Spoiler alert: I need grace.

5:00 AM

Lately, I've felt my patience being tested more than ever before.  

   Jocelyn has seemed to come into a whole new dimension of her personality lately, and it is both endearing and exhausting.  

   Her world is one of maximum emotion, high drama and extreme opinion. She knows exactly what she wants and how exactly she wants it, and is discovering new ways to express that.  Whether it is the sippy cup with the princess castle, or a specific dress/sweater combo, or a single braid instead of two, she has specific tastes and preferences and is desperately grasping for outlets to put them to use. 

I was so unprepared for this part of mothering.

   I knew it would feel like you were trying to pull your bottom lip up over your head to give birth, and it did.  I knew I would get sappy and sentimental the first time I heard my baby laugh or say my name, and I did. I knew that discipline and consistency would be my greatest weaknesses in parenting, and they are.  I knew I would want a break from my children, and then miss them like crazy when I was gone, and I do.

But what I didn't know, was how utterly painful it would be for me, to fail.

   Whenever I lose my patience, raise my voice, and cause those little tears to fall, I crumple into a pile of self-loathing and feel like there is no way out.

The trouble with raising children is that they are not adults yet.

   They don't understand "I'm tired" or "I'm just really frustrated right now" or "Mama needs a break".  They only understand that you are Mama, and you are supposed to be cheerful and patient and loving.....always.

   You are the hands that hold them, comfort them, and soothe all their sorrows away, and so you aren't really allowed to have an "off day".  You are supposed to kiss away their tears, not cry ones of your own.  You are there to rock them when they are tired, sing them to sleep, and tuck them into bed.....not lie down yourself and shut out the world because you are just too exhausted to function.

And perhaps most difficult of all is coming to the realization that they have no concept of grace.

   They don't realize that mommies make mistakes, that mommies need second chances like anybody else, that mommies need forgiveness and time to grow and to learn and FOR GOODNESS SAKES A HEAPING, SKY-HIGH PILE OF GRACE.

   Children are too little to realize that as young and new as they are to this world.......that is how young and new their Mama is to mothering.  

   If we were all adults, it would be so easy to order pizza and pile on the couch and paint each other's toenails and laugh about how flawed their Mama is.  We would discuss my shortcomings and I would ask for forgiveness, and after agreeing that I certainly need a whole lot of grace, they would give it to me.

At least I hope that they would.

   But for now, here, in this moment and in this time of their lives, they don't realize any of that.  They just see me, their Mama, as Someone who lives somewhere above grace.  I don't need it because, well....I shouldn't need it.  I am perfect.  I make no mistakes.  I have all of the answers.  I am sweet and loving and kind and gentle because....well, I birthed them.  I nursed them.  I swaddled them.  What else could I possibly be?

   And the first time the curtain is pulled back and the real Wizard of Oz is revealed, I always want to shrivel up in a hole and hide away from the world until I am infallible in their eyes again.  It hurts when they realize that a mere human has been playing this Mighty Role all along.

Oh, it hurts.

   It hurts when I see it in their eyes.....the profound disappointment of the realization that I can be wrong.  I can make a mistake.  I can raise my voice when I should have just quietly instructed.  I can lunge and lurch when I should calmly direct.  I can glare and scowl when I should take a moment to just get off of the phone and address the issue quietly.

The list goes on and on and on.

   I feel like the day I gave birth back in 2010 I was officially the World's Greatest Mom.  And then each day since then, I've discovered a little more and more how I'm really just not.  I'm just a human. A flawed, fallen, pitiful, desperate, insecure, sinful human.  And all the while I'm wrestling this blasted humanity I am trying to be everything that they deserve.  And I fall short SO many times.

   And so it is that we Mamas of little ones, all the while fighting our own demons and needing grace more than ever before, have to somehow live in spite of it.  But without ANY grace. God gives us grace.  He lavishes it.  And our husbands give us grace, thank goodness.  But for now, our children aren't going to give us grace. And that's o.k.

   That's o.k. because it gives me a teeny, tiny sliver of a glimpse of what God goes through with us.  Giving and giving and feeling like it is mostly a one-way avenue of grace.  He gives us grace, and we soak it up and curse and complain and thrash around in our humanity.

   And so I will choose to be patient one more day.  And the day after that, and the day after that.  And it is hard.  It is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.   But if Jesus walked the road to that cross, than certainly I can learn a little patience.

At least I like to think that I can. 

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  1. Oh, this is so, so good and true! And as I'm heading swiftly into the teen years, I often think about the pain I may be causing my children and the fact that they will REMEMBER it and need COUNSELING for it in the future!But at least they are old enough to sorta learn about grace and learn to extend it to each other and hopefully their parents, too. We're just not piling on the couch, eating pizza and painting toenails, just yet.;) you are going to fail, but don't walk in defeat. Hold your head up, because Somebody out there knows a lot more about mothering than we ever could. And I think He likes Mom's a lot!

  2. Aww. I was struck by two things in this post. 1) Yay for parenting that admits mistakes and is willing to show precious children that everyone is human and in need of grace, even Mama.

    2)don't forget,sweet Mama, that sometimes even the exact right discipline causes tears for children and hurt looks and sadness. It doesn't mean you did it wrong. It means when you're in need of that grace you talked about from your children and from God, you also need it from yourself too. Discipline isn't always calm, collected and sweet in it's innate delivery. Sometimes it needs to be a vivid, intense thing.

  3. nate and i were both so impressed with your parenting and how patient you are with your little girlies. your an amazing mama and someday I am coming to you for parenting advice ;) ps. we miss your babies.

  4. shelly I totally understand EVERYTHING you wrote...My little lady is SO opinionated, knows what she wants and when she wants it. It's been such a journey to understand patience and true servanthood that isn't wasted.

    One thing that I have come to realize is that when I end up yelling, scowling, or lunging AND i have to humble myself and ask a 4 year old for forgiveness it is actually a GREAT opportunity to point to Jesus. Yes mommy is human, I will hurt them in my weakness. It creates this space in them that they know mom isn't perfect, this space that says I've been wronged and certainly there is someone who can "fix" it...and if we point to Jesus as the one who does that, they will know who to run to. Not us BUT to Jesus! Yes it's painful to see our weaknesses hurt someone so small but the Lord is able to redeem it.

    Shellly, we win even when we yell, lunge, scowl IF we turn to Jesus. It's not about perfect attainment of it (cause we wouldn't need Jesus) it is simply about the "reach"

    You are doing it, you are winning, you are making a difference and you are a good mom, wife, and disciple of Jesus! You are impacting the world by your weaknesses. Grace and peace to you!


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