Have you met her? She can be a quiet whisper, or an irritating shriek. She loves it when you’re sad, thrives when you’re mad, and wants nothing more than to see you miserable.
She tells you you’re not good enough. She compares you constantly with your friends, other mothers, and all those pretty pictures on Pinterest.
What kind of mother ARE you?
You ALWAYS get it wrong, don’t you?
Nobody else feels like this. Just YOU.
Ketchup doesn’t count as a vegetable. It never has.
You’ll never be good ENOUGH.
She’s had a lot of names, but me? I think this suits her best; Lois Shea in her essay Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn from Leslie Morgan Steiner’s The Mommy Wars, hits the nail on the head.
We have an awful tendency to see our own failings as mothers – real or imagined – in one another’s strengths. [My friend] calls this phenomenon, only half-jokingly, the inner “you stink” voice.
You stink! You stink!
At a mother’s group recently, my friend Susan admired my homemade banana-bread, scoffing at the store-bought muffins she brought. I’m sure that in HER head, what she was telling herself was: “She’s a working mother and SHE managed to make something from scratch. But you, what have you done? You ran to Safeway! You stink! You stink!”
The irony is that Susan is an amazing cook. She plans well-thought-out and healthy meals for her family 7 days a week and when she mentions offhand the snow peas and tofu dish she’s in the middle of preparing, I look at the chicken nuggets in my oven and think: “What kind of mother are you? You are feeding your children prepared foods! You stink! You stink!”
It could go on and on. Shea cites here own examples – here are mine:
Christine is raising her children to be bi-lingual. She has put a huge emphasis on giving them educational opportunities to learn both Chinese and English at the same time. Her best friend, Liz, sews beautifully. But when Liz looks at her charmingly-dressed, but soley English-speaking daughters, she internally chides herself for depriving them of bi-lingual opportunities. You stink. You stink.
Christine looks at Liz’s remarkable handiwork, which she photographs and blogs about regularly, and tells herself that she should be doing so much more. Her children’s baby-books lay unfinished in a drawer; crafting just isn’t her forte. You stink. You stink.
Keri invents wonderful and amazing stories for her children and helps them build forts under the dining room table. Her neighbor, Beth, has obseerved their play and wistfully thinks of her middle-school aged children and the inevitable missed opportunities she had when they were small for such types of indoor play. You stink. You stink. But Beth keeps a kitchen garden in the summer that produces an abundance of unique heirloom tomatoes and other organic delights that she cans in the fall and shares with all her friends. Last time Keri was given a jar of her amazing summer tomatoes, all she could think was: “You are useless. You don’t have a garden. You buy all your produce at the grocery store.”
I hear her when I’m worn out, spread too thin…she’s loudest when my load is heavy and my resources few. Every Facebook entry when someone else is making a better dinner for their family than I am. Every homemade costume, every organic meal, no matter how hard I try there is always someone, somewhere doing it better than I am. Whatever IT is.
I will never measure up to the Pinterest-perfect ideal.
And neither will you. But here’s the thing…
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10, (NASB)
While our lives may not be Pinterest-perfect, we ourselves are the workmanship of God! Not something assembly-line- made, but carefully thought-out, planned, and hand-crafted. This same word, “workmanship,” was also used to describe the creation of a work of art, or poem.
You are the poetry of God. Exactly as you are. Not what you do, but who you are.
Whether we serve organic or fast-food, whether we get it right today or get it wrong, whether our garments are hand-made, or store-bought, whether we missed the mark or saved the day…we are, without question, the handiwork, the finely-crafted, the carefully-planned poetry of God.
If that doesn’t make us Pinterest-worthy, I don’t know what would.
By Adelle Gabrielson
Trying to live life with grace, humor, and great shoes.