Parenting Contemplations of a Flawed Mother

Contemplations of a Flawed Mother

I am flawed. We are flawed. He is perfect.

As we progress through this brief and relentlessly fleeting experience called “life,” we consciously and unconsciously summon labels from our surroundings and slap them on our chest in pride or shame (or indifference).

Let’s imagine these labels are buttons, of varying sizes based on our perception of their importance in our life. My large buttons would be: wife, mother, Christian, and homemaker. My medium-sized buttons would be daughter, sister, and writer. My small buttons are so numerous that for your sake, dearest reader, I will refrain from listing them.

One commonality among all of my pretty button labels, despite my fiercest efforts to the contrary, is that I am and always will be a flawed version of each label.

I believe myself to be a good wife, and after a quite spontaneous inquiry to my husband, he agreed (though I could not escape the subsequent “why?” as if there was an ulterior motive. Me? No way!). Despite the high marks from my husband on my general provisions as a wife, I am a flawed wife. My son, at the budding age of 3, would give me a raving mommy review after a “sweet treat.” Though my sweet boy believes me to be the “best mommy in the hole worl,” I know just how flawed I am as a mother at day’s end when I review every moment of impatience, every huff and puff (both audible and internal), every disciplinary decision and present them to God in contrition.

I am flawed in every label I bestow upon myself, and I will always be flawed. We are all flawed, and we have been flawed since the moment we made the decision in the Garden of Eden to taste that sweet, juicy apple in a moment of temptation despite God’s perfect instruction. He is not flawed. His son, which he so selflessly, generously, and lovingly, offered as a sacrifice for our earthly flaws, is not flawed. The Holy Spirit, which was offered to us as a Companion to live with us and in us (John 14: 17), is not flawed.

“Flawed” parenting.
As a mom, though I am a rookie by every stretch of the imagination, I have found that there is an instinctual compulsion to curl up in a fetal position and think “how can I raise a truly good human being if I am so irreparably flawed in all of my labels?”

There are wonderful and bountiful resources available to those of us who seek camaraderie and guidance for the nitty gritty moments of motherhood: online groups, parenting and child psychology books, social media “mommy” influencers, and the like. These resources, however, only temporarily satiate our ravenous need to correct our flaws as a mother. We tend to kiss those well-intentioned words of advice goodbye when 4am wakeups return with a vengeance and we somehow drag our body through an entire day!

Heidi St. John, a Christian speaker and author of Becoming MomStrong, revolutionized my shockingly flawed way of thinking when she explained that the Bible is the only truly worthy parenting book. As someone who frequents brick-and-mortar bookstores, libraries, and on a daily basis, I have never seen the Bible stationed on a parenting shelf nor had I referenced the Bible to navigate the tumultuous journey of motherhood.

I am flawed, as we have established. These flaws leave me with a gaping hole and a raw vulnerability that can only be nurtured and guided with He who provides breath in my lungs and transforms darkness into light. You see, my flaws as a mother can serve as a catalyst to indescribable strength when I rely on the Living Word as my guide.

An example: I am impatient. So impatient, in fact, that when I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I had a sobering conversation about how poorly this parenting journey could go if I did not start practicing patience. Did that conversation kick me into a newfound gear of patience and understanding? Absolutely not.

The beautiful, God-given hormone Oxytocin did wonders for my postpartum patience, and the continued bonding experience through nursing certainly helped maintain that “topper” if you will. Then, my son turned 2. Somewhere between the 15th time I asked him to sit down so that I could place shoes on his feet and the 10 minutes it took to get my sweetly distracted boy from the front door into his car seat, I realized I was not humanly capable of mustering up the patience to make it through another day. I needed a savior, the Savior involved in my everyday life. I needed His help with menial tasks like getting into the car to go to the grocery store and placing unnecessarily stylish shoes on my son’s tiny feet.

My impatience has become my strength. Not in the sense that I am an enviously patient person through a radical transformation of my personality, because this has not happened (fingers crossed, though). When I feel impatience creep into my bones, it triggers that frustratingly forgetful part of my brain to remember that I need to invite God into the moment and ask him with utmost sincerity to shift my heart posture. In that simple effort, God grants me grace; if not in the immediate moment, over the
course of the day or the course of a few days.

I am a branch. As I work my way through the Gospel John with my goofy parenting goggles, I find myself emotionally overwhelmed by John 15: 1-5:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit… Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.”

I can do nothing without Jesus. I cannot create patience when I have none, but Jesus can. I cannot make the right disciplinary decision for my son, but Jesus “leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). I cower at the thought of raising a son in a world of temptation and corruption, but Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (John 14: 27).

Without Jesus, I can do nothing. I am nothing.
I need a lifeline to bear fruit; I need a constant stream of sustenance to survive let alone thrive as a woman, a wife, a mother, a Christian, a homemaker, and all of my other labels. Without a lifeline, I will wither.

I am a branch. Jesus is my vine.

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