I had a rare opportunity to spend some time with my mom and dad sans kids, and it turned out to be an early Christmas gift for me. I opened up to them about some of my struggles lately: A parenting challenge I’m facing with one child in particular, how I’m feeling discouraged and a little burned out with the whole mothering gig, how down I continue to be not being able to run or exercise much at all, how I am grappling once again with those “not good enough” feelings, and they listened without judgment and then encouraged.
I’ve made it my mission in life for other women to see themselves as God sees them. I look at my friends, and I recognize their beauty and see women who have so much to offer me, their families, and the world. Then I look in the mirror, and all I notice lately are the mistakes, the flaws, all the things I can’t do, all the things I can’t control, and I feel powerless, helpless, and sometimes just plain, old ugly spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I’m not a good enough mother. I can’t write anymore. I am homeschooling dropout. I can’t run. I ate too many cookies. I am selfish. I should pray more. I shouldn’t have said this or that to a friend. I should listen more. I should write more letters to loved ones and friends. I should volunteer more. I ought to forgive that person in my life who is desperately in need of mercy. I should worry less about the dirty dishes and play more games with my children. I suck at slowing down and being fully present. I don’t need anymore stinkin’ shoes. I commit the same transgressions over and over.
After my visit with my parents, my dad sent me an email. It served as Windex and helped to wipe away some of the grime I’d smeared upon the mirror. His email made me see past the messy reflection and see a woman who was giving her best. And that was enough for him and for most everyone else in my life except for myself. This email lifted me up so very much. I say the same words to others and believe them. It’s time I believe my dad’s words to me and for me.
To all the weary moms out there, to all the women who feel like they just don’t measure up. Maybe you feel like a lousy wife or employee. Maybe you’re lonely and are wondering if you’ll ever meet Mr. Right. Maybe you feel like your kids hate you or will soon enough. Maybe you’re questioning your blasted body because you can’t get pregnant or are fighting cancer or chronic pain. Maybe you’re just tired or sad, and you can’t even figure out why. Maybe you don’t feel thin enough or young enough or pretty enough. Perhaps you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see.
Well, here’s my prayer for you straight from Dad. This is what he wrote me. I told him it was the best early Christmas gift to me. I hope they might be a small gift for you as well.
“My prayer for you is that you can find it easier each day to see yourself through God’s eyes and mine. To clearly see the amazing Mom who gives it all for her kids. The Mom who laughs with them, cries with them, agonizes with them, grows tired and sick with them, learns with them, sacrifices for them and just plain loves them! There is no more important responsibility than being a Mom. All ‘jobs’ pale in comparison, when it comes to the impact on our spiritual and natural worlds. To clearly see the beauty of the woman who the rest of us see. The person who works so hard to push herself through frustration and pain even when others don’t get it. To clearly see the wife that is a real example of ‘the wind beneath his wings.’ The one who has graciously carried the heavy load of facilitating her spouse’s success through your own self sacrifice, patience, love, and hard work. To clearly see the daughter who has brought us so much pride and love and never anything to burden and worry us! To see the soldier of her faith that fights the battle alone, nurturing her little army of saints.
Life would be so much easier and happiness so much easier to come by if we could only be appreciated and loved by people as we are by God. I guess that’s why he’s perfect and we’re not.”