11 Feb 2015

Dear Moms: Let’s Stop Judging Each Other and Start Seeing Each Other

Sometimes I stand at mixers in Washington, DC and listen to people introduce themselves. It’s the most fascinating experience. All these walking, talking business cards. And their business is good and strong and brave most of the time. And very interesting.

But it also feels very big. Like it could just easily walk over the women I hear in the room not talking. There was this one woman one time and her not talking was so loud I could hear it over all the words being said around her by the business card people.

So, I asked her – right there in front of all the big, loud, business cards, I asked her what she does.

And she look down and away and laughed and then said something like, “Oh you know, I stay home with the kids.”

And the husbands all around her, they were ready to go right on talking. But I remembered to grab that moment. I remembered how she feels because I’ve had business cards and I’ve stayed home and I know how sometimes one can feel more important than the other. Depending, I guess, which side of the argument you’re on.

But I’m not here to argue today.

I’m just here to step into the silences when I hear other women laughing at themselves – at the thing they feel the most called to do.

And a couple years ago it was this mom who looked at her feet as she described herself. Like what she does is somehow less important than what everyone else in the room does.

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And everyone else was ready to keep right on talking about the headlines of their day, but there was a sacred second I stole. I stole that quiet moment in the conversation to look over at that woman’s husband and tell him that the hardest job I’ve ever had is not as a corporate attorney, not as a legal specialist working on anti-trafficking, not as a teacher at a small community college.

The hardest job I’ve ever had has been raising tiny humans. Period.

Maybe this is not your experience. Maybe you don’t like hearing motherhood described as a “job.” But it sure is work. And it’s the hardest, holiest, most formative work I’ve ever done. And am still doing.

And sometimes just saying that out loud around another mom is like reminding them – right there in public with all the suits and titles and business cards – that you see them.

You SEE them.

You see their work and their worry and their two am shifts that ache in bones and heart places we didn’t know we had.

Sometimes, simply being willing to see another woman at her most vulnerable and recognize it and relate to it is enough to give her the goods to go back to that hard, hard work she’s doing. The work where you don’t get a business card or a year end review, bonus, or pay raise. That work that feels both meaningless and utterly sacred on the same day.

That work that you’re both qualified and ridiculously ill-equipped, ill-prepared, and terrified to do.

We need to be seen.

We need to see each other.

The mom in the grocery line with the wailing kids and the exhausted look on her face – see her today. And let her know she’s doing alright.

The mom who is late to school to pick up her kid; who looks flustered and embarrassed and distracted. See her today. Wave. Forget to make her feel bad about herself.

The working mom who juggles daycare drops offs and car pool line. See her. Get over wanting to make her feel guilty. Offer to help her because there are days she’s stuck in traffic and desperate to make it back in time before the school starts charging her hostage amounts every minute she’s late. Let her tell you about her day without judging her.

The stay home mom who has sacrificed to live out this choice. See her.  See her as a whole person who has dreams that walk and talk around her living room, but maybe also dreams that she so badly wants to spill out of her journal and share with someone else. She’s allowed to love staying home as well as be frustrated by it – sometimes on the same day.

We’re all actually on the same team here.

We are.

Maybe we could remember that on purpose – with our words.

I see you there on the other side of the screen – I SEE YOU. And I see brave and vulnerable, faith and doubt. It’s a lot like looking in the mirror, sister.

Sister.

You are my sister and I will always try to fill up your silences with belief in what you’re doing.

Pass it on, will you?

 

Photo by Mallory MacDonald

 

Comments

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  1. 1

    Thank you for this post, so true

  2. 2

    Yes, Lisa-Jo…so true. Amen! I totally see the world of mom hood as such a critical and crucial world. We need to judge less and lean in to love more. One day at a time…I try to be more authentic and real with my mom friends so they can be their true selves with me too. :) Jenn

  3. 3

    Oh Lisa-Jo… I agree so much. Thank you for being brave and bold and classy enough to BE able to say that in the midst of the men!

    It was the hardest of all the jobs I’ve done in life too (though mine were not nearly as degree-necessary as yours)!

    Wife is pretty hard too…especially as an empty-nester married to a workaholic… No kids to talk about now! No tender stories, or pull out your hair moments (unless you throw in the computer problems!) but they hardly seem like mentioning in comparison to the corporate battles he faces… Or the toddler days of ol’.
    Grandparenting has taken its place, and although it’s not the long hours of motherhood, it is definitely a good job, that brings many exciting moments to my life. All you younger moms hang in there! You may get to be grandmas too… It’s the reward for surviving raising their parents!

  4. 4

    “She’s allowed to love staying home as well as be frustrated by it – sometimes on the same day…” and with that you’ve spoken my heart. Again. All these words. So true. Thank you for keeping it real and reminding me to love all my sisters, no matter how different I think their choices or lives are from mine…because in the end, we are so very much the same. xo

  5. 5

    I love this! I’m laughing, because the post I published today is titled, “The Importance of Being Seen.” God saw a pregnant Hagar in the wilderness in a mess of a situation and helped her. She calls Him, “the God who sees.” We all want to be seen, to be noticed, and to feel like we matter. Thank you for encouraging me that my role as mom is seen too. :)

  6. 6

    Your words made me cry! My stay-at-home days are gone, my kids are grown with kids of their own. Those of you doing motherhood at home or even as working moms, Stay Strong in the Lord! YOU MATTER!

  7. 7

    Well said! As always, thank you for sharing your wisdom and your heart. Lisa Jo, I see you and you are appreciated!

  8. 8

    Amen Lisa Jo!
    I went to the local IF:Gather this passed weekend and of the many, many things I received, one truth that stuck out was this: All women are terribly insecure and terrified they are are not enough and because of this they and their family are basically gonna be screwed. Because of them. And women’s critical spirit {as part of all this ugliness inside of us} is feeding the flame of these lies. I am both grieved at my passed judgements, and hopeful in what God’s spirit can do through us finally grabbing a hold of how He loves us, so we can love others.
    Cheers,
    Leah

  9. 9
    Anita Shirley says:

    Thank u Lisa for being so truthful to the extent of being so blunt….ur words went piercing my heart and revealed the emotions I am going through..I am doing a part time job leaving my original career..recently was trying to get back since my child is 2yr and 3months but seems God is pointing me to stay home..so the same day my emotions swing from being frustrated to being content…felt mocked at even when ppl don’t laugh at u…feeling down when I hear in watsapp groups,my juniors in college are fairing in high positions…I was thinking today Lord,I am losin my mind…preserve it pls…coz Of my swinging emotions…but u nailed me down !!glad other mom also go through these on D SAME DAY!!
    It’s just the lie of the devil that I am the only one going through this and am being a failure…when we know how not to be mocked at..we will do the same for others…not with a mocking look remark,sigh but with an encouraging smile

  10. 10
    ainemistig says:

    “She’s allowed to love staying home as well as be frustrated by it – sometimes on the same day.” OH, thank you for saying that!

    And THANK YOU for intentionally taking the time to tell that gal’s husband that her job was the hardest job you’ve ever done, to give her that encouragement, especially in front of her husband.

    It’s so upsetting the belief that permeates our culture that what you’re doing somehow isn’t contributing to society if it doesn’t come with a paycheck and accolades. It’s a LIE from the pit of hell. As you’ve said, so well, time and time again: it is HOLY work. God sees it, and He considers it honorable and noble and important.

    There are blessings in the sacrifices parents make — and there are sacrifices unique to staying home moms and unique to working moms. God sees them, and sees us.

    And I think you’re right, Lisa-Jo, we should strive to SEE each other as well. And lift each other up.

    Yes, I will pass it on.

    We SEE you, Lisa. We see you pulling up words of life for all these strangers yet sisters on the other side of the screen when you’re exhausted and cried-out from your own momma-ing. Thank you for doing it. Thank you for taking the call of encourager so seriously to heart.

    I hope you have a good day today with all your kiddos.

  11. 11

    Lisa-Jo, I remember hearing you share this story at Declare, and I remember snippets of dozens of blog posts and Instagram shout outs by you and other me-too mamas beating the beautiful drum of a similar message…and yet someone reading these words in this moment has brought me to tears. Tears for the conviction that I have judged other precious moms. Tears for the truth that I DO love staying home and yet I’m full of dreams and some days frustration for the stumbling journey it is to live out more than one calling. Tears for the hope that we all ARE on the same team and if we can each humbly live that out, oh, what a beautiful God-glorifying, life-giving thing that would be. So thank you for these tears. Thank you for this. xoxox

  12. 12

    Sooo… you know how it goes – I have nothing to add but a hearty Amen… and also a literal #Squee that comments are open! ;) xoxo

  13. 13

    Just yesterday, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in years. Why did I feel inadequate saying I stay at home and homeschool our kids? Honestly, I enjoy staying home, it’s what I always wanted to do, but I have moments of “why did I choose this path?” Some days, I feel good about what I do one moment and like it’s not enough the next.

  14. 14
    Melissa B. says:

    Beautifully written. !! Love it.

    Thank you.

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  1. […] a mom and  you have time to read just one other thing this week, I would want it to be this: Dear Moms: Let’s Stop Judging Each Other and Start Seeing Each Other by Lisa-Jo Baker. Because no matter how we choose to mother, we really are all on the same […]

  2. […] Dear Moms: Let’s Stop Judging Each Other and Start Seeing Each Other @ Lisa-Jo Baker […]

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