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One morning, I broke some dishes.

I was feeling broken, defeated, and stressed out. My sweet precious children for whom I had prayed and loved so much had pushed every one of my buttons in the middle of breakfasts and backpacks, and I lost it.

How can it be so difficult for them after a hundred or so days of school to get up on time, eat breakfast, comb hair, brush teeth, tie shoes, and leave the house on time? Don’t they know some children would give anything for their breakfasts? Their shoes? Their opportunities?

How can it be so difficult for me after a hundred or so days of school AND several years of motherhood to lower my expectations and take it in stride?

Then I tossed an empty dirty bowl into the sink. The bowl that should have been carried from the table to the dishwasher by one of my thoughtless offspring. And I, already empty inside, watched it shatter. And it broke the already chipped dish beneath it.

What the hell am I doing? Why wasn’t I more careful? Did I just almost do that on purpose?

Oh well. It wasn’t like I ruined the fine china stacked perfectly behind glass doors only used twice a year. The broken pieces were of a mixed set from the everyday kitchen cabinet full of round plates, square plates, rounded square plates, round bowls, and square bowls. Some chipped, some not. Twenty years of white dishes grow brittle in the dishwasher, break, and are replaced to create a mismatched eclectic set of white tableware that would drive any Type A organized mom over the edge.

But not me. If a kid breaks one of these during dishwashing chore night? No worries. Off to find the cheapest replacement that won’t exactly match. It’s kind of like a knockoff Crate and Barrel sampler pack of white dishes.

I looked at the broken pieces. I was too annoyed to turn to God in prayer or open my Bible and listen to Jesus. How could I come before Him in my anger?

I definitely didn’t want to exercise away my stress. And I didn’t want to eat chocolate. I was angry over my pointless anger. Was it too much coffee? Not enough? I should have been thankful that my biggest problem was such a small one. 

And I thought my kids were thoughtless. I had compared them to the perfect early-bird children I imagined down the street with every hair in place, immaculate outfits, and clutter-free backpacks. And if their perfect mom walked into my house any given morning, I know she’d be mortified. I thought about the perfectly organized teacher at the school and wondered if she liked that organized child better than mine. Except that I know better than to believe everything I imagine.

I cleaned out the sink . . . and my soul, trying not to cut myself on the sharp edges I had harshly created.

In our house, we’re all like chipped dishes in different shapes and sizes. We’re not pieces of exquisite china arranged in formal order, except maybe twice a year. We have our flaws, but we fit together just right. It’s kind of like life where we need the crazy creative people who can’t find their keys to balance out the responsible, organized people who set everything straight. Plus everyone in between.

I swear I’m going to be more careful with the dishes, but especially with my children and my own heart. Nothing should break—or be brokenhearted.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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