Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Needing Grace, part 3

I cannot believe I didn't think of this aspect of needing grace when I started this series. But yesterday I spoke for a moms' group and much of the conversation around the table after I was finished centered around this topic. As I sat and listened I thought, Yes. There needs to be a Part 3!
More than having angst over a perpetually messy house, and more than feeling worthless as "just a mom," I have struggled significantly with trying (and failing!!!) to be a perfect mom. And judging by the conversation I heard yesterday, I am not alone in this struggle.
Before I had children I thought being a mom was going to be easy. The moms I watched on television as I was growing up seemed to always get it right within their allotted thirty minutes. I never noticed (or cannot recall) my mom being less than perfect. Everywhere I looked I saw moms and I thought, How hard could this mothering thing really be???
When I got married and started hanging around married people, naturally I was exposed to more women having babies. Even they made it seem easy. Just read this book. It will tell you everything you need to know! Or, Listen to these tapes. Your baby will be sleeping through the night in no time! With so many great resources floating around I was sure if I just did my studying, I would be well equipped to be a perfect mother.
Silly me.
Sure, I got some great advice from those books and tapes, and from other moms who have "been there." The thing I found out, however, was all that great information didn't make me perfect. Talk about a rude awakening!

One of the moms yesterday related a similar frustration. She said before she had kids, she was an engineer. For every problem she encountered on the job there was a book to read which would provide a solution. And it was always the same - Every solution worked. Every time. She could encounter and overcome her problems at that time. She felt good about it.
Not so with kiddos. As the kids grow up, every mom realizes there are no books which will address and perfectly solve every problem, every time. Rather than knowing how to manage things perfectly and thereby feeling good about ourselves, we find ourselves surrounded by children who are a constant reminder to us that we are not perfect. How easy it is for us, in this situation, to lose hope. How tempting to think, I cannot get it right. I will never get it right. I'm probably ruining my children's lives. They need a better mother. I should just do them a favor and run away!
Thoughts like that one have honestly run through my own mind more than a time or two.

Several years ago I thought I was the only mother who struggled with the concept of not being perfect. Truly, I thought every other mom had it all together, and I was the only one who didn't. How wonderful it was to me when I learned I wasn't alone. None of us moms is perfect.
Therein is the third dose of grace I believe we need to extend to ourselves. Say it with me, I am not a perfect mother. Knowing we aren't perfect, and admitting it, frees us to throw off the unrealistic expectations that we will do everything perfectly as we raise our children.
Yes - We do, and will continue to, make mistakes.
Yes - We will encounter situations and offer what we believe is the best solution, only to find out later we were way wrong.
Yes - In spite of our best efforts our children will accuse us of being mean and unfair, and sometimes they will be right.
Yes - We will be driven to tears over our failures time and again, wondering if our children stand a chance of becoming well-adjusted adults.

It would be understandable to me if you were thinking right about now, So where's the hope in all this??? The Hope I have found is in the knowledge that, while I am not perfect and never will be, my Heavenly Father is perfect and always will be. He loves my children more than I do. He knows perfectly what they need. And in all His love, knowledge and wisdom, He saw fit to make "imperfect me" the mother of my children.
Because I trust God and believe He knows what He is doing I am able to accept my imperfections, with confidence my children are going to be okay. Yes, I will fail. But God is bigger and more powerful than my failures and He can handle it!
So, what do you say? Will you extend yourself the grace which tells you it's OK that you aren't perfect? Because God IS!

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Melissa said...

My maternal grandmother was a "professional mom."

My own mother is a "professional mom."

I am not! They really knew what they were doing (or so it seemed) and I really don't.

Some days I feel like I'm just not cut out for this mom thing at all! I really thought it would come more naturally than it did. But, just like marriage, motherhood is very, very hard work. And God uses both institutions to help us become better for the struggle.

So today I accept "your" offer of grace - and I confess that I'm not a perfect mom, or a "professional" mom, and that's OK. God ordained for me to be a mom, and like you said, to MY child, so He must know something I don't.

kreed said...

Oh, to have that mothering book with all the answers to be a perfect mom! But you are right, what I really need is grace...

BTW, I think mantises can lay a lot of egg sacs. Sems like I read something somewhere about one laying you may have many more surprises!

~JJ! said...

Wow. I needed that tonight.
Thank you.

This motherhood thing is so complicated, it helps to know women like you are out there...

Into my google reader you go, sistah!

Karen said...

I have given you an award - Karen, yo must have awards dripping like jewels from your arms now :-) So deserved!!

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I so needed to read this tonight and I linked to it in a post too (I hope you don't mind) because it resonated with something I was thinking about all day. Thank you! :)

Ang said...

Karen you really do speak for moms everywhere. Thank you for following the Lord's leading and helping to break down those "perfect" barriers we all keep hitting our heads on. Good grief it's giving me a headache!

Great series! Sounds like the subject of a new book is brewing. Let's about "Amazing Grace for Amazing Moms"? Hey, it's got a nice ring to it!

StaceyStace said...


It really is a relief to cry out to God and tell Him what He already knows - "I CAN'T DO IT! I NEED YOU!!" That cry comes from me often, after I have stubbornly tried to do it in my own strength, and have been reduced to tears and exhaustion.

By the way - Sara's room is all clean now! The trick got them started - of course I had to finish it, because she just could not find enough things to get rid of - oh, but I did!

annie said...

I gave up the hope of perfection as a mother so long ago. I am so thankful He is.

Ann Kroeker said...

I have to catch up--I'm just dropping by and reading the first blog--but I also thought of how we, in our craving for perfection and frustration at failing can be tempted to try to perfect our kids. If we finally, eventually, accept (and even embrace) that we aren't perfect, some moms seem driven to "perfect" their child...or improve them. Get them a tutor to help them perform a little better on tests, or hire a personal coach so that their batting skills are just a little sharper and they'll play a little better on the team.

That just came to mind when I read your entry. It's sort of a rabbit trail, but you always get me thinking.

Congratulations on your move!

I can't help thinking about the beautiful tree you left behind--wasn't it a beautiful but messy black walnut?

LoveMyStarr said...

I am so glad I have God to lean on because I don't know what I would do. I know I'm not perfect. I often think about how my lack of perfect parenting techniques will affect my daughter. I just have to trust in God.

Joyful Days said...

I have loved this series and been so blessed by your kind & thoughtful words.


Sweet Mummy said...

I don't even know what the perfect mom looks like and yet I somehow think that I'm definitely not her. Guess I am right, eh? I think for me I struggle with maintaining even a minimum kind of standard. It's so all over the place sometimes. You have those great, "Man, I love my kids" moments followed shortly by those "Can I run away now?" moments.

I need to rehearse the Truth and speak Truth to myself and my children.

mamachristina said...

This is really great, My sunday scool class is actually doing a book study on grace by phillip Yancy but I am really focusing on extending grace to every one else, I never thought about grace for myself. I love how you put that we will never be perfect but god will always be. I see my children as a gift from god just borrowing them for a time. Easier said than done, Thats for sure.
God bless Christina