“You’ve got this mom thing figured out, don’t you?’”
Apparently having a large family gives people the impression that you are an ‘expert’ parent. You’ve seen it all, done it all, and you have all the answers. Moms who are in the early stages of parenting look toward you with exhaustion and ask hopefully, “When will I have this all figured out?”
And here is the answer that so many moms are searching for… you know you have ‘arrived’ as a mother; you know you have it all figured out the moment that you realize you will NEVER have it all figured out. As soon as we come to the realization that every child, every situation is unique and that we will never have all the answers we can begin to tackle challenges with a greater sense of confidence and peace about your parenting.
As moms we are so hard on ourselves, always pushing to find the best way to do things. Opinions are everywhere, and it can turn into a toxic case of mom guilt. And the reason for that it is that all those well-meaning (and some not-so-well meaning) opinions do not translate into solutions because we are all so different, raising children who are so different.
There are so many mommy bloggers and vloggers and Instagrammers out there- advice is at an all time surplus. And that’s wonderful. I wish more of them were out there 10-15 years ago.
BUT (this is a very gentle but) … as I said to my husband when I was recently looking into mommy vloggers- I feel like I am listening to myself 10 years ago. I thought I had so much motherhood experience. I knew what worked and what didn’t. I knew all the things my kids would ‘never’ do. I was a pretty bold ‘expert’ for not even putting a child through middle school yet! I thought I had arrived as a mom but in reality, I was pretty darn far from my destination.
It took 3 events in my life for me to actually reach ‘arrival’ as a mom. The first one was my last child. That little dude has challenged everything I ever thought I knew about being a mom. Almost every tried and true trick I had developed with the first six completely did not work for number seven. He’s a mover and a shaker, a boundary pusher and a rule breaker. And I am GRATEFUL. He keeps me on my toes and keeps us young. He puts me in my place and reminds me that I don’t have all the answers. Because of him I am STILL LEARNING how to parent and I wouldn’t change him for anything.
The second event was when my oldest child truly broke my heart. I’m not talking about the kind of heartache that ensues when your six-year-old screams I hate you or your tween pretends they don’t recognize you. I am talking about the first time your child makes a bad decision that truly has far reaching consequences and shatters dreams you had for them. The moment you realize that no matter how hard you tried to raise them well and teach them right from wrong, they will ultimately arrive at crossroads where they have to make choices for themselves and they won’t always make the right one. When we experienced this with out oldest child it shook me to the core and made me doubt everything about who I was as a mother. It took a huge amount of reflection before I understood that this is a part of life, and the lessons weren’t found in all the things we did right but rather how much we could learn when things went wrong.
The last one was the most life changing and difficult to sum up in a paragraph. But it is such a huge factor in reaching my peace as a mom. And oddly it didn’t have everything to do with being a mom, but rather with being a wife. The near breakdown and loss of our marriage rocked me so deeply I did not think I could recover. And in some ways, I still don’t think I am fully recovered. But it taught me the greatest lesson of my life… a lesson in grace. God’s grace was never more apparent in my life than in the reconciliation and restoration of our marriage. He took a broken, crumbling foundation and truly made beauty from ashes.
If grace could play such a profound, life changing role in my life, in our marriage… then what difference could it make if I worked harder at parenting from grace and even more so- showed grace to myself as a mother? If God’s grace could transform and refine us so dramatically as adults, then what kind of impact can our own grace have in our life and the lives of our children?
Every day as a mom can be a roller coaster- ups & downs, twists & turns moving along at record speed. No matter how hard we try we tend to always with we had rode today’s ride better. Less screaming, eyes open. But the moment you understand that you will always be learning, you will never have all the answers…that is your moment to give grace. To your children and to yourself. And in that moment you will finally have arrived at your destination…
You have it all figured out.