I’m a rotten mother…. (And you are too.)
I love reading blogs. I particularly enjoy reading parenting blogs. I enjoy collecting ideas from other parents, watching their kiddos grow and realizing that someone else is caught up in this mind blowing journey we call parenting.
I have however, found that there is one type of blog that I have great difficulty reading. You know the one… It’s the one where the Mommy is always involved in some mind stimulating, creativity growing activity with her little ones. Her house is always spotless. Her kiddo’s teeth were thoroughly brushed this morning and there is not a piece of dirty laundry on the floor. And just in case you wonder how she did it all there are blog entries to let you know how you too can become the wonder parent. These are followed by streams of comments by fellow readers letting the mother know what an amazing mother and wife they are… How lucky their children are to have them… And that when said reader grows up they want to be just like the heroic blogger. And it makes me sick… Because I am a sinner… Because I am jealous… Because I am a rotten mom… And because she is too..
Please don’t get me wrong, I am all about encouragement. I love to encourage others. And I pray that I encourage them deeply. I have friends who have encouraged me in my parenting and it has been life breathing. Because sometimes I am a good Mommy. In fact, sometimes I am a great mommy and it’s great to know I occasionally hit the mark. But most of the time I’m kind of a rotten mom. Let me explain…
Before I got married I spent hours dreaming up the perfect wife that I would be. The house would be spotless and amazingly decorated. Dinner would be one culinary delight after another. I would be a patient and tender-hearted wife, great at conversation and selfless in my actions. But, I quickly found out how selfish I am. Marriage was costly. Besides my relationship with Christ, nothing had ever cost me so much. I already take advantage of my perfect Heavenly Father’s grace more often than I care to admit. And unlike Christ my wonderful husband was not always selfless and perfect in every way. Which I easily translated into an excuse to not be selfless… Now, in some moments I am an amazing wife, or maybe just an okay wife. But in many I am just plain rotten.
Parenting has looked much the same for me. I dreamed of having children. I wrote them letters before I was even married. I watched parents and planned how I would never yell like them, talk to my child like that, respond in anger like they did… I would always speak words of love, allow them to make creative, but appropriate messes in my household and feed them 3 square meals a day at my spotless kitchen table…
Enter reality… Josiah was born a beautiful blue-eyed boy. His blood sugar was a bit low upon birth so they took him and fed him some sugar-water to get his levels up. He didn’t establish proper nursing patterns. The hour I left the hospital the lactation consultant stopped by for a visit. She informed me that his nursing was completely ineffective and that basically I would be starving him if he continued to nurse in that fashion. And then she left. A sobbing mom was left in the place of the “perfect mommy”. We took Josiah home. John placed his hands on Josiah and prayed that he would nurse appropriately and the issue was immediately resolved. And suddenly through God’s power I was enough for my son.
Josiah preferred 4:30 am for his bedtime. Somehow I never suspected a baby could do that. Eventually he got his bedtime down to a normal hour, but by then both of his parents were exhausted and Daddy was working very full time hours. Josiah decided napping was an unnecessary activity. In fact, he decided that he would much prefer that Mommy pace the hallways with a strange swaying step and pat his bottom at the same time. For hours on end… One day Mommy realized that her patting was a bit more aggressive than it ought to be… I laid Josiah down in his crib and called a friend desperate for help. That kind and wonderful friend took me out to lunch after she arranged for two other friends to watch Josiah for me. Josiah fell asleep on the chest of a dear friend. And I felt inadequate because it was not my own. But my child’s needs were met. Because God placed people in my life who knew how to live out his grace.
Sarah was colicky. She screamed at the top of her lungs for hours on end. When she finally did fall asleep it was only in Mommy’s arms. John helped all the time, but her screams still kept me awake and frazzled everyone’s nerves. After a few weeks of this Mommy became crazed and overwhelmed. A kind friend offered to take her overnight. I dropped her off for the night and sobbed all the way home. I felt woefully inadequate as a mother. I wanted to be “super mom” but sometimes even “super mom” needs a couple of hours sleep. And that night God’s portion came through a sacrificial friend. By the way… Sarah learned to sleep in her crib that night.
Sarah’s birth brought our beautiful baby girl… And mild postpartum depression. I loved my children… I resented my children… I was grateful for my husband… I resented his “freedom”… I swore each day I’d be patient, kind, gentle. And every single day I failed. And while I recovered from postpartum depression and was blessed once more with the birth of sweet little Anna; as a mom of three children I still find myself being the mom I don’t want to be more often than not.
I’ve become a perfect illustration of Paul’s word in Romans 7:14-24: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Paul summed it up in a nutshell. I am an utter and complete failure as a parent. I do the things I do not want to do… I am a sinner. I am inconsistent. But I am a parent saved by grace. And parenting is one of the toughest journeys I have ever walked. In fact I am quite certain is a journey that can only be walked on your knees. It is my choice how I walk it… I can look for reassurance from others, my spouse and children that indeed I am adequate or make these words from Lamentations a clear reminder of how desperately I need to cling to the one who makes me adequate…
Lamentations 3:21-29: and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
So I assure you… I am a rotten mother. You are too. But God is our portion and He is more than adequate.