Before I had babies I didn’t realize that there is a secret world called Mama Culture. Once you have a child it’s everywhere: Facebook groups, local mama get-togethers, libraries and thrift stores, splash pads and Buy Buy Baby. It’s a good thing because being a mother is complicated. So many decisions. So many things to buy. So many things to learn about sickness and health, education and entertainment, bedtime routines and boundaries (for instance, I didn’t know that bedtime routines were a thing until my son was almost a year old…haha…these things don’t always come natural folks!)
What really surprised me, though, was how devoid of opinions Mama Culture has to be if you want to be accepted. Within a few months I was sick to death of the phrase, “Whatever works for you, Mama!” Or “There’s no right or wrong way, there’s just your way.”
Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous. There is a right and wrong way to do everything. And just because mothering is personal doesn’t mean it’s exempt. There are some facts to life: like breast milk is healthier than formula, a baby being with a mother is better than being with a daycare worker, a crying baby is a stressed, anxious baby. A committed, loving mother and father is healthier than a single parent or a broken home. And to borrow someone else’s phrase, facts don’t care about your feelings.
Now, sometimes life hands us a deal of cards that makes the best option either impossible or unknown. But it doesn’t negate the fact that there is a best option and it’s generally not up to personal preference. In my opinion, we should be honest to ourselves about whether or not we are doing the best option. Sometimes I know that I am not doing great as a mother. I let my child watch too much television. I don’t sit down and play with him. I feed him the food that’s easy rather than the food that’s nutritious. I have a disgruntled attitude which he observes and soon copies. I don’t hold to the boundaries I set yesterday. I’m more focused on my to-do list than his well-being. I have to work and leave him unhappy with others.
It’s called failure. I fail each and every day. But there is hope in the fact that I recognize these failures and then try to do better because the child I am serving is worth the effort. His future depends on my success. Every action resonates through generations. It’s not about my ego, or other people thinking I’m a good mother, or trying to paint over my daily discrepancies in order to feel good. Even if I try to do that, I still know the truth deep down. Sometimes, a lack of self esteem is just good common sense.
I always loved that my mother was excruciatingly honest growing up because I knew I could trust what she said. I knew she’d never tell me she thought something was good that wasn’t and I knew if something was good she’d tell me that too. Trust is a beautiful thing.
Yet so many people think that the instant, short-sighted gratification of false affirmation is better than the truth. If you transferred this psychology of moral subjectivism into any other portion of life, nothing would get accomplished. Imagine a diet book with that mantra. Or a legal system. Or a religion.
And Christianity is adopting the same ideology as relativist Mama Culture.
Everywhere nowadays you hear people say the phrase, “beautifully broken”. It’s in songs and sermons, Facebook posts, blogs, memes, all from one more Bible verse taken out of context. This romantic idea can be an excuse for people to be lazy and do whatever they want. It can also be an excuse for self-obsession, as seen by the navel-gazers who are the heroes of their own brokenness sagas. It’s also a way to get the “cool” badge in a culture that says there is no wrong or right and everyone is on their own personal journey.
In reality, no journey is "personal". No man is an island. Brokenness isn’t beautiful, it's dysfunctional. Especially when it’s broken through self-will. Something that is broken is useful once it’s fixed. And most problems are fixed by getting so caught up in serving others that we can’t think about ourselves too much. We should strive for functionality and selflessness: to be a vessel that God can use to further His Kingdom, because what we do affects other people (and especially our children) everlastingly.
This can only start by acknowledging failure, confessing failure, and then striving to not fail anymore. God created right and wrong, and His ways foster love because He is Love. Let us strive for the best path.