Let me set the scene. I’m embracing my sister in a goodbye hug after a wonderful visit. She made the trip with her husband and three darling girls and as we give one last squeeze she lovingly whispers in my ear, “You’re such a good mother”. Now, here is when about one thousand different reasons entered my mind that discounted what my sister just so kindly stated. Fifty of those reasons happened that day alone, and it wasn’t even noon yet.
My immediate silent protest to her remarks stayed with me the rest of that week. In fact, I seemed to have adopted more of those negative thoughts than usual.
No allow me to step back in time a bit. My many days of playing the childhood game of M.A.S.H. seemed to rub off and I got what I wanted, 4 kids- 2 of each gender, living in a house. Minus the red Lamborghini the game said I’d have, I felt pretty fortunate.
I have always wanted children and knew when I did, I would stay at home to nurture and teach them. They would be dressed perfectly every day, we would have oodles of fun cooking in the kitchen together and well, I’d be Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way”!
Ok, so we all know where this story goes next, a little dose of reality and 17 years later I’m yelling at my kids to get out of the kitchen and let me cook in peace!
So back to my original story. I had been feeling, more than usual, like I was failing as a mother. I was keenly aware of the housework that was calling my name; the individual needs of each child that still needed to be fulfilled; the dinner that was not going to cook itself and the many other tasks and responsibilities that requires my attention.
Who in the heck is this Mary Poppins anyways and why was she practically perfect in every way? All I knew is that I was not living that fantasized dream.
Then one night while eating dinner with the kids, everyone seemed to eat a little slower that night. They were talking to each other, no, carrying on a conversation! They were laughing and joking around. They even offered to do the dishes!
Scripture and prayer later that night even lingered longer than normal. The teenagers weren’t trying to speed things up and the little's were actually reading scriptures. My teens voluntarily came and hugged me, letting me squeeze them and kiss them and they didn’t even ask me for something afterwards!
As I was taking my extremely hot shower later that night, I literally dropped the soap and had an epiphany- I felt the strong need to embrace the good that was happening in my home, to acknowledge that I was trying to be a good mom and that's all God requires of me. This is when I decided that perfectionism is absolutely an enemy to good. We are asked by God to be perfected in and through our loving Savior, not try to attain perfection on our own and in our own way.
We all want to be good mothers. We all are doing our best and however that applies to each individual, it’s still good. Every aspect of motherhood is saturated with daily good works. Those of you are in the middle of sleepless nights; potty training; terrible two's and terrifying three's; disabilities; rebellious teens or adult children who are struggling, you are offering your good works to those children in many ways. Those good works, I believe, are counted among the angels and we are blessed because of it. Now how often do we recognize those actions and then follow up with acknowledging the results of our actions? I believe that if we did this more often, we would all feel more of our divine goodness as mothers. I think trying to attain an unrealistic perfection in motherhood actually slows down the progress of developing good works.
“You’re a good mother”, those sweet words my sister spoke, now mean more to me than ever before. Let us as mothers give this same acknowledgment to those mothers around us. May we see the good in their actions and may we tell each other more often, “You’re a good mother”. We all want to be good, we all want to do good, and that is good enough.
So embrace your goodness, your divine role, and acknowledge the fact that YOU, are a good mother!