It's been one of those days. The sun has set, the kids are asleep, and I feel like I've utterly failed at this "mom" thing. Today I didn't keep my cool. I didn't deliver three well-balanced meals. I didn't keep the house picked up. I didn't limit screen time. I really didn't accomplish anything of note... It was all about survival today. I did manage to keep us all alive... I suppose that's something. Better than the alternative, right?
I've heard other moms mention days like this, so at least I know I'm not the only one who has been this disappointed as my head finally hits the pillow. I wish I were a better mom. I wish I had no regrets. I wish I never failed my family, but the sad fact is that I do. Often. I'm working through my own issues, and my family gets to stand by and watch the whole messy process.
When my preschooler throws a fit at church, scribbles way outside the lines at school or throws back at me some of the not-so-loving things I say, I take it personally. Surely, if I was a better mom, we wouldn't have these issues. If I could only be more connected, more peaceful… if I could only love my family better, maybe they could be better. And maybe I'm right. Maybe if I were the perfect role model, the perfect wife, the perfect support, these people I love so much would have an easier time with things.
So I find myself swimming through an ocean of shame. Trudging through sticky regret and nearly wilting under blazing guilt. If anything goes wrong in my life, I feel responsible. Sometimes, that pushes me to be better. But more often, this self-flagellation only makes it harder for me to be the haven my family needs me to be. When I'm overwhelmed by my failures, I get cranky. I become impatient with the flaws of human nature, and I become especially enraged when I see my loved ones struggling with these same ugly issues. Beating myself up only takes away the strength I so desperately want to give to my family. It's a lose-lose.
But what if this struggling, failing, getting-up-again mom is exactly the role model my kids need? What if my husband doesn't want a perfect wife? I mean, imagine what it would be like if your parents had been truly perfect. If they'd never made parenting mistakes. If they'd always been right and were there for you every time you needed them. It sounds wonderful, but what would have happened when you became independent of your parents? If you were accustomed to these perfect conditions, I wonder if you would even be able to make it on your own. What if your spouse was truly flawless? What if your other half really was better… a lot better? Can you imagine the pressure? They deliver the perfect Valentine's, birthday, Christmas gifts year after year. They never get angry. They are never wrong. Who could keep up with that?
No, because I am imperfect, I need other imperfect people to show me how to deal with these moments when I feel like a failure.
And if all the beautifully imperfect people in my life have taught me anything, it's that you can't fail if you don't give up. The game isn't over until you leave the field.
So I'll wake up in the morning and let yesterday keep yesterday's mistakes. If the sun rises, I've been given a new chance to love, respect and be a bringer of peace. I'll give myself grace. In doing so, I'll show my kids how to do the same, and that is a lesson only an imperfect mom can impart.