Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Call of Motherhood and Christian Mommy Blogs

I feel so out of it sometimes. I’ve lived 8 of the last 10 years in Africa. I have never raised children in the States. But I like to keep in touch with life in America. So I read blogs. Some belong to friends, or friends of friends, or sometimes I’ll visit those of people I’ve never met. And from these blogs I have gotten the distinct impression that certain things are very popular right now with young Christian moms, namely:
1. Giving birth to as many children as possible, or at least more than four.
2. Homeschooling all of them.
3. Training them all to cook, clean, garden, and play musical instruments.
4. Doing all the housework “with a plan.”
5. Cooking from scratch with only natural ingredients.
6. “Simple” and “frugal.”
7. Making one’s own laundry detergent.
8. Scrapbooking and/or selling crafts on Etsy.

And when these particular topics are discussed, all are backed up with Bible references.

So I look at this list and compare myself:

I have never given birth to a single child. I have no intention of homeschooling. I have a full-time house worker who does all my cleaning and laundry. I cook from scratch out of necessity, but in this country, the raw milk will kill you and the whole wheat flour won’t rise. I have no idea if what I am eating is organic and no way of finding out.  Coupons don’t exist here. I have never found borax in the grocery store. I hate scrapbooking and my idea of craft time with the kids is to hand my daughter a bunch of popsicle sticks and some glue (which kept her entertained for two hours, I might add).

Is this really how it is in the “Christian Mom” community or is it only in the blog world? I could never live up to those standards here, yet I don’t think I could do it in the States either. But I feel myself succumbing to the pressure. I purchased Nourishing Traditions. I made a chore chart for Grace (which lasted about a week). I spent an hour on Tuesday researching “safe” sun screens.

No one is actually pressuring me, of course. Not a single person has criticized me for the lack of borax in my house. But I feel like they would, if these invisible women saw me. Ha! What kind of mother are you? Look at all these plastic toys! Your children can’t name all the classical composers! And you have a maid!

So I ask myself: Why am I feeling pressured?

Because I want to be a good mom.

Because what they say makes sense.

Because I get their biblical interpretations.

Because I want to do it right. “It” meaning “everything.”

It’s funny really. My childhood dream was to have 16 children and live on a farm with a husband who had a beard. The beard part was very important. In that life I would have had plenty of raw milk.

I wanted to live that life. I would have been happy in it. Maybe I would have even liked scrapbooking.

But even though in my heart I am so similar to those women, I have been called to a vastly different life.

I don’t have 16 children because even if I could produce them, it’s not prudent or realistic for an overseas missionary family. I don’t homeschool because our lives and community and ministry are completely wrapped up in HOPAC—and our kids are part of that ministry, and one of the best ways our family can minister to students and parents is to have a daughter attending the school (and there’s no better school in the world for her to attend). My children may not learn how to do all the things they would do if they were in America, but they will learn to communicate with people from all over the world and identify and experience a multitude of cultures and religions (with some piano lessons thrown in there too). I have a full-time houseworker because she is the sole breadwinner for her family; there is 40% unemployment in this country, and I am thus given the freedom of time to minister to more people. I do not garden beause vegetables are plentiful, beautiful, and I want to support the local economy.  The food we eat and the laundry detergent we use and the sun screen we slather may kill us….but we would eventually die anyway. The safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will.

I certainly hope no one sees this as a criticism for living the life of simplicity and frugality and organic, natural homes of 16 children. Don’t you get it? I want to be like you. Does that seem silly to you? Maybe you see my life as glamorous and exciting. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

So I’m writing this post to myself, really, to remind myself of God’s particular calling on my life as a mom. And maybe to any other moms out there who feel like they can’t live up to the Christian-Mom-blog standard.

It’s important to see the difference between a biblical mandate and a calling. Even in my own passions. Go into all the world and preach the gospel. I used to think everyone needed to be a missionary. Then I grew up. It’s a command for everyone, but what it looks like in everyone’s life will be different. True religion is to care for orphans and widows…that’s another passion and calling of mine—applied through adoption in my life—but applied differently for others. But it’s thus true for other commonly used passages as well, such as Be fruitful and multiply or Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Let us not confuse calling with command.

Don’t get me wrong. I found coconut oil on the grocery shelf last week and it made my day. I like simple and natural; it’s just not always realistic. In certain other life circumstances, I would home school. But it is so easy for me, in my quest to be a “good mom,” to lose sight of what really God requires of me. Love. Train. Discipline. Impart wisdom and truth. Listen. Sacrifice. For every mom, in every life situation, that’s going to look different. The most important part is that I am in God’s Word, my heart is right, and I am faithful to His call on my life.
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