There’s a lot of talk about transparency these days. So let me be transparent.
I am not the perfect mother. Oh, you’ll see smiling pictures of me and my kids. Photogenic, sweet, beautiful children. Oh yes, we all laugh and play together. We sing songs and dance. We do projects. We try to home school. We go on nature walks and bake bread and get messy and soak in the dirt and the outdoors and play monster in the bathtub and have magical family moments. We really do.
But not all the time.
You may have experienced this too. My postpartum period was ugly with my first. I was overtired but couldn’t sleep, stuffing my face or not eating at all, hiding in the bedroom, not talking to anyone for fear that my lack of togetherness would surely come through. I remember feeling that my blood pressure was high all the time and I was always hot and sweaty. I remember feeling overwhelming panic over parenting decisions. (Do we circumcise him?? Do we let him cry? Should I go back to work? Should I leave him in nursery?? There was no end to the list of things I didn’t know.) I remember feeling like a zombie for the majority of it. But, surprisingly, you just couldn’t tell by my family photos:
(Many thanks to Bryan Shattuck of Icarus Image for this shot.)
But it wasn’t just the cloud of postpartum depression that was my only struggle. I am still plagued regularly by the rightness or wrongness of my every day decisions.
Perhaps like you, I find it difficult to eat well all the time. Peanut butter and jelly for dinner with a side of jello and maybe a hot dog if you’re still hungry? No, of course not, I’m the organic-real-foodie-sprout-my-own-grain-and-eat-your-veggies-first-mom. I wouldn’t feed my kids that junk… at least not tooooo frequently… or maybe at least only if I’m too harried and tired… or maybe more than I would like…
Perhaps like you, I struggle to find the balance of work and play. How much do I clean and how much do we read stories together? How long should we stay outside before we have to come in and do our chores? When do I make my son practice his phonics and when do I shrug it off with the reasoning that I shouldn’t push it yet at so young an age? Nine times out of ten I have no idea whether or not I’m taking the right course of action.
Perhaps like you, I have had my stressed days. Days when I didn’t think I could make it through without hanging someone by their toenails. (Not literally, don’t panic.) Days when I’m yelling more than the kids. Days when I think I need to lock my door and bang my head against the wall a few times before I can come out and parent again.
The point is this. Don’t ever assume another mother has it all together. She probably doesn’t.
As I’ve been sharing so much of our journey and our lives together on the internet, I began to feel keenly aware that I may be contributing to a greater problem that many mothers feel- that of comparison, jealousy, and a general discontent with their own lives. We are bombarded daily with mass amounts of parenting inspiration, information, motivation, etc., that we can never in our wildest dreams keep up with or live up to.
So let me proclaim it once again- I am not the perfect mother. I’m a mama with an infinite amount of learning and growing to do. I will always try to do my best- to grow in grace, in patience, in love- but will always remain fallen. And that’s okay. We can realize our faults while simultaneously working to cultivate contentment and move forward.
I can only hope that my own imperfections and weaknesses will help point my kids to the sufficiency of God- to His grace and compassion, His patience and faithfulness and forgiveness. It’s not just them who needs it. It’s us too.
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Psalm 103: 8, NASB.
And for that I am grateful.
(Photo by Icarus Image)