“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” -Jill Churchill
I’ve read the parenting articles and the blog posts and the books. They’re meant to be encouraging. And for the most part, they are. They talk about how every little, seemingly insignificant thing you do to invest in your children is worth the effort—that the small things are ultimately making a big difference in the grand scheme of things. That every book you read to them helps make them smarter and more imaginative. That every encouraging word spoken to them is helping make them more confident, loving people. And all of that…is true and wonderful. But what about the days that I didn’t read any books to them? What about the days when the things I put into them were not life-changing words or empowering actions, but instead, only gold fish and mac ‘n cheese? What about the days where I had more meltdowns than they did and I wished someone would have made me go take a nap or sit in timeout?
What about those days?
What about the days where I barely make it to my bed, just to melt into a energy-less puddle of blah, only to lay there half-asleep (which is the highest degree moms’ sleep at) because my brain is always on, listening for little cries or voices calling for me in the middle of the night.
What about the days where I used every ounce of my energy and still feel like I don’t have anything to show for it? I gave my everything. And still, it didn’t seem to be enough.
What about on those days?
Because if I’m totally honest, I feel like a failure of a mom on those days. And it kills me because those crazy little people that I have the honor of calling my children…they’re pretty spectacular. And they deserve a great mom. Because they’re great.
But the number of OK days far exceed the great days. The days that end in a deep sigh of relief and “I’m just glad I kept everyone alive today” are far more numerous than the “Wow, I did an amazing job today. I really did the best I could have for my kids.”
It’s not like I intentionally ignore my kids. I don’t enjoy asking them to play quietly in the corner so I can make some phone calls. It makes my heart ache when I tell them mommy can’t play right now—that I can’t join in on the epic tea party that they’ve invited me to. I don’t like telling them that the living room fort will have to wait because I have to do laundry…or vacuum…or wash dishes…or pee by myself.
And after thinking about, and praying for, and longing to flourish in this momma role, I’ve noticed that this battle I seem to keep fighting boils down to 3 things:
1. I need to be ok with days that I’m just an ok mom. Yeah, no fluffy words here. No mom wakes up saying, “I’m going to be a subpar mom today!” We all want to be rockstars at this thing called parenthood. But even rockstars trip on stage and fall flat on their faces sometimes. It’s hard to be worn out and feel like a failure. Knowing your zapped energy didn’t produce anything super life enriching for your kids is a hard pill to swallow. At the end of a day like today, the only thing left to say is,”Well that sucked big time.” And when that kind of a day comes to a close and I find myself crying because I don’t have anything good to show for my weariness, I talk to Jesus and thank Him that tomorrow is a fresh day. It’s a suck-free, new beginning. And I can be OK admitting that I was just OK today…and try to be better tomorrow.
2. My lack reveals my deep need for God’s grace in my life and displays the fullness of Jesus. I can’t be everything to my kids. They need Jesus. Shocker…I can’t do it all. And not only can’t I do it all, I’m sometimes going to fail when I’m trying to do even the simple things. (Great pep talk, huh?) But when I acknowledge my insufficiencies and need for Jesus, my kids see that too. Mommy needs Jesus too. When I mess-up, I can use that to display the beautiful act of forgiveness by apologizing for my own mistakes and asking them to forgive me. I can help them see the real forgiveness of Jesus close-up and offer them the opportunity to extend grace to me. They see a flawed person who needs Jesus and depends on Him every day. Mommy needs Jesus. And so do they.
3. Even on the days I feel like I failed, my love for them wins. Every time. Every. Single. Time. Do I have days where I just want to throw my hands up in the air and scream, “I want a redo!” Oh yeah. Are there days where mommy wants to say bad words and eat a gallon of ice cream by herself in the closet? Oh heck yes. But there is not one single day that goes by where my love for them isn’t fierce. And it’s that love that fuels me to do another day well for them. It’s the gratitude I have for being given the opportunity to be their momma that pushes me to keep navigating.
Motherhood is not easy (Umm, duh.) It uses everything you have and just when you think you’re empty, it wrings out every molecule of your body. But motherhood is also really really awesome. And if we can all just stick together as moms, encourage each other on the hard days and cheer for each other on the good days—if we can just be transparent with our struggles and honest in our failures—if we can just love each other just because—I‘m pretty sure we’re all gonna make it out OK.
…even better than OK.