My girls started school this week. There have been a lot of adjustments. And honestly I’ve just had a rough couple of weeks. I’ve had a hard time staying on top of things. And then last night I just lost it a bit. I was irritable and angry and just very, very unpleasant.
All of a sudden I went into our dining room and saw Magoo cleaning up. She does this when I’m angry or sad or upset. She does it because she knows it will make me happy.
Making me happy is not her job. She’s nine.
And then I went onto Instagram this morning, and I saw one of my favorite bloggers quote her daughter as saying that home is her safe place.
And I started to crumble.
Mothers have a lot of responsibilities. There is a lot that we have to provide for our kids. But for me, there are two things that I believe are more important than anything else. I have to show them that God loves them and I have to show them that I love them. And for me, a lot of that is wrapped up in my idea of home. For me, part of making them feel loved is making their home their safe and happy place. I hadn’t been doing this in my selfish irritability and anger.
But as I was feeling about two inches tall today, I thought back to something a (very wise) friend said when she spoke at our church last year. She said that when she feels like she is coming up short, she prays this prayer, “Jesus, please fill in the gaps.”
And I remembered that and even as I type it, I feel the tears stinging at my eyes.
Because we aren’t perfect.
We can say that and know it and we can recognize our imperfections miles before anyone else can, but how much of us truly give ourselves the grace to be imperfect as mothers?
I have always struggled with perfectionism. But then about ten years ago or so it hit me that perfectionism requires us to think awfully high of ourselves. Because perfectionism tells us that we can do it all perfectly and we can do it all on our own. It says that we are better than all the mere mortal people we surround ourselves with. We can stand above. We need to stand above.
But honestly, that’s absurd. We can’t be perfect mothers because we aren’t perfect people. And that fact is our birth right as human beings. We are allowed to be what our nature dictates: imperfect. Sure we have to strive to be better, but if we don’t allow ourselves grace in our weaknesses, then how can we expect our children to understand how to give themselves grace and to accept the grace that God so freely gives them?
So next time I see myself fail at this mothering thing (I assume within the next five minutes,) I’m going to try to heed the intention of that prayer. I’m going to accept that I can’t be everything.
Then I’m going to go and try to be very, very good. Because that is always worth striving for.
Lord, please fill in the gaps – in my mothering and my friendships and my marriage and my very self. Fill in the gaps.
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