The Perfect Mother

When my children were very little, I was part of a moms’ group at church, led by a very wise, experienced mother, who was also a licensed therapist. I remember asking her, “Am I being a good mother?” I guess I expected her to run through some kind of checklist or read to me from Proverbs or something. Instead, she just said, “If you are asking that question, you are on the right track.”

Somehow, that answer was exactly what I needed: the encouragement to keep going and the freedom to make my own way.

Whether we like it or not, there is no job manual for this most important gig. There is no such thing as a “perfect mother”. We are all just doing the best we can with what we have. And life is not perfect. It is messy and wonderful, disorganized and beautiful, precious and hard and fleeting.

I love my children. Sometimes, my children drive me crazy. I long to be in their presence. I crave time alone. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective in the midst of these contradictions.

When my children were babies, my control freak flag was flying high. I felt like I needed to do everything perfectly. I made sure that every baby food meal was balanced – a fruit with the cereal, a green vegetable with the meat and rice. Mind you – it was all just mush in a jar – but it mattered to me.

It mattered way too much.

One morning, my sweet husband got up early to feed our daughter. His entire goal was to allow me to sleep late. I stumbled into the kitchen to find him feeding Julia her cereal, along with something orange.  It wasn’t peaches. We were out of peaches. Could it be? No! I looked at him as if he were feeding her ground up glass and nails. It may as well have been – it was, CARROTS!

“You can’t feed her carrots for breakfast”, I chided. I snatched the bowl from his helpful hand and washed the carrots down the drain. I replaced the carrots with pears, an acceptable breakfast choice just as Michael was leaving the room, himself going back to bed. I know.  I’d like to chalk that one up to Postpartum something or other, but I think there might be a statute of limitations on that related to when the child has cut teeth. We laugh about it now. Sort of.

Can you relate?

Now that both of my children are much older, I have relaxed into my role. I can see things more clearly. Encouraging appropriate side dishes is not nearly as important as encouraging grateful hearts.  I also learned that kind gestures from husbands are to be appreciated, not critiqued. And carrots are a great source of Vitamin A! Perspective has begun to bubble to the surface as I have begun fine-tuning my role in this great adventure called motherhood. Their Creator is in control. God holds them in His hands. So, I don’t have to be perfect. He already is.

What a relief!

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