By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
As Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on motherhood and areas of my life that need improvement. Ah, who am I kidding? It has nothing to do with Mother’s Day and everything to do with my only-child perfectionist tendencies of over-analyzing every interaction every night when I turn out the light. I know I’m not alone. Many of you surely pull the covers to your chin as you wrap yourself in guilt, shame, and condemnation for not living up to the image you’ve created as the “perfect mother.”
Here’s a newsflash: there is no perfect mother. Some of you have already grasped that reality and are happily settling into the mothering techniques unique to your gifts and talents, tailor-made for your family. And some of you might still struggle to know whether or not you’re doing it “right.” I’ve been a natural mother for 15 years and am still learning. I say “natural mother” because it is important for every woman to realize you are a mother even if you’ve never given birth, adopted, or fostered. Women have been innately granted an ability to nurture, to counsel, to extend grace and mercy. It’s important to the health of society that women embrace who we’re called to be, in spite of the voices screaming otherwise.
The comparison trap is larger than life with the prevalence of social media and endless information at our fingertips. Former executives at Facebook can be heard in the YouTube video “You Won’t Believe What They Did” describing their work on social media sites and explaining how their primary intention was to create platforms that beckoned users to stay on their sites as long as possible. Social media is specifically designed to trigger feelings that lead to addiction. Our seeming realities are now linked to the phones in our hands while our true realities disintegrate into a pile of ashes, full of regrets, opportunities for meaningful relationships lost forever.
This is where my focus lands at the end of every day, and this is an actual problem in need of a solution. We are created for relationships—with God and with others. Every commandment was reduced to one statement by Jesus, “Love God, love others.” How can we do either if we are not present in the present? A few years ago I watched the movie Transcendence. I’m a sci-fi lover, so I enjoyed the film, which in my opinion was really a love story. The primary plot revolves around a character played by Johnny Depp who is dying from some incurable disease, so he wants to be uploaded into cyberspace where his consciousness can live forever. As you might imagine, this doesn’t end well, and ultimately in order for the world to gain control back from artificial intelligence, they are forced to destroy the Internet altogether.
I cannot tell you how often I’ve wished for that scenario—to awake one day and find that the Internet is no more. I know it’s foolishness. We all depend upon the utility of the Internet, and my businesses are driven by social media marketing. Our modern society could not continue if we were suddenly and indefinitely unplugged. And yet I long for the simple days of Little House on the Prairie. Yes, life in so many respects was harder, but they were present. They lived in the moment, with meaningful human interaction and realities filled with tangible experiences. They built lives together.
A few months back I read the book How to Break Up with Your Phone. I then downloaded an app called Quality Time to track my phone usage. I was shocked—I was using my phone for 5 to 6 hours on some days! It’s stealing my time, and worse yet, the precious little time I have with my children—who won’t be under my roof forever.
While our lists of things to do grow longer and our desire to be “perfect mothers” never quite goes away, there’s a very real problem here—a problem many of us face every day—that we can actually solve. More than anything in the world, our children want us! They desire quality time with face-to-face interaction, not distracted answers while staring at our phones. Play a board game, fly a kite, have a picnic. Remember the simple life and do all you can to embrace the moment right in front of you. Let’s pray for one another to be present in the present. It’s truly the greatest gift we can give our children and those around us.
Happy Mother’s Day to every woman everywhere! You are chosen. You are blessed. You are loved and have so much love to give!