An Imperfect Mom Is Still a Good Mom
I can still remember sitting with my last baby in the hospital, comfortably secure in the space between the energized adrenalin of post-birth and the life awaiting at home. By this time, I knew what to expect in terms of the family adjustment to come.
There would be the sad and displaced former-youngest, needing plenty of one-on-one time. The older kids to reign in in terms of discipline. There would be the normal marital adjustments. There would be a need for greater flexibility in terms of routine and schedule. There would be many little changes necessary to every aspect of our lives, and it was all these things I looked ahead to as I sat cradling Will, enjoying this last experience of becoming a mom—again.
But what evaded my forward glance was a shocking but painful reality awaiting: I would not be the mother of my dreams.
For no sooner had I cut the hospital bracelets off my wrists upon returning home than I was awakened to the imperfection and limitations of this new life I had created. The baby was gassy and fussy. The toddler remained high-spirited as ever, her high energy no match for my low supply. The older kids lived in a cycle of school and after-school activities, none of which seemed to mesh with my new sleep schedule—three hours here, one hour there. I became discouraged quickly and realized that I was going to have to employ a new parenting strategy to survive.
"Perfect Mother" was out of the question. My blotted record had shown me that already. But maybe "Good Mother" could be enough for my little ones.
The months following Will's arrival were marked by pain as God began to strip away my perfectionism slowly, day by challenging day. But they were also months marked by great grace as He began to free me from the exhaustion of unrealistic expectations. Throughout there were countless truths that became clearer with each unrealized goal, each interrupted plan.
Get the Source of Perfection Right
There is only one ultimate root of perfection, and it is found in the person of Christ. Hebrews directs us to fix our eyes on Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith (12:2). Christ alone lived a perfect life, ultimately dying in our place so that we could stand before God faultless. Faultless! No longer guilty of the imperfection and sin that stains our every day. He has accomplished perfection on our behalf, emptying our lives of the need to strive for what cannot be humanly had. This is unparalleled news for mothers. Your limitation is covered at the cross!
Focus on Perfect Promises
God is a God of promises. He makes them, and He promises not to break them once He has committed. Scripture teaches us that God is with us when our yoke is heavy (Matt. 11:29). It promises that God generously gives us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5). To be unfamiliar with God's promises is to face the day without armor, emptied of strength. Know His perfect promises, and you will surely see them manifest in your life, day after challenging day.
Focus on Your Strengths
Know your passions, as they are likely your strengths. There are the crafty moms and the serving moms. The academic moms and the organized room moms. There are the ministry moms and the soccer moms.
We will all be one of the types, but none of us will be all of the types. The surest means of burnout is to try and be all moms in one. Each of us is uniquely gifted by God to be who He has made us to be, and within the framework of motherhood this allows for great freedom of expression and individuality. Be you, and enjoy it!
Lower Your Expectations
This is the white flag of surrender to perfectionist moms. But it is necessary to daily lay down false expectations for our reality, or we will become oh-so-weary so very quickly. It has been my experience that roughly half or less of all my mothering goals are realized, and after twelve years in, this seems to be a rule, not an exception. Though this flawed record can discourage me at times, I try to accept that my desires will always supersede the realities of mom-life.
In his book No Little People, Francis Schaeffer warns against the fight toward perfection when he states, "If we insist on perfection or nothing, we get nothing every time." There is a piece of me that would love to claim the title of "Perfect Mom," and I am sure that you would, too. It would be such an honor, such a crown. But since "perfect" is well beyond our grasp, why not strive for "Good Mom"? I am.
And truthfully, life has been much more enjoyable on the other side of perfect.
Written by: Maryanne Helms
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