A while back, I started noticing the unfortunate pairing of the word crazy with the word mom. The comments were generally referring to situations where mothers exhibited extreme defensive behaviors on behalf of their children. The TV shows Dance Moms and Bringing Up Ballers come to mind. The commercials alone for these shows--let alone full episodes--blister my senses. As much as I would love to blame these extreme entertainment attempts for the rise in the crazy mom language, that would be misleading. I hear the combo in my own conversational circles, frequently describing the behavior of otherwise normal females with offspring. The nonverbals that accompany the crazy mom duo often include an eye roll, a quick head shake, and the crystal clear dismissive tone of Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada. For a while I joined in the scorn, somehow assuming I was exempt from this accusation. The spirit never moved me to actually ask if anyone has described me as a crazy mother. However, after continuing to hear it so much, the obvious question bubbles to the top of my consciousness. After all, I am the mother of three. Realistically, chances are slim that I am the exception. If I am being described as crazy, I’m perfectly happy to let that happen behind my back. Smart people don’t fix things that aren’t broken; and I’m assuming that smart-and-crazy is better than just crazy.
So what behaviors earn someone the crazy mom title? I did an informal survey and was informed that crazy moms are people who care more about their children’s activities, grades, friends, and social successes than the actual child. After sharing several substantive true stories, my sources requested strict protection. So while I can’t share the exact stories, I can share a similar one. The PEZ Easter egg hunt in Orange, Connecticut had to be cancelled due to parents’ behavior. Despite the availability of over 9,000 eggs, parents broke every rule including start time, physical boundaries and age categories. One child even suffered a bloody nose due to the rushing crowds. Reports also included multiple instances of smashed Easter baskets. Frightening!
Who are these people? I continue to wonder precisely who fits into the crazy mom demographic? Is my own mother crazy? No doubt. For starters, she adopted four children, but I’ll save that story for another time.
As much as I’d like to deny being a crazy mother, I’m not sure my denial would hold up in court. While I have not bloodied any child’s nose at an Easter egg hunt, I do remember one incident at Chick-fil-A when I was in my third trimester with my second child. My two-year-old son was playing in the climby thing and I saw another child hit him–twice. My belly and I climbed up six levels of kiddy scaffolding and commanded the other kid to behave. But that was 18 years ago, and I’m pretty sure no one saw me. Clearly the offender’s mother wasn’t watching.
As I think through the behaviors of any mother, logic doesn’t exactly prevail. The physical and mental toll is intense enough to label every mother as crazy. As revered as the role of mother has been over the centuries, the possibility occurs to me that it might be simpler to choose another path. One time my daughter was feeling a surge of confidence and asked my husband and me, “What would you do without me?” After we blatantly laughed in her face and rattled off a list of about 20 things in about 20 seconds, she went upstairs. When you count the cost of being a mother, the numbers are decisively in the red.
The older I get, though, the more I observe there is motive and purpose behind seemingly crazy behavior, even those involving bloody noses at egg hunts. We just want so much for our children. And while this might be a great opportunity to add my parenting tips to that very large library, I find myself fascinated by how a mother’s crazy love reflects God’s crazy love for his children. I’m most decidedly not justifying any parenting that creates overprotected, soft, entitled children, or even a dented Easter basket. God’s love certainly isn’t in that category, and I pray every day that my love isn’t either. I am simply stunned at this love by our creator that transcends understanding. To me, a mother’s love is like seeing through the keyhole of God’s fathomless desire to be in relationship with us, despite the obvious reality that it would have been simpler for him to choose another option. The gritty protection, intense worry, lavish grace, and ridiculous forgiveness all point to our God, who, like a crazy mom, loves us beyond logic and reason.
Hosea 11 is a passage I love, which beautifully describes God’s maternal love.
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities. They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. 11They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord. (Hos 11:1-11)
While my prayers for my own parenting include the complete opposite of Dance Moms and bloody Easter egg hunts I’m sure that I’m not completely devoid of crazy mom behavior. As I continue to be grateful for my own mother’s crazy love, my hope is that godly crazy moms might change the definition of the phrase.