Mother’s Day: When moms all over the world wish to be celebrated, appreciated, perhaps even pampered a little. Being a mother is perhaps the hardest, most underpaid, yet most rewarding job on the planet. So it only stands to reason, that mothers should be appreciated for all their hard work.
But sorry, that isn’t the thrust of this post. This year, just the thought of Mother’s Day has been difficult for me. Since Easter, life has been over-the-top. With a funeral every week, out of town trips for my husband, an entire family hit by the stomach bug, prepping alone for an open house, field days, meetings, etc., I’ve felt a little bitter and gypped that I got stuck in this “mom” role. This isn’t what I thought I signed up for.
In fact, the other day after school, all the kids were whining and complaining that there wasn’t enough of little brother’s birthday cookie cake left for them. (Forget that there are starving children in other parts of the world, mine needed more sugar.) And I got suckered into stopping at the store and buying another cake…just because. We couldn’t just buy it with icing around the edges. We had to draw attention to this weary mom by asking the baker behind the counter to write something to improve the icing to cookie ratio:
I at least got a pity “I’m sorry”-snicker from the teenage boy at the check-out and my 9-year-old thought it was hilarious. But in the moment, I really did feel like I got suckered into this never-ending, paycheck-missing job that I feel severely under-qualified to hold. My subordinates rarely listen to my voice and require constant oversight and monitoring. In the corporate world, they all would have been fired a long time ago. (Who are we kidding, I probably would have, too.)
As a mom, I’ve lost the ability to sleep in past 7:30 am. I’ve lost the freedom to use the restroom without a chaperone. I’ve lost the ease of meeting friends for lunch, having adult conversation without interruption, and pretty much remembering anything. And perhaps the most difficult thing for me is losing the use of my first name on a regular basis. (See homework question #2 below.)
I’ve gained an unattractive mom wardrobe, permanent bruising to the top of my thighs from elbows the size of quarters being dug into them, and a vast knowledge of household cleaners (forget current events, politics, or hobbies). I’ve gained pressure to create magical birthday memories, make our laundry whites even whiter, and keep my children happy while on a non-processed gluten-free low-sugar diet.
And I stink at all of it…note the amazing parenting displayed in this actual text between my husband and I below:
So when Mother’s Day got close on the calendar, all I wanted was a break from being a mom…and with that, I gained another blessing of motherhood…momma-guilt.
I didn’t want to be reminded of how my children see (or should see) Jesus in me. Because I was pretty certain all my yelling and impatience with them was not displaying that. I dreaded to hear how much my children need me…because I honestly felt I had nothing left to give. I was fearful to hear how good mothers taught their children to be independent and successful adults…because the clock in our house was ticking and we’ve got a long way to go. I mean, we’re still working on which end the underwear is supposed to go.
It sounded (sounds) like so much work and I was (am) already so exhausted.
Sometimes on Mother’s Day, we mommas get suckered…suckered into believing that we’ve got to be continuous Jesus-showing, ultimate sacrificially serving, and perfect-child producing women. It’s easy to believe that’s our job…and it’s easy to want.
Does God desire me to display the Jesus within me to my children? Absolutely! I, too, want to be patient and kind, full of compassion and grace, and forgiving towards my children.
Does God ask me to selflessly serve my children and my home? Of course! I, too, long to have the servant heart of Jesus.
And why wouldn’t I (and God) want my children to succeed and live out healthy lifestyles and relationships?
Out of our tired and fatigued, God does the action, breathes Himself and His life into our muck, and causes the real beauty to flourish. It’s all His doing, not mine.
See, when I fail to show my children Jesus because I lack His compassion, patience, and grace …I unintentionally show them how even Mommy requires His compassion, patience, and grace. When I admit to myself and my children my screw ups and ask for their forgiveness, they see that we are all in the same boat. There is no distinction. We all miss the mark. When any of us is faithless, Jesus shows up faithful.
When I fail to serve my family free from selfish motives or bitterness, my children have the opportunity to understand how amazing it is that Jesus would give His life in service without complaint. It’s hard. It was a sacrifice. If mom makes it look easy, than what’s the big deal about Jesus doing it? When we talk about the lengths that King Jesus, God himself, went to humbly serve us…experiencing how difficult it is to serve each other…our hearts start to learn gratitude. We start to practice thankfulness towards Him.
And, when my kids fail to be perfect and when they watch me, an adult, FAIL miserably, God is at work. He is setting them up to not be dependent upon me (an imperfect mom) for their reassurance and value. I am unknowingly catching a glimpse of Jesus preparing their hearts to have personal dependency on Him alone. They learn early on that failure isn’t a death sentence. They learn early on that Jesus gives them value and worth. (It’s a good lesson He’s teaching all of us.)
This blog might read like an attempt to make myself feel better about my failures as a mom. But I know that while I am forgiven and met with mercy in my failures, it it because of Jesus’ love and faithfulness that I have hope for better. So this Mother’s Day, I don’t want to celebrate myself as a mom. I don’t want to focus on my failures or successes in child-rearing.
Without Him, I couldn’t stand under the world’s pressures and expectations of mothers. Without Him, I would be overwhelmed with momma-guilt. Without Him, I wouldn’t have those rare moments of good parenting. And I refuse to be suckered into believing anything else.