The other day I was in a store and heard a kid crying (or wailing) but I didn’t really pay any attention. As I was leaving the store the crying got louder and sure enough here came a mom pushing a stroller with a crying, wailing, screaming, head throwing, arms reaching preschooler. I wanted to say something encouraging but in the heat, and noise, of the moment I couldn’t think of anything that would help so I said “Let me get that for you” and held the door. As they barely got through the door (she was grabbing onto things to try and stop the progress) I smiled at the mom and flashed her what I hope was a ‘you’ll get through this’ look. She had that look on her face like “if I can just get out of here, I may never take this kid anywhere else again” (trust me I’ve seen that one before and after all, we have to stay calm because no one wants to be arrested at a Lifeway)
As I got into my car I couldn’t help but look over to where this lady was trying to get her daughter calmed down and into the SUV. She had opened the back and the girl was pushing her foot against the ground to move the stroller away–it was quite dramatic and I since I could see they were almost into the vehicle, I smiled again, I prayed a quick prayer for them…and then I remembered.
I remembered all the times that, or something like that was me. I remembered all pressure and feelings of failure that I felt in raising my 3 young kids (and sometimes still do).
Then yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine who has kids past the public fit throwing stage but younger than my older teen and college age kids, and we got to talking about raising young kids and I shared with her that ‘I learned to give myself a little more grace on some things’ in order to make it through with any of my sanity left. I hope that the stroller mom was able to give herself some grace. It seems to me like parents are constantly being judged and given advice and being made to feel like failures for what is generally just normal growing pains and life experiences.
We spend time looking online and seeing other people’s lives (which seem to look better than ours) and we wonder what we did wrong? What I would love for you to hear today is this “Give yourself some grace” You aren’t perfect and you won’t handle everything perfectly–but what’s the fun in that? Where’s the learning experience there? and in honor of my parents who constantly reminded me of the character I was building as I endured tough circumstances–where’s the character building?
Laughing with my friend I was reminded of making a conscious choices to choose grace over condemnation like this:
- instead of stressing over their fit in public–congratulate myself on the fact that their sweet little selves are still with us
- instead of beating myself up that I can’t find their shot records–be glad that I even remembered to get them shots
- instead of stressing over them staying up late and going to bed a little dirty–be thankful that they are finally in bed and I can get clean
- instead of comparing my scrapbooks to ________ —pat myself on the back that I took pictures and they will still be there when I get to them (like graduation–haha)
- instead of feeling like a failure that my kid refuses to sleep in his bed but sleeps in the doorway every night–remind myself that small kids can get quality sleep just about anywhere
- instead of overthinking what I did wrong that would cause my child to only bark and answer to a dog name for months–learn to like dogs better and be grateful that at some point she will have more to say that ‘woof’
Although you need to read those a little tongue in cheek, I hope you get the point:) That list could go on and on and when I watched the mom with the throwing fit kid, I thought of lots more times when I was tempted to feel like a failure or that I wasn’t cut out for these strong willed kids. Please hear me on this—give yourself a little more grace moms!!!
I’ve never been named mother of the year and it cracks me up to even think about that because I’m pretty sure my kids would choke to death laughing if they even tried to nominate me BUT we would probably all be laughing together as we reflect on some of the crazy things that have happened in our family… and the fact that we can laugh about that now should give you hope friend.
The enemy is whispering those lies in your ears and he wants to keep you living in defeat BUT the truth is that “His mercies are new every morning” and girlfriend that is encouraging–let’s follow in His footsteps and give and receive that mercy and grace. As a mom who is way on down the road I can honestly say that “you will make it through this and those weird, crazy grooves that our kids get in will pass (sometimes not as quickly as you would like) but they will pass… and our God is more than able to do ‘exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ask or imagine’ so trust Him to give you the grace, mercy and strength you need to make it.
Moms—be encouraged please today—in case no one else has told you– let me :
you’re doing a great job (they’re still here aren’t they?)
you’re kids are going to grow up and you’ll forget some of the ways they tortured you
At some point in your future I pray you will be blessed like I was recently in a family conversation about what each person had enjoyed most about this past summer (which had lots of fun and cool things in it) all 3 of my kids (2 were counselors and 1 a student) cited Youth Camp as their best summer memory and here’s why:
‘because I got to see God working in so many lives’
‘because I got to help lead Anna to the Lord and her story is so powerful’
‘because I got to see how God is always at work even we don’t know it at the time’
‘because I got to really be used by God in lots of different ways’
They aren’t perfect. And they made me a little crazy and alot gray when they were younger but the memory of that conversation brings tears to my eyes and causes me to thank God once again for the privilege of being part of their lives.
Focus on the good ( I always looked at them while they were sleeping because that’s when I would believe that maybe I wasn’t doing so bad) and refuse to listen to the voice that whispers condemnation and guilt to you because that is NOT your Father–He loves you and is there to give you the grace you need to make it….this too shall pass may have been my mantra but it works when you need a little reminder:) And as you give grace to yourself–please give grace to other moms–we need each other, we’re on the same team here.