I don't know anyone harder on herself than a mom. I can't go a day without feeling like I failed at something. Even the devotions meant to encourage can lead me to one more conviction that I am doing something wrong.
Complaining too much, a bad attitude, anger, fatigue, fear, loneliness, self- control, temptations, impatience with God's timing, insecurities, and doubt.....
Is there anything I'm doing right in this long list?
We have high standards for ourselves. Those ideals were set long before we got the glorious gift of a first child. And then they came crashing down at the first mistake. It is sometimes an every day defeat.
We knew what we would never do as moms and then we watch those lofty goals come falling off the knight's horse onto a dirty kitchen floor.
Mothering is the hardest job in the world, it's relentless. I remember night after night collapsing beside my daughter's bed in tears when she finally slept. She was two and I used the word "terrible" to describe her. She tried me at every turn. And every day I felt like I lost. In my defeated heart I used the same word to describe myself. Terrible.
Does the sun really come out tomorrow? It is easy to doubt that tomorrow is a new day. Will it be the same as yesterday? A failure?
I have to tell you something you are probably not telling yourself:
You are doing so many things right.
A favorite author of mine, Julie Ann Barnhill, says this in her book, "She's Gonna Blow, Real Help For Moms Dealing with Anger". The book confronts a tough subject, anger in moms (raise your hand if you've experienced this one!), yet there is good happening in our homes too.
"I think it's quite extraordinary that all my children are not only alive,
but toilet trained, up-to-date on their vaccines, adequately clothed,
and able to tie their shoes. Since that amazing day when Kristen
[daughter] arrived, I've messed up, goofed up, and flat out done
things wrong, but boy, have I done some things right. Like holding
my babies when most everyone said, "Let them cry themselves to
sleep." Or like playing big-band swing music way too loud, far too
late in the evening, and dancing with my nine-year-old son while
his four-year-old brother fell over laughing."
We can take a break from our long lists of regrets and think of the good. The smiles, laughter, "I love you Mommy," peaceful sleeps or mid-night snuggles, and sticky hugs. The good list goes on. We are doing so many things right.
Perfect mothering doesn't exist. For our failures, there is God's grace. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), "Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God's grace" (Ephesians 2:5, NCV).
We could go on being hard on ourselves, unforgiving of mistakes. Our lofty goals trampled like a lego tower in a room full of toddlers. Or we could be encouraged by successes. The things done right are blessings that should be counted.
Our daily devotions do not need to be a list of "things I'm doing wrong and need to change," but to help us grow and see God's grace in our lives. Time brings perspective, maybe the good isn't so hard to see after all.
Be encouraged today. You are doing so many things right.