It’s hard to describe, isn’t it? It is …a bittersweet heartache. It is watching your hopes and dreams walk. It is peering into the future. It is reconciling with the past. It is messy; it is chaotic. It is self-doubt and raw vulnerability. But it is also joy. It is the courage of a lion, the tenacity of a bloodhound, and the gentleness of a sparrow. It is motherhood.
I’m thinking deep thoughts about motherhood today because … well, yesterday I had it licked. The house was tidy and my precious brood toted signed permission slips and nutritious lunches to school. We practiced devotions; I artfully negotiated sibling battles. Plus, I managed to submit an article under deadline and spend a few quality moments with my husband. Yeah, this motherhood thing was a piece of cake … yesterday.
Today, I feel like that haggard mother you see in Target yelling at her child. Fed up. Battle weary. And most of all, feeling guilty for failing to model Christ like behavior myself. I’m certain this never happens at your house, but around here, mornings are … well, difficult. That shiny “Supermom” cape I wore so proudly yesterday was full of holes today. And during the scramble for a missing shoe, the fight over the last granola bar and a refusal to wear the special shirt for chapel day at preschool … well, my response was a far cry from the woman’s who ran the show in my house yesterday.
This is motherhood, and it is nothing if it isn’t humbling. One minute you’ve got it all going on, and the next you’re ready to run for the hills. All the advice from the experts pretty much flies out the window when you’re trying to get out the door on time. Yes, I know I should practice consistency, exert my parental authority and remain calm but firm. The Bible says we are to “train a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6) and that kind of discipline takes time, patience and an iron will.
But could someone please explain how to do that when it’s one of those moments? You know, when the cub you’d give your life for screams they hate you? While you’re trying to simultaneously make breakfast and offer advice for friendship issues and grab that paperwork you almost forgot to sign and coax a groggy 4-year-old out of bed? Because if you have that answer, I will buy your book and sing its praises to all the other inquiring moms who want to know.
Me, I always look to my savior for help and inspiration and redemption. Even God could not make Adam and Eve obey. I wonder if he looks at us and shakes His head, watching our petty squabbles. Being a Christian mother isn’t about being a perfect one. But it is this all-consuming role that also helps me understand how much He depends on us to carry out His will.
Like our gracious God, mothers are life-givers. We nurture and sustain and we forgive and we see the very best in our children. We love them unconditionally, without end, even when they disappoint us. And our father in heaven promises us rest, so we have the energy to do it all (Psalm 23). We may not forgive ourselves when we fail, but He does.
It’s a good thing, because that Supermom cape never really fit me anyway. My prayer is that this Mother’s Day your children “rise up and call you blessed” (Proverbs 31:28). Or at least, just not call you to make breakfast.
Diane Meehl practices real motherhood in Ahwatukee Foothills, where she lives with her husband and three children. They worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church.