I’m not one to go all crazy on Mother’s Day. My nose lifts a bit at holidays with modern roots, and this is your father’s fault. It’s also your father’s fault that I have you at all, a fact driven home when I asked what he’s giving me for Mother’s Day. “I already gave you six gifts,” he said. Tongue in cheek, Love, tongue in cheek.
(Six gifts, the half dozen of you.)
Still, there’s a cultural expectation placed upon this day. In our house we may not do gifts or brunches, but I felt somewhat mollified as you came into the kitchen with your stapled Sunday School coupons, saying you’ll come when called! do an extra chore! play quietly for an hour so I can have rest! I felt put to rights when you shyly poked your head around the door to mumble, “happymother’sday,” before ducking away with a blush.
Ah, Child. Even though I took advantage of the propaganda and slipped out the door, you’re the one on my mind. I’m pretty imperfect at this gig. My own Mama mentioned just this morning a way she thinks she may have gone wrong, and I said, oh, we all go wrong. We all do, we all do. We come into parenting with a mishmash of experiences: our own parents’ imperfections, our own habits and inclinations; we take what life has thrown at us, what God has grown in us, and we do our best.
You know this, right? You know that from Adam till now, from Eve on down, we all miss the parenting mark? We come in wounded, we continue to wound, despite the desires of our heart. Sure, this isn’t the whole story, but it’s enough of a part of it that I want to just say it aloud. We build upon our parents’ efforts, we learn from their mistakes and imitate their strengths, but we’re no Jesus–we don’t do everything right.
There’s going to come a day when you will have to face this: right is not what is asked of us. Perfect is not required. If perfect parents are what children need in order to be whole, there is no hope.
Our parents were failed by their parents, our parents failed us, and here I am, failing you. I think of it, a millennium of failing parents with generations bleeding one into the next, and am surprised at the redemption wrought. He’s a personal God, Child. He comes for you. He’s not about your parents and what they’ve done or failed to do, he’s about you.
I am going to fail you, Child. I’m going to miss the mark and perhaps not see it until it’s too late. I love you more than life and I still fall short. I am a piece in your fairy tale of grace.
Someday you will bear testimony to the world of how you were raised. You will shoulder the responsibility for what you do with your upbringing, but you will also be a pretty raw picture of my successes and my failings. I wish I could keep you from that. I wish I could keep you from having to grapple with your own parents’ baggage, I wish I could protect your heart from that kind of hurt.
But if that day comes, if you’re the sort, like me, who has to process through instead of going around, I pray you’ll find Jesus, the Individual Savior, dressed and ready to delve into the thick of things, armed and prepared to show you how the moments all fit together into a mosaic of beauty and grace. You are who you are for a reason, imperfect parents and all.
Co-journeyers in the story of life–that’s what we are, Child. One day we’ll stand before the Author of this Epic, and we will relish being at each other’s side. I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather stand. I’m with you in this, Baby Boy. I’m with you in this, Bitty Girl. I’m with you in it until we’re old and gray, and I’ll be with you in it on the other side.
If my love for you is as vast as it is imperfect, perhaps God’s love is as perfect as it is vast. He’s where you’ll find your wholeness, Love–I know, because in him, even your own broken mother is made whole.
With all (the sleep deprived pieces of) my heart,
Much love today to my own Mama, the brave woman who mothered me well and mothers me still. A bit of night-time mama-magic is captured in a story here. And much love to my husband’s mama, who made me her own and mamas us still, as well.