Yesterday was my first ever Mother's Day as a mother. Much like birthdays of late I wasn't really anticipating feeling any different than I do every other day. And, while Boo got me a very sweet card and cooked dinner and let me do whatever I wanted all day, it was pretty much the same as every other Sunday.
As usual, Mom and I made plans to head to the grocery store. That is one chore that I don't mind doing alone, but is infinitely more enjoyable with her company. However, as she and I were discussing the day we came to a sad realization. For every note or acknowledgement that we had seen wishing a mom "Happy Mother's Day" we had seen another implying that one 'way' of mothering was better than another.
Let me give an example. I saw (as did Mom) posted on the internet a sign reading "Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids." While I have no doubt that there are good moms out there with all of the above I would wager there are equally as many out there who manage to have clean floors and ovens and equally happy kids. It didn't end there. Posts about stay-at-home moms loving their kids more than working moms. Breastfeeding moms loving their babies more than formula feeding moms. Moms with vaginal births being better than moms who delivered by cesarean. And those are just topics about moms!!
As we discussed this common attitude of 'better than' we, rather I, began to realize that it is not exclusive to any one topic. Upon reflection I realized that people are all too willing to express their own opinions and ideas as 'better than'. In the last 3 months I could list a dozen instances right off the top of my head, and that's without thinking too hard.
Perhaps Mother's Day was just the culmination of a series of those instances where I have observed this attitude. Unfortunately for me, I know that some of those were instances in which the opinions were my own! Have I not at least thought that my way is better. My way of mothering, of living, of ? My political views, or religious views? My ideas about diet and exercise, or of health and wellness? And I'm sure the list of my opinions doesn't even end there. I think a lot of it stems from a desire for someone outside the situation to validate the way a person chooses to live. If the rest of the world could just recognize that I do things 'right' then I will be confident in the way I live.
As Mom and I were walking into the grocery store I said to her "I would just like to find the way to have my opinions, beliefs and way of doing things, without needing to give offense to people who do things differently."
Today I spent quite a bit of time pondering if that statement will ever be possible. Can a person believe something, without implicitly implying that the opposite is wrong? After a day of thinking the best answer I can come up with is "I don't know". That's not the most impressive conclusion I've ever drawn, but I do think I can use it as a starting place.
I can consciously choose to change the way I think about other people's actions. I can indeed believe that the way I do things is right, so long as I qualify it with 'for me and my family'. And I can choose to hear the caveat "for me and my family" when someone else expresses their opinions to me. And if this does stem from a need to be vindicated in my choices, I can certainly look to God for fullness, instead of to the world. Perhaps then I will truly be confident in my decisions, and at least I personally will not need to express or defend my thoughts and opinions.
I'm looking forward to the challenge of judging less and loving more. And I think if more people could take on the challenge we would all be a little happier and a lot more satisfied.