I had a parenting win this afternoon. Yet, ever since I almost posted the photos on Facebook, I’ve been second guessing my motivation to share my success.
What is my purpose? Do I simply want affirmation that I’m really rockin’ this mom gig? Or is it a little deeper than that, a little darker? Maybe it’s a subtle way to prop my own ego up a bit because I know there would be people looking at the picture, reading the witty comment, and thinking, “I could never do that.”
The thing is, most of the time, I absolutely do NOT feel like I’m rocking the mom gig. Whether it’s arguing with my teenager, trying to explain to my son why “I’ll just get dirty again” is not a reason to eschew his body wash in the shower, or finding yet another dried out apple core under the couch, I find at-least-daily reminders that my mission to care and feed these growing humans involves a lot of failure.
I go online; I scroll through social media; I see other moms helping their littles make snowflakes to decorate their windows. I find friends taking their children on field trips across the country (or around the globe). I read about moms who are not only raising more kids than I have, but running a successful business to support their family, and enjoying Saturday afternoon mani pedis with girlfriends.
Taking all of this in, I want to be those moms. I want to make crafty projects with my kids and hang them up around the house. I want to see my kids smiling as we travel and learn new things. I want to support my family and enjoy time with my friends without my kids feeling neglected. Instead, I find myself sitting on my unmade bed, having never changed out of my pajamas after I woke up this morning, eating a very social-media-unworthy snack, and feeling bad about myself.
Perhaps, I wanted a change. Maybe, instead of seeing everybody else’s photos and reading the stories of how well they’ve mommed today, I wanted to be the one with the great story. But the fact is, I’m never going to succeed as “that mom” because she doesn’t exist. I watch little tiny snippets of other people’s lives, those pieces they felt were worthy of posting and pinning, then compare it to the whole mess at my house. So, what would I gain by posting my own winning moment? Fifteen minutes to bask in the glory of likes and way-to-go GIFs? Possibly. But in the end, I would lose.
Actually, we all lose. In posting another tiny, pretty snippet, and pretending like that’s what my life looks like, I am perpetuating this imaginary culture of almost perfect moms in almost perfect homes raising almost perfect kids. In trying to boost my own sense of self, I’d be the reason some other mom is looking at her house or her kids and feeling less than. And that would suck for all of us.
I don’t want to pretend to be that mom anymore. I already expend too much energy battling my own expectations of what a good mom is and does. I don’t have it in me to craft this airbrushed image of what reality doesn’t really look like.
Frankly, we’re a mess. Every day, we’ve got stuff we’re tripping over that needs to be away and plans we’ve set up that just aren’t working they way they probably should and people yelling about something that may or may not truly be unfair. Right now, I’m listening to videos streaming from two rooms and music competing from another. And I was all about having Advent family devotions this year. That would be one of those plans not working as I think it ought.
And in reality, as opposed to the fantasy land of perfectly framed photos shared with mixed motives, I am loved. Period. I am not loved despite my mess; I am loved right here in the middle of it. I am not loved because I am winning at adulting today; I am loved in my jammies at 7:00 p.m., feeding my kids gingerbread cookies with rice and calling it supper. I am loved because I am me. I am even loved when I’m doing my best to pretend I’m not me, because I’d really like to be someone whose life looks a whole lot more put together.
I don’t know what your fears and failures are today, but you are loved, right there on your face in the mud wondering why you ever even bothered trying.
And, if this has been a good day for you, you are loved. Love does not depend on how well you’re doing whatever it is you’re called to do. Love just is. You and I and everybody are all just loved. Just because you are you, you are loved.
Lately, a lot of my days have been one of those days. And in the heat of battle between what I know and how I am experiencing life, it’s too easy to get caught right back up in striving for perfection to prove something to myself about how valuable I am. I completely forget the truth I have already learned and need to be reminded of once again.
You are so valuable to Me, My child. You would like to roll around in the muddy shame of what a bad person you must be. I ask you to let me cleanse you. Let Me pour over you as Living Water. Let Me bring breath to your lungs. Allow Me the honor of washing you and purifying you and dressing you in brilliant white as My beloved bride.
It’s not about what you’ve done wrong. It’s about coming to Me for all that is right. Even as you bury your head in shame, I lift up your chin. I wipe away your tears. I tell you how very much you mean to Me.
You are beautiful. You are beloved. You were painstakingly created and are being tenderly refined. You are loved beyond your capacity to measure. One day, you will see and you will know. In the meanwhile, continue to live in Love the best way you know how. I am here, always, everywhere, loving you.