It’s a mom’s job to protect our children, teach them to follow the ways of the Lord, help them stay away from things that will lead them astray – so it’s all on us to make them into the person you know God wants them to be, right? It’s our fault if they don’t want to listen to worship music. It’s our fault if they don’t want to go to youth group. It’s our fault if they get bad grades. It’s our fault if they get sick or hurt.
This is the crushing weight I believe all mothers – including myself – feel as they navigate through the adventure of parenting. Some of us feel the pressure of this lie more than others.
As a friend is over for a play-date with her child, we’re chatting and helping the girls clean up and she asks a question that would have sent me into a complete panic a year earlier: “What’s Sydney doing for the 100th Day of School project that’s due tomorrow?”
“Is that due tomorrow?” I ask, a little taken aback. “Whoops, I just saw the note today because I have not been on top of checking the homework binder like I should this week!” I laugh and say “I guess we’ll just scrounge around the house and find whatever we can find 100 of and glue it to something. It’ll be fine. I used to get all panicky and bent out of shape about this stuff but I’ve changed.” Boy have I changed, and it’s so amazing that I don’t want to go back to that place I was before!
Pressure: The Fear of Judgement
When I think back to my early parenting years I wish I could go back in time and get a do over for the sake of myself and my children. The pressure to do everything right and with “excellence” felt like it was choking me at times – and I don’t think that I’m alone in that. I’ve literally had to remind myself to breathe in the midst of trying to get my kids to school on time to avoid the dreaded tardy slip.
The world has a fear problem and it hides behind hate and judgment for protection. Ultimately we’re all scared of rejection and kicked enough times, the best of us can become hardened through our pain. We’re all interconnected and affecting each other with our actions and attitudes whether we see it or not.
We all form outlooks on life based upon our experiences and pick up our shields and defensive weapons along the way, desperate to protect our hearts in what often can feel like a cruel and uncaring world. In the midst of our experiences, in our formative years we make unconscious assumptions and adapt coping mechanisms along the way. We’re all just trying to make it through the scary stuff, guarding our hearts as we go.
When I was a little girl growing up in the mid 1970’s in Mobile, Alabama, I remember being afraid every day that I went to school in the first and second grade. Differences among the student body created a hostile environment. Division was so charged in the school I attended that it felt a bit like walking into a cage housing predatory animals that were natural enemies being forced to live together.
Have you ever been ambushed by God’s love – by having an ordinary moment turn into the extraordinary? God’s been doing that for me lately, drenching me in His love when I least expect it, but I’ve also been seeking it out more. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing it more? Perhaps I’m seeing what’s always been there but I’ve finally slowed down enough to see it…not rushing right through it in my quest to pursue it.
My daughter Sydney and I were snuggled up in bed. We had just finished reading Twas the Night Before Christmas and I had been being very silly with her with her little Christmas elf. He was being very naughty and kept interrupting Sydney as she was reading the story so she and I just kept bursting out into giggles. The moment already seemed pretty special and I was in a place to savor the now instead of rushing through our time together.
It was about 10 days ago that I scratched the scab off and the blood ran. I didn’t even realize the scab on my heart was there but nonetheless something rubbed up against it and knocked it off. I had read something that morning in Ann Voscamp’s book The Broken Way. She had talked about her own spiritual journey, shared some of her own brokenness and it triggered something in me. In my morning preparations to make myself presentable to the world, all of my unpresentable junk that had still been pushed down and repressed decided it was the right time to present itself whether I wanted it to or not.
Memories of mom fail moments started flooding my mind as the shower waters flooded over me. Vivid reflections of the times I’ve yelled at my children and many other parenting mistakes I had been harboring shame for came flooding to the surface. I had buried them down deep because my fragile rejected self had been devastated by my failures. Why is it that the hardest failures to take are when we feel we have failed others? I had set out to be a perfect parent and had made more mistakes than I could count and my heart was breaking. As the waters flowed over me, the waters of repentance began to flow out of me as well. It hurt. Heartache has always been harder for me to handle than physical pain. My instinct is to want to run from it, push it down.