Over the weekend, my husband treated me to an afternoon out for Mother’s Day (and because we rarely leave the house together sans children). I opted to see “Moms’ Night Out.” The first half hour-ish of the movie, I was completely enthralled with Allyson because I got it. I totally understood exactly what she was going through. Her aspirations were not for corporate conquerings or emasculating her husband, but to be an all-in keeper of the home. I understood the frustrations. I felt her sense of being overwhelmed. I recalled the times I would stash myself in the small space between the bed and the wall when Allyson was hiding in the closet from her children. Allyson was everything that I am all too often: a hot mess.
The antics that ensued were funny. I confess, I adore Robert Amaya (Marco) and Trace Adkins (Bones) looks more than comfortable as a tatted biker. While I was laughing at the craziness, there was something that wasn’t sitting well for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while, but I finally realized that this movie reaffirmed the reason for many mothers’ anxieties about leaving the kids at home with their father: Daddy is incompetent.
Fathers are not wired the same way as mothers, but that doesn’t mean that mothers are better parents than fathers. My husband is a very intelligent and capable man, therefore, I feel completely comfortable leaving the kids at home with him. Yet, this movie was subtly saying you shouldn’t leave the nest because things will not be OK. But I chose to look beyond that because if they didn’t play up the false stereotype, the rest of the movie would go nowhere.
So I decided to relax and stop analyzing the movie and just enjoy myself. And I did. Until the end. *Spoiler alert* Allyson comes downstairs at the end of the movie after receiving a you-are-good-enough pep-talk from Bones and suddenly, magically, her home is immaculate, the children are quiet and out-of-sight, she looks calm, serene and peaceful, and all is well. She wraps up by announcing on her blog that she’s enough, I’m enough, you’re enough, we’re all enough and that is good enough. As long as we learn to embrace and adore the chaos that leaves us stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and overworked, it will be transformed into something beautiful. That’s encouraging, right?
Maybe I am missing something here. Accepting myself and my flaws doesn’t get the dishes done, or fold the laundry, or change peed-through bedding the second time this week. It doesn’t put dinner on the table or clean the toilet. It doesn’t help with homework or drive my kids to the park.
No, we don’t have to be perfect, but understanding that we are not perfect will not result in a chaos-free life. I know, it’s the movies and things must be tied up in neat packages, but motherhood cannot and should not be gift-wrapped to look pretty. This motherhood thing is hard. Very hard. The hardest thing I have ever done, hands down. You will have “moments,” occasionally be “stress-paralyzed” and there will be times when you will certainly hide from your children. But adopting the mantra of “I am enough” is not enough to pull you through those instances. You need backup.
Fathers must be engaged in raising their children, too. Fathers do not have a free pass to be jet-setting workaholics all week long and morph into adolescent gaming nerds all weekend long. This parenting thing requires two. Often when we get out of balance it is because we are trying to do it all by ourselves. We must throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus and work with our husbands. No amount of self-acceptance will ever accomplish what that three-cord parenting partnership can.
While “Moms’ Night Out” does not address these things, the movie website does offer resources for moms and dads. My guess is that you probably haven’t seen any information directing you to these resources. Please, from one often-overwhelmed mother to another, seek God first, and seek quality resources to help you through these challenging years. And then, watch the movie and have a good laugh.
Abide in His Grace,