That Wonderful Hot Mess Called Motherhood
by Cindy Hester
Moms, are you ever guilty of measuring yourselves against a standard put out there by the world that is impossible to meet? I am not sure why we are so hard on ourselves. I mean after all, anyone who watches the news or pays attention at all to the world around us can see enough evidence of shortcomings to go around. It is often so easy to pass judgement on another mother simply because it makes it just a tad easier to deal with our own inadequacies –real or perceived.
If you are at all familiar with my writing, you know I love to write humorous stories about my Mom. The reason is not to make fun of her. It’s actually quite the opposite. Mom has a genuine approachability that touches the lives of others by putting them at ease in her presence. She understands the power of being able to embrace and own up to her humanity. Because of this quality, many women have found comfort and acceptance in her presence.
Mom has learned to find the humor in even the most difficult of situations – especially those related to parenting. This is a strength I greatly admire. Although she has developed this wisdom more in her later years, every so often I still hear her speak of how she failed us kids in one situation or another. The amazing thing is I remember no failures on her part. From my perspective, all I remember is a loving Mom who was doing her best to bring up four quite challenging children in a less than perfect world. (Okay, I was the challenging child, but it makes me feel better to include the other three.)
Trust me; I have and I still am providing my children plenty of anecdotes to share about their Mom. Like the time I was stressed from trying to meet too many challenges at once and forgot to put the car back in drive after realizing I was stuck out a little too far into the street at a stop sign. I was taking college courses studying between providing rides to after school activities and helping with my children’s homework and class projects. This particular afternoon I had just picked up my daughter from band practice (actually it was flag practice with the band.) The kids were tired, hungry, and grumpy. It was in the middle of a teaching moment about the importance of getting along with one another that I finally saw the opportunity to pull out onto the main street. I put the petal to the metal, but instead of going forward, I slammed into the poor woman behind me.
Understandably the woman got out of her vehicle angrily shouting things I cannot repeat. Embarrassed and defeated, I got out of truck, insurance information in tow, attempting to tell her how sorry I was between sobs. She paused as she caught a glimpse of three big sets of eyes staring at her from the back window. Taking in the hot mess that was me at that moment in time, she looked me straight in the eye, put her arm around my shoulder, and in a deep southern drawl said, “Girl, you gotta’ let somethin’ go! I know from experience that you need to get you some help with all of these things you are juggling or you’re gonna’ lose it!”
This woman had no idea just how much was going on in my life at that point in time. She may never know how much her direct words of wisdom and understanding meant to me that day. Thankfully there was no major damage to either vehicle, and I left the situation comforted, understood, and with a new friend.
Moms, we need one another. I watch as my daughters-in-law struggle to meet the demands of motherhood in today’s world. I see stories of mothers on the nightly news whose sons or daughters have taken on a life they would have never chosen for them. I have watched my own Mom struggle through watching me make mistakes that undoubtedly broke her heart. I have felt the many prayers she has lifted to heaven on my behalf and on the behalf of my children, and I have seen the results of those prayers. To be perfectly honest, I still fight carrying the guilt of the many mistakes I made as a Mom and a Step-Mom.
Today I feel the need to reach out to Moms of all ages and backgrounds with a word of encouragement. The common bond we hold is the love we have for our children and the hope to which we cling for them to experience goodness in their lives. This hope is not in vain because is there is a God who loves and cares for our children even more than we ever could. He not only wants them to experience goodness, He created them for this distinct purpose. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I also want to remind each of you that goodness in the lives of our children often comes at the culmination of a learning experience. That learning experience can be painful for them and for us. Whenever I find myself watching my child go through such a time, I am reminded of the wise words of that woman years ago. It does me no good to worry and fret. It does neither of us any good for me to attempt to control or “fix” the situation. I have ”gotta’ let somethin’ go”. I have to release my child and his or her situation into the hands of a loving God with far more wisdom than I could ever obtain. He is incredibly able “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
Finally, I want to inspire each of us to find the humor in the many “mistakes” we make as we are learning to become the Moms God wants us to be. The love we show our children far surpasses meeting any standard the world gives us to measure up to. None of us has the wisdom on our own to be the perfect Mom. We must learn to simply bring our hopes as well as our disappointments and failures to our Heavenly Father seeking His will and His forgiveness. Be honest and real with one another, and “bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2