You’re More Than Just a Mom
About the Guest
Mom, has cleaning, cooking and changing diapers all day lost its luster? While your daily "to-do" list may seem trivial to you at times, it doesn't mean it's not of vital importance. Today, mother of two, Tracey Eyster, creator and editor of MomLifeToday.com, reminds mothers that what they are doing--shaping and molding the next generation--is more important than any other job out there. Tracey talks about some of the attitudes that often hinder a mother emotionally, including the attitude, "I'm just a mom."
Mom, has cleaning, cooking and changing diapers all day lost its luster?
You’re More Than Just a Mom
Bob: If you’re a mom, do you ever feel less than when people ask you, “So, what do you do?” Here is author, Tracey Eyster.
Tracey: The world tells us that being a mom is an interruption to what you’re really supposed to be. It’s sort of something that gets in the way of what even God really wants you to be someday. I think that being a mom molds you into what God wants you to be.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Is it possible that you have fallen into a mom trap? Author, Tracey Eyster, joins us today to talk about what some of those traps are. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We have a tradition in our family. On a child’s birthday, one of the things we do is we recount the details of the day that child was born. The reason we do this is because after our kids had celebrated a number of birthdays, they started asking questions about the day they were born. Mary Ann and I found ourselves not remembering the details. So, it was as much for us as it was for them, just to rehearse, at least once a year, the details of the day a child was born.
My son, John, just turned 21. At his birthday celebration, he prompted. He said, “Okay, Dad, let’s go through it again. Let’s have the details.” [Laughter] It’s something—and he knows all of the stories and knows about the chocolate ice cream soda that Mary Ann had that afternoon that helped start labor for her.
Dennis: That’s a great tradition.
Bob: Oh, it’s a fun tradition. We turned it into birthday trivia later on, to where I would ask questions of the kids: “What was the name of your mom’s obstetrician?” and, “What was the name of the hospital where you were born?” They would get prizes, depending on how well they did.
Dennis: Now, I’ve seen you play Trivial Pursuit®. I’m not sure about growing up in your family, having to play these games and recall all that stuff. [Laughter]
Well, we have someone with us—a special person—Tracey Eyster, who works here at FamilyLife, as a volunteer. She is the creative editor and designer of MomLife Today™, a blog that seeks to minister to moms and have an impact in their lives. She’s recently completed a book called Be the Mom: Overcoming Attitude Traps and Enjoying Your Kids.
We shared earlier, Tracey, how you and your husband Bill struggled over infertility and how God finally answered your prayers. You had a little girl by the name of Samara. I love what you write about in the book because you talk about the joy of becoming a mom. Then, you talk about fast-forwarding 16 years, when that little girl is now a teenager.
Tracey: Yes. Yes, there are several instances; but that particular one, she had turned 16. She had the car keys; she was out. I knew where she was, I knew who she was with, I knew what she was doing; but she was supposed to be home by 10:00. It was 10:03, and she wasn’t there. My imagination started running away with me, and I was imagining every horrific thing that could be happening to her. Then, she pulls—
Bob: At 10:03?
Tracey: At 10:03. Oh, of course!
Bob: I mean 10:10 I can understand, 10:15—
Tracey: I mean, I could—
Bob: —but 10:03?
Tracey: —because I expect her to be driving down the driveway at five until 10:00.
Tracey: Of course, she wasn’t going to be there at 10:00 or after. As she comes down the driveway, all of the fear in me switched emotions. It became a little bit of anger and frustration—I’m sure you two have never done that. She opens the door all bubbly, happy; and I became this raving lunatic. I was, “Where have you been? What have you been doing? I can’t believe you were not where—you were supposed to be home at this time!”
I recount that in the book just to let moms know that we do that. We have this vision of what we’re going to be as a mom; then, we have these moments where we turn into this other thing. We don’t understand how that much emotion that’s pent up in you, out of what was concern for your daughter, can just become a really bad attitude.
Dennis: Very quickly.
Dennis: Well, you write in your book how moms get off into traps. Now, why did you pick the theme of traps? I happen to like that concept.
Bob: Yes. Yes, does it have anything to do with Dennis Rainey and all the traps he talks about?
Dennis: No, I do think it did. No, I just—I’ve talked about traps with pre-teens—
Dennis: —and about getting off into the adolescent years and the traps they get off into; but you see moms getting off into those traps.
Tracey: Yes, I’ve always been an optimist. I can normally look at things in a positive light. I started thinking about my daughter, someday, when she became a mom. So, when I started writing this, I started writing it for Samara because I thought, “She’s going to become a mom. She’s going to start raising a child. All of a sudden, she’s going to think there’s something wrong with her. She’s not going to understand why she feels bad about herself at times, why she feels guilty, why she feels like she wants to hide under the covers, while sometimes she feels like, ‘That’s it! I’ve had it. I want everything to be done my way.’”
Dennis: Or raving lunatic at 10:03.
Tracey: Or, yes, a raving lunatic at 10:03. I was afraid that she was going to think back to her childhood—and because for the most part, I’m an optimist—that she was going to think back and go, “Wow! Mom seemed to mostly like being a mom and have a good attitude about it. There’s something wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this way, and it shouldn’t be this hard.”
I started trying to write down for her and analyze myself and other moms because we moved several times in my adult life. We would move into different communities. What I started learning is—all these different moms go through this. I would get in a new community. I’d see the mom that I could tell, “Well, she’s too busy,” because I recognize it. I used to be that. I would see the mom that was really sad, and overwhelmed, and had sort of become a martyr because I do that.
There just seemed to be these common attitudes that women would get that kind of taint them and turn them away from what God intended them to be as a mother. So, that’s how it started—just identifying the attitude traps that prevent you from being the mom that you’re supposed to be.
Dennis: Yes, and I appreciated that because I don’t think our kids—I don’t think they catch 99 percent of what’s going on, underneath the water line, in a mom’s heart; and it’s good. Honestly, it’s good that they can’t recall those things.
I remember coming home on more than one occasion when our children were younger, and Barbara would just be in a knot. You know? I don’t know that the kids knew it at all—but one of the reasons why I think was—she had high expectations of herself and what she wanted to accomplish for her day. You call that first trap of yours—
Tracey: The first trap is Just a Mom.
Dennis: Just a Mom.
Tracey: Just a Mom, where you just think that what you’re doing isn’t important—that you are just a mom, that the day in and day out drudgery of fixing—I always kind of laugh and say, “You make it, you eat it, and you clean it up.” It’s constantly day after day and moment after moment that you’re always doing all of these little things; but then, when you look back at the end of the day, you feel like you’ve done nothing because you don’t see anything big that was accomplished.
So, you start to think that you’re just a mom; but you’re so much more than just a mom because God knows you and He knows what He’s put into your life and how He’s made you; then—the children that He’s given to you—He gave them to you for a reason. There’s something that you’re supposed to pour into them so that they can become image bearers. If you see it as, “just a mom” versus, “I am the mom for Samara and Wesley. I need to be the mom that I’m supposed to be and pour into them,”—it’s just a shift in your mindset to recognize you can’t look at it as a less than...—you have to look at it as a more than....
I think the world tells us that being a mom is an interruption to what you’re really supposed to be. It’s sort of something that gets in the way of what even God really wants you to be someday. I think that being a mom molds you into what God wants you to be.
Bob: You touched on something that I think is pretty significant. That is—that if you are working in a job in a workplace, there are benchmarks, along the way. At the end of the month, you can look back and say, “Well, this happened. We accomplished this;” or six months in, the project is done; or at the end of the year, you’ve got some measuring sticks.
But if it’s been a year with a two-year-old and you look back and you go, “Well, let’s see. Okay, they’re potty trained.” Well, that doesn’t feel like the accomplishment of a lifetime. I mean, this is a slow-build process—this whole issue of parenting. The gratification is big-time delayed gratification.
Tracey: Right. You look at the micro instead of the macro. You look at the end of a day and you think, “Well, I didn’t do anything different today than I’ve done for the last 17 days.” As much of a career woman as I was, and as much of a go-getter as I was, I have learned more about who I really am, and who God wants me to be, and what God wants for my future through being a mom, than I ever would have if I had just been nose-to-the-grindstone. That whole selflessness thing—there’s nothing more selfless than being a mom and, day after day, pouring into your children.
Dennis: Okay, let’s take the Just Being a Mom trap. A husband, who is listening right now, of a Just Being the Mom —she’s in a funk. What can he do? What can he say? Or maybe better, what does he need to be as he arrives home and comes alongside his wife—his friend, his companion for life—as he enters her world?
Tracey: I think sometimes men underestimate the power an encouraging word can have on a mom, especially a young mom, who’s spending her day with little ones. Yes, you get the love, and the hugs, and the kisses from your children; but you also get their frustrations. I mean, you can imagine that, after awhile, when your husband walks in the door, what you want to remember a little bit of, in my case, is Tracey. “All day long I’ve been Mom, I have not been Tracey.” So, when hubby walks in the door—
Dennis: You need an identity?
Tracey: Yes, I need to remember that I’m still Tracey. I need him to walk up and give me a hug, and a big kiss, and, “How was your day?” and, “How are the kids?” I know maybe he doesn’t want to hear about some of the frustrations of the day; but if that’s where she goes with that, let her go there. Then, say, “Babe, I’m going to go draw you a bath. I want you to go take a bath, and I’m going to get on the floor and play with the kids tonight. You just spend an hour reading a book, taking a bath, relaxing,” because then what she knows is you’re giving her those moments again to be Tracey, instead of Just Mom.
Bob: Part of the reason I think Dennis asked the question about, “What can a husband do?” is because, typically, the kids aren’t going to give you a whole lot of affirmation. They’re not going to say, “Hey, Mom”—
Dennis: Right, right.
Bob: —“you did a great job today. The block thing was so—oh, man!”
Dennis: “That was over the top.”
Bob: “That was big.” Then, the culture isn’t going to give you a whole lot of affirmation. There aren’t going to be a whole lot of people who are going to lift up and celebrate what you did. In fact, you look around at what is celebrated and mom is pretty low on the totem pole. So, you do need some cheerleaders in your life. That’s really part of the reason why you developed the MomLife Today blog—is to do that cheerleading for other moms because they need to hear those voices; don’t they?
Tracey: Definitely. I do think that’s why mom blogging has grown the way it has on the internet because if you’re in your home all day, every day, just being able to say to someone, “Look, this is what we did with my kids today. I got on the floor, and we played blocks. Look at this really cool way—that if you take old shoe boxes—it’s a really fun thing you can do with your kids.”
Now, that’s been done, since the beginning of time; but when you have other moms that leave little comments on your blog that say, “Oh, that’s great! That’s such a good job. I’m going to do that with my kids,” you just felt affirmed. Definitely, with MomLife Today, I would say that the majority of the letters that we get from women are women that feel sort of overwhelmed and forgotten. They’re trying to understand, “How can I still find joy in being a mom around the day to day?”
Bob: They’re e-mails, not letters; right?
Tracey: Oh, yes! E-mails. [Laughter]
Bob: For what it’s worth, we’re talking about modern technology.
Tracey: Yes, we are.
Bob: I thought I’d just—
Dennis: Well, Bob, I was thinking, as she was talking about that, around a number of broadcasts—maybe it was only a couple that we did way back in the early years of FamilyLife Today. We’re coming up on our 20th anniversary, here this fall, and remember Mom Check?
Bob: Oh, yes.
Dennis: We called moms, all across the country, and just said, “Would you just share with us what you’re doing right now?” One of them was down on the floor playing blocks. We asked her to describe her kitchen. She nearly had a heart attack to have to describe it on the air there. [Laughter] I just remember her talking about how it was—Brenda was her name. She was describing her kitchen that looked like a small atomic device had gone off in it.
Bob: But she said, “If my husband were to come home right now, he would say, ‘You’ve been doing the right thing today.’”
Dennis: Tracey, you’ve got a number of traps here that you list besides Just Being a Mom. Which one is a nemesis for you, personally? I mean—
Dennis: —out of all—
Dennis: —of these. [Laughter] I think I know, but I just want you to admit it here because—
Dennis: —you took quite a length of time in your book on one. I just want to see if you identify it.
Tracey: The one that’s my biggest nemesis is the Martyr Mom.
Dennis: I was wrong. The Martyr Mom—explain what you mean by that.
Tracey: The Martyr Mom would be that I am working hard, doing what I’m supposed to be doing at home and appearing to have a happy heart while doing it, but grumbling under my breath and/or, “Oh, great! I’m obviously the only one in this house that can put the dishes in the dishwasher. Fine! I’ll put them in the dishwasher;” —or walking past a bathroom and under my breath—loud enough for other people to hear it, “Oh, great! Look at the bathroom. Who’s supposed to clean that? I guess it’s going to magically clean itself. Fine! I’ll clean it.”
So, it’s—I actually put this poster on the refrigerator once that said, “It would be a wonderful world if everything in this house was put back where it was supposed to go.” My family didn’t think that was funny.
Bob: That didn’t go over so well?
Tracey: Didn’t go over so well because that’s what I harp on all the time. So, the idea of a Martyr Mom is you’re doing all the things that you want to do to make your home a happy place, but you’re grumbling the whole time and making sure everybody knows your sacrifice. It can even manifest itself in appearance. See, that’s what kind of happened to me. I became a sweat suit, t-shirt, pony-tail girl. I had sort of a fluffy attitude, and a fluffy countenance, and a fluffy body. I don’t think I did it on purpose, but sort of this inner— “poor, pitiful me”—manifested itself in my appearance.
Bob: You’re basically saying, “Okay, if this is my lot in life, I’m not going to look good.”
Tracey: Right. “I’m just miserable. I’m going to make sure everybody knows it; but I’m going to keep doing what I’m supposed to do, which is to make sure”—again, I don’t think I consciously thought that; but looking back at it, I can see that. For me, when I was really trapped in the Martyr Mom trap was when my children were younger. I was at home all the time, and I was constantly doing things for them. I just became this martyr.
As a matter of fact, last week, another mom opened up my book, and flipped to the chapters, and she was looking. Then, she started nodding. She was like, “I need to get this book.” I looked at her. She said, “I have a friend that needs this book. Can I buy this book right now from you?” She said, “One of these traps—” I said, “Which one?” She said, “The Martyr Mom.”
I think the Martyr Mom—it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to admit to people that you go through this sort of personal slump. That’s probably why, if you’re like, “Really, I wouldn’t have thought that one—” Most people wouldn’t think that of me because I spoke about it about eight years ago to a group of women. Then, a couple of them came up to me afterwards and said, “I never would have thought that you could have turned into what I am.”
Dennis: I wouldn’t have selected it for you. You quote Proverbs, Chapter 15, verses 13 through 15, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face; but by sorrow of heart, the spirit is crushed.” That’s the fluffy—
Dennis: —the fluffy look, the fluffy attitude—just kind of down on self. Verse 14, “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”
You’re really calling moms out of the doldrums, and not to think negatively about their lot in life and their assignment, but to have a positive view of where God has them and the ministry that He’s given them.
Tracey: Right, I think it’s a choice. I think everyone can become overwhelmed at whatever job it is that they are doing. C.S. Lewis said, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that’s to support the ultimate career.”
So, I think the whole martyr thing—where you can really start to not understand the importance of what you’re doing and you kind of wear your countenance in the way that you appear—and I think sometimes that’s part of why—if the world is telling moms and women that being a mom is sort of an annoyance or keeps you from being what it is you are really supposed to do. There were times where I know I painted that picture. I made women think that because of my countenance and the way I was approaching my mom life. I feel like it’s a choice. I feel like whatever we do we’re supposed to do it as if doing it for the Lord. We’re not supposed to pout and be pitiful, and I also felt like I was modeling that for my children.
If I wanted them to have a happy heart and do things with a good attitude, well, I needed to do the same thing. I think the enemy just loves to whisper things into our ear to get us to be miserable and pitiful. So, I just made the choice, “I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to listen to all those lies.”
Dennis: Well, there are other traps that you talk about in your book: the Busy Mom—we know plenty of those. There is the Mirror Mom, and I nodded my head when I read that chapter because the whole issue of comparison is a huge issue. Then, there is the Me Mom. That’s where it’s all about me. That’s a tough trap to be in if you’re given the assignment of raising the next generation because they demand self- sacrifice and self- denial.
Regardless of where you struggle as a mom, I think you’re going to fall right in the middle of Tracey’s book—and be encouraged and strengthened as you read it for the traps you are facing, and the traps you need to step around, and over, and through, and continue on because, as you quoted C.S. Lewis, it is a career that has ultimate importance.
Tracey, I really appreciate you being on FamilyLife Today. I appreciate the work you’re doing on the MomLife Today blog site. I hope our listeners will visit that. They’ll have a chance to read some of the things Barbara writes from time to time there, as well as you—and how many others—20—?
Tracey: There are 21 contributors. Some of them are moms whose names people will be familiar with, and some of them are not. Some of them are moms, just like those out there, reading. I think the idea is you need to know what’s behind you and remember and reach back to moms younger than you, and you need to know what’s ahead of you and be prepared for what’s coming in front of you. That’s why we have moms of every age and every stage of mom life.
Bob: We have a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to the MomLife Today website. If our listeners are interested in checking out the blog, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the MomLife Today link. You can find out more about who is writing and what the moms are saying at MomLife Today. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how to get there and for information on Tracey Eyster’s new book, Be the Mom. We’ve got copies of that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, we have heard from a number of new friends this month. Back at the beginning of August, we asked those of you who are regular, long-time listeners to FamilyLife Today—you’ve been tuned in for a while. You’ve heard helpful things on the program, but you’ve never picked up the phone or gone online and made a donation to help support the ministry. We’re asking you to consider doing that during the month of August. In fact, we’re hoping to hear from 2,500 new friends of FamilyLife Today this month. That’s a big goal. It actually breaks down to about two families in every city where FamilyLife Today is heard. When you break it down that way, it doesn’t sound so big; but honestly, we are still a ways away from getting to our goal of 2,500 new friends this month.
So, would you consider—if that fits you—you’re a regular listener, but you’ve just never gotten in touch with us and made a donation—would you consider doing that today? If you can make a donation, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you the movie, October Baby, which was in theaters a few months ago. We’ve got DVD’s. The movie is not out in stores, yet; but we have an advance copy that we can get to you. Again, that’s for anybody who is making a first-time contribution to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today and to keep this program on your local station and on our network of stations, all across the country.
Additionally, if you’re make a first-time donation and that donation is $100 or more, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” to you by sending you a certificate so that you and your spouse can attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, as our guests. So, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Make a donation online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. We hope to hear from you.
Again, hope to hear from 2,500 first-time friends this month. If you’re one of those who does get in touch with us, let us just say, “Thank you,” now for your support. We do appreciate your participation in the ministry, and it’s nice to hear from you.
We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk about the entitlement attitude that is present in a lot of homes, even some Christian homes—kids growing up thinking they are entitled to—well, you fill in the blank with whatever you think fits there. Kay Wills Wyma joins us on Monday to talk about how moms and dads can defeat that entitlement attitude. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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