Sometimes in the business of life I think we get too busy, so a couple weekends ago my daughter and I took my husband to a baseball game. We needed some slow down and quality time. We just went to a small, semi-pro game about an hour away from where we live, so no big deal really. But, of course, the game was during naptime, my daughter didn’t eat a good lunch, and it was hot outside – the perfect trifecta for a well-behaved toddler…NOT!
My almost 2-year-old actually did a great job, but as you can imagine there were a couple of meltdowns. One time in particular we were sitting in our seats (great seats right behind the dugout btw – mom win!), and my daughter yelled, “NO!” just about as loud as she possibly could. She wanted to get down and eat French fries someone else had dropped on the ground, and she just couldn’t understand why that wouldn’t be okay.
As I tried my best to calmly explain to my toddler that yelling is not okay, I noticed there was a young woman probably about my age sitting just in front of us, but I could tell she didn’t have kids. How could I tell? Because during my daughter’s experimentation with how loud her vocal chords can go, she turned around and gave me the dirtiest look. You know, the “How can you let your child behave like that in public?” look.
I totally get it. I was that person too. Before I had my daughter, and even for a while after she was born, I was convinced my kids would never behave that way. They would always be perfect angels, right? I can’t be the only one who thought this way. That thought process didn’t change for me until I actually had a toddler.
At first when I saw this look I felt shame. And I wanted to blame my daughter for the shame I felt. But, somewhere between our first public meltdown and this baseball game I had accepted that kids are kids and they don’t always behave perfectly. I knew my daughter, at just 20 months, was too young to understand. But that doesn’t stop us from expecting them to does it? Wow, what pressure! We expect these tiny humans who are learning and trying to understand their entire environment to behave like little adults, which they are simply not.
Sometimes I think we put these expectations on ourselves, too. We expect perfection from ourselves in every aspect. How dare we make a mistake. If you’re like me, you probably beat yourself up for every little thing. Each screw up feels monumental and like a complete failure. I have big trouble letting go of things.
But you see, there’s something I’m learning through parenthood – Grace isn’t for the perfect. Grace doesn’t exist for those that never make mistakes. That completely negates the purpose and need for grace.
Grace doesn’t exist for the mom who never loses her cool.
Grace doesn’t exist for the mom whose kiddo has never thrown a temper tantrum in public.
Grace doesn’t exist for the wife who’s never taken her bad day out on her husband.
Grace doesn’t exist for the woman who’s never made a mistake.
Grace doesn’t exist for the “good enough.”
Because 1- that woman does not exist and 2- if that woman did exist she would not need Jesus. Jesus didn’t die for those that never sinned.
Grace doesn’t exist for the perfect. It exists purely for the imperfect – us.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Grace exists because you and I will never be good enough. Jesus made his sacrifice because our kids are going to continue to throw temper tantrums in public and we’re going to continue to put pressure on them not to. But if our kids never mess up then they can never experience grace.
We are the ones who expose our kids to Jesus. Let’s make sure we represent to them that perfect is not the goal – the goal is progress.
Progress towards Jesus.
So, to the mom who is getting a dirty look because her toddler is yelling loudly in public – show your toddler grace. To the mom whose kid isn’t sharing and is hitting their friends – show them grace. To the woman who’s giving the dirty look in public because she just simply hasn’t experienced toddlerhood yet – show us moms grace.
To the mom who doesn’t feel good enough, always feels like she messes up, and is just pretty sure she isn’t getting this “mom thing” right – show yourself grace. Jesus loves you through your mess.
God, continue your patient work in me.