The Misery of Mother’s Day

May 13 is Mother’s Day. The day when children honor and appreciate the most influential woman in their lives. But, if you are a mother reading this today, and you feel anything like I do, then Mother’s Day isn’t always your favorite day. It isn’t necessarily a day full of joy, confidence, or excitement. It is a day of heartache, disappointment, and even shame.
Motherhood is a high calling. It is the most important job in the world. Truly. An incredible opportunity to influence and prepare the next generation of leaders, who very well might change the world. After all, some of the most influential people in the world today were children playing in the backyard just a generation ago. Who influenced them? Without a doubt, their mom did, in one way or another. The hand that rocks the cradle really does rule the world.
Which is probably why motherhood is so hard!! It requires sacrifice… more sacrifice than you can imagine when you see two lines on a plastic stick… and nothing can prepare you for the realities of what that sacrifice will be. Ask almost any mother, and they will tell you how they have sacrificed everything for their children. Whether giving up a career, sacrificing opportunities for advancement, missing out on fun getaways with girlfriends, ever being able to go to the bathroom alone, or just to have an uninterrupted conversation, a mother makes incredible sacrifices. Sacrifices that anyone other than a mom will have difficulty imagining.
The most brutal part of being a mom, though, isn’t the sacrifice. That is, honestly, very easy to do. Loving on children is wired into a mama’s heart. She’ll do whatever it takes to do what God has wired her to do. And it is very reinforcing. Just a smile, a hug, even children laughing in the back yard can be enough to give a mama the strength to go on for another day. The most brutal part of being a mom isn’t the sacrifice. It’s the failure.
Let me explain…
Nobody embarks on their career as a mom anticipating failure. However they came to be a mom, every woman who embarks on that adventure hopes for success…and success means never screwing up. The challenge is, we screw up, every day. Maybe you make it to your son’s baseball game, but you miss your daughter’s track meet. Or you snuggle with your sick kid, while the healthy to help make dinner and feel left out. Or you deal with a crying baby for hours on end, and snap at the boy who slams the door when he comes in, not knowing the baby is finally asleep. Or you do a fantastic job juggling all the needs of your children but leave the library books in the back of the car (again), or forget to buy toilet paper, or let dinner boil over, or leave the laundry in the washer overnight, or something. If you are anything like me, you fail. Every. Single. Day.
Which is why I don’t necessarily like Mother’s Day. It reminds me of what my dreams were when I started out on this adventure and how those dreams have been crushed beneath the weight of my short- comings and failures. As my children have stepped into adulthood, they’ve shared about heartbreak that they experienced because of me. Never in my darkest nightmares did I imagine I would cause heartache for my children. And if you haven’t reached that point, just wait. You will.
So, how do you keep going, in the face of guaranteed failure? Why not just quit now and give up? Well, to be honest, some days those questions are tough to face. But this is a Christian paper, right? So, here’s where the Good News comes in!! Because, you see, God knows our weaknesses!! And He made provision for our failings.
First, according to any success guru on the planet, failure is the key to success, because when you fail, at least you are trying. And you can learn. So, Moms, we have the success thing figured out…if we can be okay with failing.
Second, and this is key; by modeling failure with grace, we can set a powerful example for our children. After all, they fail too. We give our children a precious gift when we model getting back up when we fall down.
Finally, if we can model failure with grace well, then we can point our children to Jesus. He is the Only one who will never fail them. The best way to learn that lesson is to live with a mama who believes it with all her heart.
It will never feel good to come face-to-face with our shortcomings and failures. Ever. But perhaps the key to a joy-filled Mother’s Day is to change expectations and redefine success. Because success isn’t the absence of failure. The essence of success is getting up once more than we fall down… “Do not grow weary in doing well, for in due time you will reap a harvest if you do not lose heart.” Gal 6:9. (Emphasis added).
Mama, don’t lose heart. You are doing well…no…not perfect. But you are doing well. And you will reap a harvest. It may take a while. And you will have rough spots along the way. The key is to not quit… not give up. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy by taking your focus from Jesus and the gift of the children He has blessed you with (Psalm 127:3).