This month has been all about gaining freedom and perspective as parents. From the tall tale that a “good” mom shouldn’t need breaks from her kids, to the lie that she should be able to do it all (and all at the same time), to the whopper that she should love each child in exactly the same way, we’ve been demolishing the myths of motherhood. This week brings us a final Myth-Busting Mama who battled back against the notion that she should take all her cues from her parental peers on everything from birthday-party bounce-houses to which college is best for her child.
Molly Prim is a fun, down-to-earth friend whom I’ve come to respect even more as she serves as a lay elder guiding our church during these upside-down times. Her practical advice and creative approaches find their backing in scripture, so I knew she’d have great things to share. If you’ve ever felt the pressure to keep pace with everyone else’s parenting “highlight reel,” you’ll love what Molly has to say!
Cassia: I know you’ve got two great sons, one who just graduated from the University of Texas and one who’s in high school, so you’ve been parenting for awhile, but I bet it’s not been all smooth sailing. Can you tell us a little about your motherhood journey?
Molly: John and I met and married much later than most of our friends, and we wanted to start our family quickly since neither of us were getting any younger! We joked that we’d be in those velvet roped-off sections for the senior citizens at our kids’ graduations. So, when our two boys came along, my motherhood role was ever so active. John’s job takes him out of town 60% of the month, and that’s a lot of solo mom time. I would often grow weary, even though I enjoyed tackling the challenges and twists in each season. I was constantly surprised by how differently our two boys were wired from each other. After all, they had the same parents, same house, same everything, but whamo—that threw us for a loop. What worked for one, definitely didn’t work for the other. Eventually, we learned to stop comparing them to each other and instead, to focus on their individual strengths and how their gifts were enhancements to the Prim house. That helped our frustrations begin to melt away. Besides, what a boring home we’d have if we were all predictable!
Cassia: In the process of changing your perspective on parenting, did you uncover any motherhood myths?
Molly: I benefited from busting one myth in particular: In order to do the parenting thing right, you should just roll with your peers and take your cues from others in your season. I think a lot of us buy into that myth because since we were kids, we seemed like we were all in the same boat doing the same thing. We all did the school and job thing, and now we’re all doing the family-building thing. However, since none of us have ever raised a family, none of us have a clue what we’re doing. If we’re only looking to each other, we all fall into the same insecurities and believe certain things must be in place to ensure we’re doing it “right.” That’s all fine and dandy if you’re raising robots without their own set of likes, dislikes, quirks, or unique characteristics. The rat race of keeping up and looking like a family off a J Crew catalog cover was exhausting, and it’s not real life. I am sure those are great folks, but that just ain’t us!
Cassia: How did you start to break free from that myth?
Molly: I began to see the truth of passages like Psalm 139:14, that we are wonderfully made, and Ephesians 2:10, that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared for us. That meant my little guy that was wired as a cautious introvert was not created for the same life experiences as a more outwardly comfortable, risk-taking fella. Neither is better or right, just unique on purpose. Then, as I started doing things in ways better suited to my boys’ personalities, I caught on to the whole spoof that I should just take my cues from the way my peers were parenting. For instance, one son can’t stand big, loud parties and being the center attention, so the hyped-up, huge birthday parties were not his speed. Rather than trying to go with the flow and keep up with how others celebrated, we just did small family celebrations. And….the sun still set and the moon still rose that night! That was so freeing!
The freedom for you to do you and me to do me also leaves no room for judgement, jealousy, or bitterness. That’s a much more enjoyable way to go through life and raise kids. I really believe our kids’ quirks or struggles are there for a reason, so we must have confidence that those things will come in handy eventually and embrace our kids for who they are. Then, when we realize we’re not in competition with other parents, we can also build up other moms. Seeing our kids flourish is not a mutually exclusive event, and we can celebrate together all their successes as they happen on a particular kid’s timetable and in God’s plan for them. If one child potty trains easier or learns to tie their shoes without meltdowns, great! If one gets into the higher-level classes or goes to a particular college, that’s awesome! We just have to remember that all of us are God’s workmanship and He does not do shoddy work. We are all doing life together knowing that people have their own lanes for predetermined reasons and purposes.
Cassia: I love how you’ve applied scripture raising your sons. Are there any other specific scriptures and advice that have helped you walk away from the “rat race” and trust God’s plan for how to parent?
Molly: I think keeping the perspective that God trusted me to raise these two boys. Psalm 127:3 says they are a heritage and a reward from the Lord. I pray that I don’t lose sight of that and that I always cherish them! I also keep this favorite on an index card in my bedside table from 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
That reminds me that if I just stick my MY knittin’ and do the best that I know how without worrying about what others are doing, I can stay out of the rat race.
I admit I do strive towards being all that the Proverbs 31 woman represents, too, but truthfully, I am so not there! Still, those are lofty goals to focus on and try to duplicate in our daily lives. Especially cool is verse 25: Clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs without fear of the future. Who out there would not “Add to Cart” that option! I just gotta say, more and more I lean into Him for wisdom, guidance, and assurance—He WILL clothe a girl with that strength so that as murky as the waters appear, she has no fear.
Finally, I’d remind other moms not to lose their sense of humor. Seriously, things are going to get wonky. At some point, you can either laugh or ugly cry. I figured out I’m a lot more fun to be around when I laugh, and nobody RSVPs “yes” to pity parties…so we’ve got to unwind a bit. We all mess up, so roll with it!
Cassia: I’m right there with you on trying to avoid those pity parties and see the humor! Thank you so much for closing out our myth busting series. One final question I’ve been asking everyone: Any women, either ones you know personally or that you’ve studied in history or scripture, that have significantly influenced your mothering?
Molly: There are so many Bible heroes, like Esther who courageously trusted God—just like we as moms are to do as we trust Him with our children. “For such a time as this” is what we will feel as we watch their unique qualities or gifts come to fruition through Him. And we will all say, “Ah-ha, that’s why they’re wired that way!” Then, there’s Sarah’s faith that God would keep His promise to give her a child. Standing on His promises gives me a foundation that can withstand life’s storms.
Even if we choose not to take all our cues from the culture around us, we do benefit from solid advice from other women. That’s wisdom! So, I have been enriched by many women. My mom taught me to have a zeal for life and embrace its adventure and all the characters placed in it. My precious mother-in-law steadfastly prayed for her son’s wife long ago. How tender is that? She lives His Word out daily in her heart, words, and actions, and what a gift it is. Women like them and so many others in our congregation inspire me. They model what a Christ-following mom, wife, and woman looks like. We are all figuring this stuff out together, and isn’t it sweet to have sisters linking arms with us while we do?
Cassia: Well said, Molly! And for any mother looking for more encouragement, check out the other articles in this series from real moms doing real life:
Meet Jennifer Perez who battles back against the myth that moms should feel guilty for needing time away from their kids.
Meet Suzanne Werlein as she exposes the myth that moms should be able to do it all and all at the same time.
Meet MoNicka Montañez who busts the myth that to love and parent kids well moms have to love them in exactly the same way.