I know this mom who completely forgot her son’s first ever school picture day. She sent him to school with crazy long bedhead styled hair and an everyday shirt that likely had stains on it. Her boy went ahead and got his picture taken because there would be no retake day only to have his little kindergarten heart broken when his mother forgot to place an order to get said pictures.
I also know a mom who left her two week-old baby girl in the car while she ran into the bank to make a deposit. The worst part is she didn’t even know she had left the newborn babe snoozing in the car until a friend in the bank asked how the new baby was.
And I know a mom who hurried out the door, got in the car to do bus stop drop, and was just about to turn the car on to leave when her son piped up, “Where’s our little sister?” In her rush, she didn’t notice that her two year-old daughter wasn’t even in the car.
Seriously– who does that?!?!
Me. I’ve done that. I am that mom– the one who forgot school picture day, and both of her daughters on separate occasions, but both involving a car.
Judge me if you must. Lord knows I’ve judged myself. I can guarantee I am harder on myself for my shortcomings as a mother than anyone else could ever be. And I would bet that’s how most mothers (or parents) are, too– harder on themselves.
That’s why it breaks my heart when I see stories all too similar to mine plastered all over the internet. I mean, have you seen the comments under some of those stories? We’re mean, folks. We assume the worst. And we are far too quick in asking, “Who does that?!?!” especially of other parents that we’ve never met and situations we may have never actually been in.
Granted, these stories often hit the internet because they made the news. And they made the news because they have far more tragic endings than mine. But it SO could have been me. And that is not something I take lightly. I make it a point to thank God every day for my happy endings, loving me in spite of my momming mishaps, and for His grace.
Grace, friends. Grace He gives freely to all of us.
So, why is it so hard for us to give it to ourselves and our peers down here in the trenches of motherhood? I’ll be honest– I don’t have the answer to that question. But what I do know is I am working on it. Because while I may do things like forget school picture day and my actual kids on occasion, do you know what else I’ve done?
I’ve loved all three of those kids unconditionally since the very first day I knew of their existence, as I would imagine most parents do. I mean, I may not have my act together on most days, but my kids are my kids. I love them. And they deserve a mom who isn’t dwelling on a past she cannot change.
So, I choose to recognize my shortcomings, take responsibility for my mistakes, and learn from it all. I am learning little by little to give myself grace. And I’m not going to lie, it’s a process. A process that requires lots of prayer and devotions.
Speaking of devotions, I was in the middle of writing this (right after the whole almost forgetting my two year-old incident) when I decided it might be a good time to get caught up on my devotions. I was a week behind and feeling the weight of my mom fails. I was starting to see the truth instead of just the humor in the “World’s Okayest Mom” coffee mug that I’d just ordered the week prior. And I needed help.
So, I picked up my copy of Jesus Calling and sat down to catch up. And you guys, every day I was behind (May 7-14) talked about making mistakes, life’s difficulties, trusting God and growing in grace. Goosebumps, chills, teary eyes because how’s that for God’s perfect timing? Anyway, the following verse really hit home with me and has been on my heart ever since.
“But he (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
For when I am weak, then I am strong. . . Huh?
Maybe the answer lies in accepting His grace. Maybe it’s in accepting His grace we truly learn what it means to give grace above judgement to ourselves and others.