need certain “gains” to get through your day, to be a better parent for your children. The world will tell you that brokenness means failure. But there’s only one gain that truly satisfies and betters our hearts both now and for eternity: the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. And it only comes through brokenness.
I hardly think it’s fair to refer to the need for a nap or shower as evidence of “brokenness.” Also troubling is the strong implication that the only good mothers are Christian mothers. The sacrifices of parenthood aren’t unique to Christianity. Mothers of all religions — or no religion — understand that having a child means temporarily compromising sleep and sanity. Good mothers existed long before Jesus, and they exist all over the world in places where people have never heard of Jesus. (My secular Jewish mother is, in my humble opinion, the best mother ever.)
By all means, if Wetherell feels like a better parent by leaning into this theology, then more power to her. But if there’s one lesson mothers learn by painful experience, it’s this: there is no single correct way to parent. Anyone who suggests otherwise is lying.
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