Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming


Before I ever had a single child, I knew that one day I would wage war with an enemy who sought their hearts and souls.  I anticipated battles ahead, knowing my children would test and defy me.  But I never anticipated the Mommy wars.  I think I watched part of an Oprah episode years ago on competitive moms, but that was about it.  I didn’t give it a second thought.  Not until I joined the club.

Let me begin by saying, the Mommy Club is a beautiful place.  The moment you join, you find within your heart this unexpectedly raw capacity for love.  All at once, you are a protector, a nurturer, a defender of innocence, a storyteller, an imagination factory, a kisser of boo-boos, and a cheerleader forever.  Even on the scrape-me-off-the-floor-with-a-spatula days, you are being sanctified and learning to see God’s grace in a brand new light.  It is a special club, one I’m humbled and grateful to be part of.

But I’ll be honest, there’s one aspect of membership I don’t like to talk about.  It’s the insecurity that bloomed inside of me somewhere along the journey.  I felt it the first time I didn’t know how to soothe my own baby.  The first time I couldn’t get her to eat her green bean goo.  The first time she wandered out of my sight in public.  I don’t know exactly when the quiet voice began to whisper, do you even know what you’re doing?  But I do know that initial thought was just a stone’s throw away from this one: That mom sure looks like she knows what she’s doing.  And then there was the really quiet thought that always buried itself in a place I would never share with anyone: Maybe she’s a better mom than you.  

Here’s my humble opinion: I think that thought is the deceptive heartbeat behind all the mommy wars.  I think deep down many of us are just a little bit afraid that someone else is doing a better job at this whole thing than we are.  We see All-Natural-Organic Mom who tills her own grains in the backyard, and Educational-Crafty Mom whose newborn knows sign language, and Just-Stepped-Out-of-a-Magazine Mom with super cute clothes and baby Gap model babies…and we cannot help but notice all the ways we fall short.  So we resort to one of two measures, the first being imitation.

Maybe if I can just be like Super-Fit-and-Sporty Mom with16% body fat and color-coordinated Nike outfits, or Ultra-Organized Mom, or Über-Sweet-and-Godly Mom…  The problem is we quickly realize we cannot be all of them all the time.  The moment we pop on All-Natural-Organic Mom’s hat, we bump into Crafty Mom whose kids have sculpted a miniature Parthenon over the weekend, and we realize our kids have watched twenty hours of television so we could make Larabars from scratch.  And even if by some miracle we can get Healthy Mom jiving with Educational Mom, when we drop off our kids at preschool we’ll immediately notice that Just-Stepped-Out-of-a-Magazine Mom isn’t sporting a crumpled T-shirt with craft glue in her hair.  (And don’t even get me started on what Coupon Mom might think if she saw how much we spent on groceries last week!)

Once we realize we can’t be all of them, we resort to option number two: judgment.  Of course, this is rarely blatant.  I don’t tell Sporty Mom I think she spends too much time at the gym, I tell myself Sporty Mom spends too much time at the gym.  I tell myself it’s okay my abs don’t look like hers because she’s probably not nearly as godly as I am.  I tell myself it’s okay I don’t look as put together as Just-Stepped-Out-of-a-Magazine Mom because she probably spends too much money on clothes anyway.  On and on, I tell myself whatever I think I need to hear to stanch the fear that I don’t measure up.

A few times I’ve seen the mommy wars go viral.  Moms screaming at each other on television.  A Facebook feed that erupts.  A hateful gossip fest.  Here is my theory: I picture the hearts of moms across the world like a really dry forest, the kind that people warn you not to strike a match in.  They are dry because they’re insecure and aching.  They are exhausted and spent.  They are longing to hear that they’re doing a good job, and what’s more to feel like they’re doing a good job.  But because rest and truth and hope can be so hard won, these dry hearts are hazardous.  Flick a spark in their direction and the whole forest can go up in flames.

But what if the hearts of moms were watered.  Not sprinkled every now and then, but watered all the way down to their roots.  What if we knew in the core of our being, that we don’t have to measure up?  What if we knew that Jesus Christ loves and accepts us just as we are?  That He is passionate about our children and will walk beside us, in all our shortcomings, to make us the kind of mom we need to be.  What if we could quit judging Skinny Mom or Healthy Mom or Crafty Mom and instead see them as Real-Human Mom in need of love and encouragement just like us?  Then maybe the next time someone suggests you try her organic Ak-Mak crackers or mentions that she just finished a triathalon, you can smile genuinely because you may have no idea what an Ak-Mak cracker is, but you know who you are.  Accepted.  Redeemed.  Treasured.  One who has been born again to a living hope and an imperishable inheritance.

What do you say, Mom?  How would you like to be Imperfect-Completely-Loved-Free-in-Jesus Mom?  How would you like to be Don’t-Need-to-Play-the-Games Mom?  Capable-of-Genuinely-Loving-Others Mom?  Guess what?  That is exactly what Jesus died to offer you.  Initially when I started thinking about this topic, I wanted to encourage you by telling you all the things I myself long to hear–that you’re doing a great job, you’re the best mom ever, everything’s going to be awesome for you.  But instead, I want to encourage you by telling you something far better: Whether you’re doing a great job or not, Jesus loves you.  You don’t have to be the best mom ever, Jesus accepts you.  And when everything’s not awesome, you always have hope in Jesus.

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339 thoughts on “Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming

  1. Wow, Jeanne. I just found your blog tonight…not even sure how but I think it was the post about Aimee which, by the way, was wonderful. Didn’t she have the most gorgeous eyes ever? And her heart was just as pure as her eyes were….she brought me flowers when I first started working in Residence Life and it meant so much to me. Her life is a precious gift from the Lord to all of us.
    This Mom vs. Mom entry is so remarkable. I love how you encourage young moms! and how you recognize and describe the fears of all of us as we do this mothering thing – whether our kids are young and still under our feet, or grown and parents themselves. Even as a grandma what you have to say resonates with me. As a pastor’s wife, I spend a lot of time with young moms and am so excited to be able to direct them to loving my lot!
    I loved perusing your reading list. I’ve just purchased several of the 2013 books on my Kindle! Can’t wait to start reading!
    And seeing pictures of your little girls is such a treat! They are adorable. I know you love spending your life pouring into them. It passes so very quickly!
    I just realized you may have no idea who I am. I’m Anna Paulling’s mother-in-law, John’s mom and Sully and Jesse’s Gigi. And I have just become a great fan of your blog!
    Great job expressing your love for your hubby, 2 little girls and Jesus. This has been so much fun. Keep at it!

    1. Mrs. Paulling, thank you!! What an encouragement, and what high praise coming from a godly woman like you! This just touched me and blessed me so much today. Makes me miss Anna and John! Sully is SO adorable–I know you must be one proud Gigi 🙂 Much love to you today!

  2. Funny on my FB feed today there is a blog about Homemakers criticizing the “critical working mom’s” who question what the homemaker mom even does. At the core women struggle with the same issues of acceptance and deliverance from the “must do it all perfectly” attitude. I love the authenticity of your post and the deeper heart issues of comparison. Comparison in any way separates us from others and from a thriving relationship with our heavenly Father. Just refreshing, absolutely refreshing!!!

  3. Thank you! Thank you! Friends have been posting this like crazy lately, and I’m so thankful, humbled, and blessed to have finally opened it. I struggle so much in not being “little Suzy home-maker” because being a SAHM mom is NOT for me; I struggle with the uber-sweet and Godly moms (or, at least seemingly so) because I’m not the super-sweet person. I compare my fitness to others all the time, who are not even moms most of the time. I always find I fall short of these “perfect” moms. And I think we all “know” every mom feels these insecurities, “no mother is perfect” and yada-yada. But to read a refreshingly true piece like this allows me to understand we all battle these insecurities, and the only way to overcome it is through the love, the acceptance, and the blood of Christ. Thank you.

  4. “Accepted. Redeemed. Treasured”

    I think a lot of this desire to be the perfect mom stems from it is the things we wish we were (even before we had kids.) If working out was super important to you before having kids, most likely it will be important to you after having kids. If you were crafty before babies, you’ll be crafty with your children. Not everyone has the same gifts and God has made you a certain way- embracing those strengths is awesome and figuring out how to bring those out even more when raising children I think is more helpful then focusing on your weaknesses.

    Mostly, I see a lot of kids who just want to be loved. They want to be accepted and just know that mom is always there. They want to be accepted. redeemed. and treasured too, not only by God but by their parents. If you keep those in your heart and focus on that, you really can’t go wrong. After all, my mom wasn’t super crafty or sporty or concerned about organic food. But i think I turned out okay- and I know that when times are hard my mom is someone who has got my back and she’ll help remind me of who loved me first. (God.) & who I truly belong too.

    Thank you for your words. : ) I have no doubt that you’re a great mom, no matter what kind of mom you are. You’re just what your kids need, and that is all that really matters.

  5. This really hit the nail on the head for me . The paragraph where you said “picture the hearts of moms across the world being like a really dry forest, the kind that people warn you not to strike a match in. They are dry because they’re insecure and aching. They are exhausted and spent. They are longing to hear that they’re doing a good job, and what’s more to feel like they’re doing a good job. But because rest and truth and hope can be so hard won, these dry hearts are hazardous. Flick a spark in their direction and the whole forest can go up in flames” was spot ON as to how of feel most of the time as a mom. I could not have described ME any better than you did. I’m a flight attendant….have been for 24 years. I’ve spent the last 24 years beating myself up because my job takes me away from my children more than I would like. Then I come home and try to be super mom….to keep up with all the other “perfect” moms who seem to be doing it right. Thank you SO much for giving me a new perspective. We are all doing this mom thing the best we can. Fear and doubt will only sabotage our best efforts.

    1. Exactly! We are all just doing the best we can. I feel like moms are especially susceptible to guilt–every mom I talk to seems to struggle with guilt no matter how much she’s doing well. I am so grateful for freedom in Christ to rely on His grace instead if being a slave to guilt! Thanks for writing.

  6. Thank you so much! Comparing myself to others is truly my greatest weakness. I’m bookmarking this page so I can come back and read it again and again whenever I feel like i need to. THANK YOU!

  7. This is my first time at your blog, and this post really blessed me!! I’m a new Mom of 2, and my insecurities got to a record high after I became Mommy. It was awful, even my husband noticed and lovingly told me. My biggest comparison?…. My own mom!!! I always have truly thought she did an amazing job, and I would naturally be the very same way. I let myself down when I quickly realized that mothering two precious and innocent, but active healthy little bitties can be so hard! I’ve been seeking God and now I rely on His wisdom, strength (and grace) every single day as I learn to parent! He has pushed my comparisons to my mom to the wayside as I’m become the mommy my own children need me to be:) I’ll be back to visit! Thanks you for this piece!

    1. That is such a great point–our mom is the first person who sort of “sets the standard.” I’ve struggled with comparing myself to her many times. It’s such a daily, moment-by-moment journey to fix our eyes on Christ not our insecurities! Thanks for taking the time to share!

  8. Thank you. My home is crazy with five very small and yet impossibly energetic little ones. My husband is deployed and though I don’t go I’m for the mommy wars, I often feel like I’m falling short and begin to compare. You are amazing. Thank you for saying out loud what I needed to hear.

  9. This was excellent. Thank you. I’ve read through a few of your posts today when I stumbled upon your blog, and I think you should write a book. 🙂 I’d buy it.

  10. Oh, wow.Found a link on Barren to Beautiful. Glad I clicked. This is the wrestling match of my existence, this comparison game I play that I assume nobody else plays because they have it all together and I don’t. I even began a blog to excise these insecure feelings I had constantly trying to shout down the things God was telling me about myself. And even there, I began comparing how much better another’s writing was, how many friends and followers they seemed to have, how much prettier their presentations were,etc.Sorry to be longwinded, but, suffice to say, I have been praying a lot on this matter recently, so thank you for both your honesty and the timely reminder of His love.

  11. Thank you so much for this. I actually am re-reading this after posting 2 years ago. It’s still a battlefield out there. To the point where moms not only judge each other and pride creeps in, but moms stop being friends because of these wars. It’s absolutely awful how Satan uses our gifts against us. If only we knew the real war: against our enemy.
    Thank you so much for this.

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