If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 19 months of “trying to become a better mother,” it’s that I can’t do it. At all.
Have I learned to cook from scratch? Yes, for the most part (with the added challenge of an egg, gluten and dairy-free diet for my daughter).
But what have I learned most of all? There are some things I just can’t do. There are some areas where I fail every day–and probably will continue to fail at if I only tap into my own meager strength.
And realizing that has been freeing. It brings me to my knees.
It causes me to surrender all my own aspirations for motherhood or anything else–and give them to God, the only One who can take all my failed attempts at bettering myself as a mother and create something beautiful.
Motherhood is humbling. Really, it’s been the most humbling role I’ve ever “played.”
Growing up, I pretty much succeeded at everything I tried. Academics? A shoe in. And how my heart swelled with pride to deliver that high school valedictorian speech nearly 13 years ago and wear the “Most Outstanding Female Graduate” medal at my college graduation in 2003.
I knew which areas to avoid, like sports or anything that involved too much math or science. I could steer away from those and miss failure.
And I sheltered myself in a bubble of the arts and human service: foreign language, writing and literature, theater, missionary work, public service. Anything that matched my gifts were fair game. If I stayed there, I was guaranteed success.
And then, in June 2008, after that grueling 16 1/2-hour labor, I became a mom. I wept as I held that squirming, red-faced bundle of joy that came out of me.
Truly, it still amazes me every time I have a conversation with my well-articulated almost 4 year old. “You know you used to lived in Mommy’s tummy, right?” I ask her. “Yes, Mommy, it was warm and cozy there.” And we laugh.
And two years later–I birthed yet another precious baby girl. It was almost unfathomable. Here I was–still floundering in what in the world I was doing with a toddler, and God granted me another of life’s most amazing blessings–a second daughter.
And here I sit today–about 10 weeks away from meeting my third baby girl. As she kicks and punches my ever-growing belly, I imagine what she looks like, what we will name her, and how fun life will be with three–might I assume redheaded–little girls.
At the same time, I battle fear.
I look at my few successes in motherhood, but it’s hard not to dwell on my failures…
My preschooler who still wets her pants–nearly every single day. Potty training? Yeah–it’s been extremely humbling.
The ever-growing laundry mountain that I just can’t seem to tame.
The fact that, sometimes, my kids eat rice cakes for breakfast because I just get weary of coming up with an egg/gluten/dairy-free meal day after day.
Sometimes my arms ache from cleaning up the poop and vomit and the blood–not to mention spilled cereal or water.
And it’s in those moments that I can choose to dwell on how poorly I do in this job. Or, I can thank God for humbling me. From a person who excelled at everything she tried to a mother who has realized that I just can’t do this job well–not on my own at least.
It’s then that I knock down my pride and my heart cries, “God, help me. I can’t do this without you.”
And, as always, He does just that. And I’m thankful that He’s using motherhood to refine me. To teach me that when we are humbled, He will lift us up.
*This post first appeared as a column in the Mooresville Weekly newspaper. I have linked to several of my bi-monthly newspaper columns throughout this post. In fact, this blog started out as a place for me to keep my columns…before I officially launched!