I’ve been a tad overwhelmed by my own reaction to the Time Magazine cover. There’s a lot to it between the cover photo, the “Are You Mom Enough” tagline, the articles which pretty much boil Attachment Parenting down to extremism based on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and babywearing, and Attachment Parents as crazy mothers who worship their guru Dr. Sears. And then there’s the reactions. There’s the people sharing their disgust with extending breastfeeding, threatening calls to child protective services, and proclaiming that mothers who do this are putting their own mental health issues on their children. It’s all pretty hard to swallow.
Are you mom enough? Am I mom enough?
This is what I know. I live in a both/and world. I’m a good Lutheran who embraces my place as sinner and saint, broken and whole, gathered and sent. On my own, in my brokenness, in my human imperfection, I know I could never be enough. Just like I could never be deserving of God’s great love and forgiveness, I could never be enough to deserve these children God has given to me and I could never be mom enough to do this gift justice.
I mess up all the time. I make bad choices, I lose my temper, and I am a bad example. I raise my voice when I shouldn’t. I don’t provide the most nutritious food because sometimes I’m just lazy. My kids watch more television than I’d like, and sometimes I hide behind a computer screen to take a break from having to engage. Some days I forget that I’m not supposed to swear like a truck driver in their presence, and they go to preschool with an… interesting vocabulary. My faults are magnified a hundred times under the stress and exhaustion of parenting – my temper, my anxiety, my impatience, and my distraction.
But I am loved and forgiven. I love my kids fiercely. I cuddle them at all hours of the night, and yes I can’t remember what life was like when I wasn’t breastfeeding…. it’s been more than 5 years. I show them what it means to be sorry, to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive. I humbly attempt to be better, to be mom enough every day. I know I can’t get there on my own, but my kids deserve the best I can give. Together, my boys, my husband, and I explore what it means to be a family, to be parent and child, to be children of God together. Sometimes it’s loud and crazy, other times it’s warm and cuddly, and almost always it’s overwhelming it in its intensity, but we get through each day with the help of God.
It’s God’s grace, love, and forgiveness offered abundantly to myself and my children that assures me that I am mom enough. I am exactly what my boys need, and God gave us each other. We stumble and we fall, but when the kids and I kneel at the Lord’s Table to receive Holy Communion from my husband, the pastor, we are whole.
I am mom enough. It just has nothing to do with breastfeeding or attachment parenting. It has to do with God’s overwhelming love and grace given to me and to you not because we’ve earned it or because we’re enough, but purely and simply gifted to us. And in response to this amazing gift, we are called to serve, love deeply, live compassionately, and forgive freely. And that’s not only how I am called to parent, to mother, but how I am called to be in the world, to be in this tribe of motherhood. We can make a difference in the lives of each other and our children by loving deeply, living compassionately and forgiving freely. We can change the world by responding to the hurts and struggles of others with empathy. By weeping together in the face of struggle and defeat and dancing together with joy on this journey, we can create a kinder world where our children can grow.
Maybe it’s time to change the question from “am I mom enough” or “are you mom enough” to “how can we help everyone mom know that she IS mom enough”? Perhaps it’s time we embrace the freedom that comes with the fact that we’ll never be mom enough on our own but only through God’s grace so that we can stop judging or feeling judged based on a scale of perfection?
In our imperfection we discover the sometimes unbelievable gift of God’s unconditional love, and in that discovery we are empowered to share that love with our children. That’s enough for me.