A very special day is approaching, and, every year since I found out I was expecting my first of four beautiful children, it has taken on an entirely new meaning in my life, Mother’s Day. I always thought the day was special because it gave me a reason to celebrate the relationship that I have with the wonderful woman that God gave me for a mother. But for me, when I became a mom, Mother’s Day got even better. I remember the expectation of being able to do the things that I admired in other women and wanted to be able to do once I became a mother. I planned so many things in the nine months that I carried Hannah Rose, waiting to be “The Perfect Mom!” once she arrived. Because, that was the mom I was going to be…perfect.
My children would have the perfect nursery, with all of the necessary safety and comfort that the perfect nursery would have. They would wear perfect outfits every day. They would be fed perfect food, and they would engage in perfect activities that would lead to their perfect upbringing, and eventually their own perfect lives. After all, this is how I was raised, and this is what they deserved, absolute perfection, right? Of course this lofty goal was soon changed by a very cruel reality; nothing is perfect, based on the definition of the word, “to be flawless,” I soon learned that everything is flawed, and I was faced with the challenge of how to accept those flaws and make them a part of the wonderful experience of being a mother, rather than the false expectations of perfection that so many women get caught up in trying to portray.
The first time imperfection entered the picture was the day that Matt and I were released to take Hannah home from the hospital. Our first argument as parents was over how to put the baby in the car seat. “She’s too crowded,” he said! “Take some of those blankets out!” “No, she needs the extra support for her head; didn’t you listen to what the nurse said?” “We never rode in these things; why did we even buy one?!” “WE DIDN’T BUY IT; IT WAS A GIFT FROM OUR SHOWER!” “I don’t care if it came from the King of England, she doesn’t look comfortable, take her out!” The good news is, we got Hannah home safely and from that day forward we have yet to have the perfect day as parents; but the experience that we have shared raising our “Awesome Foursome” has been (for us) the most rewarding thing that we have ever done.
I am sure that I am not the only mom who had aspirations of perfection. We all want to be the best we can be. I think it goes back to my training as a nurse. In nursing, you want to be as prepared as possible to meet every challenge with an instant answer that could mean the difference between life and death; that pressure only increases when the life you are talking about is your very own child. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was never going to be perfect. The first beautiful outfit I put Hannah in, she spit up on it! The next one was too big, the one after that too tight! I thought, “What’s going on here? This wasn’t supposed to be this way.” I remember telling my mom some of my frustrations and how overwhelming this whole experience could be, and that’s when she shared some simple wise words that have brought me great comfort and liberty ever since. “Kendal, you’re doing great; it will be alright.” It was the perfect answer to my imperfect problem.
I had to learn that, as long as I was doing my best, God would allow these imperfections to remind me that He was watching over me and my children; and as long as I was in His perfect care, the rest would work out just fine.
God has brought wonderful people into my life to help me as a mother. I have a husband who loves being a father. It’s where he really shines! He had a great example for a father, and he demonstrates those same traits to our children. I have extended family that is always there to provide support and assist as needed. There is a loving church family that cares for me and my children and gives us a safe place to live our lives and grow physically and spiritually. Although there were no perfect days and there probably never will be, as long as I am willing to allow God to use it all and work it out, I can rest in the idea that everything is going to be alright.
So, today, I am so content to be able to say, I am not the perfect mom, and that’s just the way I like it. Our lives can be busy and seem overcrowded with activity and overwhelmed by responsibility; but even if we don’t get everything done, as long as we’re together and healthy, what could be more perfect than that? I don’t have the perfect answer to all the problems. I am not always up to the challenge. I am not Super Woman; she’s a make believe character, not a role model. But, as long as I allow the others on my team: my husband, family and church to pitch in together, we will get the job done. And together, we’re near perfect. The laundry may pile up, and dishes collect in the sink. Not every meal is going to make the cover of a magazine, but as long as we break bread together with thankful hearts, we will have the perfect meal.
When it comes to perfection, you cannot allow yourself to be trapped by the idea that if you are not perfect, you fail. We all have flaws, but it’s the flaws in our lives that allow God to demonstrate how flawless His grace and mercy can truly be. This Mother’s Day, I want to congratulate all of my fellow imperfect Moms. Those who are going all out to make sure that they are doing all they can to take care of those that God has blessed them with. Let the dishes stack up, let the laundry baskets run over, let the grilled cheese sandwiches burn a little on one side, because as long as you are willing to love unconditionally you are the picture of perfection, and you should be celebrated today and every day.