Perhaps you’re familiar with the Dr. Seuss classic, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Imagine a boy wearing 500 hats and you’ve pretty much got the picture. Well, we moms aren’t much different. We wear all these hats and then jump on the proverbial hamster wheel of daily life. The hats don’t fit in the wheel and every time we start running some of the hats fall off and we climb down to get the hats and then jump back on again only to knock off more hats. No matter how hard we try, we don’t seem to make any headway and we feel like we’re constantly failing. So, is this really what God intended for the mom-life to look like?
YOUR FAMILY HAS A TARGET ON ITS BACK
One troublesome reason why the mom-life is so hard is because our family has been targeted by a great enemy. Did you know that there’s a target on your family’s back? There’s one on my family as well. The Bible tells us in John 10:10a that we have an enemy (Satan) who comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.” He wants to steal every mother’s self-worth, our physical health, our sanity and our joy. He wants to kill our marriages and destroy our families. His main mode of operation is to LIE and DISTRACT. Remember when Jesus was fasting in the desert and Satan tempted Jesus with a false reality: Satan promised to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only he would bow at Satan’s feet. (Of course, Satan didn’t actually have the power to give those kingdoms to anyone and Jesus had authority over Satan, thus the false reality). That’s what Satan does – he lies, he distorts or perverts that which was created for good, and he tempts with false images.
Moms are susceptible to this liar’s images as well. You know what false view Satan loves to show to us moms? He likes to take us to the false image of Super Mom raising SuperKid living in SuperHouse. The lie is that if we really care about our kids we’ll give them everything, we’ll turn them into the best at everything, and we’ll look and act like a SuperModel while we achieve this ultimate, thrilling life! This view is a fake, my mom friend. It can’t be attained. He fashions it to make us feel like failures, to distract us from the things that really matter and, worst of all, to sneak in and infiltrate our camp when we are weary and defeated. He tricks us into picking up all those hats and getting on that dead-end wheel. Moms, it’s a mirage! Don’t fall for it!
In contrast to the one who wants to steal, kill, and destroy, Scripture tells us that Christ came so that we can experience “an abundant life” ( John 10:10b ). I think we could all agree that frazzled chaos and constant obligations are not exactly abundant living. As Christ followers and as moms who love our kids immensely, I’ll bet that your true desire for your kids is that they would become adults who are living in the middle of God’s specifically fashioned will for their individual lives. Being the greatest ever 7th-grade all-star athlete or graduating with a 4.0 GPA pales in comparison to living out God’s intended purpose for your son or daughter, with his or her unique talents and passions, wouldn’t you agree? And yet we find ourselves daily running hard on our little hamster wheel, feeling frantic and weak-kneed as we continually aim for the false image. If this crazy hamster-wheel, 500-hat life isn’t what Christ intended for us, how in the world can we get to that truly abundant life that He did intend? Well, I have a few suggestions for you to learn how to wear all your hats without wearing out and it actually begins by realizing that you may be wearing the wrong hats altogether.
Truth: While you may FEEL like your mom job description is to do everything, YOUR ROLE IS NOT TO DO EVERYTHING.
If you try to do everything, four negative things happen:
You DON’T accomplish what GOD has intended for you to accomplish because you’re busy doing other things.
OTHERS DON’T accomplish what God intended for THEM to accomplish because you’re doing their things. (Do you hear that, mom? You might be doing things that God intended for your kids to do or your friend or your sister or your husband, and you’re robbing them of the blessings associated with those accomplishments.)
Trying to do everything keeps you at your WORST. (You know how it is when you’ve said “yes” to help with way too many activities and you end up doing a poor job at all of them because you really can only do so much. Trying to do everything means we end up doing a lot of things poorly.)
Trying to do everything for your family makes your family and the individuals in the family WEAK. (If we consistently do a task for someone else that they are capable of doing for themselves, we just make them weaker in that area and more dependent on us. We want our kids to thrive as adults, not be dependent on mom forever. When your kids serve others, work hard, and even go without some desires, it actually makes them stronger. )
Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are God’s artwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He PREPARED in advance for YOU to do.” God says your life is a masterpiece that includes specific good works that He prepared for you to do and that your kids are a masterpiece that includes specific good works that He prepared for each of them to do. As for the work that is left after that, there could be someone else in your life who is intended to do some of those tasks – a grandparent, an aunt, an older lonely neighbor, etc. (My mother is a skilled singer and she loves giving my kids voice lessons while my dad is a great geography and history resource for us. I used to hire a single church friend to come one afternoon per week to do a bunch of bulk cooking for me.
She would make some breakfast burritos, baked goods and main entree dishes in three hours a week. This freed me up to focus on the kids and it didn’t cost any more to me than one meal out for our family would have cost. The kids always looked forward to her coming and I believe she enjoyed the time with them as well – I generally would pick two kids a week to be her helper.) What about the rest of the things that need to get done? (WARNING, shocking statement to follow): It is right for some things to not get done. No really, if the kids have to eat a pb&j, a handful of lettuce and an apple for dinner because your shopping isn’t scheduled until tomorrow, that’s okay. That might not be a conventional dinner meal but it’ll help them to appreciate when you do cook a great meal.
You’ve been spending all this time trying to wear 500 hats and trying to catch them as they quickly fall off. Girl, you aren’t supposed to be wearing all of those hats! Stop trying to do EVERYTHING!
I’ve been a mom for twenty-four years to seven treasured children and, sadly, I’ve worn the wrong hats far too many times, which has meant plenty of regrets.
Through lots of prayer, reading the Bible (the best parent guidebook ever!) as well as lots of other parenting books and learning from my mistakes, I’ve identified four basic “mom-hats” that give us a more abundant life. Those four hats are Master Gardener, Manager of the Monkeys (not our kids), Visionary, and Barometer. Hopefully, this information will bring some clarity, relief, and peace to your overworked soul.