When My Best Just Isnt Good Enough…

Monday, July 30, 2012
I saw it this afternoon.
The shadows that indicate fall is approaching.  A little longer.  A little earlier.  A little threat to my summer that I wish would never end.
Its that time of year that I find myself clinging on with melancholy madness.  Wishing I could freeze time.  Wishing it could always be “just-so”.  
And I notice the summer sun has grown more than tomatoes and sunflowers.  My babies are standing a little taller (and browner).  His muscles a little stronger.  Her posture a little more lady-like.
Evie has learned to swim.
Tristan has learned to do a flip.
Gigi has taken to the water like a little guppy.

I know lots of moms who are counting down the hours until school (we aren’t saying the “s” word at our house:) starts back.  Im the polar opposite.  I come from a long line of “Mother-hens” who find the greatest joy in having all their little chicks under their wing….
Every well-intending older woman I pass in the grocery store looks longingly at my chaotic buggy so full of babies that there is hardly room for food and says “Enjoy it dear.  It’ll be over before you know it”.
I smile.  I know she’s right.  And it leaves me with a lump in my throat.
I wish I could keep time from marching on.  
Sure my days are long and overwhelming and I loose my cool.  Often.
There are nights I stay up till ridiculous hours just because…..its quiet.  And Im savoring the sound.
Im not the first mom who has confessed to locking myself in the bathroom and collapsing on the vanity because….its the only place I can get alone for 90 seconds.
The pulling on my apron strings and crawler underfoot rattles my sanity sometimes.
There are constant requests for a snack.  Disputes to settle.  Heads to comb.  Meals to fix.  Messes to clean up.  
I snap when 4 people are asking me questions at once.
I yell and immediately regret it.
I blunder meals….opportunities….conversations….teachable moments….and I accidentally wash red t-shirts with the white laundry.
And tears don’t remove the stains.
And I worry.  
That Ill blunder more than burnt cookies and unfinished Monopoly games.  That these children whom I love more than life itself will not get their needs met due to my inadequacy.  
So when the house finally settles and I breathe that sigh of relief that we have survived another day, I find myself creeping back into the room and standing over sleeping babies wishing for morning. Wishing for another chance to get it right.  To try harder and be the perfect, patient, fun, engaged, available, energetic, understanding mom.  
When I think about the “grocery store mantra”, Im uneasy.  I can see myself as a middle-age empty-nester filled with regret about missed moments and wishes for a second chance.  I know it’ll be over too soon and fear I wont have done it perfectly.  And this job of motherhood a’int gonna get any easier as they get older either.  If the pile of unmatched socks and they 4th grade homework already have me in a tizzy, what will I do when they are older and bruised egos and broken hearts cant be fixed with a bandaid and a kiss?
The verse Ive had memorized since I was a child and long before I had any frame of reference for what it meant begins to dispel the raging storm in heart….
“My grace is sufficient for you.  For my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9)
In my weakness.  
Im there!  Honey, Ive got the monogram and everything.
It boils down to pride Im painfully aware….
Who am I really to think that I on my best day could be the mom they need to face what this world is going to throw at them?
Do I really believe that if I got it right, and made the memories I wanted to with my kids, and maintained composure and my sense of humor, (and got my hair and make-up done that day,) that then I could really chalk it up as a successful day of mothering?
But, what if my kids saw me falling on that grace…..that sufficient grace in my moments of weakness?  
Were I to trade my weakness for His strength, what liberation would be mine untethered by perfectionism!
Transferring the weight of responsibility for my children to the Lord who is infanately able to meet my need and theirs….exceeding, abundantly!  Then, then would I find satisfaction and peace that this role of motherhood for which I am so deeply flawed, is being perfected as I exchange my insufficiency for His grace.
That would reflect in my countenance.  my responses.  my attitudes and actions.
And consequently, in my children as well.
Ecclesiastes offers a stern warning:
Do not say, “why were the old days better than these”?  For it is not wise to ask such questions.”

I dont want to be that woman.  The one pining away for days gone by.
I dont want to always be looking back at “the good ol’ days”  Either with remorse that its over or with regret that it wasn’t done perfectly.
Im slowly being reconciled to the fact that Im going to get it wrong….but that it’s OK!  
Because my kids wellbeing is not ultimately dependent on whether their meals meet the food pyramid recommendations….or whether we finish the stack of library books we wanted to read this summer.
I want them to be grounded in security that the delicate balance of mom’s emotions is not going to topple with the spills and breaks and stains that frequent our home.

I want them to grow up seeing a mom who is at peace with her limitations and imperfections and grounded in a steadfast resolve that He orchestrates our day.  He is strong when we are weak.  He comforts our fears.  And where I fall (very, very) short in meeting their many needs, He lavishes His grace and redeems situations and restores the muck and mess I make of things when left to my own devices.

So Im learning to fall hard on that grace.  Daily.  
It is said of the iconic and seemingly unattainable Proverbs 31 woman; “She is clothed in strength and dignity.  She can laugh at the days to come“.
Undoubtably, that strength is found in getting to the end of herself and relying on the power made perfect in weakness.  And that “laughing at the days to come” part…..Im going to work on that. 
Of course I want to press pause at this moment in my life when Im getting to be what I always wanted…a mom to little ones who delight my heart daily!
But, I want to practice throwing my head back and laughing with anticipation that this journey of walking in His sufficiency is going to be the greatest adventure of my life.  I want to embrace it with my focus on Him….moving forward with reckless abandon and great joy!

So that someday, when I meet the younger woman with a toddler spilling a box of Cheerios through Publix, I hope Ill say:
Honey, you’re doing great.  And you know what….it just gets better and better!

  • I needed this. Thank you! 🙂

  • Julie says:

    Wonderful post! I feel the same way about summer and school. Thanks for your encouragement today. God bless!

  • Kelly says:

    Friend you are not the first or only woman to have these feelings. Everyday I struggle with “did I spend enough time with them?”, “have I set a good example?”, Am I helping them to become the men they need to be?”. It is not easy, but nothing worth having is. I am impressed with the quality of time you spend with all your little ones and I know they are the better for having a Mommy as wonderful as you!

  • Rachel C says:

    What beautiful words, and gorgeous pictures too! Thanks for this.

  • Jacki L says:

    Thanks, Mandy – I needed this,too. As that middle aged Mom full of regret and remorse and dreading the empty nest that is coming too quickly upon me – Thank you for reinforcing what God told me this morning – I can’t do it but He can,
    Love you,


  • Davilyn says:

    Oh my goodness I needed this today! Just last night I laid in bed feeling (again) like a failure and that I will never be a good enough mother for my children. I am so encouraged by your perspective. Thank you.

  • Stefenie says:

    Beautiful post. I think the vast majority of us moms feel exactly the same way. I too also am not looking fwrard to the start of school. I sure do love having my babies all home.

    Enjoy these last few days/weeks of summer with your kiddos!

  • Thanks so much for this! Its good to know that you struggle with this too, when it seems like everything is perfect. I love you and your open heart!

  • Danielle says:

    Amen girl!!!!!!!

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