A definition of normal…

The laundry. The bane of my existence some days, but the laundry none the less. It may seem like an insurmountable amount for some of you dear readers- and for others, you might be thinking: "that’s all?" Yet that doesn’t change the fact that the laundry is.

As a momma to four, I often get this question (usually accompanied by an incredulous look)- "How in the world do you do it with four kids?" I try not to get offended. It’s just the way that this is normally said has a pointed undertone of ‘four kids‘ resembling having a disease. I’ll admit it- I griped about this very fact to a few of my momma friends last Saturday during a girls night out. I said something like "Why do they [meaning the querulous commenters] act like I am some sort of a saint for ‘putting up’ with four kids? I am not! I am just being their momma…" This started quite a conversation about, quite simply, being a momma.

And it got me to thinking. (Dangerous, I know.)

Why do we wrestle so with being a momma? Whether it is to one, or four, or 18 (it’s possible!)…we really beat ourselves up and constantly call into question our abilities as mothers. The fact of the matter is, it’s usually due to an unhealthy focus on other mommas. We are constantly comparing: "Well, Jane makes all of her daughter’s clothes and feeds her fresh organic baby food besides…" "Oh, Suzy is so involved with her kids- they love spending time with her doing all those wonderful crafts she comes up with!" or "Look at that Joanne, homeschooling her six kids and always with a fresh batch of cookies no matter when we visit…"

And before you know it, the momma blues are hitting fast. "I’ll never be good enough," you say. "My kids won’t know how much I love them because I don’t fix fresh organic food/sew all of their clothes/homeschool [fill in the blanks]" thoughts fill your head.

The reality, however, is that your kids and your family and the way you are doing things is unique. It works for you as a family and as a momma because it’s what your family needs. You were fitted for your job as a momma by a unique and creative God! So why in the world would we be surprised that everyone has a different calling as momma? And why do we have such a crazy and unattainable definition of "normal"? Take the laundry for example: that couch full is normal for me. Very normal. I think nothing of washing and folding it all (although, I love to joke about Mt. Washmore). It’s just one of those chores that gets done. Everyday. Your laundry piles look totally different from mine, but they are totally normal, for you and your family. Now I am taking a relatively innocuous subject here with the laundry- but you can see how this extends into all sorts of things within the family life and sphere.

Maybe some of you are sitting here, reading this, and actually talking harshly to yourself about your own laundry. (It happened the last time I posted on laundry, which is exactly why I am saying this! *smile*) STOP. This is my laundry. Get your own!

My mom recently gave a talk to military homeschooling moms, and one of her sayings is "stay in your own lane". In many ways, being a momma is like driving down a six lane highway with a bunch of other moms and dads and grandparents and friends. Sometimes there is road construction (medical issues, money issues, you name it, we’ve all been there). But it is vitally important as mommas that we stay in our own lane- that we don’t veer into somebody else, or watch a lot of what’s happening in another lane while totally missing the dangers in our own, cut someone off because we don’t think that they are doing a ‘good enough’ job…we need to make sure our car is on a right course. And that course is uniquely plotted out by our wondrous, big-picture God who weaves all of our lives into a beautiful picture that only He can see. His "normal" is so far and above anything we could possibly imagine.

So throw that dated mommy dictionary away. Our "normal" belongs to God. Not to some parenting book, not even to some unspoken definition we made ourselves.

Doesn’t that make you feel so much better?


4 responses to “A definition of normal…”

  1. Oh Joy! I can’t tell you how much better I feel after reading this. It is a much needed word of encouragement and truth spoken into my life at just the right time. I need to read this every day! Thank you so much, friend!!!

  2. Rachel Anglen Avatar
    Rachel Anglen

    Joy….this is a good one. Although I am not a mommy I giggled because I do tend to think like one for future purposes. I do wonder at times whether I am going to be the Beautiful Baker mom (stepford wife) or the Dazzling Fashion mom….or what about the outdoor fun mom….yadda yadda…I find it amusing that I even think like that and I am not even pregnant with a first….anyhow…just wanted to let you know you write beautifully and if you wrote a book I would read it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi! My name’s Rachael and I’m mama to two boys, almost 4 and a 6 month old. I somehow came across your blog and found this post and wow! Does it resonate with me! I have those conversations in my head about the friend that bakes fresh bread every week, the one who never buys cookies because she bakes all her sweets, my massive ironing pile, my junk heaped dining table… Anyway, awesome post – thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. looking at “beautiful days” blog and happened upon yours. it’s amazing how the Lord will speak through a sister in Christ, even though we have never/probably never will meet. Thank you for telling me to stay in my own lane- i constantly compare myself to other mamas and wish i had it all together. it’s good to know that no one really has it all together- only the Lord! i’m mama to three, and i got the weird looks today at kroger- i was shocked to think that people compared me to a saint b/c i braved the grocery with three in tow (literally) i’m thankful for each one of my babies! anyways- thanks for posting. -laura (born and raised in tn, now transplanted in my “egypt” of texas)

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