Am I Still A Good Parent If I Messed Up?

 

“Am I still a good mother if I have messed up?”

Growing up, I dreamed of being a mother and raising many babies.  It truly was what I wanted.

I almost wrote, “It truly was all I wanted.”  It’s interesting how a simple defining word can change the meaning of a sentence.  Sometimes, I hear the timid apology in the middle of the sentence — the attempt to justify the fact that I can be content with simply being a mother.  Even, the word “simply” though is diminishing the impact and importance of the calling to be a mother.

As many mothers can testify, there is nothing simple about being a mom and raising children.  In fact, parenting will involve every part of you — physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

There is no job that has brought me to my knees as much as raising children — five people that I am responsible to help shape into whole, healthy individuals.

There is no job that requires me to be so selfless, so giving, so patient, so wise, so gracious, so humble, so forgiving, so creative, and so loving, above all else.

Then, you factor in that we are all still a process of God’s grace.  We still mess up at times.

When we mess up as moms, which we all do at times, the question some of us ask is, “Are we still a good mom?”

Most moms want to be the best mom to their kids.

It’s interesting how we complicate parenting  — how I complicate parenting…  There are definitely life skills my kids need to learn, but sometimes in the pressure of all the other details, I forget the most important two things my kids need above everything else: to be generously loved and to know how much God generously loves them.

I have a dear friend who is such a beautiful reminder of this truth just by how she lives.  Actually, I have two friends like that.  One mommy friend has seven children, but she wildly loves her children and lets them know that every. single. day.  My other friend has two kids, and I just love to hear how she speaks life and love into them every. single. day.  These two moms get it.  They don’t feel the pressure to run their kids to this activity and that activity.  Instead, they do things like let their kids play in the dirt, splash in rain puddles, cuddle with a pile of books, pet animals, and ride bikes.

Somehow, in our desire to be the best mom, we have so often turned parenting into a list of places to take our kids, activities to plan, and paid lessons for enhancement.  We spend our time chauffeuring our kids instead of actually engaging with our kids.

As a mother of older children, there is an adjustment that happens.  They do have more activities, and they don’t want to cuddle on our laps or play in dirt any more.  Yet, teens still need time just to sit and chat.

What our kids want more than anything else is our love.  

My one friend (I mentioned earlier) also wrote in her Instagram account, #kissingontheporchswing, that our kids also want to know they are liked and loved. 

I wonder if our constant driving from activity to activity is conveying the wrong message?  Does our busyness allow us to relationally connect with our kids?  Does our busyness somehow inadvertently convey to our kids the wrong message that somehow we don’t want to simply be with them?

It’s actually okay to simply like to be with our kids — not that there’s anything simple about it.  It’s that we are content with motherhood.  We are fulfilled in being a mother.

I am entering the autumn season of raising some of my kids, and I am feeling it.  I miss those days of playing in the rain with my now oldest kids, sledding down hills with my once-little boys, and watching them play for hours in the dirt and with bugs.  Those were wildly, crazy days — insanely exhausting and emotionally-depleting days.  Those were also days when my kids were happy with the simplest things.  Those were the days of sweet, innocent childhood and when all that my kids wanted was my love.

What happens though if we have not been always loving?  Are we still a good mom? There are some reading this who have truly messed up in big ways.  Your kids are now adults and expressing all their emotional baggage from the ways that maybe you messed up in your parenting.  Your heart aches for healing and the ability to forgive yourself.

I was struggling with this very question the other day because I am not the perfect mom.  I tried to be the perfect mom for so long, but that whole description is a false one.  There are no perfect parents.

Some of you don’t feel you are bad parents, but you wonder if you are a good parent.  “Am I a good mom?”  What defines good though in the sense of parenting?  There are some obvious good and bad parents, but what about the parents that are doing a lot right, trying their very best, mess up, fess up to their kids and to God, but still sometimes mess up?

I was asking God this question, and He spoke to my heart this truth: “Your children will be given the opportunity to experience my grace just like you have.”  In other words, God was telling me that just like God has given me His grace for the areas in which my parents were not perfect, He will also give my kids the grace to heal in the areas that I have failed them.  

The reality is that we all need grace.  We need to repent of our idols of perfection which are pride and fear-based, and we need to first recognize that we need Jesus.  We need His grace.  We need it for us and for our past wounds, and we need it for our kids.

Our kids need grace and need to see us live in the reality of grace — that it’s not perfection we idolize, but it’s grace that allows us to repent, to change, to forgive, and to release.  It’s grace that allows us to be okay with the healing process that God is doing within us.  We don’t want to stop or force the healing process before its ready because of our own impatience.  We don’t want to be in love with a “perfect work” instead of the Perfecter of our lives.

Jesus, alone, is Perfect.  True perfection is only righteous-based, and that is something Jesus alone can do within our lives.

…So, repent, release, forgive, and heal, but this is a work that only God can do in your life.  Let Him take control of your healing.

 

My Former Life In A Nutshell…

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/growing-up-gothard

I am going to link to this guy’s blog post because it summarizes in a nutshell what it was like growing up under the influence of ATI (Advanced Training Institute/Bill Gothard program).

I love how this guy describes his home as a loving home!  Mine was too, and I love my parents!!  They did a lot of good, but we were raised within the ATI culture.  This guy’s article explains a lot of the issues I have with the philosophies of the ATI movement/teachings.

This guy is right on when he explains about the constant pressure to be perfect.  I remember that so well and my twisted view of God, as a result.

I didn’t want to get close to a God who seemed to be always waiting for my next moment of sin/failure and who seemed like He only punished with no full restoration or hope of redemption in sight.  It was taught that consequences were God’s judgment on us; there was no concept of redemption for even our consequences.

It was definitely a place of much fear!  Parents wanted to raise their kids to turn out godly.  So in fear, they pulled them from the world, even from among other Christians, sometimes family members, and society.  They thought that by secluding them, they could produce a more godly generation.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, the issue with this is, they forget that there is evil within not just without.  The heart is what matters!

They also lived from fear.  What they didn’t realize is that reacting to our fears will not lead us into freedom but just into another form of bondage.

We never want to raise our children from a position of fear but from God’s leading.  The safest place to be is always within the center of God’s will.

An interview with a former ATI student that really explains what it was like growing up Gothard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQy4LGUQRg.

 

Sometimes The Best Way To Welcome Someone Is To Be “Unprepared”

Carved-stone welcome "mat" at the Auburn Sounder station. Note that they face the boarders, not the deboarders.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2456222&searchId=fc0d07ca355de4e790053ed7db407892&npos=18)

I am a mom of five children.  It goes without being said that life is busy.

Busyness necessitates picking priorities.  I am learning that people are more important than keeping a pristine house. 

I still function better in a clean house, but I am learning that my worth isn’t found in the state of my house.

I am also learning that my worth isn’t found in the performance of my kids so that means inviting people into my life and allowing them to observe the imperfect but beautifully authentic reality of life. 

It means allowing people to see the way we interact and that we have struggles just like everyone else.  That we are imperfect people raising imperfect little people.

I am also learning that my worth isn’t based on my appearance My worth doesn’t need validation from others.  My worth has already been determined.

So this morning I knew I had company coming.   That meant it was time to clean a house that had been missing my attention due to a busy week of running, homeschooling, and caring for six other people.

My poor bathrooms!  Oh, they were in desperate need of a face-lift so I scurried around making them fit for human use.

By the time I had straightened a little, cleaned dishes, fed everyone, changed a dirty diaper, cleaned bathrooms, swept floors and stairs, I knew I was running out of time to get myself presentable.  I still hadn’t showered, dressed, or even brushed my hair.

I know it was the Lord in His grace, but the thought came to my mind, “Your company may show up any minute and maybe you are supposed to greet her this way to encourage her that your life isn’t perfect.  Don’t be stressed; just offer the gift of authenticity.”

Sure enough, the door-bell rang immediately after that thought.

I can say that without God’s gentle “coaching” I would have been stressed, embarrassed, and ashamed that I was so unprepared for company.

Yet, God in His loving way was encouraging me that sometimes what our friends and loved ones need isn’t false perfection, but what they need is our willingness to offer ourselves, to be authentic, to be vulnerable.

This dear friend so graciously entered my home and never once made me feel awkward or embarrassed over my disheveled appearance.  As we talked, laughed, and watched our active little ones, it didn’t matter that one of us hadn’t showered, dressed, or brushed her hair.

What mattered was that we were two mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends sharing a part of our lives together.

How refreshing it is to know that worth, friendship, and love is never about perfection, performance, or appearance.  It’s about authentic lavish love — love that God Himself has so richly poured upon us.

Because of that love, we are given many opportunities to share the gift of ourselves and the gift of the moment with others.