Maybe, some day you’re going to be a parent. Whether via adoption or the old fashioned way, you’re going to stare at your child lovingly, wonder how God could have created such a perfect little person. You’ll imagine all of the dear times you’ll have together, finger painting in the sunshine and laughing on a picnic blanket in the park.
Then, they’ll sass you and everything will fall apart.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like parenting that grinds my rough edges off so quickly or so painfully. Going into this gig, I had so many expectations- expectations of what fun times we would have together, many expectations of what kind of mother I would be. I thought I would be so nurturing, always patient, always ready to work through things with you.
Well, I failed a bit in the self-evaluation department.
The truth is much messier than my expectations. I often fall miserably far from the Pinterest-perfect motherhood I imagined for myself. Sometimes, when you’re sassy and you tell me not to make “that face” at you, I lose it and I make a face at you like I am four years old. Sometimes, I reach my boiling point on a frenzied morning with burnt pancakes and I hurl my spatula on the ground in a fit of frustration (and then it bounces five feet in the air and lands nicely on the bar). I do not always have the most loving response. I do not always nurture the way that I want to. I make a lot of mistakes and my pedestal topples down on me.
In those moments, I feel like a failure. But I know in my head that I’m human. I’m just a human. All those emotions and feelings and impulses that affect you affect me too. So, I often have to seek you out, grab your hands, stare into your eyes and say, “I’m sorry.”
I don’t know what you thought being part of a family would look like before you came home. Perhaps you thought we would do the fishing and the family vacations and the family suppers around the table. And we do those things. We have fun- lots of it!
But, sometimes, family means staring into the eyes of a woman who is braless and wearing a mumu and has burnt pancake in her hair and saying, “I forgive you and I’ll love you anyway.”
I forgive you and I’ll love you anyway.
Lord, if I could only hear eight words the rest of my life, let it be those. Let those words rattle around in my soul until I can make them true for every person I meet. Grace is funny like that- it spreads like wildfire once the spark’s been lit.
I haven’t been my best self lately. The truth is that I probably won’t ever be my best self but I sure am going to try and be a better self at least. Thanks for extending grace to your pancake-haired mother. She needs it just as badly as you do.
(You can read more Dear Son letters by clicking here.)