When I was a young mom, I woke up one day and decided to become completely delusional. Ok, it wasn’t really a conscious choice. It wasn’t even something I intended. But, as I’d just recently made it through the tiny-baby months and into full blown cherubhood, I had renewed strength. I became convinced that–yes–I too could be a Hot Mama.
Now, before you judge me, you have to know that I’m not a vain person. In fact, I’m likely the most clueless, unaccustomed to girly things, unaware of my surroundings kind of girl you’ll ever meet. It’s not that I looked at magazines and longed to be like other women, or that I watched too much television and bought into the Hollywood-mom myth. It’s just that I began to notice that Hot Mamas were everywhere, and I paled drastically in comparison. Honestly, I would have settled for the slightly-above-room-temperature-mama. I just wanted to look good.
As the world called me to dress younger and sexier, to be a certain size and lose my baby weight before my child could support their own neck, I began to feel that surely I was the only mom not hitting the mark. I mean, everywhere I looked, there were Hot Mamas. It felt as if everyone with a new baby had to show up at Kindermusik stepping out of their Suburban in Jimmy Choo heels, with perfectly styled and highlighted hair, sporting J. Crew pre-baby jeans, designer coffee and the latest pram. Really?
The myth of the perfect mom, linked to the myth of the perfect child, linked to the myth of the perfect husband, linked to the myth of the perfect house was chaining me down. As if being a wonderful mother with well behaved children wasn’t a high enough ideal, now I had to do so in a designer blouse and heels while cleaning granite countertops.
It was too much.
Today’s standards for mothers are higher than ever before. Impossible for most of us to reach. Entire magazines (not just a few!) show us what we should be doing:
“50 Ways to Be a Cool Mom”
“What Doctor’s Wish You Fed Your Kids”
“How You Can Look 10 lbs Thinner”
And the racks go on . . .
The pressure to be all of these things (and more!) is incredible. Even when we are fully aware of how ridiculous they are, the pressure to meet them settles in on us and we find ourselves secretly comparing one another more often than we would like to admit.
“Hot Mom” has become a status symbol.
Who is to blame here? We could peg Hollywood for the Mama-Drama—of course, they perpetuate this myth. New moms in Hollywood would not be caught dead in maternity pants weeks later. (I still have a pair I like to wear and my youngest is—ahem—five.) Magazine covers burst with these new mothers in stunning gowns (often the same size or smaller than pre-baby) as they walk across red carpets. Regaining physical perfection is praised and held in high regard. Pressure is being put on us by people who are, by definition, acting. They are playing a role, even in public, in order to keep up appearances and fit into our expectations of them.
Are we doing the same?
There was a time when women could relate to each other by the simple fact that they were of the same generation. They grew up in similar ways, were raised in similar ways and had similar opportunities and challenges in life. That is no longer true. In fact, there are so many varieties to the available lifestyles, opportunities and choices that no one can assume they have anything in common at first glance. What used to bring us together has set us apart. We approach each other guarded, waiting to discern the general “rules” and beliefs in order not to offend.
Whereas there used to be breaks in society between what was appropriate for different generations, we are now all a blend of current guides. Once, older women, young mothers, teenagers and young children each had a distinct style and attitude. You could assume what they would wear and how they would talk based on nothing more than their age. Now, we are a blend of society’s thoughts and feelings. A menagerie that has crossed both age groups and ideals.
This blending is visible everywhere. Stores that are targeted for teens are now browsed by tweens and their parents. Cars that were once signs of reaching financial security are now being driven by those whose licenses are still warm from the press. Phrases once held secret by teens are spoken at all age levels. (I know—right?) Styles of shoes that used to target young women, now are made in sizes small enough for preschoolers. (I have personally seen a toddler in wedge heels.) Is this blend a good thing?
In the struggle to find our proper place in society, as we’ve allowed the lines to blur between all sectors, have we lost who we are? Have moms, as a whole, allowed what’s popular for the masses to lay out a new directive?
Rather than embrace our roles as modern mothers, are we striving to fit into one acceptable “woman” mold? The same mold that women years younger and years older than us are now expected to fit?
I have to say that as I’ve noticed the lines blurring between sectors of society, I’ve also noticed a blurring of identity. We seem to strive to fit into one acceptable “woman” mold in order to keep up appearances and fit into others expectations of us. But, as we all strive to fit into the current standard, are we losing what makes us unique?
There is a better way.
We must stop listening to the voice in our heads telling us that there are other mothers doing more/better/more significant/more interesting/more important things than we are in our roles as mothers. We must stop worrying about those who imagined or not, are snickering at us on the sidelines.
We must remember that the standards we are pushed to achieve are world driven. Not God driven. Society’s ideals must be balanced in our minds within the parameters of faith. But faith must come first. It is only when we accept this truth, when we yield to the change that must come, that we will truly succeed as mothers. Chasing after the latest toddler trend won’t do it. Fitting into your pre-baby jeans won’t do it. Clicking with the right mommy-group won’t do it. It is only through a relationship with God, learning to discern His voice, and then following the path that He has prepared for us that will allow us the freedom to become who we were meant to be for our children.
We must test what we hear and what is put in our path against the will of our Father. We must learn to discern the voice of God and what He is calling us to do in the midst of the world. To focus on our role as defined by Him, not as defined by others.
2 Corinthians 5: 16 says:
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
Outside of a relationship with Him, we will view Christ in the same way that the rest of the world views Him. Until you know someone, you will make assumptions about them based on what others say, small experiences with them and impressions you have about them. It is easy to look someone over in a moment’s time and create an image in our minds: Who they are, what they do for a living, what type of house they live in, what kind of friends they have.
But, often, we are quite wrong.
Even Christ fell prey to this as others misjudged Him based on who they thought He was, instead of learning who He actually was. Viewed from the confines of this world, he was mocked for who He said He was and ridiculed for what people thought He was doing.
Before knowing Christ, I viewed Him in a way that was not favorable. Yet, once I studied who He was on this earth, I could no longer see Him in the same manner. As the truth of Christ is revealed to those who investigate who He is, they can no longer see Him using the previous set of standards.
Similarly, though we may view ourselves and others within the parameters of this world, God’s truth prevents us from continuing to do this. We are called to a higher expectation. We can no longer view ourselves or those around us within the confines of what society says about us or says to us, because we are blessed to know the truth about the world. We are given the Divine advantage of seeing clearly that our value and our identity come from God.
Our shame in not getting it right and the pressure we feel to conform is now invalid because we can clearly see that we are measuring ourselves against the wrong scale.
Accept this truth so that you can be set free by it. Free to become the mothers that God has called us to be. Mothers that reflect the fruit of His works. Mothers that are chosen to raise His children. Mothers that are blessed to be called His.