I tend to see my shortcomings. My failures. I know my laundry is piled high. I know that two teachers texted me last week to get information from me because I forgot to return paperwork to school. Actually, I completely lost both pieces of paper in the move! I know that I yell too much. That I am impatient with disobedience. That I sometimes prefer robot children to actual children. That too often I forget to stop and look my kids in the eyes when they talk to me. I know that when my husband is out of town, I am a hot mess by bedtime and I cannot handle the trips downstairs for a drink of water or the last-minute search for the favorite pair of basketball shorts to sleep in or the girl wanting help studying for a Spanish test at 9:30 at night.
My brain zeroes in on all the ways I mess up this mothering thing. And I beat myself up. Because after almost 15 years, I should be doing a better job. At least that’s what I tell myself as I lie in bed and replay all the ways I blew it that day.
But then Mother’s Day comes along, and my kids and husband fill our Brag Board (props to Jen Hatmaker for the idea) with all sorts of lovely things about me.
And they made homemade cards saying things like You are the BEST mom ever! I am so happy to have you as a mom! and You’re awesome, Momma!
And some of them even get the you’re and your correct! Which makes me feel like I really am succeeding as a grammar-geek-momma.
I have this one son who has especially been struggling with emotional and behavioral outbursts lately — this is the one I have most recently felt particularly unqualified and ill-equipped to be mothering. In the most beautiful cursive handwriting, this son wrote these words to me on Mother’s Day: Thank you for . . . cooking, helping with homework, cleaning the house, helping with Jubilee (children’s ministry), teaching me about God, cheering me on at soccer games, buying me clothes. I love you!
Another son chose these adjectives to describe me: loving, sweet, nice, beautiful.
For real! They said that about ME! Even though I forget to sign permission slips and forget to send in lunch money and can’t keep track of their soccer uniforms. Even though I completely lost it and morphed into fire-breathing dragon-momma when they trashed the basement and had a wrestling match on top of piles of dirty laundry. Even though I can’t stay and watch diving practice again because I have to drive this other kid to this other thing. Even though I didn’t sign up to chaperone that event or this field trip. Even though I bought the wrong kind of yogurt. Even though I shewed them out of my room so I could watch Call the Midwife alone. And even though I shush them during American Idol because REALLY? Can we not be quiet during the songs?
In spite of all my mess-ups and failures and shortcomings, they love me. These little people view me through a lens of grace. Oh what mercy!
And I need Mother’s Day because I need to be reminded to view myself through that same lens of grace.
And you do too. Whether you’re a mother or not, you need to be reminded to view yourself through a lens of grace.
So consider this your reminder. Today, receive mercy.
This is your Mother’s Day, your You Day, whomever you are. This is your Brag Board. Read it and receive it.