Settling. What an interesting word, right? Settling down, to settle, unsettling, or settling up. As American’s we are even familiar with the term “settler”; the American pioneers who settled in the land west of the original colonies. The original German work setle was literally a place to sit, a seat. Yet with all these perfectly adequate definitions of the word settle, we have a definite malaise when we think of someone settling for something. Such as a women settling for a guy who doesn’t treat her right or someone settling for second best. It appears that taking a seat and settling can be a bad thing.
The Unsettled Mom
I think that we need to become unsettled moms. Not because settling down is bad, but rather because we’ve been settling so long for things that are not God’s best that we do not even recognize what his best is. The reason that I bring this up is not to forcibly upset your norm . . . but because I realize that my norm needs to change. I need to become unsettled to follow God’s will for my life.
Unsettling My Parenting
I want to talk with you about a trend in parenting that I’ve been seeing lately. It’s parenting by excuses. Not only that, it’s parenting by excuses and other mothers helping you feel excused by offering their own failures as examples to ease your conscience. So really, you end up deciding that you are doing a good enough job because you’ve heard all the ways other people have done worse.
What a load of CRAP! Do we really want to parent by comparing ourselves to all of the bad examples? We may definitely leave with a sense of pride, but we will definitely not become a better parent! Stop telling a mother what she wants to hear and help her become a better mother! We need to walk along each other as mothers and build each other up rather than providing a new list of how much worse things could be. Mothers don’t need excuses; they need to realize their responsibility as a parent. They need role models. They need to grow and not settle. I, for one, am not satisfied with settling for excuses. I have plenty of them and I don’t want to hear any more!
Here are some examples of parenting by excuses:
“My son is 100% boy!” – an excuse for rude behavior
“My daughter is still getting used to being around other children.” – an excuse for not sharing
“Boys will be boys.” – an excuse for any negative behavior of a boy
“She is such a little diva!” – an excuse for a bossy attitude
Really? Are we buying this? I don’t. I don’t want my son to be 100% boy if that means he never learns limits and doesn’t treat others with respect. I don’t want my boy to be a “boy” if that means he has every excuse known to man to not behave, not be polite, and not listen. The same goes with the little divas. Do you want your little girl to be a diva? Or do you want her to be a humble darling who serves the Lord? I won’t settle in my life for these excuses. I won’t let myself settle for adequate parenting because boys will be boys. No. Actually, it is our job as parents to train up children not to let them act however they decide to act. It’s not okay. You can use excuses or you can parent. It’s your choice.
I’m almost done with my discussion on parenting, but I have one more topic to add to this. I have noticed a second growing trend among mothers. It has a lot to do with the excuse parenting, but it takes it a step farther. Calling good mothers bad. Basically, if you keep your kid clean, iron their clothes (which, granted, I rarely do . . .), mop the floors, or care about their safety, then you are not a good mother. You need to let them be dirty. You need to leave the floors dirty. You have to let them be free! Free as a bird!
Birds aren’t free. God sets limits on birds. Most birds migrate and follow a leader to survive. They have direction. If they don’t go south for the winter, they die! Your children need limits. Your children need a leader to survive. Your children need direction. Of course kids can go have a fun time and get dirty. Sure, the floors will get dirty sometimes. You can constructively your children bits of freedom so they can learn to make good choices. But everything has its limits. Good mothers cannot be defamed because other mothers want to let their children run around free and dirty on unmopped floors. Mother’s who set limits are good mothers. Stop labeling them “overprotective” or saying they are “over mothering.”
Unsettling My Home
Alright, so I’ve tackled my problems with the current trends in parenting. Now I’ll move on and step on some more toes. I’m all about unsettling the home too. We as mothers have accepted the lie that says if our home is dirty then our children and husband are happy. Yes, if you’ve been neglecting to spend time with your family by doing housework and you suddenly stop and give them attention . . . then this ridiculous modern proverb could be true. However, I’ve most often noticed that when a woman’s house is dirty, her husband and children aren’t getting any extra attention and do not feel any more cared about. This does include my house. I began my life as a wife as a horrible housekeeper. I swept maybe once a month. I did dishes when they piled up so much that I couldn’t get at the faucet. I’d clean my toilets when they looked utterly disgusting or sometimes only when we had company coming. I know for a fact that my husband didn’t feel any more love from me because I lazily didn’t care for our home.
Fast forward to me as a mother caring for my home. When my son was small, our house was a disaster. Rightfully so. I was so exhausted from breastfeeding and changing diapers that I didn’t have the energy to expend in order to keep the house clean. BUT does this mean that I use the lame excuse that “my house is dirty then my baby is happy”? NO. My baby might have appreciated being on a rug that was vacuumed more regularly. Granted he didn’t notice much, but I would have loved to have my home cleaner. This is when settling is so very wrong. I settled for my house to be in this condition rather than asking for help! We as mothers have said it’s okay to leave our home as a disaster zone because we are “too busy parenting” rather than saying it’s not okay and asking for help maintaining our homes.
I’ve realized now that my son is five and I do have time to maintain my home that I actually have to choose not to be lazy about cleaning. My natural desire is to leave things messy and simply move around the mess. It takes work to clean. The floors don’t seem to care if they get mopped. However, I am the maker of my home. I will not settle. I’m through settling. I will choose to make my home an enjoyable place to live. I may not have all the piles picked up in my home. I may occasionally leave the dishes dirty. But I refuse to say it’s okay to live in the squalor of laziness. I am not “too busy” to clean my home. I have been too often too lazy to clean my home.
We cannot reject the standard of goodness because we decide its too much work to maintain a nice house. It is good to have a clean home. It is good to have clean floors. It is good to have a clean toilet. We will not always have all things complete, but we need to set our standard high rather than deciding to set the bar low just to make ourselves feel okay. We will never grow and never have a nice home if we say it is good to have a dirty home. I will not accept this lie and I choose to not settle. Are you with me?
How then do we become unsettled? First off, we have to relax. I know this sounds like the opposite of what I’ve been saying this whole time about not settling for excuses and not settling for a dirty home, but it’s not. We can’t be legalistic or condescending to ourselves and still succeed as a parent and homemaker. We can set the standard high and aim for excellence, but we cannot beat ourselves up when we don’t succeed every time. If we attain for nothing, we will succeed at nothing. If we attain for little, we with succeed at a little. If we attain for great things, we may not always get great things, but we are surely better off than we were before! We need to enjoy parenting well. We need to enjoy caring for our families through the maintenance of our homes.
Set your goal high. Don’t settle. Don’t take a seat but rather seek after God’s best. You are a good parent. You are a good homemaker. Make it happen.