Welcome to the Getting Past Perfect Book Club! We're reading Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, by Kate Wicker.
In the middle of one of those afternoons that drag by, the minute hand taking an hour to move to the next number, I wondered for the hundredth time that day why I wasn’t getting anything done.
The same load of laundry, started the night before, was still sitting in the washer and would probably have to be run again.
The same basket of clean clothes I’d been stepping over all day was still in the hallway, waiting to be folded and put away.
The breakfast dishes were still in the sink and two of my children were still in pajamas.
We hadn’t left the house all day - we’d been home together. Everyone had my full attention - I had been tending to their needs and helping them arbitrate their sibling squabbles all day long.
If time was moving so slowly, why wasn’t I being more productive?
It can be tempting to think that our days with our children should flow from one blessed, smiling moment to another, full of hugs and laughter and plenty of time to tend to the stuff of daily life, too (all those dishes and diapers and laundry that life creates).
In reality, on the harder days of dealing with what life brings, I don’t have time to get to any of those other things - I can barely keep up with what my children need.
Those are the days I’m hardest on myself.
When the same chore has been staring me in the face all day and I still haven’t managed to finish it and it’s time to get dinner on the table, the little voice in my head starts its refrain.
“You’re not enough. You’re not doing enough. You are failing to take care of your responsibilities here. You’re not modeling responsibility to your children. You’re not doing enough to get them to contribute. They’ll grow up not knowing how to run a household properly. And now you’re yelling at them? Oh, great - now they’ll be emotionally scarred for life, too, on top of being terrible slobs who can’t take care of themselves.”
On and on it goes, catastrophizing every little thing, telling me that I’m screwing everything up colossally.
All too often, I listen to it. I believe it. Its words become the background for the rest of my day, sometimes even the next day.
Where do we mothers get the idea that we need to do everything exactly right all the time?
Where do we get the idea that Our Highest Calling is to be Perfect Mothers?
In the first chapter of Getting Past Perfect, Kate Wicker examines these questions, sharing stories and struggles from her own mothering journey.
She dares to remind us that being Perfect Mothers is not our highest calling at all. We are called, instead, to be beloved daughters of God.
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Her perspective here is refreshing in a Pinterest-perfect world saturated with carefully-filtered images of mothers who find complete personal fulfillment by totally immersing themselves in meeting their children’s every need.
I have struggled with this image of the Ideal Mother, especially on hard days when things don’t go well. Motherhood is sanctifying, yes . . . and all of us can use practice at emptying ourselves and becoming more servant-hearted where our families are concerned.
When we start expecting our vocations within our families to completely fulfill us, though, when we allow the duties of motherhood to define us as people, we are forgetting that God designed us first to be His children (and that our children, no matter how much we love them, are His children first and foremost).
As Kate says,
“When mothering and our children - like anything else of this world- become our ultimate source of fulfillment, happiness and identity, they can become a form of idolatry. In the midst of our noble desire to be selfless, good parents, it’s easy for Christian mothers to forget a simple but profound truth: the highest calling placed upon our lives is to know and love God with all that we have and all that we are.”
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Kate challenges us in this chapter to remember that even in the busiest times of motherhood, “nurturing our relationship with God is nonnegotiable.” Our primary calling is to be in relationship with God- that’s what He created us to do. Finding time for prayer and quiet can be so difficult in the midst of life with children; as Kate humorously reminds us, “even the disciples followed Jesus when he tried to sneak away and pray.” Have you struggled to grow in your relationship with God as a mother? What strategies or practices have helped you to stay connected with Him when life is hectic and parenting is stressful?
- Kate says, “I am here in this beautiful, broken world to love and know God and to love and know others - not just the children entrusted to me but every single person I encounter.” Is it difficult for you to balance your children’s needs with the needs of others in your life (your spouse, your friends, your community, your church)? What ways have you found to make space in your life for the needs of others (besides your children)?
- Popular culture, even within the Church, sometimes leads us to believe that “good Christian mothers” will lose themselves in the process of mothering well. While parenting always involves sacrifice, Kate believes that if motherhood is “a mighty calling but not the only calling pressed upon you, you will not become a ‘nonperson.’” She advocates for mothers to find ways to share their gifts with the outside world instead of burying them. How do you view the issue of personal identity in parenting? Does becoming a parent necessitate putting aside your own gifts and goals, or is it possible to invest in your children and in yourself at the same time? Can you nurture your own dreams without being selfish while your children are young?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we'll cover Chapter 2. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Getting Past Perfect Book Club page.
Copyright 2017 Abbey Dupuy
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