Competing Mums

Oct 17, 2011

This past weekend my high school niece and nephew had their school’s homecoming. I’m from the midwest where homecoming includes floats, a game and a dance. Down here in Texas they have a really interesting tradition that has “blossomed” from it’s 1920s origins.

The tradition started  with a guy giving his date a real chrysanthemum to wear to the homecoming game. Just like all other American traditions, this one has gone WAY overboard (everything is bigger in TX afterall).  The “mums” that are now given can cost up to $500 and weigh up to 30 lbs!! (to read more about the tradition click here).

The guy may hire someone to make the mum for him or (in the case of my nephew) make one himself. It includes silk mums, floor-length flowing ribbons, plush animals, trinkets (to match girl’s interests), etc. Due to the fact that these “mums” are so large and heavy they are connected to ribbons and worn around the poor girl’s neck, reminiscent of a prize-winning horse. There is an unspoken competition among the girls…whoever has the biggest mum is the best.

Here’s my niece in her homecoming mum:

Isn’t she cute?** Doesn’t that mum seem a little ridiculous?

As ridiculous as this giant mum slung around my sweet niece’s neck is, isn’t our competing as moms just as ridiculous?

As infants, we compare our children’s milestones. As toddlers, we compete in the number and quality of activities we have them involved in. Then compete in finding the best preschool.  How many sports they play. Special leagues…on and on the competition goes.

Pretty soon we look just as ridiculous. Only we have a 40 lb child draped around our neck with the trailing ribbons of their accomplishments. Thinking the more we do, the better we look, the better mom we are.

I’ve struggled with this mom competition. I have compared and contrasted the most with my oldest son. His abilities. His appearance. Making sure he measured up well against his peers and excelled in his accomplishments.

Then I got busy with just keeping 3 people alive. I began to pull my horse out of the race. I began making simpler choices. I began to intentionally keep my eyes directed away from his peers and more on his heart. It’s still a struggle…

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

The heart. Not his behavior or his accomplishments.

I’m just as guilty as being concerned with how I appear as a mom.   God revealed to me this week that it’s not the outside of the cup that matters, but the inside.

photo credit

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.'” Luke 11:39

I have a Christian women’s blogging conference I will be attending the end of this month. I often find myself worrying about what I will wear, what my business cards will look like, whether I need a haircut…all “outside the cup” concerns.

The women I will be meeting are godly women. They are more concerned with the inside. Where I am in my relationship with God. What has He spoken to me lately?

I am reminded: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

This week consider what motivates your mothering. Are you trying to build a bigger & better “mum”? Or are you making choices that are best for your family and your mission to glorify God? Are you concerned more with how your child appears or with his/her heart condition? 

For yourself, are you spending more time in your day focusing on what you look like. The outside of the cup? or are you dedicating a least a portion of your day on the inside of the cup…your relationship with your heavenly Father?

**(note: my niece is a sweetheart and the last thing she is concerned with is mum size. i love that she has a cross on her mum particularly since she attends a public school.)

Linking up with: Inspired to Action “Motivation Monday”


  1. Misty

    fabulous insights, once again, my sweet friend. i find that on the days when i focus most on the “outside the cup” junk are the days i feel most insecure (since i will never measure up to my perfectionist standards). thank the LORD that He loves me still, and that sanctification is a process. while i worry about the outside, His Spirit keeps drawing me back to the inside and what matters to Him.

    appreciate this truth at the start of the day.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      oh misty what an excellent point…the connection btwn our insecurities and our focus on appearance. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  2. Cherie Froelich (@MySoulReflects)

    EXCELLENT post Heather! As we all prepare for Relevant, may our prayers be looking forward to how God will move in ALL of us.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks cherie for your encouragement! very excited to meet you and see how God will move!

  3. Stef

    what a great post – I am writing a post about this topic this week !!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      don’t you love when God has something to say and his Holy Spirit moves us to speak!

  4. Stefanie Brown

    What a GREAT post! I’m so glad you explained the whole “mum” thing. We didn’t have this in KY 🙂
    Oh, the competition… I’ve been right in the heat of it! I’m so thankful, as I continue to grow in HIM, my focus on the inside outweighs my concern for the outside.
    Thank you for this post, sweet friend!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      great point stefanie…”as I continue to grow in Him, my focus on the inside outweighs my concern for the outside”!

  5. Kristin

    This is a great reminder Heather! I look forward to seeing you again at Relevant and growing our inner beauty there.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      yea! relevant next week!! love the picture of “growing our inner beauty”. thanks friend!

  6. tiffanie

    one of my cheerleaders moved to texas and she had one of those on in a fb pictures and i wondered what those crazy things were! totally overboard for an outsider!!

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