Earlier this week, I shared my review of Be The Mom. I absolutely loved the book and feel blessed to have not only reviewed it, but to be hosting a giveaway so one lucky reader can also be blessed.
I’m back with some questions and answers from Tracey that I hope will inspire other mothers.
In your own journey as a mother, what led you to identify and subsequently conquer the seven “Mom Traps” that you address in Be the Mom?
I started writing this book for my daughter, to give to her some day when she becomes a mom. As I contemplated my young daughter becoming a mother I knew that she would face times of weariness and doubt in her ability to be a mom and I wanted to encourage her that yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I didn’t want her to listen to the world’s message that motherhood was a diversion from what she was “really” meant to do in life. I wanted her to understand the importance of being a mom and appreciate God’s intention that we are to mold our children to be image bearers for God and in the process He would mold us! I live these mom traps and I have learned how to allow the Lord to help me have victory over them – most days! Knowledge is power, if you can name your bad attitude you have a better chance of overcoming it!
As a young mom, you sometimes felt insignificant because you were “only” a stay-at-home mom. How did you regain your sense of individual significance?
I chose to understand the truth of how important it is to be a mom and to appreciate that motherhood is a series of “seasons” – each being very important. Younger children are very demanding, but it’s just a season. I approached each season of motherhood with the same determination and desire for excellence that I had when I had a great career. I started to really study the word of God and gained a daily abiding relationship with God. He filled the holes and soothed me on the rough days. He also revealed to me my rough edges that needed sanding! God’s truths began to reveal that motherhood many times is way more about growing mom than growing the kids. I also learned not to take myself too seriously! I realized the need to be light hearted and a bit silly, and that daily joy is a choice! When I recognized that my children were watching and I was teaching them how to “do life,” I realized more than just me was at stake! Life is a series of small choices. Those choices mold us, and because we are moms, they mold our children!
Can you explain the sense of self-pity (“Martyr Mom” trap) that moms sometimes adopt? What are some of the daily practices that can help mothers break out of this trap?
Oh my! The Martyr Mom trap is particularly ugly and hard to admit to for that very reason! I can fall into that trap so easily. We do what needs to get done, but grumble about it and wear our “poor pitiful me” countenance on our sleeve or have a bad attitude, scowl or take on an all-around pit-i-ful appearance. We get it done, but are miserable while doing it and at times make everyone else miserable in the process. Sort of that “walk on eggshells” around mom…she’s a bit touchy again today! To get out of this trap you first have to admit your bad attitude and choose to seek a better attitude. Recognize that God calls us to do all that we do as if doing it for the Lord! This trap is so complicated – I think you just need to read the chapter!
What is the key to contentment when moms are tempted to compare themselves to other “picture-perfect” moms who seem to have it all together?
Comparison is the thief of joy, so the fastest way to tank your attitude is to compare yourself to others. Especially when you are comparing your every day, or your worst, to their best. All around us we see what seems to be the ideal, and even on our own blogs we have a tendency to just write about the good stuff! If you want to make a mom’s day, the next time you have a rotten day – write about that! A good dose of mom reality in your life, shared in all its un-lovely glory will be a big giant hug to that overwhelmed mom sitting in front of her computer screen! Be always mindful to point her to where you find your hope and how you are able to live in joy in spite of your circumstances! If you are fully focused on God and who He says you are, then you are less likely to compare yourself to others. And 1 Peter 3:3-4 reminds us it is our inner beauty which is of great worth to God.
In an effort to be liked, moms can sometimes become more of a friend to their kids than a mother. Is there danger in this?
Based on my experience and my observation, I have learned that your children have lots of friends – but they only have one mom! Am I right?! That seems sort of basic, but I think we constantly need to be reminded of that and stay true to that calling of mom first. Trust me, they regularly get advice and counsel from their peers, or from those who are marketing to them and their peers. What they need is a mom (and parents) who are pouring truth and Godly character into them. We want to build a relationship with our children, but that relationship needs to be tempered with wisdom and the understanding that as parents we have authority over them. We want to teach our children to respect authority and realize that even when they don’t like it, they must come under the authority to those God has placed over them. Grow in relationship through time spent together, memories made together, having fun, being interested in what they are interested in—then trust is built. Recognize that how you interact with your children is training them in how they will interact with future roommates, with spouses and with their own children. You want your child to be others focused not self-focused and too much “it’s all about you” to a young child, becomes “it’s all about me” in a teen and adult – that’s not pretty. It’s also not what God has called us to.
How can a mom effectively navigate the countless “they says” out there and make the best decisions specific to their kids?
The fast answer is that you need to be a student of your child and learn who they are and how they are gifted and then support them in their unique gifting. Explore what their natural bent is and foster that so that they can gain confidence. The Bible tells us we are not to conform to the pattern of this world, so whenever you find yourself conforming to what they say – let that be cause for pause and discussion. What your child spends his or her time doing should have nothing to do with what everyone else is signing up for – it’s about how God designed them. Help them find their sweet spot. If you place values on what “others say” they will too! We want them to place value on what God says and who God says they are! I also think taking a step back and looking at just how much time you spend doing vs. being is in order, if you are constantly on the go you may need to rethink some things. Over scheduling kids is training them to be future workaholics, again, that training for the future is always a constant. Recent studies have even shown that a lack of unstructured play and activity is actually hurting our children because they don’t know how to be creative and how to think on their feet. We consistently have to help our children recognize that the road is narrow and that’s ok. They need to be reminded constantly that they are in the world, but not of the world.
Describe the fine line between womanhood and motherhood. Is it important to keep them distinct?
In Be The Mom, I discuss the fact that God began to reveal to me once I became a mom that every decision I made needed to flow through my “mom brain” because once I became a mom daily life was about more than just me. I had already learned to alter my daily expectations when I got married because I was not longer a me, but a wife. I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted, my husband and I needed to discuss things and do what was best for us. That equation multiplies big time once you become a mom, because as a mom you are responsible for raising and training your children (along with your husband) so many times something my “woman brain” wants, may not be what’s best according to my mom brain. And though with some it makes me very unpopular, I wholeheartedly believe that the mom brain must be the primary consultation for decisions. God has given me my children for a season and my priority should be partnering with my husband to raise them in such a way that they have every opportunity to become image bearers and grow into who God has designed them to be. God entrusted them to me. The coolest part of sacrificial mothering is that in the process, God molds a mom into who He wants her to be – you see, selfless motherhood is a powerful tool in God’s molding hands.
Sometimes moms say “yes” to everything, believing that doing everything will make them “supermom.” How can a mom wisely decipher the things she should say “no” to?
First of all, I get it. We have so many opportunities today and so many good, really good and really great things we can be doing each day. However, there are only so many hours and we must determine how we want to INVEST those hours each day. You may have to say no to some really good/great things – but as a mom I honestly think your greatest asset is time and time invested in your children has largenormous dividends for them…and you. We all have a “to do” list, I challenge you to start at “to be” list and list out the ways you can invest in your time in your family and choose some “to be” time with your family, and even your friends. God designed us for relationship, with Him and with others. And for those of you who just have to have some boxes to check (ahem….I know that of which I speak) that “to be” list will help you out! Check away sister friend!
Scarlett O’Hara says that “After all, tomorrow is another day.” How can putting things off have a negative effect on parenting?
Oh my…if there is anything I wish I could imprint on your brain it is that tomorrow will get here far sooner than you realize. Honestly moms, whatever it is that you feel like being a mom is “keeping” you from – it will still be there when your children are no longer in your home constantly. Already you can look at your child and think, “My goodness, how can he be almost two!” Or, “I cannot believe she is starting Kindergarten this year!” Those years will continue to tick by. Don’t think you can put off until tomorrow the mothering God intends for you to do today! In actuality you could spend less than 25% of your life parenting and what you gain during that time is invaluable in training you! Enter into your children’s world, play with them, laugh with them, teach them, be silly, teach deep truths, enjoy every MOMent their future, and yours, is at stake. God has such a divine purpose in parenting, don’t miss it by waiting until tomorrow – tomorrow may never come. With daily parenting you need to be intentional, relational and selfless – so much is at stake!
Many thanks to Tracey for sharing the wisdom and knowledge she has gained through her vocation as a mother. I know that I am very grateful for her willingness to share with others.
Don’t forget to enter the Be The Mom Giveaway before August 21st for your chance to win a copy of this wonderful title!