I don't know much about those particular neighbors. We've only spoken to them twice. Once when their dog jumped into our yard, and another time when Fritter kicked a ball into theirs. I do know her children are older than mine, and I think she works outside of the home. And I couldn't even begin to tell you their religion (or lack thereof). But in the end, we are both mothers. It makes me think of the connection I have with mothers the world over. Even if a mom works outside of the home on some fantastic project that seems to have so much meaning and bearing in the world, I believe that she still finds herself sweeping floors, washing dishes, and being loving even when she doesn't feel like it. Doing things that sometimes seem to have no meaning whatsoever.
I didn't realize it until tonight, but feeling that connection as a mother with other mothers is important to me. Seeing that I'm not the only mother that fails and then keeps trying. I'm not the only mother sweeping the floor at 8 o'clock when I'd rather be in bed. Seeing that my children really are just kids and striving for perfection for them is not only unrealistic, but can be harsh and unmotivating. Of course it's important to have standards, mine just happen to be sky high. And in this way, I not only set them up for failure, but myself as well. Which brings me to my next point.
Monday was a very bad day, and Monday night was a very bad night. I yelled, I cried, and I fought tears most of the day. I felt inadequate, I felt that nothing that I do makes much of a difference. I was tired and my negative thoughts got the best of me. It didn't help that nothing went as planned and my dear husband has been working almost 12 hours a day. Every. Single. Day. I was being selfish and could think of nothing but myself (and how imperfect I am). Tuesday found a better me, after a night's sleep (I won't say good, I'm still nursing at night, you know how it is), but those nagging thoughts continued to haunt me into today. I wondered what God was thinking when he gave me my precious children. Me? When I'm so imperfect? What business do I have raising children?
And then this evening my husband asked if I ever read Little Catholic Bubble. I said I do, but hadn't had time recently to catch up on it. He (providentially?) stumbled upon her newest post Why I Never Should Have Had Eight Children.
When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough "mommy material" for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business -- no business! -- having another baby. Not now, not ever.After reading the rest of the post, I realized what I had been doing to myself (and what lies I had allowed the devil to tell me about myself). None of us is perfect. Many of us fail time and time again. But we were given this vocation of motherhood from God himself who knows all of our shortcomings. And yet he decided to entrust these precious souls to us anyway. If we stay open to His grace, allow Him to change us, and seek support and give support to others around us, we have a chance. And so do our children.
All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it*:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." --Philippians 4:13