Today is another day in the saga of "my daughter only wants to eat graham crackers" (for every meal, all the time). When I place a wholesome meal in front of her (that she has thoroughly enjoyed in the past) she refuses to eat it and even spits it out when I give it to her. Ahhhhhhh! It's so irritating! When I'm irritated I am not patient or kind. Plus, she is hungry (no matter how many crackers you eat, it can't be fulfilling) and as a result she is uber whiny, clingy, and irritable. I'm at my wits end.
|I decided a picture of me at my wits end might help concrete the following description of my frustration...|
Today is also day (whatever... it seems like an eternity when you're in the midst of it) that she is FIGHTING sleep. And by fighting sleep I mean that she's on the verge of passing out (eye rubbage, looooooong blinks, the typical "I'm so sleepy!" signs) so I'll lay her down, and she will play and play and play and talk and talk and talk for a long time. Today it went on for an hour! She seemed happy, like time to relax in the crib is what she needed, so I took her out, tried to give her some lunch, and decided to try and accomplish something, anything, blah, blah, blah... crankiness continued, refusing to eat, not leaving my side....
It came to a head when I began folding laundry. I'd fold a piece, set it down and she'd yank it off the couch and throw it back into the laundry basket or meander over to her dirty clothes bin and throw it in. I took a deep breath and said this prayer, "Lord, help me." And it was then (as she grabs a piece from the basket and does this cute little rendition of roll-it-up from patty cake) that I realized she was trying to fold it! In my selfish, irritated state I did not realize that my daughter was mimicking my actions in laundry-doing, she was trying to help me! Conviction set in and I had this realization that I am a terrible mommy, unfortunately, as I'm typing this I know other mom's are going, "Honey, I get it! You're not terrible." Yes I am and so are you. We are all terrible mommy's.
I'm being 110% serious.
Hear me out.
I'm studying the book of Romans right now. In chapter 1 Paul's description of sin, of our depravity, leads the reader to understand why we desperately need the gospel. We are liars, haters, boastful, foolish (everything that describes me today and every other day of my life). When we abandon God, God "...gives us up" to our sinful desires. Because of our sin against a perfect and holy God we deserve to die! Paul is very adamant that ALL have sinned, ALL of us are rotten, ALL OF US ARE TERRIBLE!
"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.
Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:11-18)
I don't think we can hem-haw around that passage. There is not one of us that can escape the fact that we are terrible people and because we are ALL sinners we deserve death. We do not deserve to be in the presence of a perfect God. "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) We deserve to die for all that we've done, murderers, haters, liars, and terrible mothers alike.
"For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)
Because of what we've done against God (like being a selfish mommy), we deserve to die. Just in case Paul wasn't clear in chapter 3:11-18, we deserve to die.
So on these days when I become so irritated with my child that I want to lock myself in a closet, scream, and then gulp down a glass of wine, what is my hope? Well God had a plan knowing we'd have days like this, weeks, years even, and we'd continue to be inadequate in meeting His perfect Law.
"God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
Christ took the death that WE DESERVE! He lived, he died, and rose again. Jesus Christ took God's wrath on the cross so that His children can enter heaven holy and blameless, despite being terrible!
I must admit the fact that I'm a terrible mother, wife, PERSON, and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me, teach me, even in my failings as a mommy. You will continue to fall short every day of your life. You will never measure up to a perfect God. There are no good people apart from God. So thank you Jesus that "...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) That's it! And that's something I remind myself of daily, especially in moments like this when I'm failing as mommy, despite my best efforts.
And thanks be to Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross because without that one selfless act I would be doomed on days like today, but it's days like today that I'm forever thankful that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Wow. Despite my terrible daily imperfections, I am not doomed. Despite my daily act of trying to be good mommy (and failing), God is good. Regardless of my never ending failures, He is unchanging. No matter how many times I give in to my resolve to yell, scream, shut myself up in the closet, God is faithful. No matter how lazy I become, God is always at work in my life. Despite my impatience, He is patient. Even though I am a terrible mommy, He is perfect.
As long as I trust in HIM, this mommy job is one that He is using for His glory, no matter what I do or say. Hallelujah, because today... today I'm a terrible mommy. Tomorrow isn't looking so hot either. So I will take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, give thanks for His grace, and rely on the Holy Spirit. Without that, my terrible, earthly, fleshly self is hopeless and lost and terrible.
These are the qualities of the Holy Spirit that I need in parenting: patience, kindness, self-control, love... and according the the Bible NO ONE possess's these qualities without Him because of our sin. Outwardly we might try to work on these things, but it's the heart that matters and if our heart is not right with God, those qualities will continue to be surface level. In order to be a good mommy, I must embrace the fact that I am a sinner in need of Christ, and once I allow the Holy Spirit to intervene, I am good at this job only because He's giving me HIS perfect qualities.
Side note: I think that from now on when I hear a mother exclaim, "I'm a terrible mother!" I'll agree and say, "Yup, we are all terrible mommy's. Thank goodness for Jesus Christ's grace and for His perfect example on what it means to be a good parent. We must simply be willing to let Him guide us as we go. Rely on Him." And that's that.
This post may come as a shock after reading my recent argument about this amazing job we call motherhood. I'm not taking back what I wrote there, I meant every word I said, but we cannot embrace the truth -- that God gave us the ability to nurture life -- unless we truly embrace the source of that ability!