I love tackling common myths and finding the truth–my writing about purity culture originally began with my award-winning article “5 Purity Culture Myths“. I have also addressed myths about sexuality in “Sex Therapy 101” and “Sex Education 101“.
Now it’s time to combat common myths about motherhood.
Some are rampant in our culture:
- “You don’t know love until you hold your child.”
- “Mothers know best.”
- “A mother is the most important person in a child’s life.”
And some of them are specific to Christian culture:
- “All women are made to be mothers.”
- “Being a good mother means being a homemaker.”
- “Men should work outside the home and women should stay at home.”
Let’s deconstruct five of the most common myths of motherhood and replace them with the truth.
Motherhood Myth #1: Motherhood is your ultimate calling.
Motherhood is NOT the ultimate calling in a woman’s life.
Motherhood is an important calling, but it might not be your only or primary calling.
The Church often tells us that motherhood is our most important job and everything else is secondary. Some churches even go so far as to say any roles outside of wife and mother are sinful and distract women from their God-ordained role in the home.⠀
I disagree. Some women (like myself) feel called to roles outside of motherhood–particularly professional careers.
It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Mother and professional are not mutually exclusive identities. I can be both a present and involved mother and a dedicated and focused professional. ⠀
And not every woman is able to or wants to be a mother. Their callings and contributions are no less valuable.
The truth is that for Christians, our ultimate calling is to love and serve God. That may be through motherhood or marriage. That may be through careers, ministry, volunteering, or service. That may be through all of the above! You get to follow God’s calling for YOUR life.
Motherhood Myth #2: Having children will completely fulfill you.
“Having children will complete you. Your children will fulfill you. No one ever knows true love until they hold their child in their arms.”
This is a big fat myth of motherhood.
The truth is motherhood can be challenging and disappointing at times. There are so many sacrifices involved in motherhood. And to be honest, there are times I grieve my old life. There are moments when I feel those sacrifices outweigh the joy and meaning I get from being a mother.
Motherhood can open fresh experiences of joy, love, and purpose that you’ve never experienced. And it can make you feel inadequate, self-doubt, and anxiety in a way you’ve never felt either. It is both/and.
Motherhood Myth #3: Motherhood means putting everyone else’s needs above your own.
Motherhood means I should always put my children’s needs above my own–right?
It is a myth that mothers live to serve or enjoy constantly caring for their families. It is not fun to wake up several times in the night to nurse an infant. It is not enjoyable to research treatments for your child’s special needs or search for the right childcare or school.
We need to normalize motherhood and self-care. Mothers need to care for themselves and receive care and nurturance from others too.
The metaphors of oxygen masks and empty cups are true. You have to care for our own needs too–and sometimes those conflict with the needs of your children or family.
It is not selfish to care for yourself. It is an act of self-love and ultimately benefits others in your life as well.
Motherhood Myth #4: Women are the more nurturing caregivers.
Men and women are equally capable of being loving and nurturing caregivers.
My husband is more naturally nurturing than I am. He is patient, gentle, and more present in the moment with our children than I naturally am.
I disagree that there is something in women’s DNA that makes us more nurturing and caring. I don’t believe we have “mother’s intuition” or certain instincts that men don’t have. Instead, I think it is largely dependent on an individual’s personality, strengths, and skills.
Fathers can be just as competent at parenthood. Mothers can be just as uncertain or unsure at times. When we work together as a team and equal partners, we can give our children the gift of a loving and involved mother and father.
Motherhood Myth #5: Women are “built for the home” and men are the protectors and providers.
This myth comes from from our old pal Mark Driscoll who said that “women are built for the home”. Men are naturally the protectors and providers while women are the caregivers and CEOs of the home and children.
I couldn’t disagree more. Women and men can choose to do what works best for them and their family–and that may look like dad staying home or taking on more of the childcare role and mom working outside the home.
My marriage has always had these nontraditional gender roles. I have always been the primary earner. My husband does most of the cleaning and cooking. He took off more parental leave for our first child when I went back to work. And we both share in childcare tasks like transporting kids, feeding kids (except breastfeeding), and washing/dressing them.
I am thankful for an equal partnership that doesn’t force us to fit ourselves into rigid gender roles that do not fit our personalities, temperaments, skills, and passions.
I am grateful God gave my husband and I different strengths and that we can both contribute to our home and family in our dual earner/dual caregiver model.
What are some myths of motherhood you have heard? Do you agree or disagree with any of the myths and truths I shared here? Leave a comment on the blog or join the conversation on Instagram!