Home Sweet Home
“The perfect mom.” “The perfect home.”
What images doe those phrases bring to your mind? We live in a time when media offers us offers us so many images of perfectly dressed, beautifully made-up moms with their impeccably dressed children, in gorgeous homes with beautifully decorated,
color-coordinated, sparkling clean rooms. In some ways these images are good because they can actually embolden us to cultivate talents and actions that may not come naturally to us. On the other hand, I talk to so many moms who end up feeling badly about themselves because, in their opinion, the outer appearance of their lives doesn’t measure up to all the images they see.
I remember feeling that way fairly frequently, when I first began homeschooling. I wanted to do a great job for my kids, help them love learning, cover everything thoroughly, and balance homemaking, being a wife and all the other things I needed to do. So I read a lot to learn all I could. One of the things I loved reading was “day in the life” stories by other homeschooling moms. But often it seemed like these moms could fit three days worth of perfection into the same 24 hours I was struggling to balance, and it often made me feel like not enough.
I would share my concerns with my husband and he would always tell me to remember to focus on the uniqueness of our family and not what other women did for their families, because I wasn’t mothering their kids or married to their husbands. It helped, but on the tougher days I would get down on myself for not “measuring up” to the standard that my mind created.
As I wrestled with this I saw a pattern emerge. The more I focused on doing all the things other moms did, the crankier and less emotionally available to I own family I became.
Then one day I read Col 3:12 - “Therefore, as chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
It did NOT say, “Clothe yourself in perfect matching outfits that you sewed yourself” or “perfect designer outfits from the latest collection.” It did NOT say “Clothe your home in decor so spotless and perfect that it looks like no one lives in it.”
Instead it tells us to focus on how we treat people. We are reminded that we are chosen, holy, and dearly loved and to treat others, including our own families, in a way that reminds them that they are too - with kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience.
That is why I’ve chosen to aim for cozy not perfect. (Momfidence Principle 10) Cozy is defined as giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation. It is kindness, compassion, gentleness and patience that bring about that sense of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
Sure, a lovely setting helps aid in creating coziness. Warm blankets, hot drinks, candle light, soft music, and the like, set the stage as it were, for entering into that feeling, but it doesn’t create it. It’s the kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience with which we treat others, and ourselves, that does.
One can have the loveliest, most cozily decorated home but if there is meanness, harshness, irritability, and disregard for the feelings of those under its roof, no sense of coziness or love will be experienced there.
One of the many stories I’ve heard that attest to this is an interview I heard many years ago with Chris Gardener Jr. He was the son in the story “The Pursuit of Happyness”, a book that was later a movie staring Will Smith. Chris Gardner Senior and his son found themselves homeless for a time. They took shelter wherever they could including sleeping in a public bathroom for awhile. The story tracks Mr. Gardner’s story from these difficult circumstances to his becoming a multi-millionaire while all the while remaining a loving and dedicated parent.
During the interview Chris Jr was asked what it was like to be homeless as a child. He replied that he never really knew he was homeless because whenever he looked up he always saw the love and kindness in his father’s eyes, and he felt safe and at home in those eyes.
I’ve heard similar stories from other adults who spent part of their childhoods in very difficult settings but whose parents focused strongly on creating between them a relationship of gentleness, kindness, patience, and compassion.
I also know many, many people who grew up in picture perfect homes that broke their hearts because of the lack of kindness, patience, gentleness, and compassion they experience there.
In light of Col 3:12 my focus shifted. I know that my family is happier, more peaceful, and our home is more relaxing when I practice the precepts contained there, and I know I feel closer to them and to God as well.
Of course I still put effort into creating a clean, attractive, welcoming home, but it’s no longer a tyranny to me. For instance, if the kids leave a mess in the bathroom, I know it’s more important to be kind in my correction about it then to yell and scream about it. I get a clean bathroom but don’t wound my relationship with my child to get it.
Similarly, at the end of the day I’ll try to focus more on listening with a compassionate ear to the struggles my children are going through, rather than brushing past all that to deal with all the chaos of dinner and evening activities just to make sure it measures up to some imagined standard of what that time should look like.
Just as importantly, Col 3:12 gives my a new and more standard in how I deal with myself. When I start to have those “You don’t measure up. Your not good enough.” thoughts, I can now remind myself that I am “chosen, and dearly loved.” God chose me to be my kids mom and He loves me and will give me the guidance I need to be the mom they need when I ask Him.
I can also now ask myself if I’m being kind, patient, gentle, and compassionate toward myself. This question allows me to quickly see if I’m doing my best in that moment and particular circumstance. If I am, then I can give myself the grace that Col 3:12 calls for. If I’m not, then I can call myself on with kindness, gentleness, and compassion instead of ridicule and harshness.
I’ve found Col 3:12 extremely beneficial to me as a mom, and a true guide on my journey to be the mom my family needs. I hope it can bless you as a mom as well.