I can still see her crushed face as I pulled into the parking lot.
Molly was four years old. It was the last day of summer art camp. And the parents were invited to attend an “Art Show” to see the big projects they had been working on all week.
I had forgotten about it. Would a “good mom” forget about something like this?
I was late and the moment was gone. The only memory that I’m left with is a sad little girl standing outside alone holding her prized project.
I could cry right now just thinking about it. It’s been 14 years. Molly probably doesn’t even remember it. At least I hope she doesn’t. I haven’t asked her because I’m afraid to know the answer.
What if the memory still stings her heart as much as it stings mine?
I’ve hardly missed a soccer game, track meet or field trip since then, yet it’s the “forgotten art show” moments that haunt me.
I’m better at accepting God’s grace than I used to be. But if there’s any area of my life where I still struggle to grasp it, it’s the area of motherhood.
I think it’s because my mistakes and shortcomings affect the little people who are most precious to me. And the stakes are so unbelievably high.
Although, like you, I’m still on this grace acceptance journey, but here are five things that I’ve found help me:
Accept your imperfection and rely on a perfect God.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. Some days I’m not recovering. Sometimes, I’m an unrecovered perfectionist — hellbent on getting it all right, all the time. My health has suffered. My family has suffered.
Perfectionists can be rigid, difficult, demanding people. Perfectionism isn’t noble. It’s pride disguised as “high standards.” Nothing wrong with striving for excellence. Paul did: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)
But acting like perfection is attainable is crazy! That would make us God. Nothing humble about that. When I truly acknowledge how much and often I fall short, it causes me to run headlong into the arms of the only One who can give this very human mom the power and wisdom to raise my kids well (not perfectly).
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Let it go.
Dwelling on how we’ve fallen short with our children brings two things: misery and paralysis. I can’t enjoy the opportunities to love and bless my children when I’m busy wallowing in the missed moments of yesterday. Again, our friend Paul assures us “letting it go” is possible: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)
Acknowledge God’s power to use your mistakes for your kids’ good.
We can’t be everything to our kids. My imperfection shows them that mistakes are allowed. A part of the journey. God’s grace is accessible. I just have to remember to keep pointing them to the only Parent who will never let them down.
We never want to cause our kids pain. But we will. I take comfort in knowing that God never wastes pain. The pain our kids experience from our mistakes can be transformed into something God uses to deepen their character and compassion.
Mistakes aren’t forever.
One of Satan’s biggest lies that I’ve believe is that mistakes can’t be redeemed. That I’ve done irreversible harm to my children. That the die has been cast and all I can do is watch the fallout. Yes, sometimes my mistakes have hurt my children badly. And my shortcomings as a mom have also made it much harder to instill certain values and behaviors in my children. But with God, mistakes don’t have to be forever. He can work in ways that we can’t to fill in the gaps of our mothering.
Comparison is the thief of joy. But it also robs us of grace. We can be so hard on ourselves as we look at others and decide everyone else is doing it better. Everyone else has more well-behaved kids than we do. No one else struggles or makes mistakes like we do. Our little pity party doesn’t get us anywhere, does it?
The most productive thing any of us can do is focus on being the best mom we can through His power. And since we’re all unique that means we’re going to be a mom like no one else. And that’s just the mom God decided our kids need. Yes, us. Imperfect us.
If I had a time machine, I’d be the first mama at that art show, beaming with pride. But I can’t. Sigh. The moment is gone.
Thankfully, though, God’s grace is not. It’s limitless. It’s never late. He never forgets to give it.
All us moms have to do is grab onto it.
Want to learn more about grace and being
the mom God created YOU to be?
Pick up a copy of our new book, Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family!