That mom. Come on, now. We all know her. She is the mom that, when you get together for a play-date, at snack time pulls out homemade banana bread, hummus and grapes at the same time you pull out three different pre-packaged granola bars. When your two-year-old notices the other, freshly made and undoubtedly tastier snacks, she asks to have some. You tell her, “No, you may have some of your own snacks.”
When she cries and insists on the snacks that the other mom brought, you break inside because it is your fault that you didn’t pack any healthy snacks. It is your fault that your child is eating pre-packaged, full of sugar snacks from the grocery store instead of made-with-love nutritious snacks. It is your fault that your child is now crying inconsolably as she watches her friend consume the made-with-love nutritious snacks. And it is your fault that you are embarrassed in front of your good friend because it was your failure to pack the healthy snacks in the first place.
You continue to decline the other mom’s insistence that your child share in the joy of the made-with-love nutritious snacks, trying to conserve whatever morsels of self-respect you still possess, all the while listening to your two year-old cry.
For as long as I have called myself mommy, I have sought to be that mom. You know, Healthy Snacks Mom. The mom that has her crap together. The mom that makes sure that her kids don’t have morning’s breakfast still lingering in their teeth at lunchtime. The mom that gets on the floor with her kids and actually enjoys it, without looking at the clock anticipating nap time. The mom that doesn’t scream at her kids when they spill Cheerios on the floor after having been warned four times to be careful, because she understands that a two-year-old can’t possibly understand the meaning of the words “be careful”.
In the midst of trying to be Healthy Snacks Mom, I have found my soul feeling empty and to be quite honest, dead. The harsh words I speak to myself throughout the day ring in my ears like a never-ending drum beat. “You’re such a failure as a mom,” “There could be no worse mom out there,” and “How can you be so careless? Don’t you value the importance of healthy snacks?”
Listen closely: The daily venture of trying to be Healthy Snacks Mom will leave you feeling empty and dead. The harsh words you speak to yourself as you seek to be Healthy Snacks Mom will slowly eat away at your soul and fill you with resentment towards your kids, your spouse, and everyone around you. It is a standard you cannot meet, a race you cannot win.
The good news? It’s okay. It’s okay that some days, you forget to brush your kid’s teeth. It’s okay that some days, you crave the silence that nap time brings and look forward to the rest that your soul will find in the silence. It’s okay that you lost your patience with your two-year-old, because maybe next time you’ll only have to say “be careful” three times and ultimately, she won’t remember your screams and she’ll love you anyway. Did you hear me? It’s okay.
In a world that is full of broken people, I encourage you to embrace the brokenness. Allow His grace to wash over you today. Acknowledge that you may not be Healthy Snacks Mom today, or yesterday, or at all this week, but that you love your kids with an unfathomable love. And today? That is enough. Today, there is no pressure, no judgment, and no harsh words. There is only love. When your kids grow up, they won’t remember the unbrushed teeth, the distracted glances at the clock, or your frazzled screams. They will however, remember the stories, the songs, and the bouts of laughter during a tickling session. These moments of selfless love and abandon will leave you feeling full and alive.
The reality is this: Healthy Snacks Mom may exist today, but she won’t tomorrow. Be you. You truly are all your kids need. And when you find that you aren’t enough, don’t be afraid to ask for a little grace. We are all broken and we all stand in need of grace.