As I am a stay-at-home mom, a mother of two-and-a-half-year old twins, and expecting our next child come March, I figured I better start really enjoying being a mother, and be the mom! While I love my children dearly, I have definitely had some days where I wanted out! When I just wanted to scream and pull my hair out! When I thought about my shortcomings and failures in mommyhood-land.
So, to combat these poor attitudes towards the most important job around, I decided I better get some help on the matter – so read I did! I came across this book from a blog I follow – I Can Teach My Child – as part of her monthly book club. Sadly I wasn’t able to participate in the discussion then since I was still waiting on the library to order them and get them in (it’s a brand new book). But, I was very excited to read it as it sounded like something that I could greatly benefit from. *My personal affiliate links are used in this post.*
The book is called Be the Mom: Overcome Attitude Traps and Enjoy Your Kids (Focus on the Family) by Tracey Lanter Eyster, creator of momlifetoday.com. The book discusses several “Mom traps” that many (I’d be willing to venture all) mothers fall into at one point or another in their mothering careers to varying degrees.
Mom Trap #1 – Just-a-Mom Trap
This is a trap I have definitely fallen prey to at various points and to varying degrees during my career as a stay-at-home mom. Like any career you do day in and day out, you get worn out and you wonder “is this really what I am spending all my time doing? Is this really it?” And then of course there are so many people who don’t understand what stay-at-home mom’s do all day or think they are lazy or something, perpetuating this trap even more. The author explained this trap by saying:
I was beginning to feel that motherhood was unimportant, and in filling that role, I was becoming an overlooked nobody. What’s with that voice in our heads that constantly tells us we don’t matter… especially when we’re being the mom? We devalue ourselves in our minds. […]
The importance of gaining a true understanding of why you are more than just a mom is pivotal, because if you don’t you’ll become overwhelmed and burdened by negative self-talk, and end up sitting on a stairway crying and feeling like a total failure. When your thoughts are thumping loudly with, I’m just a mom, and I can’t even do that well, the trap has a vice-like grip on you that can lead to utter despair.
I remember thinking those exact same thoughts one day and indeed bawling my eyes out. She spoke right to me with those words! She then goes on to describe how we can overcome such self-doubt and negative attitudes about our extremely important job as a mother with a seven-step plan among other things, like pursuing something that brings you joy as an individual.
Mom Trap #2 – Me Mom Trap
This trap is multi-faceted, but finds its core in the fact that we as human beings are selfish and prideful. This trap encompasses demanding high expectations of those around us and getting frustrated when they are not met on time or to your specifications, as well as the “I’ll just do it myself so it’s done right” mentality. Eyster again provides seven easy steps to get ourselves out of the first part of this Me-Mom trap, as well as encouragement to teach our children instead of doing everything for them. This second part definitely reminded me of a different book I read – Cleaning House – all about entitlement among the rising generation. I prefer to have my kids learn and try and try again then have a perfect linen closet and lazy kids who don’t know how to do anything for themselves.
Mom Trap #3 – Martyr Mom Trap
This trap is all about neglecting ourselves and our lives in the name of motherhood. When Eyster found herself in this trap she often thought “‘Woe is me. I’m sacrificing my own well-being and happiness for the good of my family. Someone pat me on the back, shake your head in admiration, and build a statue in my honor.'” She also described it as not being the wife, mom or the child of God she was supposed to be, something I have indeed felt too.
This trap goes along well with the selfish “me” attitude of the previous Mom trap, but in reverse. We make ourselves miserable (perhaps instead of uptight and angry) and those around us. This trap occurs when you shut down as a mom and give up, becoming a void, sideline mom, who just doesn’t care because her life is “just so hard” and no one appreciates her. Again Eyster provides seven easy steps to help you change your attitude and perspective to get out of this misery cycle. She also shares this truth: “Did you know that you cannot wait to “feel like” making changes? You have to just do it, force yourself to make the changes, and then you’ll feel like it.” What a great quote that I know has been true in my life.
Mom Trap #4 – Busy Mom Trap
This is one trap I haven’t really had to deal with very much at all. I think it is much more common for those with older children (or maybe those who live in a two-vehicle household) because to tell you the truth, I would a lot of time love something to do or activities to run to! I think she should’ve included a “bored Mom” trap for me. The crutch of this trap is that we believe that if we are busy enough, if our children are involved enough, then we’ll be a good mom and our kids will be well-rounded and cultured. This is true even when we are always doing “good things” like volunteering at schools, churches, or other local events or charities. Eyster recommends writing out a list of of all your to-do’s and then write “whys” next to the “whats” and then to prioritize what is really important. Of course we all have things we need to accomplish but we need to find a balance between having fun and enjoying our children vs always going going going.
She also encourages us to be a “be-er” over a “doer.” She shared a saying, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” A saying I don’t think I’ve heard before. I’ve actually heard the “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” much more often. But, I believe it’s a true statement. At this last General Conference of our Church we were instructed not to “wear our busyness as a badge of honor.”
Mom Trap #5 – Mirror Mom Trap
I think you can guess what this trap is all about – judging, comparing, and measuring ourselves to other moms, women, wives, lifestyles, and oh so much more, coveting what we don’t currently have, becoming jealous and envious. This is the great trap of the devil to get us distracted from what we do already have (aka counting our blessings and being grateful) as well as doubting our self-worth as we start to base our lives on the standards of the world instead of what God thinks about us. Eyster shares this quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy!”
She encourages all us women to stop this comparison game and instead support one another and say positive things about yourself and each other. She insists that we remember what God really thinks about us and to not belittle others when they admit their imperfections or different lifestyle or choices. She also recommends getting a mentor. This is a new concept for me for sure and I’m not sure of the true benefits of it. This mentor is supposed to be an older, wiser mother, perhaps even your own mother or sister or aunt, but maybe even a more experienced friend.
Mom Trap #6 – Tomorrow Mom Trap
This trap is all about not seizing the time and moments given to us daily to “speak” into our child’s life, to raise them up how they should go, because we believe we still have so much time (or fall under one of the previous five traps). Eyster encourages us Moms to live life intentionally and to develop positive open relationships with our children. She reminds us that “any child in your life is longing to matter, and taking the time to be intentional with your children inspires self-confidence in their young spirits.” However, she warns against the extremes of helicopter parenting and free-range parenting which can paralyze children with indecision and poor self-confidence or with ill-equipped and peer-taught children. Eyster also discussing the pros and cons of having our kids being involved in the right activities as well as involved in less activities so you can have more intentional family togetherness.
Mom Trap #7 – They Say Mom Trap
This trap is all about what “they say.” You know, them. At this point in history there is so much more information out there about every subject known to man readily accessible for us to consume, and much of it is conflicting and confusing or makes us doubt if what we feel like is best for our family is indeed the best. Maybe there’s something we should be doing differently because “they” said we should (which can lead to us falling in the Mirror Mom Trap). However, this mentality often leads away from what are eternal truths, away from what God would have us do, away from what our natural instincts tell us, because we want to trust “the experts.”
However, in this chapter she also asks:
Has anyone besides me joined the “they say” voices by doing a lot of complaining about the hard work involved in being a mom? Seeing motherhood as being trapped in the house with the kids? Maybe you’re attempting to keep up with the Joneses, maybe you want to have more excitement or just do something different, anything just to get out of the house. Here’s the thing to remember, Mom: It’s not just a house; it’s your home.
From here Eyster goes on to discuss the importance of being a mom and having MOMents with your children, moments that are memories-of-love, that bring you fulfillment and joy from being their mom (the moments we all live for!). She also reminds us that having all the things “they” recommend and promise us will bring us happiness, most likely won’t. We, as moms, know what will truly make our kids happy – love! Chase after the things of God, of holiness, on things that have long-lasting value, and you and your children will be happy. Material things will not. She also tells us that the secret to living a godly life is being selfless, countering the worldly idea that “You were put on this earth to be happy and fulfilled; do what’s best for you.”
I really liked how Eyster clearly, at the end of her book, points us toward a godly life, a selfless life, a non-materialistic and humble life. She knows that only by truly coming to know Jesus Christ and trying to be like him can we find freedom from life’s snares and traps. She wants us to know that we are the mom! Eyster concludes:
You will be overwhelmed by the voices all around you unless you determine to stay focused on God’s will for you and your family. You need to know that as you seek to obey Him, God will mold you and grow you into a the powerful woman He wants you to be. […]
The Creator of the heavens and the earth fashioned you to be the mother of the children He has entrusted to you. What joy it is to embrace the role of motherhood, free ourselves from the traps that aim to devour and devalue us, and live a momlife worthy of His calling. This doesn’t mean a momlife without challenges or mistakes, but a momlife increasingly dependent upon our heavenly Father. Not expecting perfection but being willing to love and nurture our children, to help them grow into the women and men God intends for them to be.”
I really enjoyed this book and I hope that many of my fellow mom friends will enjoy reading such a book as well. It is very uplifting and empowering, because, afterall, the hardest thing sometime is realizing you have a problem! I loved how practical and real it was, and short and easy to read.
I hope you read “Be the Mom”!
What Mom Attitude Trap have you fallen into?