I went for a run yesterday with my Nike running app on my phone that tracks how long I run and how fast I go.
And I started thinking to myself: "Why in the HECK do I use this thing? If I run slower than I did the day before, I'm honestly not really able to push myself to run faster. It's like I should just get a thumbs up sign on this thing for just being out here, trying."
So I started brainstorming what a good running app for MOMS could be like. What if there was an app that said (through your headphones) "Great job! You're doing AMAZING!" instead of "Point five miles completed, average time <insert how fast you're running>." What if instead of pace and distance, the app measured how long it took you to get the kids and yourself ready, your tiredness level, how many pounds you're pushing in your jogging stroller, wind resistance, your personal level of motivation and how freaking hard it was to actually make yourself get your butt outside? What if it spouted phrases like, "I'm so proud of you! Just having your shoes on is a WIN! That you're even trying is success!"
Good idea, right, mommas? ;) You know you'd buy it.
A few weeks ago was Mother's Day. I like Mother's Day because I like getting treats. I like that my husband stops by Dunkin' Donuts to get me an iced mocha latte. I like cute cards from our children, and I like lots of hugs. So Mother's Day is pretty fun for me.
But Mother's Day also carries with it a darker side for me...and I'd guess it does for a lot of moms.
This year, I ended the day crying on my husband's shoulder at bedtime. All day long, I had had this subconscious BAD FEELING floating around in the back of my mind: "I haven't done good enough as a mom. I am not a good enough mom. I don't spend enough time listening to them, giving them enough attention, playing with them, being affectionate enough with them. I'm failing as a mom." I felt compelled to ask my husband, "Do you really think I'm a good mom??? I don't feel like I'm good enough." The question made me burst into tears...and I realized how pervasive that feeling is of "I haven't done enough, been enough, to be a good enough mom to these precious children."
I think my mind needs a change of gears just like I was imagining for my running app.
I feel all this pressure to do more, to be more, and it's never enough. But what if God is truly GRACIOUS? What if He's not disappointed with my progress? What if He's more like that Mom's Running App that I was picturing: "I'm so proud of you! You're out here giving this mothering thing your energy, your time, your effort. You're doing so well"?
Honestly, I'm still 'on the hunt' for what God thinks about me and my mothering. I'm in the stage of realizing that I feel that I haven't done enough pretty much all the time. I feel like: "Whoa, I didn't even know I felt this so often." And I'm planning on thinking that through and asking God for some insight into His feelings in the coming weeks.
But there are some things that I DO know. Here are three:
1. God Himself has entrusted these children to ME. Not to anyone else. He wanted their lives to be shaped and formed by my life. He could have given them to anyone else in the whole world, but He gave them to me.
2. That Numero Uno that I just wrote is a big one, because I tend to think of myself pretty consistently as the 'crap parent.' My husband happens to be both an elementary teacher, as well as a person who is very gifted in working with children. He's able to see through a lot of extraneous details into the heart of what's going on, as well as what needs to happen. I don't have the years of teaching that he does, and I just don't have the gift to see things as clearly as he does. My kids will ask me a question in a whiny voice, and I don't even hear the whine. I just reply. My husband, though, will realize, "Oh, they're whining. We don't want to reward whining. They're probably whining because of this, this, and this. Here's how I'll address the current whining, and here's how I'll proactively nip the whining in the bud for the rest of the evening by changing this, this and this." What the?!?
So as you can imagine, I think of myself as the sub-par parent who messes the kids up.
But when I can remember that God chose to give these two goofy ganders to ME, guess what? My perspective starts to change: I realize that my husband brings what he has to give to our family. But he CAN'T bring what I have to give to our family. He's not a woman. He's not ME, with my thoughts, my background, the way God speaks to me. I would conclude that if I don't have the same giftings as he does, then I bring nothing of value. BUT WHAT I BRING IS VERY SIGNIFICANT AND NEEDED. God entrusted these lives that He knit together so carefully into my care as well.
3. But saying that I'm significant and needed doesn't rule out my need to grow. It doesn't mean I'm perfect. If leading my children doesn't come naturally to me, that doesn't mean that I can just say, "That's just the way I am." It's like there are the two extremes: concluding I'm worthless because I'm not the same as someone who has certain obvious giftings, or deciding that because I'm significant, I can just stay the way I am, with all my weaknesses and my kids just have to deal with it. THERE'S A MIDDLE GROUND! I can learn from my husband's strengths. I CAN ASK QUESTIONS! I can intentionally look to grow in areas where I'm not very strong. I can ask him what he thinks through as he leads our kids. I can LEARN. And the only way to really learn is to go back to number two and reject the conclusion that 'I'm not good enough if I'm not perfect.' Only when I'm OK with who I am and the strengths and weaknesses that I have, can I genuinely ask for help in a healthy way. Only then can I truly grow.
So these are the things that I already know. If you agree with them or like them, maybe you should go to the App Store and look up "Gentle and Kind Running App for Moms Over 25"...just kidding! ;)
Sarah blogs regularly, connect with her at www.somuchhope.com