Ridiculous Things Said to Moms
About the Guest
Because "words of wisdom" to moms can sometimes lack real wisdom, Becky Baudouin breaks down the truth and error we hear in everyday statements.
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Becky BaudouinBecky Baudouin is an author and speaker. She is the author of Enjoy Every Minute and Other Ridiculous Things We Say to Moms, and Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die. A former columnist for Chicago's Daily Herald newspaper, her three daughters supplied her with enough material for a five-year-run with her column, "A Mom's Point of View." Several of her articles have also been published in Focus on the Family's Thriving Fam...more
Because “words of wisdom” to moms can sometimes lack real wisdom, Becky Baudouin breaks down the truth and error we hear in everyday statements.
Ridiculous Things Said to Moms
Dave: Think back to when our kids were just really little toddlers—
Dave: —maybe even in high chairs and car seats.
Ann: Yes; yes.
Dave: I would sometimes say, “We need to prioritize our marriage, and we need a plan”; and you would say—
Ann: This is embarrassing! I would say, “Are you kidding?! I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I have no time to even think; I am surviving here.” That’s what I would say to you.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: I mean, it was so true. It’s like: “How do you get a plan when the whirlwind is just swarming around us?”
Ann: But I also knew how important that was; I agreed with everything you were saying. I think I just felt so overwhelmed, as we’ve been previously talking about; I didn’t know how to do that. “I’m just surviving,”—that’s what I would always say—“I’m just surviving.”
Dave: The funny thing is I had no idea what the plan would look like either; I just thought I’d say it, [Laughter] because we were both just surviving.
Dave: We have help today!
Ann: We’re excited today, because we have Becky Baudouin back with us today. She wrote a book called Enjoy Every Minute: And Other Ridiculous Things We Say to Moms. Becky, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Becky: Thank you!
Dave: Becky is, not only an author, but a speaker. You used to write for the Chicago Daily Herald?
Becky: Yes; the column was called “A Mom’s Point of View.” It was so much fun, and I got to write about pretty much anything I wanted.
Ann: That’s fun.
Becky: A lot of the ideas for this book actually came out of some of my columns.
Ann: You also have a degree in practical theology.
Ann: That’s interesting. That has to be the best degree to get, practical theology! What’s that?
Becky: The degree is—probably you could go on and get other degrees—but being able to take Scripture and then apply it, practically, to Christian living and—
Ann: That’s what we all need.
Dave: One of your ridiculous things people say to moms—which I’ve said, and I actually think it’s true; so I want to hear why this isn’t true—is number four. You have 12 of them; but number 4 is: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Dave: You know, I’ve actually thought, “Well, that’s sort of true”; isn’t it?
Ann: That is kind of true, actually.
Dave: I mean, mama sort of creates the climate in the home; and if she isn’t happy, it’s sort of—so it’s not true? Let’s talk about it.
Becky: Well, I think there’s a nugget of truth in a lot of these. What I say about that is it’s a half-truth, because to put all of that on the mom I think is a lot of pressure. I think the truth is that everyone contributes to the climate in the home. A dad coming home from work in a really bad mood can kind of set things going a certain way, you know. A child having a tantrum, or a teenager with a terrible attitude at dinner, just makes everybody want to finish up their food and leave the table.
I think the part that I focus in on—that’s the chapter where I talk about mom guilt—and I talk about anxiety and depression. I share a lot of stories that moms have shared; and it’s this pressure that: “I have to hold it all together; because if I fall apart,” or “…if I don’t, then what will happen?”
I think we have a lot of moms who are feeling like they can’t be honest about how they’re struggling, and they have to put on a happy face. They have to smile; they have to pretend like they’re okay when they’re really not. That’s kind of what I get into—it’s kind of like the: “Happy wife, happy life,”—I feel like that’s another saying that’s kind of similar.
Dave: In some ways, you feel that way—that if my wife, or even my kids, aren’t happy—then I’m not going to be happy. Of course, that’s not true; but I’m sure you feel the same way about your husband. That’s going to create an aroma in the home.
Becky: Yes; I think it’s not so specific to the woman, but the woman has to be happy or it’s going to be miserable if she’s not happy.
Ann: We feel the pressure of that as a woman.
Ann: Earlier, we talked about how we’ve been told to enjoy every minute.
Ann: We’ve been talking about mom guilt. This can kind of run into that mom guilt or that shame—the heaviness and the burden of— “It’s my responsibility to make our home happy and everyone in it happy.”
Ann: You’re saying that, if we don’t allow women to voice that, you’re talking to women, who then goes into depression.
Becky: Yes; or women, who struggle with depression, automatically feeling like, “I’m not a good mom, because I’m depressed.”
Several moms shared their stories with me. I have two nieces, who shared about their anxiety and depression, Rachel and Emily; they’re sisters. Emily was sharing about one afternoon, when she was curled up on the couch, still in her pajamas from the day before, really struggling with depression. Her son, Spencer, who was almost three, wanted to play hide and seek. She could not muster the energy or the desire to get up and play; she just was on the couch, didn’t feel like she could do it.
She stayed on the couch, and she counted to ten as Spencer ran away and hid somewhere off camera. She was recording this at a certain point and sent the video to her sister, Rachel. When she got to ten, she yelled, “Ready or not, come on out!”— instead of “Ready or not, here I come,”—“Ready or not, come on out.” Spencer came running back, giggling, with a giant smile on his face. They did that over and over for
15 minutes; he thought it was the greatest thing in the world.
Emily sent this video to her sister with the caption: “Just because I’m depressed doesn’t make me a bad mom.” It was a perfect example of adjusting expectations to help mitigate the effects of depression and mom guilt. It was: “What can I do with where I’m at, and be honest about where I’m at, and still interact in the way that I can?”
I think it’s really important for our kids to be able to see that, sometimes, we go through hard times; it could be a grief or a loss that we have. I remember, when my mom died, I went through a period of deep grief. My youngest—she was probably seven or eight at the time—came up and handed me a note one morning. I had been in the living room; I had taken some time to write in my journal, and I was crying. Not that I wouldn’t have cried in front of her, but I didn’t know she was watching me. She came up and handed me a note that said: “Your tears are beautiful,” or “You are beautiful when you cry, because it shows me your heart,” or something like that.
I remember thinking: “Why do we think we have to hide the stuff that’s not very pretty?” and “What are we doing to our kids, then, or what are we doing for our kids, to hide that?” They’re going to go into real life, and they’re going to struggle in ways; and they’re going to be married to people, who struggle. It’s just: “How are we equipping them?”
Ann: We’re teaching them how to grieve. We’re teaching them—it’s Deuteronomy 6—as we’re walking along the way, as we’re lying down, as we get up.
I went through that same thing. My best friend and older sister died when I was 39. I remember driving the boys to school, and I was crying. I was praying: “Lord, I’m so sad. I’m sad because I miss my sister; I’m sad that her four boys don’t have their mom. Lord, help us to understand. I need You so much, but my heart is so sad. Help me to see You in this.” I think that’s good for our kids to see that we cry out to God, to see that we may not understand what happened, but we’re still reaching out to Him.
I love Matthew 11:28-30 when we talk about these things—even for us, as moms and dads—“Are you tired, worn out, burned out on religion? Come to Me, get away with Me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me; watch how I do it. Learn from the unforced rhythms of grace; I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” I love that, because it’s from the Message version; but it just really gives us a picture of God saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden,”—
Dave: —which, in some ways, describes a parent’s life; you feel heavy.
Dave: Even your second one in the book is: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” [Laughter] Is that true? Because as we’re listening here, it’s like, “Wow, this is a lot to handle.”
Dave: I know it’s true, but it’s not always true.
Ann: Yes, we say it all the time.
Becky: I think we say it in a couple of ways. When someone’s going through something really difficult, we want to give them encouragement that they’re going to make it; so we might even say, “The Bible says God will never give you more than you can handle,”—but it’s really not in the Bible.
There’s another verse that talks about not being tempted beyond what you can bear; but in terms of the burdens that we sometimes carry, there’s nothing that says that God dishes them out in proportion to how strong we are to bear them. My sister has heard this; she has five children. She’s had people say some version of this, when they see her at the grocery store, “God must have known that you could handle all those kids; that’s why He gave them to you.” She wants to say, “No, I actually can’t handle all these children! [Laughter] They would be better off with someone else.” She has shared that she has thought that, too.
I think the thing I’m trying to do with that one is just—if it leads us to self-dependence, or self-sufficiency, or this idea that: “I can do this; I am strong enough, in and of myself, to be able,” and “God wouldn’t have given this to me if He knew that I couldn’t do it,”—I think if we can flip that around and think: “I’m not strong enough on my own to do this. This is more than I can handle, but God will help me. He will give me the strength. In my weakness, His strength is made perfect.” It’s a shift in your thinking; but I think it makes a huge difference in those moments, when you really do feel like, “This is too much for me,” whether it’s the chaos of everyday living or whether it’s a really difficult season.
Ann: I remember, I think Dave was out of town, and our boys were five, three, and a newborn. The five- and three-year-old were in the bathtub, and I was in the other room, nursing our baby, and thinking, “Okay; I have a breath just for a second.”
The older son says, “Mom, I have to poop!” I’m like, “Okay, just get out of the tub. You’re right there; you can go.” He goes, “No! I don’t want Austin to see!” I can hear him get out of the tub, and now he’s running to another bathroom; and he yells, “I pooped!” [Laughter]Then his brother runs out into the hallway, and he’s laughing his head off. Now they’re in a fistfight. I’m nursing the baby; I have to stop, and the baby’s crying and screaming. And somebody rings the doorbell!
I’m thinking, “Okay, this is way too much right now!” My thought then goes to: “Where is my husband? Why is he traveling right now? Why am I doing everything?” [Laughter]
Dave: I’m glad I missed that one! [Laughter]
Ann: That’s that feeling of: “Okay, this is more than I can handle right now. I don’t know what I’m doing.” You feel out of control at times.
Ann: So I like that you’re saying, “Sometimes, it does feel a little more than we can handle.” I remember thinking, later, “Someday, I’m going to laugh at this day.”
Dave: It’s interesting—because when I hear Ann share stories like that, I remember those—but I also remember she/you were able to bring joy and laughter, even in the middle of some of the chaos—not all the time; I mean, there were moments, where it was just beyond control—but somehow, is this something moms do? I often didn’t see any humor in those moments; and yet there you were, smiling and laughing, even in the midst of the chaos.
Ann: I think every mom hearing this would say there are such highlights. You can’t even explain the joy and the love you feel;—
Ann: —and yet, it can be really hard, at times, too.
Becky: Yes; really, to your point, I think one of the ways that I’m able to find joy is with my friends.
Ann: Oh, yes!
Becky: I don’t know if guys necessarily would think to do this—but something crazy happens, like what Ann just described—to call your friend, and tell somebody, and have them laugh with you—that’s just like my lifeline all throughout raising my kids—has been having/or having even a situation that might be hard, but to be able to call a friend and have her find the humor for me if I can’t find it right away.
Dave: That is so funny; I would never think: “I’m going to call Rob,” “I’m going to call John.”
Ann: Oh, a guy wouldn’t? That’s the first thing I would do, too.
Becky: I don’t think so [in response to Dave]; I think that’s kind of maybe more—
Dave: I mean, it might come up later. I wouldn’t—I’m not saying I’m right—I would just never think, “Hey, I’m going to call somebody and tell him this crazy moment.”
Ann: I think moms listening, that have friends, they’re like, “Amen; yes, I need that.” How would you encourage moms that don’t have that right now?—maybe they’ve moved into a new place; they don’t have that connection—what would you encourage them with?
Becky: Well, I think to try to develop those friendships, even if it seems kind of
surface-y at first. You meet somebody: I think to be able to gradually begin to take a risk, and pick up the phone and call her; shoot somebody a text and say, “I have a story to tell you,” or something. I think, as we begin to be vulnerable, whether it’s with just the crazy moments that we can laugh at ourselves, or even with the hard stuff, that’s how we build those friendships.
Ann: That’s really good. I know that with our church—to find a church sometimes, and they’ll have mom groups, or mom Bible studies, or small groups—that can be a great way. You’re probably, even if you’ve got kids in school, I made a lot of friends through our kids in school or homeschooling through that co-op situation. Seek it out, because we need each other as women.
Becky: Yes; I think being part of a moms’ group is something that is so life-giving.
Ann: Me, too.
Becky: I did that when my kids were younger. Most of the speaking that I still do is at moms’ groups—MOPS, Moms of Preschoolers—these are women who gather together; and they, oftentimes, will hear from a speaker, and then sit around the table and talk about what they just heard; and then hopefully, they’re able to do some measure of life together outside of the group. I’ve learned a lot from sitting in on those discussions. When I speak, I’ll often ask the leader, “Is it okay if I sit at a table?”
Ann: Me, too.
Becky: That’s where I can really get a feel for where these moms are at.
Ann: There’s some great mentoring that goes on there, too; because you have older moms that are saying, “This is a phase. I know that it seems overwhelming, but that phase will change.” That’s so helpful; yes.
Dave: How about number five?—is “The Teenage Years”—ridiculous things people say are: “Just wait till they become teenagers.”
Becky: They’ll often say this one right after they’ve seen you in the grocery store—and they tell you to enjoy every minute, because the time goes so fast—and then they’ll say, “Just wait till they become teenagers,” especially if you’re overwhelmed with the young kids. That fills moms with this sense of dread, that, “If you think it’s hard now, just wait.” That’s kind of the thing; right?
Becky: It does; it just fills you with fear. My sister, when I was writing this, she has three teenagers right now. She said, “Oh, please write something that gives us hope that it’s not going to be all terrible when they become teenagers.” I wrote about some of my favorites things about the teenage years. It’s challenging—it’s like any season of parenting, it has its own challenges—but I really feel like the teen years is when you really get to see who your kid is becoming: their personality, their humor. My daughters are very funny, but the three of them together are hysterical. That’s something that’s been so fun to see as they’ve gotten older.
I had help from a friend, who was a youth pastor at our church. I emailed him and said, “Could you maybe send me a couple of things of what you love about working with teens?” He’s been working with teens for decades, and he’s raised his own. I thought he would send me back a couple of little things; but when he sent the email back, the subject said: “So Many Things.”
He just said: “They have passion,” “They ask probing questions,” and “If they know you’re truly taking them seriously, they’ll share their thoughts and opinions. Sometimes they may even ask for yours,” “They have half a century or more of life in front of them; so anything they discover as a teenager, literally, has decades to grow and bear fruit.” That goes back to the pilgrimage—you know, the long view—we’re not going to see everything that is growing and taking root in our child’s life right now; it’s going to grow fruit over the years.
“They believe they can change the world because they’ve usually not been beaten down by life yet,” “They can simultaneously be both naïve and wise beyond their years,”—and I have seen that; they kind of flip and flop back and forth between: “You’re acting like a child,” and “I can’t believe you just said that; can you say that again?” I’ve said that; I’m like, “Let me write this down”; because sometimes, they say things that are so profound. Yes, he shared so many things that he loves about working with teens.
Ann: That’s so good. When our oldest was 13—I can tend to get pretty passionate; so something had gone on before school that I was like, “Oh, man! You are not doing anything this weekend!”—then we got in the car. I was driving him to school, and he was in the passenger seat—this can be pretty typical—I say, “Okay, I was a little out of control; and I went a little overboard. I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have gotten mad like that.” I said, “What did you feel this morning when all that happened?”
He’s sitting in the passenger seat, with his arms crossed, and he’s just looking ahead, and he says nothing. I’m like, “Hey, seriously, let’s just talk this out before we get to school; because I want to get this settled, and I want to get it resolved before you get out of the car.” He says nothing, and he just keeps looking forward.
We get to the school, and I said, “Don’t get out of the car,”—I’m in the line—“Don’t get out of the car until we, at least, say something.” He looks at me; he opens the car door, and he walks into the school. Now, I’m like, “How could he do this?!” I don’t know what to do. The cars behind me start honking; because I’m trying to think: “Do I go get him?! Should I take him out for breakfast?!”
You know, I don’t know what to do; so I just keep driving. Then, as I’m trying to figure it out, this is what comes to my head: “Oh, pray!” Why is that sometimes the last thing we do? I love James 1, that says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously…”
Ann: I’m like, “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I have a teenager. Is this the beginning?” I’m feeling this panic in my mind/in my heart. This picture comes into my head. I go home, and I get a piece of paper, and I draw a stick figure of a woman and a guy, and then I put this brick/I draw this brick in between them. I put it on the desk where CJ studied every night.
He comes home, he goes up to study like he usually does, and he comes downstairs with this paper in his hand. He goes, “Mom, are you trying to be artist? What is this?” I’m like, “Oh, yes; that’s me, and that’s you. We had a fight this morning that we didn’t resolve. It’s like this formed brick that we created between us, and it’s just sitting there.”
He says, “I’m not even mad, Mom.” I’m like, “I’m not either; I’m not mad, but that doesn’t mean that brick is gone. We’re just not mad that it’s there; we don’t have feelings about it.” Then I said this; I said, “CJ, Dad and I travel around the country. We see marriages that have a fight, and they create a brick; and they have another fight, and they form a brick.” And then I made this wall of bricks.
I said, “I see parents, all the time, with teenagers; they have a fight, and they don’t talk about it; they have a fight; they don’t talk about it—it’s never resolved, and so they have these walls—and now, as adults, they can’t even have a discussion with their grown kids.” I said, “I don’t want that with Dad, and I don’t want that with any of you.”
It’s so funny—as a 13-year-old can only do—he says, “Uhhhh, so how do we get rid of the brick?” [Laughter] Then we just talked; we prayed. I apologized; he apologized. I took the eraser, and I erased it; I just said, “Let’s just never have any of those between us.”
We prayed later that night, before we went to bed, about a couple that was getting a divorce. He said, “Mom, did those people never figure out how to get rid of the bricks?”
Ann: It was one of those parenting times, Becky, that I’m like, “Yes! Yes!”—like: “They got it.” Now, the next night, it could have been a catastrophe; but you just relish/it felt like a miracle in the mundane. Every day feels so mundane at times, but it felt like this miracle happened in the midst of it.
Ann: That’s the beauty of the teenagers—and parents, too—it can be really up and down, and like a rollercoaster; but it’s sweet when you get there with them. They’re amazing.
Becky: Yes; and that idea came to you after you prayed and asked God.
Ann: That’s right. I prayed and asked God for wisdom.
Becky: That’s so creative!
Ann: And He does that! That’s not me; I don’t have that in me, but God does.
Becky: Yes; yes.
Bob: It is easy for us to forget—in the moment/in the challenges of parenting—the lifeline that is available to us in prayer. I think of the old hymn that says:
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking today to Becky Baudouin about some of the crazy things that moms hear—well-intentioned—but they still sound a little crazy in the moment. Becky has written a book called Enjoy Every Minute: And Other Ridiculous Things We Say to Moms. We’re making her book available today to FamilyLife Today listeners, those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation.
Your donations are the lifeline for us to be able to continue to connect with hundreds of thousands of moms and dads every day. You are providing ongoing discipleship for parents, for married couples, for people all around the world, who are coming to FamilyLife, looking for practical biblical help and hope for their marriage and for their family. Every donation helps us reach more people, more often, with the timeless truth of Scripture. Thanks to those of you who have supported us in the past.
If you can make a donation today, we’d love to send you, as a thank-you gift, Becky Baudouin’s book, Enjoy Every Minute: And Other Ridiculous Things We Say to Moms. You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or the number to call is 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, are the child-raising years [ones] that you set your marriage on the back burner so you can pour yourself into raising your kids? That’s what Dave and Ann Wilson will talk with Becky Baudouin about tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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