Challenges, Community, Culture, Feminism, Living Free, Marriage & Family, Motherhood, My Story

It Takes a Village, Y’all

As a first-time parent, I’ve L-O-V-E-D these last 8 (!) months of my life. Getting to be a mother is absolutely one of life’s greatest joys! I’ve learned so much in this new season and wanted to share some thoughts on my journey into motherhood…

Around the time of our baby girl Abigail’s birth, I felt the Holy Spirit speak 3 key things to me:

  1. She’s perfect.

  2. Every mom is different.

  3. She needs other people, too.

Enter adorable baby girl… and many long (but sweet) nights… an aching back… the best holiday season I could imagine!… and every new parenting cliche you’ve ever heard x10 (’cause they’re all true)! ūüôā I’ve spent the last 8¬†months investing in her well-being, intending to primarily be a full-time mommy / at most part-time, work-from-home marketing director.

Then something crazy¬†happened. I had a 3rd interview with a great company I didn’t apply¬†to and received The Call from their recruiter:¬†‘They want¬†to write up an offer letter for you!’¬†The job seemed so ideal: I could WORK FROM HOME full-time. The company seemed fabulous & cutting-edge. The CEO and I really clicked.¬†Pay & benefits were solid. And best of all, I could stay with our baby girl!

Whoaaaaaa. Amazing & exciting news to my creative self, but so not my¬†post-baby plans. Wasn’t I supposed to be the sole caretaker for our sweet daughter? I spent that night asking loved ones their advice — Should I? Would you pray for us? Do you have nanny recommendations?

All kinds of questions swirled¬†in my thoughts. Lord… is this what You want for us? Is this the enemy trying to distract me from my primary responsibility & ministry: Motherhood? Am I being selfish?¬†

That night I prayed for peace if this was the right move for our family & for help with this new season’s logistics. A working mom, me? (Mind you, we have a nanny — so I can nurse her & love on her a bit during the day!). Yet I woke up the next morning with peace & a message on my heart, His reminder of the words He spoke to me over 7 months prior, the week of Abigail’s birth:

She needs other people, too.

Whew.¬†So maybe I’m not abandoning ship on this whole motherhood thing. Since then I’ve been praying…¬†Lord, what are You showing me here?¬†And here is what He’s been revealing…

It [Really] Takes a Village — & That’s¬†Good!

Especially in Christian circles, us moms are encouraged to give up our whole lives for these sweet tiny humans. But is that our only Biblical path as women?

Through this new life situation I find myself in, I feel like the Lord is stretching my views on motherhood, women, and our role in the world. Yes, my husband & I need (part-time) help now: Nanny(ies), grandparents, maybe even aunts & neighbors… & so far Abigail’s had incredible love from many of the above ūüôā No, we aren’t outsourcing our role, but we ARE making room for others to have a greater impact in her day-to-day than I originally planned.

I’m reminded of a young Jesus, whose parents raised Him in such a big tribe that they lost Him for A WHOLE DAY¬†before realizing He wasn’t with them! Wow, talk about laid-back parenting ūüôā¬†The most encouraging part of this passage¬†is that Jesus was found and was taken care of… by THE CHURCH! Beautifully, even a young Jesus knew where and who to go to when His parents weren’t around: His “Father’s house”.

At the end of this passage, Scripture says:

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” — Luke 2

Jesus’ influence grew among the community God had placed Him in because¬†Jesus¬†was among them. Y’all, I’ve never thought of this passage this way before! Jesus’ family had a {BIG} tribe, and apparentlyyy His parents expected this tribe to be influential in helping with Him.

Could this be a reason that years later, Jesus didn’t “adult” alone — instead choosing¬†12 close friends & disciples — because He’d been engaged with a community of people growing up?¬†Hmm.

A Freeing Idea¬†{Almost Forbidden Among Christian Women!}….

Like many new moms, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by the bar set for me. Us ladies are encouraged to be Superwomen — a title that just sounds exhausting &¬†unsustainable.

But what if the antidote to every mother’s¬†overwhelm is — her community? The people around her who can love on & care for her children & teach them things beyond what she can when she’s spent or her¬†work beckons?

I think it’s likely. In fact, it sounds healthy not just for mamas but for babies (daddies & siblings!), too!¬†I am one human being after all. Abigail — like each of us¬†— needs a community around her, not just daddy & mommy. She needs friends, mentors, loving grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles, teachers, coaches… & the list goes on.

Maybe God gave us a community because He didn’t want us doing this mothering thing alone — and because our kiddies need the influence of far more people than just us.

So if God designed our kids to need a “tribe”, even showing us His community model through Jesus’s upbringing (& many other stories in the Bible), why are we expected to do it all on our own? Perhaps we’re listening to the voices of our culture, not the Lord, in this area!

New Parent Pressures

It’s amazing to me that when a woman becomes a new mother, society expects her to (somehow) know all the ins & outs of babies, then care for this little human being effortlessly — with hardly a break — despite incredible exhaustion & ignorance. She simply doesn’t have the resources to ‘do it all’ for this new child, yet¬†our culture pressures her¬†to neglect herself, sacrificing sleep & body & exercise & friends & career & creative¬†pursuits — all for the sake of this¬†little person.

We then expect these new parents to hold it together in a¬†perfect storm for a breakdown… &¬†blame them for needing help. No, no, no. By all means, YES, parenting involves sacrifice, but chucking¬†your entire life out the window when you become a mom… is that healthy?

So why does our culture think Moms should do everything for their kids? I believe it’s actually¬†the enemy trying to overwhelm & defeat us with impossible standards so he can limit our effectiveness with our kids!! He wants us to focus on what we “can’t do” anymore now that we’re Moms — the life we once lived — & even walk away from God’s callings on our lives in an over-the-top effort to be Superwomen.

But… if you need weekly date nights, exercise, house cleaners (taking cues from the Proverbs 31 woman, y’all!) & nannies to invest more fully in your children long-term, then don’t feel guilty and realize these things are vital to your family’s health!¬†God wants to give you & I much-needed¬†HELP.

Our children need to see us CARING FOR OURSELVES, too, not just them. Why? Because we are their role models when they become future parents.¬†My daughter is watching & learning how a mommy should act, so I want to set a good (godly) example — not a worldly one.

I wonder if God allows motherhood to be so overwhelming — and us new mommies to reach the brink — because He never intended us to do it all on our own?¬†Maybe that’s the only way we’d ask for help. I definitely went into motherhood with this “Lone Ranger” mentality, but the words of the Holy Spirit have continued coming¬†back to me, helping me release the pressures of being a¬†new mom:

{Abigail} needs other people, too.

In His gentle way, the Lord has been encouraging me to avoid this common pitfall new parents find themselves in & embrace the help He’s provided in my life. And with this new (seemingly divine) job opportunity, He’s once again letting me know that a healthy community around my daughter is VITAL to her well-being (& my husband & I’s as well!).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to handle things myself¬†with my daughter, only to look up & realize God had placed some very wonderful people nearby to care for her when I could hardly get out of bed. He provided for my needs (& Abigail’s!) in those needy moments, giving her special time with people who could love on her better than I could in those moments.

Wow. So awesome. It’s like He thinks of everything ūüôā

So my question to you & I is this:

What if the Church Showed Families a Better Way?

What if God’s church operated differently than the world around us — & stopped pressuring young moms to “do it all” & “be everything” for their families — and gave parents permission to take a break?

What if we rejected society’s self-sufficient approach to child-rearing & embraced a biblical community model instead? God’s church is, after all, a FAMILY. He said He can give us¬†many mothers & fathers, sisters & brothers — and He can do it for our kids, too!

I don’t mean we should encourage women to stop investing in motherhood… not at all! But there is no cookie-cutter or “perfect” way to be a great mom.¬†I love that the Holy Spirit laid this on my new-mommy heart, too:

“There are different kinds of mothers.”

Every woman needs¬†to hear that. Just because one does “mom life” with a beautifully organized home & to-do lists doesn’t mean mommies with sinks full of dishes & crafts strewn all over the table are doing it wrong. There’s no reason for condemnation here.

The reality is that God’s equipped women with various gifts, passions, and mommy styles. Some thrive on activity & order — others prefer calm chaos. Some women love their work & career — others prefer being full-time homemakers. I truly believe there’s nothing wrong with either method, as long as it works for your family & you (& your spouse) have peace about it.

The church should be a place where all moms can be who God uniquely made them to be — encouraging us to embrace the¬†special callings He’s given each person. I don’t want to limit His call on my life because I have the¬†wrong (or limited) idea of my role as a mom.

Scripture gives us some {rather vague} biblical guidelines on motherhood — making sure we’re “busy at home” and caring for the needs of our household. But even the Proverbs 31 woman enlisted help in accomplishing everything! {Maybe that’s why she was strong & happy!} She was an effective manager who delegated tasks. That’s how she handled her God-given wife/mom responsibilities, and she was¬†very¬†effective at her role!

Dr. Tony Evans once preached that¬†he didn’t believe Scripture was¬†against a woman working outside the home, as long as she¬†didn’t neglect¬†her primary responsibility: Her family! Seasons in our lives change, too, and what works with one child may not work with four. That’s okay. I believe God gives us grace to navigate these “transition” seasons and help us learn how to handle a new phase in life & changing responsibilities. Even so, a mommy-of-4 needs more help than I do and hopefully will readily receive it (guilt-free) ūüėÄ

When new parents emerge in our church community, we should rally around them, supporting them not only with our words but in tangible ways, too. We can also pray for them & encourage them to accept help, as God intended¬†ūüôā

Encouragement for Every Parent

The whole purpose of this blog is to encourage God’s people to live biblically — & find freedom there!¬†So what if new parents embraced God’s community model for families, instead of aspiring to be “Supermom” & “Superdad”? I believe we’d find that God’s yoke is easy & His burden lighter than we imagined.

What if motherhood doesn’t have to be this crushing burden or this all-or-nothing mentality of “Stay at Home” versus “Working Moms”?¬†What if God gave every mom flexibility to choose — and to fulfill HER¬†unique calling — whether that means she stays¬†at home full-time, part-time, or works outside the home? As long as she cares for her family’s needs, I believe it’s possible that there are more paths for us ladies than one.

The Proverbs 31 woman was both homemaker & business woman, yet her family rose up & called her blessed! Do you think¬†our culture forces us to choose between the two — a false dichotomy — when God is offering us freedom to pursue what our hearts choose on our path to successful motherhood?

And what if the Lord provides a plethora of support — an entire community around us — to help us raise our babies instead of insisting it all falls on our shoulders?

As a fellow woman, wife & mom, I think that’s just what He does.

Ideas for New Mommies ♥ ♥

  1. Invest in yourself and your family. Too many people {including your little ones} are depending on you to thrive for you to let yourself go! Those little eyes are looking to you as a role model!
  2. Say yes when people offer help (& be gracious & grateful).
  3. Encourage people to spend time with your kids.¬†Seek out social opportunities for them with like-minded community ūüôā
  4. Lead by example. Invest in your church, your family, & your community — &¬†encourage your kids to,¬†too!
  5. Remind yourself that it takes a village. And that’s a good thing… it’s even God’s design ‚ô•