You brought them home pink and fresh, smelling of lotion and milk. Or maybe you brought them home bewildered and frightened, already wounded from a past you cannot erase. Whether by birth or adoption, they’re yours to love, train, and disciple.
Motherhood. A weighty calling.
There is joy and gratitude in this mantle of yours, but also burden. As calendar pages turn and those little shoes by the door grow bigger, so does your burden.
You’re worried your mistakes are messing up your kids. You see them acting out your bad attitudes, plagued with your anxieties, stained with your negativity, shackled with your extra pounds. You berate yourself for failing to do better than this.
All those plans you had when they were babes, that determination to protect their innocence, teach them manners, instill healthy habits – somehow that train derailed, and you don’t know how or when. You can no longer see any of the good you’re doing, but you can hear, loud and clear, your selfishness echoed in their indignant squabbles.
You’ve given them the worst of yourself, and you don’t know how to fix it.
Take a breath. You’re not alone. We’re everywhere. And there’s more to this story than what we feel.
All to Jesus
Driving home from school last week, I turned onto our street and felt a sudden desire to talk to Kelly, a neighbor. She’s one of those godly women who makes you feel seen and cared for in the briefest interaction. As it happened, she was just walking past my driveway as I pulled in. A divine appointment.
We cut to the chase, as you can do with safe people, and unloaded our maternal burdens. We were both feeling our kids’ struggles, eager to ease them and yet powerless to do so. As I shared regret over how I’ve failed my kids, how I see the fingerprints of my sin all over them, she spoke grace over me. “Don’t forget that there’s good, too,” she said. We might not be perfect moms, but we’re moms who love our kids, who are trying to love them well.
And also, there’s Jesus.
Her words lingered, and I haven’t stopped pondering them. I resisted their truth at first, because grace is hard for me, and to lay claim to anything praiseworthy in light of my failure feels like an excuse.
But she was right. There is good in our mothering. Not because of us, but because of him.
If Grace Is an Ocean
If you’ve labored under regret, there’s freedom in realizing you don’t have to counterbalance your bad with your good. That isn’t the Gospel, and it shouldn’t be our approach to motherhood.
Kelly lives this well. She knows her need for Jesus is no greater or less than that of her children. She can’t mother them perfectly, and she can’t protect them from every hurt. But she can point them to Jesus. Only he can make up for her lack.
Our children are broken, the lot of them. Whether their brokenness is from our hands or others, the only answer is grace. Clinging to regret, berating ourselves for the way we’ve failed our kids, is Jesus-less motherhood.
Let’s not live there anymore. What if we start living as if Jesus’ beauty outshines our inadequacy? What if we make more of him in our imperfect parenting, and less of ourselves?
Let’s model “I’m sorry, I messed up. Will you forgive me?” And then let’s show our kids that moms need Jesus, too. We need his grace, that bottomless ocean in which burdens grow weightless. We can sink there, safely, in his grace. We just need to dive in.