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Motherhood and the F Word

My 10-year-old son took one bite of the dinner I had slaved over (okay, so maybe not slaved so much as threw together at the last minute), before leaning over and whispering in a not-so-quiet voice, "Mommy, no offense, but Grandy's a much better cook than you." That's when I lost my appetite.

Now, I'm not usually so easily offended by my kids. I get that they are kids. They don't take into account the hundreds upon thousands of times I've made their lunches, dinners and breakfasts. In their minds, dinner magically appears with a wave of my hand. They don't hear the inner groan whenever I think about menu planning, or understand the effort it takes just to muster the energy after a long day of meetings, tasks and deadlines to pull together our little family meals.

I get that he's 10. His world is very small and protected, thank goodness. But on this particular day, my emotions were just raw enough (and perhaps my meds were just unbalanced enough) for his remark to feel like a slap across the face with a weighted glove. It hurt. 

Because I am a pretty busy little bee, what with running my consulting business on top of holding down a part-time job, my friends have often commented on how I "have it all together." "You keep everything running so smooth," is a general statement. What they don't know is that each and every day I walk around feeling like spewing the F word: Failure. Fraud. Phony. (Okay, so the last one isn't technically an F word, but you get the point.) When moms give me props, I feel like pulling them aside undercover spy-style and confessing to all my flaws. Add that one to the F-word pile.

So, here's a little tip for any new mother out there or any mom struggling to measure up to her own idea of what a mom should be: none of us feels like we are doing it right. And, to be honest, searching Pinterest only fuels my feeling of failure. I mean, have you actually tried making fruit roll up origami swans? Trust me, it's not easy and, no, it doesn't come out looking like the picture.

For my mom's generation, Donna Reed was the unrealistic ideal to live up to. Today it's all these nameless faceless Pinterest moms who must have nannies because, let's face it, who else has the time? But I digress.

Each of us is facing an unattainable ideal that we can just never reach. And we get it from all sides. Magazines urge us to GET THINNER IN 10 DAYS! Or BE A BETTER LOVER IN 5 EASY STEPS! Or LOSE THAT BABY FAT! They want us to CRAFT OUR WAY TO HAPPINESS and HAVE THE HAPPIEST KID ON THE BLOCK. But the truth is, we are each just trying to make it to nap time without losing our minds. 

When my son compared me to his more culinarily gifted grandmother, it stung. But he was telling the truth. She is a better cook than I am. However, in that one statement, I felt he was pointing out what I already knew: I'm a fraud. I'm a failure. I'm a phony. No matter how hard I try, it's just not going to be enough. In that moment, I felt defeated. Truth be told, I cried. A lot. (Not in front of him, of course, but alone in my car on the way to the store). And then, I prayed.

In that quietude with the Lord, I realized something very important. I may be a fraud, but at least I'm trying. Every day, I do my best to do my best. The Lord knows we will never measure up to the ultimate goal: to be like Jesus Christ. Yet, he still asks us to try. Every day. And in ministering to my children in a Godly fashion, the fraudulence falls away and what's left is a human being "working for the Lord, not for human master." Colossians 3:23

When I returned home, my son, with sadness in his eyes, sincerely apologized for hurting my feelings. I wrapped him in my arms, overwhelmed by what a kind-hearted child he is. In that moment, my feelings of failure melted. I mean, I must be doing something right, after all, to have a son who hurts at the very idea of wounding his mother.

What was left was gratitude: for the gift of motherhood and all the lessons God is teaching me through it. Because, phonies or not, we are each His children and we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14, origami fruit roll ups or not.

Try to remember that the next time the dinner is burned, the laundry is still piled in baskets unfolded around the house, you haven't made it to the gym and your craft box has gone untouched for another month. To God, a prayerful effort is way better than a pretty Pinterest page any day.

(Note: No Pinterest pages were hurt in the writing of this blog. Incidentally, check out my Pinterest Page for more blog posts. Yes, I'm aware of the irony.)

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