Recently, my husband and I took our two young boys to Southern California for our first big family vacation. Having never been to the beach before, my boys were excited to begin exploring the shoreline in front of our condo. At first, my three-year-old did not like the feel of sand under his feet, but I distracted him by giving him the task of collecting seashells. Soon he was running up and down the beach, the unfamiliar squish of the sand quickly forgotten. I sat back and watched while he and his brother scanned the rocks and sand for new treasures
In a matter of minutes, their quiet, concentrated efforts turned into squeals of delight as first one, then the other, discovered a shell peeking out of the sand. With proud grins, they brought over their finds for me to admire. I couldn’t help but notice that both of the shells they found were cracked and broken in places. If it were me tasked with collecting shells, I probably would have passed these over in search of the perfect shell. But my boys didn’t see the imperfections. They just knew they had discovered something worth showing off to mom. And when our time at the beach came to a close, these broken shells made the 1300+ mile journey back to our home.
As women (and mothers, especially) it is so easy to focus on our brokenness and imperfections. On more than one occasion, I have laid awake at night and run down the list of all the ways I wasn’t the “perfect” mom that day. In my quest for this unachievable goal, I lose sight of the beauty within our days. The smiles that were shared. The hugs given. The laughs that escaped sweet lips. The lessons that were learned.
I think one of the most wonderful things about parenting young kids is they don’t see our “imperfections” in the same way that we do.
They don’t see a mom who has a few extra pounds on her tummy or hips. They just see the body that cradles them warmly in a loving embrace.
They don’t hear the underlying tone of exhaustion in our voice, they just know this is the voice that whispers “I love you” and sings them lullabies at night.
They don’t see dry, cracked hands or nails in desperate need of some tlc, they just see the hand that wipes away their tears or gives them a high-five.
They don’t see the bags under our eyes, they just see the proud eyes that watch them closely as they shout “Watch me, Mommy!” on the playground.
They don’t lie in bed tallying up all the mistakes we made that day, they just know when they call out to us in the middle of the night, we will always show up.
Just like those imperfect seashells, our kids look at us and see something that is worthy of their admiration. They understand that despite our brokenness, there is still something unfailingly beautiful about each of us. They love us for who we are, cracks and all.
And those broken seashells that traveled 1300 miles back to our home? My three-year-old showed them off proudly to his pre-school class. And they thought they were the coolest thing ever. And our little ones? They think WE are the coolest thing ever, too.