Hear me out. I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but can we stop for a moment to reflect on the message that “you are enough” could be sending?
I know the intent is to empower mothers to persevere with confidence in themselves. I know it’s meant to be a positive affirmation. I am 100% up for encouraging and lifting up other mamas, but this is a sentiment I just can’t get behind.
Motherhood can be stinking hard. Like the hardest thing in the world. At one point or another, we have all wanted to hide in our closet with our secret stash of chocolate and take a nap for three weeks. But we don’t. Instead, we keep going. We change another diaper and wipe another nose and burn – I mean cook– another grilled cheese, and at the end of the day, we are exhausted.
It’s in these moments when we question if we were really were cut out for this motherhood gig. We hop on social media where we are met with an entire culture and movement telling us that we are. “We are enough.”
So…What could possibly be wrong with that??
Well, I propose that when a mother who feels totally overwhelmed reads that she is enough, it can be unintentionally discouraging. If she feels like she’s giving it all she has and she’s still coming up short, she may wonder if she has some sort of mothering deficiency. She may get the idea that all of the other mothers in her life are just killing it on their own. She may feel like she should be able to handle it all by herself, too.
Personally, I believe I was designed with a need for my Creator. In no uncertain terms, I believe I am the furthest thing from “enough”. Whether or not you share this belief, the implication that we are individually self-sufficient goes directly against our human nature to forge relationships, spiritually or otherwise. We were designed for community. We were made to share each other’s loads. I mean, haven’t we always sort of known “it takes a village”?
For a long time, I knew “You are enough” just didn’t sit well with me, but I wasn’t sure why. It seemed harmless. I’m sure even now some may think I’m being unnecessarily critical of an attempt at encouragement, BUT I would argue that if the goal is really to uplift, there may be more meaningful and empowering options.
What might be more encouraging to that overwhelmed mama than telling her she is enough is giving her hope and strength beyond what she can muster on her own. Maybe we give her permission to accept help. Maybe we tell her that she is unconditionally loved just as she is, flaws and all. Maybe instead of telling every mother we know that she is enough just because she exists, we take the time to get to know her unique gifts and remind her of those in the midst of her weakness.
Because, Mamas, we all have weaknesses.
We all have moments when we just need some help. Sometimes we actually do fall short. It doesn’t mean we aren’t still the absolute best mamas designed for and matched to our little ones. It just means we could use some help.
Maybe admitting that we need help when we are running on empty should be as celebrated as when we are totally rocking it. Maybe the greater gift to our children is not modeling complete self-sufficiency but, rather, modeling humility and authenticity. Let’s continue to show ourselves grace and kindness when we need it. Let’s acknowledge that we actually can’t do this alone. Let’s take the pressure off and admit that there isn’t any one of us who is really always “enough”, and that’s okay. Maybe we weren’t meant to be.