The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Let's Begin to Cultivate them Now

{The first post in a books study series on The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity.}

I've been reading parenting books for 23 years (more if you count the ones I read in college). It's pretty rare for a book to come along that offers anything new and transformative these days. The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity is transformative. I firmly believe that. Dr. Meg Meeker makes a pretty bold promise at the book's beginning:

If every mother in the United States could wrap her mind around her true value as a woman and mother, her life would never be the same. We would wake up every morning excited for the day rather than feeling as though we'd been hit by a truck during the night. We would talk differently to our kids, fret less about our husbands' annoying habits, and speak with greter tenderness and clarity. We would find more contentment in our relationships, let mean remarks roll off our backs, and leave work feeling confident in the job we perfermed. And best of all--we wouldn't obsess about our weight (can you imagine?), physical fitness, or what kind of home we live in. We would live a life free from superficial needs because we would know deep in our hearts what we need and,  more importantly, what we don't need. Each of us would live a life of extraordinary freedom.

And peace. These are 10 habits towards peace deep within ourselves, the kind of peace that radiates into every sphere of our lives, that spills out into the ordinary everyday and colors our world a beautiful hue.

Sound good?

Dr. Meeker implores women to wrap their brains around the fact that they have enormous value.  She writes about the higher calling to which women are called and muses that she doesn't think most women have a sense of this greater purpose. In Christian terms, she is referring to vocation--the reality that God created us for a specific purpose and that living according to that purpose and embracing that mission is why we are here. That's pretty heady stuff. Many of the moms I know have a pretty good grip on the theology of vocation. But they get tripped up in the humility department.

Humility is not self-effacement. Indeed, if we embrace the very real truth that we are created by our Lord in His image, we are humble and confident. Dr. Meeker uses an extraordinary example to point out just how readily women are able to see the good and accept with love the faults in other people, but cannot extend that same grace to themselves. She writes that "we are supercritical of ourselves because we heap unreasonable expectations on ourselves...No matter how well we do in one area, we always feel that we're falling short in another. [And] we continually look to the wrong places to feel valuable. We look at how well we perform at various functions rather than accepting that we are valuable simply because we are our kids' moms and we are loved and needed because of that."

How do you judge yourself? How do you determine your worth?What is the yardstick against which you measure yourself? Do you ever feel like you measure up?

I think that in the community of mothers who are primarily committed to being mothers at home and often, to home education, we can lose sight of the fact that "in addition to fulfilling our purpose as good moms, we were born to do more, in time. ....we have lost this sense of being because we are afraid (my emphasis) of what lies beneath the superficial in us. If we set aside the energy we put into fitness, dieting,[creating the perfect homeschool?], trying to be a better mom tha the next mom, what is left? we wonder. What we find below the dieting, working, running around in the car, and exercising is a deepness that has been undiscovered." To that, I would definitely add that we can bury our authentic selves for a very long time if we are mothering a large family. We can throw ourselves into our work--far more work than a mother of two can begin to imagine--and we can tell ourselves for years and years that we are dying to self in service to our families. There is, however, a real possibility that we are not dying to self at all. Instead, we are failing to look self in the eye and get to know her. We are running from her in the running we do all day (and night). One day, maybe far into the future, we will still be moms, but we will not have the intensity of day-to-day child care and nurturing that we do now. We will be called to utilize our gifts in other ways. Will we be such strangers to ourselves and our talents that we cannot even recognize what it is He wants us to use?

Are we afraid? If we believe that we are created in God's very image, why are we afraid? Why do we keep so busy that we don't allow ourselves time to catch up with ourselves? Is it possible that there are talents yet discovered, plans He has for us that we are ignoring because we won't still ourselves long enough to have a frank conversation with our Maker about why He made us?

Dr. Meeker is not by any means saying that we shouldn't throw ourselves wholeheartedly into mothering. Indeed, the example of Julianne illustrates contentment in a role that is primarily and perhaps solely that of wife and mother. Of Julianne, she writes, "When a mother really understand her value, she has more self-confidence. She sets boundaries with her kids, her husband and herself and this makes life more palatable. She is less anxious and feels less inclined to compete with other women, because beneathe everything she likes who she is."

Competition is a running thread throughout the book. I think Dr. Meeker really nails the biggest detriment to genuine friendships and to to genuine contentment within when she looks competition squarely in the eye and calls it out for what it is. It's a cancer.

Enough words for today. We're only on page 15:-). Please do join me in reading and thinking. Please offer your perspective and bless us all with your voice.

Feel free to chat below (comments are moderated, so it might take some time before you see yours appear), either adding your thoughts her directly or linking to a post on your own blog.  Now it's time for me to go about the rest of my day, peaceful in the knowledge that God created me for these children and this good man. And that's enough. Really.