When my first pregnancy started to show, it astounded me how much advice people freely give. Without being asked. Women that wouldn’t otherwise talk to me were sharing their stories with me in hopes I would/wouldn’t do the same. Perfect strangers were discussing bodily functions with me. I was rendered speechless nearly every day.
Want to know the most common piece of advice that came to me? It was more of a plea than advice, really. It was this:
“Please, no matter what, don’t compare yourself to other mothers.”
I heard this so much, I took heed. In fact, I’m sure I gave this advice to friends that became mothers soon after me. It made sense. Every child is unique, why shouldn’t their upbringing be unique? You’re sure to find someone doing things better than you, why beat yourself up? Just love your child and do your best. Don’t worry about how anyone else is doing it, just worry about you and your family.
It seemed like an unwritten commandment — not to compare yourself to the Joneses.
About a year after my first was born, I found myself reading one of my favorite portions of Luke. In my Bible, it’s simply titled “At the Home of Martha and Mary.” This passage has always reminded me to be the hostess with the mostest. You know the one. Martha’s a hard-working, efficient housekeeper (I’m sure her last name was Stewart). She and her sister, Mary, were hosting a gathering which included Jesus as a guest. This wasn’t their first party. They knew all the work involved to make it a success and Martha was clearly focused on the task at hand. Mary, on the other hand, was neglecting her duties that day. She had decided to visit with their guests instead. Preparations could wait, she presumed, and Martha wasn’t having it.
For some reason that night, I found myself stuck on the middle of the last verse (Jesus’ response after Martha tattled):
“…Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:42b NIV)
I read it over and over and couldn’t stop asking myself the question:
Was Jesus comparing Mary and Martha?
My mind was whirling when I went to bed that night. The Bible instructs us to do our job well. Martha’s focus was on doing a good job for a good purpose. Where did she go wrong? (and wouldn’t you just want to crawl in a hole if Jesus said you were wrong after judging someone inappropriately?!?)
If I was acting like Martha in my parenting, how would I realize a better way unless I compared? Isn’t that the main reason we all read blogs –to compare? The Bible doesn’t tell me what to do for my selective eater or which education to choose, after all.
After much consideration, I amended my unwritten commandment. We should learn from those who have gone before us. We should share and compare freely so we can discover what fits our family best. But don’t break my new Unwritten Commandment which is:
“Thou shalt not judge other parents. “
Let’s avoid having our own Martha Moment.
Now, when asked, my advice for upcoming parents goes something like this:
You won’t know it all. None of us do and that’s okay. Ask questions. Observe your acquaintances. Compare your options. But please, don’t judge how others parent for their circumstances might be different. There are many ways to parent. Enjoy the journey of discovering yours!
What’s your best advice for new parents? How do you compare? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.