Raise your hand if you feel like the perfect mother!
That’s what I thought. Crickets. Why do we feel that kind of pressure when none of us can live up to the hype?! I blame social media. Yes, that devil Facebook has us all believing as we scroll that everyone else has is all together. Facebook’s first cousin, Instagram, and her sister Pinterest don’t help matters. Perfection is on display from everyone you know it seems! Except you…no, you look around and see the mountains of laundry, the stack of dirty dishes, the dust covering just about everything, and the pile of bills that is just too stress-inducing to even open, and you wonder, “Am I enough?”.
You are. You are enough. You are exactly the mama God hand-picked for your children. Nobody else could be enough for them, but you are. And let me tell you something, nobody is putting the whole truth on display for the social media world! I post pictures of my daughter holding her blue ribbons at her equestrian competition, but I didn’t tell y’all that we had not washed her hair in a week. And that’s all on me! She has a long arm cast and can only reach half of her head! And my son, well, he is just as cute and funny as he can be, but y’all don’t see me posting on Facebook the tears I cry because he is just so darn stubborn and I am tired of fighting about EVERYTHING! I feel guilty all the time for not spending enough time with them, and yet I think if I have to play one more game of “Guess What Number I Am Thinking” I will scream!
But then I remember what God said. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) I am not and will never be perfect. I am not all that crafty, and my kids’ birthday cakes are store bought. I don’t truthfully enjoy field trips, and I do love my job. But I also love my kids more than they will understand until they have kids of their own….we always say, “more than anything else in the world, except Jesus and tied with Daddy.” And I know that God chose me for them, and them for me. I don’t have to be perfect, but I do have to be honest. That’s where they will learn about grace and forgiveness. I am a prophet to my own little nation, and God said all I really have to do is love them. Jesus said the world we will know we are His by the way we love each other. That’s what I want them to remember about me…that I loved Jesus and that I loved them.
The other Sunday, I was just flat exhausted. After church, David laid on the couch and watched the Braves, and I got in the big comfy chair and pretty quickly fell asleep while the kids played outside. It wasn’t long, maybe twenty minutes, when they came in like a heard of buffalo. Who do you think they asked for a glass of water? Yep, walked right past their AWAKE Daddy to their sleeping Mama a whopping two feet away. He tried to stop them, but it was too late. I would love to tell you that I woke with a smile and a gentle reply. But that would be a lie. I probably looked like a grizzly bear coming out of that chair. I have always worked really hard at being a patient mama, so I didn’t say anything ugly or hateful. In fact, I just didn’t say anything at all. I just got the water and sat it on the kitchen counter and went on to work on the mountain of laundry, grumbling to myself all the things you are imagining. But while I was in there, I looked at my cross on the wall that my brother and sister-in-aw brought me from their trip to Rome a couple of years ago. I hung it in there as a reminder to pray and be thankful. (I used to have a real anger problem towards the laundry mountain.) I thanked God for those little ones. And I thanked Him for the clothes we have to wear, and for the food we have to eat, and for the dishes I get to clean up. And I thanked Him for not expecting perfection from me, because even though I want to be the perfect Mama, all I can be is the one He chose for those babies. I will try my hardest, but I will also remember that the most important thing I can do is love them. They won’t remember the Pinterest-fail or -success birthday cakes anyway.
I would be remiss to send this email so close to Mother’s Day, writing about perfectly imperfect mamas, and not mention my own sweet Mother. I know she wasn’t perfect, and isn’t perfect, but as her daughter, I can attest that she is pretty darn close. I am thankful for her prayers that have covered me my whole life, and I am thankful for her unconditional love and support. I am thankful for her example and for the way she loves her grandchildren (even though she would have smacked us for doing the things she now thinks are “cute” that they do!). I am also so thankful for my mother-in-law, who raised a son that loves me and his children so fiercely. He is loyal and generous and kind-hearted and hard-working, and she is to thank for that. She and my mother are always, always there for us, and we would be lost without them.
Whether or not you still have your mother, and whether or not you have your own children, let’s remember to thank God for grace and forgiveness, for unconditional love, and for the women in our lives who have shaped and molded us–not by perfection, but by love. Happy Mother’s Day!
Allison Key, MD