Before I had children I was convinced I would be the perfect mother.
I heard the crazy stories and was convinced I would never be like them.
…you know, the mothers that fail. That screw-up.
Until one Sunday morning…
My husband and I were having our coffee, in our bedroom, while the kids were playing in their rooms (across the house). You can’t really appreciate a hot cup of coffee until you’re a mother, and it was one of those rare mornings when my coffee was still hot.
We had finally potty trained our 3-year-old toddler, and he was doing great! He was still struggling a little with going #2 in the toilet, but we were grateful for the seemingly easy transition.
We hadn’t noticed the quiet, which was the first sign, so we kept on with our time together.
Finally, in walks our 3-year-old… he says “Daddy…” and shows us the poop on his hands.
My husband was frustrated that he didn’t come and tell us, but I was like “well, there’s nothing else to be done, except clean up the mess he made.” I’ve become strangely accustomed to cleaning poop, vomit, and pee, so it just seemed like another motherly morning.
I left our bedroom to head to the living room to clean up the poop, while my husband took care of our son with poop on his hands. It was still fairly early, like 9 (lol), so I hadn’t put my contacts in and for whatever reason I wasn’t wearing my glasses either. So, as I’m walking to the living room I see my daughter eating something. My stomach dropped. “WHAT IS IN HER MOUTH” I thought to myself.
My vision was quite foggy and fuzzy so I had to focus, and squint, to see what was in her mouth.
I look at her mouth, that seemed pleasantly happy with whatever she had in it, to her hand that was carrying a brown ball.
I scream some profanities in my mind, and then I start yelling out loud…
“NICK!!!! SHE’S EATING IT! POOP!!!! SHE’S EATING ANDREW’S POOP!!!!!!!!!”
I run to my daughter, grab her hand, and shake the rest of the feces from it. Of course, being the devious child that she is, she swallowed some as soon as I started running to her. She must have thought I was going to take it from her (which I would have if I had gotten to her in time).
I immediately grab whatever is still left in her mouth, I wipe it out with a wet wipe. Then take her to the bathroom, and brush her teeth.
My husband later said, “She must have thought that big bro was pooping chocolate… She was probably in heaven.”
Motherhood is a whirlwind.
I have never been more pruned, or sanctified, than when I became a mother.
Daily, I see my impatience, my lack of self-control, my selfishness.
And golly is it painful to see your shortcomings, especially when they affect the ones you love the most.
As soon as you become a mother you learn a new and common phrase “mom guilt”. Essentially, mom guilt is that feeling you get when you fail as a parent… your impatient, you yell, you get frustrated… or in my case, you watch them eat poop.
And while there are TONS of post about letting go of the “mom guilt” this one is not that.
I have had my fair share of guilt in mothering, trust me. When I was dealing with postpartum depression, I often had feelings of not wanting to be a mother at all… and oh my did that bring some nasty guilt that I had to address.
But here I’m talking about the day to day guilt that a mother often feels…
We forget to brush their teeth.
They’ve had more candy than fresh food.
I had the tv babysit them so I could get some work done.
I got frustrated because they take forever to pull up their pants.
Anger took the place of love when my son missed the toilet again and peed allllllll over the floor, for the millionth time.
I get impatient with all the “But why Mommy?”
I daily fail to lead by example.
Even as I’m typing out this list of failings, I can feel guilt whispering in my ear.
But here’s the thing, friend. My children aren’t dumb. They are clever and smart little kiddos, I can see it already. And soon they are going to know that mommy and daddy aren’t perfect.
I’m not here to tell you how to parent. I don’t have enough years under my belt, to think I should be giving out advice on parenting. One thing I have learned in my 3 years, though, is my children need to hear “I’m sorry” just as much as anyone else.
They need to know that I’m not perfect.
They need to know that I won’t be able to meet every need within them. Even if I tried.
They need to know that I’m flawed and weak and in need of God’s grace every.single.day.
Because as they see that I can’t be perfect, and meet every need that they have, they will see their need for God.
And I am sure of this: my biggest priority in mothering is showing them their massive need for Jesus, and teaching them to serve Him all the days of their life. This is my daily hope and prayer.
Perfection is not a motherly attribute I dare pick up. No, I want to be a godly mother. A mother that shows her children Jesus, even if through my own weakness.
So, join me in letting go of guilt and grabbing hold of Christ. Because that’s the only way our children will live a full life.
Let them see you repent. Let them see you forgive. Let them hear you say sorry. Let them see Jesus.
PS! If you want to encourage someone in their parenting today share this with them.
***To clarify: This post isn’t to justify bad behavior. We should always be growing, getting counseling, and overcoming our emotional and relational weaknesses. This post IS to remind us all that none of us are perfect, and when we do mess up that asking for forgiveness goes a long way.