This story of surprise affirmation from an unexpected source may be hope for the weary mom who feels like a failure. Check it out and see!
“Mom, I need help remembering some descriptive details.”
“That time at Allie’s birthday party when she didn’t like my towel.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you trying to remember it anyway?”
“It’s for a personal narrative essay for College English.”
My daughter was dredging up a memory from another decade and needed help with some of the specifics.
She’d put a lot of thought into choosing which story from her childhood she would tell.
It had to be pivotal. A defining moment. A perspective shift.
This is the one she chose: “Rocks and Rubber Duckies.”
Take five minutes and enter the world of a 17-year-old pondering a story from when she was seven and then meet me back here. I’ll wait.
Hope for the Weary Mom
Did you read it? Good.
Now here’s a Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story.”
I have absolutely no memory of that event.
Furthermore, the mom she writes about in that essay would have just crossed over from battling fibromyalgia and lyme disease for years leading up to that moment in time.
Living in a mental fog with unexplained pain and exhaustion.
Faking being “ok” more days than not.
Juggling work, marriage, and mothering and feeling like a failure at all three.
The mom she writes about in that essay sounds wise and put together.
A mom in tune with her baby’s heart and quick with just the right amount of wisdom and compassion.
If you ask me, I don’t recognize that mom. I didn’t know she existed. But my baby did. My teen does.
Graded by my daughter
When my daughter asked me about the event, it opened the door to hear more of her viewpoint on life at that age.
I couldn’t help her with details — and really she didn’t need my help — but she let me be her cheerleader and read each draft. And then she acquiesced when I declared it had to become a blog post once she was ready.
She wanted to wait until her teacher graded it. She was unsure of her writing and thought the professor might have significant input about what to change.
She nonchalantly brought me the graded paper one day, devoid of many red marks. And on the last page, I saw this.
I celebrated her success and then joked about how I needed to frame a picture of the “wise mother” comment, as if the grade was on my mothering.
The truth is it was a grade on my mothering, but it didn’t come from the teacher.
Through the process of hearing my baby’s recollection of childhood memories, I realized she had a far different perspective than I did.
And I like hers SO much better.
Whether she realized it or not, all that she told me and the picture she painted of who I was in her eyes was like giving me an “A.”
I’ll take it.
Offer hope to weary moms and dads
As parents, we want more than anything to get this job right.
We read. We listen. We pray. We trust.
But there’s rarely someone to say, “Good job, mom,” or “Way to go, dad.”
We just keep stepping through each stage, making it up as we go and hoping we get more right than wrong.
I wrote about those feelings in a post titled, “Parenting with Grace: 5 things I wish another mom had said to me.” It has been shared more times than I can count.
As it is shared, moms reach out to let me know how it impacted them. Names vary and circumstances differ but the crux of each message is the same. They are weary moms who are worried they are “messing up their kids.”
They are desperate for hope.
I don’t think the answer to all of this is a report card for parents. But it does underscore the need for affirmation.
If you are in the regrouping and releasing phase, look around for those still in the rearing phase.¹
Seek out young moms and dads at church, in the store, or in a restaurant. Smile. Make eye contact and comment on something good.
I’ve started doing this when appropriate, mentioning how patient the mom is or how happy the child seems. I can’t know if it matters in this moment and neither can you. But I know it would have mattered to me as a young mom.
And if you are one of those in the middle of parenting, take heart.
Those who are concerned about doing it right are the ones who probably are most of the time. And what’s more: You don’t have to get it perfect and it’s not all up to you.
God uses imperfect people,
and outright disobedience
to develop character in His people.
You’ve seen this in your children.
Remember it applies to your parenting.
And please believe me when I tell you that in the end, it’s the good stuff that remains. I wouldn’t have believed myself ten years ago, but I DO hope that you’ll trust me on this now.
Grace will prevail
so hold off on that final exam
until you’ve finished all the lessons.
Encouragement for moms can be hard to find.
You’ll be reminded why everything you do matters for God and for your family.