Mary and Martha were two sister who no doubt loved Jesus and wanted to honor him, they just went about it in two different ways. Martha was busy with the preparations. Can’t you can almost see her sweating over the meal she was preparing, worrying about whether it would fit for Jesus? Mary gets a bum rap, but I believe her intentions were good. She was getting things done, checking off those boxes, to ensure that things were on point for Jesus! Mary on the other hand wasn’t so concerned about what was happening in the kitchen. Her reaction to the arrival of Jesus, was not in the physical preparations, but in the spiritual and emotional. She was present. She sat at his feet and gave him her undivided attention. Martha was perturbed that while she was working her fingers to the bone to prepare for Jesus her sister in her opinion was slacking off. They were both serving Jesus, but one had found a good thing, and that was being in communion with Jesus, the one thing that was needful.
I always felt bad for Martha, because I understand her heart. I know how it is getting so caught up in the preparation, trying to make everything look perfect, and then feeling as though it really isn’t appreciated. I believe Jesus did appreciate Martha’s efforts, but I think he was also gently letting her know to stop being troubled about the things that are temporary and to be more present with the things that matter, such as… being present.
I’m not comparing our kids with Jesus, but I think moms can easily fall into a Martha kind of parenting if we become too consumed with prioritizing our duties, and not our relationship with our kids. Both approaches have the best intentions, but there needs to be a balance.
When we our kids become another check mark on our to do list, life as a mom starts to morph into series of routine errands and a preoccupation with performance, not theirs but ours. There is so much judgment and pressure on moms to do everything, be everywhere and do it well, it is what society expects of us. I’ve witnessed this at my daughter’s school. There are room moms, but not room dads and nor would they ever think of asking. Moms are expected to show up and we don’t hold men to the same standard. When we do so no, we are made to feel like we are not doing enough, or we don’t care, or can’t be bothered, it is so stinking unfair! So, don’t be hard on yourself with the whole performance thing, because it’s ingrained in us to a degree. Has it helped us? No! We have become burned out, stressed, exhausted, and hold ourselves to an impossible standard. I’m asking you to channel more of your Mary and a little less of your Martha.
Children are not tasks, they are human beings who crave a genuine relationship with their mom and on the flipside we desire the same. When that desire isn’t being satisfied, we slip into a rabbit hole of just going through the motions of being a mom. Look, there are those seasons, where you’ll be happy to just get through the day, with everyone fed and still breathing. That’s life, it happens and you may need to just focus on the task at hand. However, if this season is a lifestyle it’s probably time to try a different way.
I get frustrated and burned out when I feel like the only purpose I have as a mom is making that all the errands get completed. When I start to feel like just an Uber driver or get caught up into making sure everything is working perfectly, it makes me feel further away from my daughter. It’s like my role as mom has been diminished. If I look at her as a check box on a long list of things to do, then I’m not giving our relationship, the dignity or respect it deserves. That to do list may be filled with items that relate to her, but they are not her. I can take care of daily to do’s, but am I taking care of the person, or the relationship? This is a key question to ask ourselves. In my heart when I know that I’m putting more emphasis on the stuff than her, it makes feel awful, which in turn makes me incredibly hard on myself.
Life is too short and too uncertain to allow moments to slip away. When you are gone from this earth, your children will cherish the relationship and the memories you created. Sure, they’ll remember that mom juggled a million and things and totally rocked, but nothing will replace the memory of you being present and engaged. Give yourself permission to stray from the to do list, and spend quality time with your kids. Creating memories will last way longer than making sure dinner is on the table at precisely 6:00 pm. You may have to run a tight ship, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play hard, laugh a lot, and enjoy one another’s company. I know you’re trying to keep all the wheels turning, but don’t get run over by them! Enjoy the ride! You are a gift to each other, so make sure you take the time to unwrap all the delightful surprises that come with your family. In my upcoming eBook, “15 Tips to Avoid Single Mom Burnout,” I’ll give you practical tips on how you can be a little less Martha and a little more Mary!