Perhaps one of the biggest lessons motherhood teaches us is how to forgive ourselves.
We moms—we women—put so much pressure on ourselves.
We’re bombarded with choices to make for ourselves and our children the minute the pregnancy test shows two pink lines.
Breast or bottle, work outside or stay home with the kids, jarred baby food or homemade, co-sleep or crib, cloth or disposable diapers—the list truly goes on… and on…
And really, no matter what you choose, there will be times when you hit it out of the park and times when you make the wrong choice. Some days you nail the mom thing. Other days you fall flat on your face. I know I have—a lot. But you’re trying. You are desperately trying to give your children the best you can.
You love them with a love that you never knew was possible until you had kids.
I’m not saying motherhood is great all the time. Many people say, “Enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so fast.” I’ve even uttered those words myself. But honestly, I don’t know if it’s truly possible to enjoy every moment.
I mean, when your first baby has a major diaper explosion at a formal family dinner event and you forget to pack an extra set of clothes, I’m not sure you’re actually relishing that moment. I know—rookie mistake. Or when your 4-year-old is refusing to stay in bed and you’re on the outside of the room holding the door closed, praying that your tough love will work. That’s not a moment to relive over and over again. Just try not to wish away all the hard stuff. It will pass.
I have enjoyed my kids at every stage of development. I had good babies, even though I remember two of them being colicky, so there were certainly times when it was hard. Maybe you have a colicky baby, too. Maybe you’re walking around the house, standing up and sitting down, using warm rice bags, swaying to and fro—whatever it takes to make them comfortable—and you’re thinking I CANNOT WAIT until this stage is over! I get it. I have been there. Just remember, it will pass.
We’ve just entered the teen years with our oldest, and while she’s been pretty easy going so far, I’m sure she will test us. There will be moments when her dad and I think, “Who is this little person we created, and what do we do with her?!” In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve already uttered those words in reference to each of our children.
When I think about all this hard stuff—the crying newborns and the testing teenagers and everything in between—I realize that there is one gift I need more than anything else. Maybe you need this gift too.
Grace. I need grace. For myself and for the people in my life.
I am so hard on myself and on others. I’d like to blame it on my birth order—I’m a firstborn. I have a tendency to strive for the ever-unattainable perfection, but I’m working on letting that go. Or I could blame it on society and our desire to do things “best”—whatever that means. I’m learning that what’s best for my family may look different from what’s best for yours, and that’s OK. Either way, it doesn’t matter why we judge ourselves and others so harshly. We just need to stop.
Just like anything in life that is truly worthwhile—faith, healthy living, marriage, parenting—it’s a journey. Grace is what saves me, but receiving that grace is one of my biggest struggles. I would guess that might be true for you, too.
I see who I want to be, but I fall short sometimes. I think there is a balance between always having it together or falling apart. I know I can’t be “all together” all the time, but I don’t want to always have a frazzled feeling either.
For me, grace is forgiving myself when I don’t meet my own expectations. Giving grace to others is offering mercy when they mess up, too.
When the house isn’t clean or I don’t get a chance to put away the laundry, grace reminds me I’m a work-at-home mom with a big, busy family. Some days the housework isn’t a priority, but being present with my kids or meeting a deadline is.
When I haven’t done the meal prep ahead of time and the kids are eating whatever they can find in the cabinets, grace reminds me they love breakfast for dinner, and some of our most enjoyable meals have come from me having to quickly get creative in the kitchen.
When I’ve lost patience with loved ones, grace reminds me I’m human and have many emotions. I have to slow down, figure out my feelings, ask for forgiveness, and forgive myself.
Grace is here for us every day. Grace in motherhood and grace in life. We just have to recognize that we need it, and then we have to accept it. What helps me accept grace is writing down all the things I did well and the things I’m grateful for each day.
So if you are having a day or a week when you don’t think you measure up, I’m here to say, “You do. You are more than enough.”
You’re doing your best. Maybe some days you don’t feel like your best self because you’re tired, overworked or just having a bad day.
But this too shall pass.