There's a post that has been burning inside of me for months. Something I have hesitated to write. But now it is making it's way out and I can't contain it any longer. I'm about to "out" myself.
There is often a disconnect between the mom I am and the mom I want to be. Or make that the mom I think I ought to be. A lot of times, I feel like Julia Roberts' character Isabel in the movie "Step-mom". In the opening scene, Isabel is frantically trying to get her live-in boyfriend's two children ready for school. She struggles making them breakfast, getting them dressed and even finding the youngest child who has hidden himself in one of the kitchen cabinets. She realizes that she hasn't washed the daughter's shirt for "purple shirt day" and as she suggests that she just wear orange instead, the girl rolls her eyes and shakes her head in disgust. Then in the middle of all the chaos, their real mom shows up and says "I can take it from here, Isabel."
Just like the step-mom, I live in the shadow of a better, more organized, more patient mom. The one I've created in my head. She shows up whenever I'm feeling defeated, frustrated or just having a hard time keeping up with the demands of two small kids and all the household responsibilities. She whispers to me that I'm a failure. She looks at me with contempt, saying smugly "Why can't you get it together?" She follows me around throughout the day, constantly criticising everything I do and the way I do it. The way I responded to my son- too harshly, not firm enough or just not enough period. The way I am often distracted when playing with my children, instead of being in the moment and just enjoying them. The fact that laundry is still sitting downstairs in the dryer when it needs to be folded and put away in drawers so each family member has what they need at all times. The list can go on and on and on until eternity.
The so-called "real mom" is who I measure myself against. Somewhere between Michelle Duggar and June Cleaver. I imagine that she would never choose to be on Facebook when she could be engaging her children in creative, structured activities or crafts found on Pinterest. She would always keep the perfect balance of maintaining a well-organized, clean home and taking care of the kids. She would be ever patient with the litany of requests, both those spoken and those communicated through whining, and she most definitely would never, ever raise her voice or lose her temper.
I have always been a perfectionist. I guess it comes with being the oldest child, especially growing up in a family that tried to maintain a wonderful outward appearance while crumbling apart on the inside. I've carried that legacy, or should I say bondage, right into my own family. I have never felt so inadequate as the day a nurse handed me my newborn son, and I looked at him and literally thought "Now what am I supposed to do with this?" You would think that nearly five years later and with another child under my belt, I'd have it figured out by now. Or at least under control.
About three months ago, when I was lost in these self-defeating thoughts, I mercifully heard the Lord say to me, "You aren't enough, but you don't have to be. You don't have to be everything to them, because I AM." I had been listening to the lies of the enemy, in the form of my alter-ego mom, for far too long. The lies that say I have to have it all together for my son and daughter to grow up the right way, and that if I make too many mistakes I will consign them to years in therapy. That cold day in January, the voice of truth finally broke through. Now, this isn't to say I no longer struggle with doubt and discouragement. I still have plenty of days when I beat myself up for not being or doing enough and thinking that everyone else does it better. But I have started admitting my weaknesses to God so that He can be my strength in those areas. I have invited Jesus into the chaos of my every day life, when I feel like I can't stay on top of the messes or I'm going to blow my stack, so that He can meet me there and remind me that He will "take it from here".
Then there's no perfect mom pointing out all my faults. There's only grace. That is what my kids need the most from me anyway, when they too make mistakes.