Blog,  Faith

What’s Really Wrong With The Mommy Self-Care Movement

Mommy self-care good or bad?

Well motherhood is hard. Rewarding but hard. From interrupted sleep to discipline issues, as moms sometimes we just want to get away from it all.

The world offers us a myriad of solutions: a day at the spa, a visit to the nail salon, a hip new diet, or a glass of wine and a Netflix series.

In other words, the world tells us that what we need to have energy and love our children well is to practise self-care.

We must love ourselves first, before we can love others. We must place the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can help our kids with theirs is a common trope.

Understandably, we’ll often encounter those in the church who push back on this. After all, the world’s focus on self contradicts Biblical teaching on sacrificial love (John 15:13) and thinking of others.

Yet, what if actually there is some truth to the self-care messages presented to us? What if the problem with the world’s self-care messages and solutions is not that they are are too strong, but too weak?

According to the world, a day at the spa, the right diet, or a Netflix binge session is enough to put us to rights. To help us love our kids well. To help us be gentle, kind, patient. To help us have energy and be present.

Yet, what we actually need goes much deeper.

Sure a day at the spa may relax us momentarily, and certainly a good diet is important for our overall health and wellbeing, but what happens when we encounter sin issues in ourselves and our children? What happens when we need to deal with anger, bitterness, or insecurity?

So no, our deepest need is not for a back massage or a glass of kombucha.

Our deepest need

In motherhood, we’re stretched beyond our limits. Whether running on little sleep, dealing with toddler tantrums, wrestling with children’s health issues, as mothers, we need seemingly endless amounts of patience, energy, and love.

Yet, we often find that, as much as we love our children, we can’t always love them perfectly. There are times we get bitter, angry, irritable.

And the answer isn’t simply to try harder.

The answer to our weakness is to learn from the One who being 100% God and 100% Man, lived with human limitations, yet never sinned: Jesus.

While on earth, Jesus also got weary and tired. Yet, He loved His Own perfectly to the end. (John 13:1)

So, instead of accepting the world’s self-care solutions as the ultimate answers to our sin and limitations, we need to look at the life of Jesus for answers on how to love God and love others as we love ourselves.

Jesus’ Example

When looking at the life of Jesus, it’s interesting to note that no matter how full Jesus’ life was, there was one thing He did not forego on. Focused time with the Father. Indeed, seeking solitude with God was a priority in Jesus’s life. 

While it may seem like it was easy for Jesus to find moments of silence with God, it actually took great intentionality and planning. Jesus lived in first century Palestine, where people lived in tight-knit people-centred communities. In addition, as a rabbi, Jesus had people following him everywhere. 

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus from seeking the Eremos (solitary places). To do so, Jesus dismissed crowds, retired to quiet places like mountains and boats, and even slunk away in the dark.

In effect, Jesus drew from the source of life – the Father (the oxygen mask comes to mind) – before He poured into the lives of others.

And so it is to be with us, mama. Ok, maybe we won’t be able to escape on a boat, but we can certainly find ways to seek Jesus amid the rhythms of our day-to-day lives.

Whether that’s praying and reading Scripture while we’re breastfeeding our newborn. Or whether that’s waking up at five in the morning to be with Jesus.

You see, we can’t love our children well (or ourselves for that matter!) without spending time with the One who is the very definition of love.

None of this means we shouldn’t also practise other forms of self-care in order to be well for the demands of motherhood.

But let’s go to Jesus first. When we do, we can be certain Jesus will lead us to practise self-care with the right motivation (to glorify Him and to love others).

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