Last night I found myself on my knees praying at my bedside again pouring my heart out to God. As usual, I’ve been feeling like a failure as a mother.
I’ve never felt like I’ve been “good” at this motherhood thing. It’s hard, and we don’t live in an era where anyone really prepares you for it. I prepared for a career, not babies. Not young kids who develop into teenagers, and God-willing, independent adults.
So many nights I lay my head on my pillow replaying in my mind all the ways I failed that day– Am I too focused on cleaning and cooking? Should I be doing more crafts with my kids? Do I leave the day too unstructured? Is there too much structure? Are my expectations reasonable given the kids ages? Am I struggling with postpartum depression and rage? Why do I yell so much? Why do things feel out of control? How can I respond with grace in those moments when I’m drowning in the overwhelm? How do other moms do this without going crazy? Am I the only one going crazy?
Try as I may to not over-analyze, I can’t help it. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist by nature, but I am hard on myself when I’m falling short– and I fall short a lot.
I used to play this game– especially on social media– where I would compare myself to all the moms I saw doing all. the. things. They were raising these perfect Catholic children in these perfect homes. I have always been so amazed by the homeschooling moms who are able to get up in the morning, read their bibles and pray before the spend their days tending to every emotional and physical need of their children.
Intellectually, I know they have their challenges too, but I still can’t help but think– how do they do all of that? And how can I be like them?
As I poured my heart out in prayer again I felt the Lord in my soul saying, “Why don’t you ask Me the kind of mother I want you to be for the children I gave you?”
At first, I felt a *little* called out. Okay, I felt a lot called out.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t actually asked the Lord to reveal this to me– I suspect this is because I have felt as though I should already know.
Then I felt… Freedom. The freedom to simply be me. It’s so simple and yet so difficult to accept ourselves sometimes, and it’s easy to want to be like everyone else.
It’s taken me years to understand in my soul what was revealed to me in prayer– I’m not called to be like every amazingly beautiful Pinterest/Instagram-perfect mom that’s out there. The Lord has gifted me my particular children, with all of their idiosyncrasies. He’s also given me my own particular gifts as well as permitted my own short-comings, not only for my own sanctification, but to sanctify the world around me and to be a witness– predominantly to my own Ecclesia domestica.
I’ve been convinced for some time now that the Lord gives each of us the children we need for our own sanctification, but it hadn’t dawned on me that the same can be said of mothers regarding the sanctification of their children.
My kids need me. Period. And they need me to be who the Lord has called me to be. Full of meekness, humility, temperance, service, and prudence, yes, but in the way that He deigned that I express those virtues.
I don’t need to do all. the. crafting. I don’t need to keep my house perfectly clean all the time. I don’t need to make perfect culinary creations for every single meal.
So, instead of trying to emulate this perfectly contrived mother that I’ve seen online or heard of on some podcast, I’m going to try my best to dive deeper into being who the Lord is asking me to be. I’ll be praying in the days to come for the Lord to reveal to me the kind of mother He wants me to be.
Mother Mary, the Theotokos, please guide me and all mothers to embrace our vocation in our own particular way. Give me the wisdom to ask your Son, our Lord, to reveal to me His plan for my life and to show me how He wants me to live out my motherhood in service to Him.
I ask that you give me the courage to see myself as worthy of the Love of our Heavenly Father, not because of what I do, but because of who He created me to be. Help me receive His love as you did.
May I always imitate you with my own fiat every day that I’m blessed to draw breath. Help me, like Simon, to pick up my crosses, of which you know so well. Please keep my family under the protection of your mantel.
Holy Mary, mother of all, pray for us.