A younger friend squints at me through tired eyes. "Do you ever feel like..." she hesitates. "Um, like your kids can bring out the worst in you instead of the best?" Her son had just finished a temper tantrum over something small and I could see the exasperation in her face as she swallowed hard. I smile and my heart aches. I whisper, "Oh my goodness, yes. I've spent so many days feeling like I'm failing as a parent." Her sigh of relief says it all. Someone understands. But she exhales and looks at me strangely, then states:
"But, but - really? You seem like the perfect Mom."
I chuckle in shock. "Are you kidding?" is all I can muster as I stand there, feeling like a fraud. Oh, I'm so far from perfect. I've screamed at my children. I've driven away when they wouldn't come. I've failed to follow through (over and over). I've read more parenting books than I can remember. I've spent the nights, head in hands begging God to show me how to discipline a spirited child. I've cried myself to sleep, convinced there must be another Mom who can raise these children better than me.
I realized two things in the moment someone perceived me as perfect:
1. I must hide my failures and struggles as a Mom very well.
2. When it comes to our Mothering journey, we are all in need of a shoulder to cry on. We all need to feel loved and supported, no matter what.
As Moms, although it is mostly unspoken, we spend so much time trying to impress each other. Look how well behaved my children are. Look how put together we are. Look how patient I am. Look how clean my house is. Look how well I'm doing. Look how smart our kids are. Look at what a great Mom I am! All the while, there is a mountain of hurt, struggle, and frustration piled up behind all of that perceived perfection. We hide our weaknesses from each other instead of confiding in the very ones who understand us best. Because really, we're all going through so many of the same things - the great, the wonderful, the confusing, the ugly.
My dream is for us to wash away the lie of 'perfect'. Let us look realistically at our own faults and strengths and embrace each other unconditionally. We are all united by the bond of Motherhood and united, we are a force to be reckoned with.
Let's pray for each other instead of gossiping about one another.
Let's seek out the very best in each other.
Let's speak life and encouragement into the hearts of the Moms around us.
Let's stand united in this crazy, beautiful, rewarding, blessed, but sometimes really hard calling.
Let's choose to live completely open lives, never afraid to be authentic. Never afraid for others to see our struggles.
Let's rebuke the lie of 'the perfect Mom' and instead unite in our imperfection and find strength in the One who leads us.
None of us is perfect, no, not one.
"Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness." James 3:18
"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!" Psalms 133:1