12.4.2013

No More Perfect Moms

My sweet friend, Jill Savage, is rounding out the 4-week series I’m doing to answer a question so many moms are asking…am I messing up my kids? (If you missed any previous posts, simply click the link: week 1, week 2, week 3.) I’m excited to share with you all that God has placed on her heart about the pressure of perfection we sometimes feel as moms. Here’s Jill…

The phone rang in the chaos of the “after school…almost dinner-time” hour. I was making a dinner salad (translated: I poured a bag of lettuce into a pretty glass bowl and threw some cherry tomatoes on for color!), helping two kids with their homework, and trying to keep my 4-year-old busy enough to not whine for dinner.

I grabbed the phone and shoved it between my ear and my shoulder answering with a quick, “Hello, this is Jill!” The voice on the other end of the line was obviously emotional. “Moooooom, this is Erica. Did you forget me?”

I quickly did a head count…one, two, three…four…oh my. Erica’s not here…I thought all my chicks were in the nest, but there was one at basketball practice and it completely slipped my mind that she wasn’t home and I needed to pick her up!

I couldn’t lie. “Erica, I am so sorry!” I apologized. “I completely forgot to pick you up. I will be right there!”

The sniffling on the other end of the phone made my guilt run deeper. How could I forget my own child? What kind of mom does something like that? How will she ever forgive me?

If we’re honest with one another, we all have stories like that to share. There are no perfect moms.

Like most moms, I entered the motherhood scene wanting to be the perfect mom. I read. I prepared. I planned. I dreamed. I determined to be intentional about everything I did from choosing the right kind of laundry detergent that would be best for their skin to choosing the right school that would be best for their education. I was going to be supermom. I would do it all and do it all well. Then life happened.

Someone once said, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Looking back on that scene now, 11 years later, I have a valuable perspective that I didn’t have then. My now 22-year-old daughter isn’t emotionally scarred because I forgot her at basketball practice. She’s a well-adjusted young adult—a mom herself, who has a great story to tell especially when she wants to get a little sympathy or a good laugh at family gatherings.

You know what? My pursuit of being the “perfect mom” set me up for failure from day one. There are no perfect moms; just imperfect women who will fall off the pedestal of their own expectations more often than they care to admit. We’re all subject to what I’ve dubbed the “Perfection Infection.”

A good friend once told me, “Jill, never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” She shared that wisdom when she heard me unconsciously compare myself to another mom after one of my many failures. That powerful statement still sticks with me. I now realize that most moms play the comparison game dozens of times every day.

We constantly look to see how we measure up to those around us. For most of us…we don’t measure up. But how can we? We compare ourselves to something that doesn’t exist. We compare our messy insides—our struggles, our failures, our less-than-perfect lives– to other women’s carefully cleaned up, perfect-looking outsides at church, on Facebook, at the library, at work, and just about anywhere we run into another mom. It’s a game we play that we’ll never ever win.

I believe it’s time to stop. Stop the mommy wars. Stop comparing our insides to other moms’ outsides. Stop trying to be perfect. Stop thinking that others are better or better off than we are. We tell our kids to knock it off when their behavior has crossed a line and I believe it’s time that we moms knock it off, too!

God’s Truth confirms this in Galatians 5:26. I personally love how it reads in The Message,

“That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I’m driving a stake in the ground and saying “No more!” Want to join me? You can take a first step by signing the Knock It Off Commitment.

I’m also offering some fun giveaways today! Five commenters will be chosen to win a copy of my book, No More Perfect Moms, and one commenter will be chosen to win two registrations for the Hearts at Home Conference – one for you and one for a friend. (If you don’t happen to live in the conference area, you’ll still receive a Conference-To-Go which includes all aspects of the conference in a CD or MP3 format!)

Together, we can tackle the Perfection Infection and stop making unfair judgments and comparisons that don’t do any of us any good. Think about it: you and I can begin to change the world for our sons and daughters starting today. I’m ready. Are you?

Comments

  1. Stacie Nails says

    Thank you for sharing this! I so needed it today! After waking late this morning, packing lunches and discovering homework that was supposed to be done for today, searching for clothes, the screaming, the unglued moments, the guilt and tears down my face as I let my child out of the car for school and thinking what an “awesome” mom I was for starting her day out this way….I had nothing left but to ask God for a big dose of Grace for today. I could only whisper, “I need you Jesus!” Thank you for your encouraging words today!

  2. says

    I have a mom’s group on Facebook that is currently doing No More Perfect Moms too. It is a wonderful book! I had the pleasure of meeting Jill last month at the Hearts at Home Conference. I am making it my personal mission to help moms heal from the perfection infection also. There are many of us that have been operating our life from an adult child perspective. Based on our past hurts, failures and insecurities. This needs to stop! By not wanting to mess up our kids, I think we are in danger of raising another generation of God’s children that do not know their true identity. I am feeling burdened with a mission from God to help other women know and pass down their true identity. But first, it seems to me, they need to love that little girl they once were. Because she is still very much a part of who we are and how we operate today. Thank you, Lysa, for spreading the word about Jill’s book! She is one amazing lady, and I am inspired by her to not be scared to be authentic no matter what! God Bless you!

  3. Crystal says

    I needed this today. I am a mother of four and there are times I feel the same way.Thank you for your words of encouragement!!

  4. APRILMAE says

    Really? You are serious? No Perfect MOMS???? You mean I have been beating myself up all these years, and they’re really no more perfect moms! LOL
    My oldest daughter who is a college freshman has been telling me since she was a sophmore in high school what an “imperfect” mom I am. The words sank deep and hard into my heart. I often told myself, “Do not let her get the best of you, God is telling you to not let her do this, or no you can’t do that, or no that friend is not someone you should hang with” but more often her words were the ones that got me the most, “mom good grief you are ridiculous, such and such mom let’s her, you are just weird such and such parents say it’s ok”. Her words did get to me, but 98% of the time I stood firm and continued my ridiculous, weirdo parenting and stood firm on trying to raise my girls according to our Lord’s example and not the worlds.
    Thank you for the beautiful way of putting…Stop comparing our insides to other mom’s outsides. It is hilarious, I told my students today… Boys/Girls one day when you are old enough to really consider going out with someone; DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT look on their outside you better search their insides out first because it last longer than the outside.

  5. Katie says

    This life story from Jill is so encouraging. I am always in fear I will forget about somebody somewhere! It is the reality that we moms live in, busy schedules and imperfections everywhere. My 5 kiddos run me ragged, but I know one day I will be able to look back on it all and perhaps be able to help young moms or my own adult children when it comes to embracing the imperfections!

  6. Tammy M. says

    Guilty as charged!!! It’s hard not to compare when you feel so inadequate sometimes, especially with all the Facebook and Pinterest Posts from Pseudo-Super Moms. Glad I serve a big God whose blood covers all my imperfections.

  7. says

    Just a good {and timely} biblical reminder about comparison, and how we need to knock it off! Love it! Tucking that one in the hat for the holiday festivities where perfect moms lurk {or so the devil wants me to think}

  8. Katie says

    This is a salve to my soul…as I watch Moms cause each other such distress in life! Would love to use some of your material at my Mothers Fellowship group! Thanks for writing this…

  9. Beth M. says

    Thank you so much for this reminder! Where do I sign up?
    I’ve always played the comparison game, even now my kids are grown and on their own. What if I had done this or that differently? would it have made a difference?
    I forgot to pick my daughter up once; I had the flu and fell asleep! I heard that same voice whimpering on the other end of the phone; the principal looked at me like I was the world’s worst mom!

  10. Amy says

    I can’t even count the number of times I have mentally beat myself up for not being the mom I think I should be. I struggle with thought that the homeschool moms are better moms, knowing that even if I weren’t a single parent that homeschool is NOT compatible with my personality. Instead of being thankful for having the courage to leave my abusive ex-husband I feel guilty that my daughter has him for a father and has to experience having divorced parents.

    Two days ago my daughter was spending the night at her dad’s and I promised I would call her. I went out to dinner with a friend and remembered that I hadn’t called about an hour after bedtime. I went on a nice guilt trip even while knowing that it was just as likely that she got busy playing and totally forgot about mom.

    I have come to the conclusion that the only people who don’t have a hard life are the people you don’t know very well ~ ie. we ALL have struggles. That married, stay-at-home, homeschool mom just has a different set of struggles then me, the single, work-a-job, kid goes to public school mom.

    • hcook says

      amen , so true , we all struggle deep inside, why do we insist on hiding it , i will never know but it is ONe of my biggest weaknesses and challenges. Kudos to you for noticing and putting an end to it.

  11. becky says

    Thank you for the reminder that even moms aren’t perfect. Just this week I was late in picking up my son from his religious ed class. He had cried when I wasn’t there on time & was sitting in the office waiting for me. I felt awful! Thank you for the reminder that we sometimes make mistakes and just have to learn from them & keep on going!

  12. Mandi says

    No More Perfect Moms is a great read. And the Hearts at Home conference is one of the highlights of my year.

  13. Kristi says

    I find this comparison rampant around me. Only when we truly get to know one another do we start to realize we are in this motherhood together.

  14. Jeanna says

    This is so me! Even when I have a full day of cleaning, laundry, dinner, spending time with my 4 kids, I always think about what I’m “not” doing. I don’t read to the kids enough, I don’t play with them enough, I need to do something “crafty” with them, I need to volunteer at school more, etc. Then it carries over to other areas, my house isn’t spotless, the dogs need grooming, my closet is a mess…It goes on and on! I can never do “enough” to be the perfect mom. We concentrate on what we’re not doing instead of what we do every day!

  15. Tanya says

    Thanks for the great reminders here. I am grateful to have some dear friends who are also godly REAL friends. In other words, they openly don’t have it all together. When I am tempted to play the comparison game, I can remember all moms are sinners in need of grace.

  16. Lindsey says

    Thank you for this! I am guilty of comparing myself to other moms, when I should just be enjoying the smiles and laughter that my children share with me everyday. Their smiles and happy faces, let me know that I’m blessed to just be…their mom!! =)

  17. Eve says

    I feel constantly guilty for what I am doing wrong or what I am not doing for my kids. Being new in town, I think, has been even harder b/c I don’t have my supportive friends that I used to have walking through life together! I really liked the Galatians verse that we have far better things to do than sit around and compare ourselves. Thank you for the great post.

  18. Tasha says

    Hope I’m not to late.
    I’m iced in and catching up on my blog reading.
    Need to read this book.

  19. Sarah C says

    I have a mommy friend who has been reading your book and has been raving about it. The comparison game stinks…yet I’m so good at it… 😛

  20. Regina M. Small says

    When I read this I read it with the mindset “what can I do to better,improve,work on myself!” I love your “No more unglued mama mornings” devotions on YouVersion. I share them on Facebook and Twitter and I get responses saying “I needed this one today!!! That’s how I feel when I read yours!!! Thx for inspiring-God Bless I’m subscribing to your blog now ;0)

  21. Karen says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I wish I could get get a whole cheer squad to cheer you on!!! Amen!!! Thank you Jesus for sending such an Awesome word to this mom!! I am def guilty, & my confidence suffers because of it. Oh how great I can be once I let the Lord clean me!!! Praise his Holy name!! Im shouting over here! ! Lol

  22. hcook says

    My husband tells me all the time to knock this off, I can’t wait to read this book!!! I am so thankful I clicked on this blog devotion today, thank you thank you thankyou

  23. Suzonna McFarlain says

    This morning on the way to work/school with my boys (ages 14 and 7) we were listening to KSBJ. Lysa’s devotion came on and was talking about burnt rice on the stove, shoes on the floor, etc, and being a mom of 5 smiling in the midst of it all. When it ended I said, “Oh, I like that. It makes me feel so much better because our house is a chaos mess.” Gavin (the 7 year old) says, “Well it’s not as messy as hers!” This made my heart smile. In the “chaos” of not being the perfect mom I so want to be and being a worn out middle school teacher, I can stop and smile and look at what is important. Thank you for always sharing real life stories. Stories that shatter the “perfect little world” that I believe everyone else but me lives in. 🙂

  24. Angie Clarkson says

    This is a question for anyone who can answer it about the Unglued Bible Study! I have a Bible study group that wants to study it, but we don’t have time to watch the DVDs. Can we still do the book and workbook, or will the workbook not make sense? Thanks!

  25. LucyM says

    I’m a single woman, no child of my own but ‘half-guardian’ to 4teenage girls! I have married friends with one or more kids, it’s painful what I hear being discussed each day! And the worst is th emotional condemnation we suffer after the failures! God bless you for this story

  26. Megan says

    Hi- I know this doesn’t relate to the blog post, but it was the only way I could figure out how to share. My best friend has been struggling with eating and her body for a little over a year now. I read Made to Crave right when she told me because it was hard for me to relate and I wanted more perspective on it. Today she released a video raising awareness and I thought I would share it with you, someone who has also raised awareness and inspired others.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxHbyHD_KNc

    Merry Christmas,
    Megan

  27. T Swann says

    This applies to Non Moms as well. Very good article. I’m always trying to measure up……now I realize I don’t see others insides!!!! Thank you

  28. BeverlyD says

    Your most recent devotional post “The Place Where Disappointment Lives” and this link above have hit home. I am a mom who has expected her children (who were raised in a christian home by loving but imperfect parents, supportive family and in a wonderful neighborhood) to grow into God-fearing Christian adults. Not so. Instead we have endured 7years of really difficult times. We have had to ask a child to move in with his extended family for a period of time because we could not manage him at home. We have watched two of them categorically reject all aspects of Christianity and faith. I have shed more tears than I though possible and begged God to change their hearts all to no avail. I have blamed myself and my shortcomings, my husband and his temper and God for their choices and am struggling to find peace with God in and through all of this. It has been really painful. Thank you for your devotional – it spoke to my heart.

  29. says

    thank you for the reminder not to compare my insides to someone else’s outsides. we have no business comparing ourselves at all but it comes so naturally sometimes.

  30. Carolyn says

    This goes for marriages as well! We see the ‘perfect’ wife or marriage…..or what seems to be, and wonder what we are doing wrong in our marriage! In this situation we are again comparing our ‘insides with their outsides’!!!! When, in fact, we have NO IDEA what is really going on in someone else’s home! We must stop!

  31. Alberta Kincaid says

    Sharing with some younger moms who need encouragement in knowing they don’t have to be perfect, but loving! Thanks for your shared experience and ministry

  32. Daphne says

    This article came at just the right time. Even though my oldest son is graduated from college and my youngest is a freshman in high school, I still have my doubts about whether or not I’m a good mom. I compare myself to women who have had the privilege of staying home with their children because I have always had to work. I wonder if they missed anything essential since others had a big part in raising them. I wonder if they ever felt abandoned by me. This article was a great reminder that my circumstances are unique and the way I’ve raised my children was unique. The bottom line is that my children are well-rounded, godly young men. My oldest has a great job and is more put together than I was at his age and his younger brother is doing well in school and volunteers in our children’s department at church. My boys are amazing and prove their mother doesn’t have to be perfect in order to turn out well.

  33. says

    Hey Lysa! Is there a way I can contact you privately? Can you email me so I have your email address? I have an opportunity that I’d like to talk to you about! 🙂

  34. Cindy Gipson says

    This cut into my soul. I am on this track of perfection and didn’t even know it. Before I became a mom not only did I know all they hi vs wrong with current moms but everyone around me always told me what a great mom I would be. So when my kids aren’t perfect it embarrases me because I feel like I failed this idea of who I was obviously supposed to. But what I am slowly finding is all the things I thought I already knew about motherhood and how to be a mom are all the areas of my struggle. I think it is God’s gentle way of reminding me that they are His and my job FIRST is to love em!

  35. Angie D. says

    So needed this during this busy time of year ! Working extra hours and trying to get all the shopping and parties in order is very hectic and to not be in the Christmas spirit I feel I’m letting my kids down so yes I am a “Imperfect” mom as well. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to be “Imperfect”.

  36. Liz Mouse says

    Thanks to Jill for sharing in such an open and honest way. I really appreciate moms like you two who are willing to share your lives with us so we can see the beauty of seeking after God despite our short comings.

  37. Kelly S says

    my son is now 14, hates me, and says that destroy inside. He’s become to have thoughts of violence. I thought my one calling was to be a good mom, and I thought I had been doing that. But my son is so miserable, I don’t know sending him to his dad ….who is not a good man might be a better choice than the misery he feels here, with me n my mom, i don’t know if it’s meant to be, but God knows and if this is something that will help then I’m just sure I will end up with this 1 way or another. God is good. Thank u for the article, I look forward to reading the others. I just unselfishly want what is right for my son, and I can’t see what to do and that is due to some situations in our lives.

  38. says

    Thanks for this post. My mom-guilt stems from the fact that my mom was able to stay at home with us when we were little. So my idea of what a “good” mom looks like is set a certain way. My little family is just not set up that way. My husband and I both need to work and my boys are at grandparents houses after school. I’m so thankful they can be with family, but I struggle as to why God has not allowed me to stay home and be the picture of what I feel a mom should be. I have prayed and prayed and prayed, opportunities have even come our way, but His answer so far has been no. I struggle with this daily. Today I really feel that I don’t want to pray my hearts desires anymore since I feel disappointed at the latest “no” and am watching the opportunity move on pass. Its hard. I’m thankful my boys are healthy and my husband and I are crazy about each other. That should be enough. I’m praying God change my picture of what a “good mom” needs to look like in my mind. Please pray for me. Very discouraged today. Trying to hold out hope of God showing me a different plan or purpose for my life, but weary of praying for things even when the answer is no.

    Like Lysa says, I’m trying to just lean into Jesus and do the best I can with the circumstances and resources He has provided.

  39. Sowjanya says

    God bless u lysa for the words of wisdom every mom needs at some point of time. I stumbled on your site and what a joy it was in disguise. I live in india where moms are suppossed to take care of their children all the time even though they are working. Its an eye opener for me to note there are no perfect moms. Looking forward for more comfort and encouragement.