I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.
The words are spoken silently, in my mind. I’m reading them, but I’m not looking at the words. I know them from memory. They are displayed in a frame resting against the wall on a silver platter on my kitchen counter. Every morning they are the first words I see, and every morning I recite the words that have become my mantra.
Will there ever be a day when I can live in such a way that I am not reliant on God’s grace and new mercies every single day? Will there ever be a day when I can look back at all of my interactions, all of my thoughts, and be pleased, knowing I did everything right and well?
Of course not. Obviously.
Late last night, when everyone was finally asleep and settled, when all the crying had ceased, I laid in bed and thought, “What kind of mother am I?”
What kind of mother sighs, exasperated, when her child tiptoes into her room in the darkness of the night, afraid to fall back asleep? What kind of mother struggles to wrap her arms around her child? What kind of mother longs for the hands of time to move faster? What kind of mother raises her voice at her children?
In those still hours, when the world sleeps and my thoughts sit wide awake, I feel the shame weaving into every crevice of my mind, tainting every word, every thought, every action with shame. There is always something more compassionate I could have said; more loving I could have thought; gentler I could have done.
So, why don’t I? Why can’t I? What is wrong with me?
I can hold myself to a standard of grace, but then with my next breath, I hurt my children’s feelings. With my next step, I lose all patience. I see their bodies recoil, and my own heart tightens in my chest.
What kind of a mother am I?
I am a mother who deeply loves my children. I am a mother who will walk through burning coals to save my children. I am a mother who will advocate ruthlessly for my children. I am a mother with anxiety. I am a mother who is fighting a battle in her mind. I am a mother who is loved and supported by many. I am a mother who feels deeply. I am a mother who sees the strengths in her children. I am a mother who takes on the hardships of her children when they’re emotions take over. I am a mother who cries over her children, who carries their pain as if it were her own. I am a mother who desperately struggled in the first years of motherhood. I am a mother who loves to hear her children laugh. I am a mother who attends as many recitals and concerts as she can. I am a mother who celebrates her children’s milestones and successes. I am a mother who encourages her children to follow their curiosities. I am a mother who proudly displays her children’s art. I am a mother who doesn’t always do things right. I am a mother who can admit when she is wrong or has done wrong. I am a mother who longs to fulfill her children’s needs. I am a mother who recognizes she cannot meet all those needs. I am a mother who is always striving to do what she believes is best for her children.
I am that kind of mother.
Photo by Rebecca Sehn