Monday, September 24, 2012

The Only Label That Matters {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

When I started out this mothering journey, I didn't apply any labels to myself - I was merely trying to survive.  Navigating a new marriage with a tiny red tyrant by my side hardly left any time for my to begin to process my personal style, my parenting philosophy - and my labels.

A few years and a few babies later, I began my labeling.   Natural Mom.  Cosleeper. Attachment Parent.  I stuck them to myself like name tags and wore them proudly...until I didn't.  The trouble with labels is that people aren't unchanging merchandise.  They are living, breathing, learning, growing organisms.  A label applied firmly one day might just not fit the next.

Which is when I discovered the guilt that self applied labels can cause.  When I fed my kids chicken nuggets as a result of poor planning or exhaustion.  When I sent my husband out for disposable diapers because I just didn't want to face the diaper laundry.  When I stuck a pacifier in the mouth of an infant and placed him firmly in a crib before staggering off for a (hopefully) decent night sleep.  Labels can cause guilt.  They can also lead to judgement.

I bristled a bit when someone said off handedly, "well it's not really homeschooling..." regarding our new plans for school this year.  Homeschool Mama is one of my very favorite labels...but does it get in the way of me doing what is right for me and for my kids?  In my early days of attachment parenting, I'll admit I was a bit smug when someone would tell me they cloth diapered only during the day.  "That's not real cloth diapering..." my judgmental, label-applying younger self would think.

The truth is, labeling ourselves can cause trouble.  It can hamper our ability to grow as God would have us grow.  It can keep us from moving in the direction we need to, for ourselves.  For our families.  Labeling can lead to unwarranted guilt when we fall short of whatever strident set of rules we set for ourselves.  It can lead to judging others when they shed labels and walk away, wisely understanding that sometimes change is necessary.  Right.

The only label we as Mothers need to apply to ourselves are the ones God has already made for us, the ones we forget are applied, even now.  God calls us beloved.  God calls us redeemed.  God calls us "Little Christs."  "New Creation." "Dearly Loved Children."

In living in the center of His labels of us, we are free to truly be who He made us to be.  Feeding our babies only organic, homemade baby food is a noble pursuit, but it does not make or break us as good mothers.  A good mother knows who she is in Him and rests in that knowledge, letting His love and purpose lead her, even if it seems it leads away from her ideals.

It's in letting go of our plans and purposes that we can truly seize His...and walk His path for us.

{It's Mindful Mothering Mondays, a day to take a deep breath and write out your mothering journey, whatever form it takes.  A day to link up for encouragement from others who are in this same phase of life.  A day of writing out the trials and triumphs and what you're learning right where you are, right now. 

You might post recent struggles or thoughts.  Maybe just a picture or a quote.  Or maybe you'll just come here and read the links that others post.  Whatever form your participation takes, this is a day for you.
We are all in this, together.  Together, we can encourage and build one another up, be honest with our shortcomings and strengthened by community to keep fighting the good fight.

I chose Mondays because what Mama doesn't need a little encouragement on a Monday? As such, I'll have the link up ready to go on Sunday night for you to begin submitting your links.

I hope you'll meet with me each Monday!  Here's what to do ~

Link up your post below.  Remember to put the link to the exact post you want to link, and not just your blog url. Include in your post a link back here so others who want to join in can find us!  And visit some other Mamas who have linked up.

Post the community graphic within your post, so people who are reading your Mindful Mothering post can come back here and find the rest of us!

Invite the writers of your favorite blogs to join in!

Share this meme with others on facebook and twitter.  This community is for all moms, and the more that participate, the more we will be able to enjoy!!}

Grab the graphic here:


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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Lydia, this is an amazing piece and oh-so-true! For as much as we strive to teach our littles not to label others, we do as much (or more!) harm in labeling ourselves! I saw an amazing dramatic piece in the same vein at Women of Faith a couple years ago and it struck a chord with me the same way your post did this morning. Thank you!

  3. So true! Thank you for the reminder and encouragement. Who we are in Christ is everything.

  4. Labels are so hard to escape...and even if we don't day "he's the smart one" "she's the lazy one" those unspoken labels come across in our attitudes. Thanks for the reminder...K

  5. Love this! It really wears you out to try and live up to the labels you put on your self. I drove myself nuts trying to be the "vegeterian, cloth diapering, crunchy" mom. Now I just try to be the best mom I can to my kids and try to leave the labels behind.

  6. As always you have hit the nail on the head. When my little man was born I parented by instinct, I learned quite some time later what I was doing was attachment parenting. We made food, we cloth diapered, etc, I had no idea that made me crunchy. Yes, I do live in my own little world and had no idea these labels existed. To this day, I don't label myself. I am learning, growing and changing each and every day...labels don't let you do that. Thanks for sharing :)

  7. I look forward to reading each and every post you write and they never seem to fail to strike a chord just when I need it the most! Thank you for sharing your world and wise words - from an encouraged mum of four from across the pond in England

  8. What's right for one is not right for another... we each need to do what we feels honors Him the best... whether that is to sleep with our children or feed them chicken nuggets. I'm just as at fault as anyone! I'm trying to keep my expectations healthy of myself and my boys!

  9. Beautiful and well written.
    Wise woman you are friend.
    I wish you well in this years home-schooling adventure!


  10. "It can lead to judging others when they shed labels and walk away, wisely understanding that sometimes change is necessary."

    That is the cross I'm bearing right now. Thank you for shaping into words what I've been feeling for months but haven't been able to articulate.

  11. SOOOOO true, and often, as you said so well, we can be our own worst critic. Thank you for this, it was exactly what I needed to hear today!


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