I call them the Good Mom Olympics.
You probably know what I mean—the competition between mothers. It runs rampant these days. The competition begins at pregnancy, when mothers compare weight gain, Lamaze classes, and “birth plans”. That’s just the warm-up. The real competition includes babies’ sleeping patterns, teething, and walking. Soon mothers compare preschool readiness, elementary school achievements, middle school activities, and college admission letters.
I’m a reluctant participant in the Good Mom Olympics. My friends are, too. In fact, I know few mothers who enjoy comparisons. But we engage, either outwardly or secretly, because motherhood has become more than a lovely addition to our lives. It’s become a measurement of our worth. We’re to be a Good Mom, and wear that label like a badge of honor.
Christians have their own subset of the Good Mom competition. Much of it revolves around schooling. Christians believe that the Good Christian Mom homeschools or, at the very least, enrolls her children in private schools. Non-Christians believe that the Good Christian Mom teaches the Bible on Sunday, then sends her children to public school during the week so they’re exposed to different viewpoints.
The longer I’m a mother, the more I resent the Good Mom Olympics. Who enjoys these games, anyway? Not my friends. Not my Christian sisters, either. While many of them homeschool, they don’t judge my decision to send my children to public school system in which I teach. Nor do I judge their decision. Homeschooling is a largely successful undertaking. It would be difficult for any naysayer to refute the positive statistics surrounding homeschooling.
I think a few stern judges run the Good Mom Olympics, and they put pressure on us all. For whatever reason, they enjoy making women second-guess themselves. As if mothering weren’t difficult enough, they instill doubt and fear. They abolish our confidence even when our children are godly, happy, and thriving.
God trusts mothers with a weighty responsibility. Should that weight feel heaviest when God convicts us, or when others compare us?
Should we trust our Christian sisters, or assess them with critical hearts and wagging tongues?
We know the answer to those questions. So let’s give those judges the boot. When they hold up a score, let’s turn our backs. When they urge us to worry and compare, let’s laugh instead. Let’s mother for the One who gave us the responsibility, and the joy, of parenthood. Let’s look to Him first, and to our children and spouses second, to evaluate our success as mothers.
How about it, reader? Would your mothering improve if you walked away from the Good Mom Olympics?
Gwen Stewart is a writer, elementary music teacher, and musician. She sings "Wheels On the Bus" by day and pens inspirational stories by night, pursuing excellence in both. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two children, and ten thousand of her past and present students.