This summer we have tried diligently to have our children involved in all kinds of extra circulars that the school year simply does not allow time for. We have sports camps scheduled, vacation bible school, overnight camps, and sleepovers/play dates in between. Having a large family certainly presents itself with large blessings, but also large responsibility. Some days we find victory in making sure everyone is breathing and have all been fed. That we have all survived 24 hours. I rejoice that the LORD has allowed us to show grace to ourselves when we fall short of our expectations, and to one another as parents when we disappoint one another. However, there are some days when that grace is a little harder to afford ourselves. Days when we are reminded that we are simply ‘not enough’. Yet in those ‘not enoughs’ we are saturated with the truth that He is enough. Teaching our tiny people this is something that we are learning can be painful. Necessary, but painful.
6.8.2018, the day our eldest daughter had a much anticipated dance camp at the local high school. The camp was scheduled to take place all day, and at the closing was a performance where these little beauties of all ages could show their parents what they had worked so hard to perfect in the hours leading to it.
I made sure to get to work exceptionally early on this day. I planned to tie up any loose ends, polish the presentation I was to give that afternoon, and have plenty of time to allow myself the drive across town in case I ran into traffic. My afternoon meeting began smoothly. I was eagerly watching the clock, anticipating a clean break. Trying to do so without being a distraction to those engaged with the discussion. I watched the clock tick closer and closer to the end time. Yet the conversation continued to gain speed. 2:00pm. It was 2:00pm and I was not packing up to leave. The discussions continued. I found myself sitting, and sweating with nervousness as I was twenty minutes past the time I had planned on leaving. I began just grabbing my computer, documents, and coffee and found myself racing to my office. I forced a shut down on my computer mindlessly clicking “yes” as I was warned any unsaved content would be deleted. I confidently shut my laptop and began sipping my coffee with purse in tow, headed to the door.
As I was driving I was consumed with thoughts of, “LORD, not today! Of ALL days that this could happen…” I tried to replace those with, “well surely they are not going to be able to start on time… I mean there is almost fifty girls to manage… I know there is a few minutes of a buffer in there!” As I arrived at the school parking lot, I found the closest open parking spot and threw the minivan into park. I RAN (oh yes, dress and heels!) through the parking lot and whipped open the door to the entrance. Winded, I approached the gymnasium to find all of the little dancers arranged for photo ops. Mom’s with their iPhone’s and professional grade cameras flashing in front of the assimilated crowd. I pulled out my phone and joined in. “YES! I made it!” I began smiling and waving frantically at our daughter whose attention I caught quickly. Her sweet face looked nervous, sad. Of course she was, she was soon to perform a brand new routine to a huge crowd of anticipatory faces. She then began walking towards me quickly, and her steps picked up speed into a jog. She lunged at me, burying her face in my chest and I felt the tears hitting my skin. No words, just tears. A mama friend of mine gently leaned close to me and said so gently, “I will try and send you the video. I think our girls were in the same group.” All of the sudden the adrenaline that had been fueling me left, the confusion as I was holding our hurting girl was replaced with clarity and I was met with the reality that I had missed the performance. I did not make anything but the curtain call; I wanted to curl up onto someone’s lap too.
I was immediately met with the temptation to gravitate towards feelings of shame, not-enoughness, frustration, guilt and anger. While holding my hurting baby girl I realized I had a choice. I had an opportunity.
It was simpler than I thought: I could choose to seek God and trust for His wisdom to be imparted on me, or crawl into a ball and cry myself. Believe me, the latter of the two sounded much better at the time.
It was a quiet walk to the car. Quiet car ride. Instead of going straight home, the LORD pressed on my heart that we could make a detour on our way home. We stopped at B&N for strawberry refreshers and conversation. In the hour and a half we spent sitting together Grace was given room to explain how she felt. Time was afforded for me to just be still, to listen. Not to fix, not to try to put a band-aid on a broken bone, but simply accept the invitation into her heart cries. It was hard to comprehend that for the first time in her 8 years of life that the culprit of these tears and of this hurt was me, her mama. It felt so unnatural.
I was honest with her about what had happened. I was able to apologize to her. As I was speaking these words, it was as if God himself gently reached down and removed the super mom cape I put on that morning. The super mom cape I put on almost every morning. When I allowed Him to hold that for me it is as if I was being reminded that I am human. I imagined this was similar to the way Eve must have felt when she realized she was naked in the garden- so vulnerable. I was then able to communicate to my sweet Grace that I am no less human than she is. No less erroneous. I was able to explain to her that I would never intentionally do a thing to harm or hurt her- ever. However, unfortunately, there will be times that I will disappoint her; even as her mom. With this in mind, it prompted a conversation that the only person guaranteed to never disappoint her is Jesus. This is why it is He who is to be the LORD of her life, and not me.
That as much as I would love to say, “I will always get it right, I will never make a mistake, and you can always count on perfection from me” that this is simply not true. I am not her Jesus and was never meant to be.
As we sat and prayed together, I realized this had also proven to be an opportunity for God to work in this heart. To allow for His mercy and grace wash over me; from every strand of hair on my head to the tips of my toes. That He was reminding me that I am His daughter and in need of a savior just as bad as the sweet, beautiful face staring at me. That instead of using my super mom cape as an accessory, I was invited to use His cape as a blanket.
Only by God’s grace were we then given a peace. A peace at the tiny table for two, where Grace and I began sharing stories and laughs from her day. Grace discussed with me how she actually did not want to do the dance camp next year and why she loves cheerleading more than any other activity. She shared with me that the favorite part of her day was the impromptu date with me sharing over-priced drinks (ok that snippet is mine) without the distraction or interruption from her four siblings. She then said, “Mom, I know that you are always there and would never miss a thing for me. But I still refused to smile for the group pictures until you were there.” We both chuckled.
I share this story because often I am asked, “How do you do it?? No really, how? It just doesn’t even seem hard for you?” The super-mom title is NOT one that I have deemed for myself, and in fact, I try diligently to dissociate myself from such delusions. It is not because I do not appreciate such generous words, or that I agree and feel as though I just have it all together. Rather, it is because I know the truth that I am NOT super mom. I was never meant to wear a cape. The only person in my life, in all of our lives deserving of a cape is Jesus; and that His glory is not meant to be shared.
So mamas this one is for you. Sharing my shortcomings. Sharing my not so glorious moment(s). Sharing the reminder that He truly is the only one that can make beauty out of ashes. That when we remove our capes we are only making room for the real super hero to show up, and show out. Making room to show our children why they need Him. Equally as important, showing them why we MAMAS need him. So much mercy.
Sharing this with grace.