Sunday, January 17, 2010

Previous experience not required.

Several times in the last six or so years I've really gotten slammed by other Christian women with regard to my new (to me) roles as wife and mother.
I remember very distinctly an excited conversation I was having with a "more experienced" sister-woman-friend about shopping for engagement rings with Richard. Another "more experienced" woman piped up, "Shopping for rings? Yeah, that's when life really begins."
Now, she's not wrong, shopping for rings isn't exactly life and death, but it was a big deal to me--it marked a major change in the path of my life. Could she not identify with this? I believe she supports the institution of marriage and was once a young bride herself. So, would it have killed her to congratulate me? Wish me luck in my future marriage? Offer to support me in some non-offensive way?
I've endured a LOT more criticism now that I'm a mommy. I'm sure you know what it's like (if you're a mother)...snide, passive-aggressive comments about my and Richard's choices with Shirley Jean, you've all been there. "If you think you're blank now..." (I'm breaking out in hives just typing it.)
One memory that comes to mind was when SJ was just about six months old. I was joking with a "more experienced" sister-woman-friend about how wonderful it would be to sleep all the way through the night in a bed all to myself (a pipe dream that makes me salivate even now). A mother of four or five or seventeen whom I had never before met chimed in, "How many children do you have?" "Just one," I said. "Oh, poor you!" she rolled her eyes.
This is a relatively mild example...I've heard and read some downright nasty things about myself since Shirley was born, but the point is, REALLY???
Aren't we supposed to be building each other up? No, wait. Scratch that. Aren't YOU, "more experienced" sister-woman-friends supposed to be building ME up? Helping me to become a better wife and mother? Dare I say it: A Titus 2 Woman? Offering wisdom in a kind, non-humiliating way? The scrutiny and criticism I've endured, mostly from Christians, truly, is the reason I hardly blog any more. I know I'm not alone on this, and I'm probably (Edit: Probably?? I'm sure of it.) guilty of hurting someone's feelings inadvertently by trying to make a joke, etc., but I really do make a conscious effort to NOT put somebody to shame.
Speaking of shame, the truth is, I've enjoyed more praise and encouragement from my non-Christian friends than most of my "more experienced" sister-woman-friends. This isn't right.
I guess what I'm learning is that in ten or so years when I'm done bearing my four or five or seventeen children, I really don't want to be the kind of "more experienced" woman who is too proud to NOT say to a young wife and mother, "I hear you. I've been there. I'm praying for you. You're doing a GREAT job! How can I help?"


kristi noser said...

ouch. please forgive me if i was one of the slammers.
but for the record, i do think you are doing a fine job with sj and will with bitty wee.

Jodi said...

Ditto! If I ever made you feel like you are doing anything less than an amazing job, I am sorry! We love your family like our own and are very proud of all you guys have done with what God has given you. You always have a place here, if you need to get away. Love you guys.

Kara Jo said...

"I hear you. I've been there. I'm praying for you. You're doing a GREAT job! How can I help?"

Thanks for sharing, Erin. Lord, let us be women who encourage one another. Shape us into Titus 2 Women!

Kara Jo said...

P.S. please don't stop blogging--you're one of my very faves!

angie said...

which is one of the reasons you are a beautiful example of a christian woman. i know i've told you before, but i am SO GRATEFUL for you and your prayers in my life. truly. you set a wonderful example of how christianity should work. that said, i know just what you mean. i haven't had the experiences you speak of exactly, but some of the stupidest, most frustrating things i've heard/been told have come from the mouths of people who are outspoken about the christianity. i totally don't get it, either.
and in conclusion: you're doing an amazing job, erin. and i'm praying for you. :)

LadyD said...

Glad you spoke up, I experience this too, except for me it is:

"You should try eating celery when you are hungry, You don't want dessert, do you? You didn't bring the fresh homemade salsa did you? It doesn't look like something you would make. That pizza the church ordered looks greasy, maybe you should just have a small piece."

Gotta love it, huh?
The theme for 2010 should be "Judge, Judge, Judge, Not, Not, Not."

You are an awesome mommy Erin~

Jolene said...

I really don't have much to say but wanted you to know that I appreciated this post and will be pondering your words in my heart. <3

Pat Stream said...

Erin...well done!

It's safe to say the same from the male side of things. A few men I know truly wrestle with the lack of fatherly shepherding that is missing inside the body.

Thanks for the post.

erin said...

WOW! Thanks, everybody. Maybe I should speak my heart more often. :)
And thank you for the encouragement.
This is just something that's been on my heart for a LOOOONG time and it all came tumbling out last night. I really appreciate your kind words.

Carla said...

Commented on Facebook but thought I would comment again. Have heard the same and more. An understanding nod, a smile, some positive reinforcement would be most welcome.

You are a wonderful mother and I love watching you raise the babes.

Anonymous said...'re the best daughter, the best sibling, the best wife, and the best mother. You're the best.


carole said...

I have thought about your post for the last 24 hours. I hope you will indulge the me the length of this post in order to share my thoughts on the subject with you.

I would like to think that no Christian woman/mother means to slam you or any other young mom on purpose and I am sorry that there are young moms out there who feel a lack of support from a community who should know better. If you feel someone is truly slamming you, know it is NOT about you, but about them and they could probably use your prayers. You just happen to be in their line of fire. I think we have all been on both ends of that exchange and neither place is a pretty place to be.

If you have ever felt slammed by me, I apologize and would love to have a discussion with you about it. I think many times people make remarks thinking they are being witty, or hip or sharing experiences. Not knowing how the other person will recieve that message only leaves two options... saying what is on your mind or saying nothing at all. And I think is can seem passive aggressive when probably it more of an attempt to communicate in a roundabout way. It is hard to know, in the long run, if speaking or silence will have the most positive outcome.

I can see that the exchange about engagement ring shopping was her way of saying "There be dragons there!" because there can be! Maybe she was trying to deftly but unsuccessfully help you learn from her experience. Yes, it is big fun, but it is also fraught with dreams, expectations and financial realities.

I was part of a Titus 2 group and I can tell you there is huge generation gap of ideas, expectations and desires between women of my age (and frankly I am not that old..yet) and the younger generation. I think we have become a society of so many differing opinions, even in the Christian community, that it becomes hard to even settle on basic ideas of womanhood, mothering and marriage. And the busy-ness of life makes it difficult to expect that a mentoring or modeling relationship can actually take place, because older women/younger women are just too busy to even be involved in each others lives to that degree.

And, lastly, I think I can speak for every woman who might fall into that "older women" group. We don't have our lives together anymore than the younger women do, because life is fluid and things change. I have found you are never "done" with your kids, even when they are adults. You are never done defining your marriage. You are never done defining your role as a Christ follower. The Christian life in all its facets is an ever-increasing death-to-self so God is glorified in relationships, marriages, the larger Christian family. And that is a lifelong struggle.

I loved a quote recently in Coffeegirl's blog said by her husband, "It's all broken." He's right. It all is. And in that brokeness we all strive to be better at what we do, all the time knowing the chances of falling short of who God wants us to be is highly probable. Only through His repeated acts of grace can we dust ourselves off and try again.

I truly have a soft spot in my heart for young moms. The struggle to balance all that is required is huge. My kudos go out to you for your desire to serve God through your life, your marriage and motherhood. Can't wait to meet Baby D 2. And keep blogging. You have a unique voice and much to offer us all.

Love, Carole

Anonymous said...

Erin, on behalf of us older, more experienced moms, I apologize. You have every right to feel disappointed. I have to admit that I am coming from a somewhat opposite experience. I would love to be a Titus 2 mentor, but the young moms I know seem to prefer their peers and regard moms like me as more-or-less geezers (my term). So there you go. I'm glad that you're looking for a good thing, and I pray that there will be women who come along and encourage you. Laurie S.

erin said...

Hi, Laurie! I've missed you!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Erin - thanks. Unfortunately, my computer has been extremely uncooperative lately. Every single time I went to your blogsite, I lost my internet connection. It's been very frustrating. For some reason, today is the one time where I haven't lost the connection (yet). Anyway, my computer lived long enough to see me graduate (Yes!!), and then it really started acting up. My new one is being shipped...I expect it any day now. Yay! Laurie S.