Someday, you might become a mother.
Someday, you might look down into a tiny, furrowed face, just barely peeking through its swaddle, and feel a fresh burden fall onto your shoulders.
Those first few months, years even, you might stumble along, trying to feel your way through it like a blind man in unknown surroundings. And if you’re anything like me, you might be struck one day by your oh-so-many imperfections and be tempted to crumble beneath the weight of them.
You might wonder if they disqualify you from being any good at this motherhood thing. You might feel a tightness in your chest when you think about how you’re probably screwing up your kids.
But when that happens, my love, I hope you think back to your childhood, think back to me, and remember that even though I blew it sometimes, I was a damn good mom.
I want you to remember the times you asked me to color with you at the kitchen table and I said, “Of course.” How I sat next to you and worked on the blue of the sky while you filled in the pink petals of the flowers.
But I also want you to remember the times I said, “Not right now, babe,” because I was busy folding laundry so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed by my to-do list or I was mindlessly watching a show because I just needed to be left alone for a second.
I want you to remember the nights I laid with you until you fell asleep. How you pulled up your shirt so I could tickle your back, and I laid there until your arms stopped wiggling and your breath started evening out.
But I also want you to remember the nights I whispered, “Not tonight, sugar. Tonight, I’m going to spend some time with Daddy,” and kissed your forehead and left you to fall asleep on your own.
I want you to remember the days I took you and your siblings to the park and chased you around and watched intently every single time you shouted, “Watch this, mom!”
But please don’t forget about those days I just sat on the park bench and scrolled through my phone because I was so done, so desperate for some “me time.”
Don’t forget about the time I fell asleep on the floor while y’all did puzzles because I was so exhausted.
Don’t forget about the time I almost burned the house down or started crying in the middle of the grocery store or yelled at your two-month-old brother to STOP! CRYING! RIGHT! NOW! while you stared at me with those wide eyes.
I want you to remember my good parts. Oh please Lord, I hope you remember my good parts.
But man, I hope you remember my not-so-great parts too.
I hope you never, ever remember me as perfect. I don’t think we have to worry about that, but I know how our memories play tricks on us.
I hope in those moments when you wonder if you’re pulling it off, you’ll remember how unconditionally I loved you, how tightly I hugged you, how fiercely I protected you, and how many times I had to ask for your forgiveness because I just didn’t get it right the first time. But you forgave me and kept loving me. And God willing, you’ll grow up to love me still.
If you become a mother, you will screw up. A lot. But you know what the best part of God’s grace is? It’s that part where he takes our meager offerings and works miracles through us, through EVEN me. You are living proof of that.
I know there’s a chance you might never be a mom, but the truth is, I’m writing this more for me than you. I need this reminder—that the last thing you need is a perfect mom. The last thing you need is an impossible expectation, one you’ll never live up to. So I can stop trying so hard to be one—in hopes that you won’t try to be one someday either.
You just need a mom who does her best, loves you hard, and prays loudly enough for you to hear; who has good days and bad days but points to Jesus every day.
So my gift to you is my ugly parts. I hope you find relief in my imperfections. I hope my shortcomings remind you it’s OK to feel overwhelmed, to blow it, to not be able to do it all.
I love you so, so much. I’m sorry I suck sometimes at this, but I’m learning perfection is an impossible standard that I (and you) will never live up to.
So for your sake, I’m lowering the bar. You’re welcome.
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