There is not much better than a Saturday night with the kids at sleep-overs (elsewhere), me organizing closets, drinking a glass of wine with chocolate chip cookies, and taking some time to blog. And while this does sound like a gift I would give myself for mother’s day, I’ve been working on something different.
Today, in honor of mother’s day, I’ve decided to like myself. This might sound selfish and arrogant on a day I should be humbly honoring the woman who pushed me into 1975, but if you read on, I hope you are tempted to give the same gift.
I doubt I am alone when I admit there is a long list of things I wish I did better as a mom, a wife, a friend, and a woman. It doesn’t take much for me to notice my inadequacies. Just put me in a room with other moms and pretty soon I’m wondering why I don’t grow food for them on my porch, teach them a second language on the weekends, and study the Bible with them every morning before school. I wish I did those things…but I don’t. In fact, I don’t do a lot of things I’d like to do for my kids and my family. And, if I’m not careful, my favorite pair of boxing gloves, aquired somewhere in my adolescent years, come out and the bruises to my confidence come quick.
Why do we beat ourselves up? Why the upper-cut to our pride and the left hook to our heart?
My son is learning Taekwondo and Master Kim tells him that kicks and punches are for defense and protection. The stronger person never starts the fight. But here we are; strong, capable, intellegent women starting fights with ourselves because we don’t measure up to the mom-we-thought-we’d-be. Well, at least I do anyway.
So, today (and hopefully beyond today), when I am tempted to feel insecure or badly about my ability to be Anna and John’s mom, I’m going to stop and refuse to throw the first punch. How is that possible when I’ve gotten so much use from those boxing gloves over the years? I like to visualize taking the gloves off and opening my hands to THANKS and TRUST. I must give thanks to God for who I am, even the parts He’s still working on. Then I must trust that he has chosen me as the mom he wants for my kids. With all my faults, I still must be the perfect imperfect mom for them.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (shortened) says this “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus”
As best I can tell, when I feel insecure and inadequate, when the boxing gloves start throwing punches, it really slows me down. In those moments, I don’t get better, I always get worse. My attitude suffers and my motivation dies. I throw my hands up and say, “I can’t do this, so why try?”
The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to drop the stuff that slows us down, like doubt, fear, guilt, and sin. Instead he says, keep your eyes on Jesus and do the thing that was put before you. For moms, our race can feel like a sprint and a marathon all in one day! So if anything is slowing us down, beating us up, or causing us to sin, get rid of it. Let’s put the gloves down and open our heart to thanking God and trusting Him. (If you want some examples of how I’m trying to do this, you can read the second part of the post.)
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Today, I’m going to like myself for who I am and the mom that I am today. I am going to stay focused on who I am becoming rather than who I am not yet. I am giving doubt, fear, and guilt the day off. I hope you will join me. Don’t be afraid…Go ahead…like yourself! It’s a gift to your Creator, yourself, your kids, and I think your own mom would be pretty happy about that too!
_________________________part two…personal, unedited journal on my own “stuff”______
Here are a few things that cause me to feel insecure and inadequate as a parent. I’m sure we all have different triggers, but maybe if I can toss the gloves first, you will too.
CHOSING TO WORK OUTSIDE HOME: More than once I’ve decided I would stay home with the kids without any full time employment or part time job. But I did not adapt well. Something in me loves the personal challenge, reward, and relationships that come with having a job. So, I choose to work even though financially we could get by if I were to stop. With me working, our house is not always clean. We rarely have meals with all four food groups. Our laundry gets way behind! My job right now requries that I travel a few times a year and work 6 nights a month. I miss some baseball games and field trips. My kids go to after school care two days a week. Sometimes I really beat myself up about this because it feels selfish and greedy. I hear a liar telling me that I love making money more than my children! It is easy to beat myself up over this one because I genuinely enjoy working. Anyone else?
WHEN I LOSE MY PATIENCE: I’m not a patient person. I don’t like driving the speed limit, crockpots, or letting my nails dry after a manicure. The majority of the time, if I ‘lose it’ with my kids, its when I’ve lost my patience. My heart breaks when my anxiety and brokeness cause me to lash out at them too quickly and too harshly. After realizing they didn’t deserve the exasperated display of drama from their mama, I feel really low. Like, “how could I be so selfish and ugly?” low.
LIFE’S MISTAKES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS: My kids don’t know my every mistake and disappointment of my life, but I do. They love me, trust me, and accept me so completely. Sometimes I feel I don’t deserve it. Sometimes I wonder why I was allowed such beautiful blessings as them. Sometimes I doubt I can possibly help them navigate this big world because I know the wrong turns I’ve taken along the way. Sometimes I feel unable to match their optimisim and enthusiasm about their dreams because I want to protect them from disapointment. Sometimes I worry that I am just not healthy enough or strong enough or good enough to be what they need. All this leads to the idea that maybe someone else could do this job better than I can. Maybe another mom is more qualified and more deserving of these perfect, beautiful humans entrusted to me.
THANKS AND TRUST:
God made me very motivated, active, and relational. Therefore, my schedule is always going to be full of things I am passionate about and challenge me. I will naturally chose work outside of the home because working with people inspires me and keeps me growing. I can trust God that by my example, my children (especially my daughter) will understand the challenges and rewards that come with a strong work ethic balanced with family life. I am guessing that due to our economy she may not have a choice about working when she a mother. I’m glad to be an example she can learn from in that area.
My patience needs work, no doubt. But because I’ve been so embarassed by ugly behavior, over the years I’ve had a lot of practice apologizing to my children. A friend once counseled me to apologize even when they were babies so that it would become natural. I know adults who have never heard their parent say “I’m sorry.” I am grateful that I know how to show my children what a genuine apology is and that I’ve asked them to help me get better with my patience. I’ve had to apologize for other things too, and I trust that our relationships are stronger because we have asked and recieved forgiveness from one another. Make-up hugs are the best!
Finally, I am grateful that God wastes nothing. My story, my mistakes, my disappointments, my victories, and my blessings are being brought together to help my children become who God desires them to be. If there is a promise I cling to it is that God is love and love is good. God loves me. God loves my children. He has chosen me to raise them this far. He is using all of who I am (mistakes and all) to move us closer to His grace and purposes for our lives. The privilege of being chosen to walk alongside my children as they do this journey is an amazing gift and I have to stop wasting time on regrets.