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Monday, July 8, 2013

The Day I Failed At Motherhood



It was a Monday morning. The weekend had been filled with busyness, it felt as though we had not even had one moment to catch our breath and the week was upon us once again. I awoke to a house that was disheveled by the hustle and bustle of running in and out from one engagement to the next. Okay, I thought, I am going to whip this house into shape! I am one of those people who simply cannot relax or enjoy my day if my house is in disarray (thanks, Mom!).

I fed the kiddos breakfast and immediately got to work. I enlisted the help of the children. I was working on the dishes and kitchen clean-up and I asked my almost four year old and my five year old to pick up all the toys in the living room and vacuum. My five year old daughter LOVES to vacuum - and it works as a great incentive to get things picked up off the floor.

After a few minutes I heard her turn the vacuum on, and I continued on my busy way finishing up the kitchen. A short while later, after the hum of the vacuum had long since dissipated and the children had wondered off to play - I walked into the living room full of expectation. I was expecting it to be clean and cozy. I was expecting to be able to sit down on the couch and relax for a moment. But, all my expectation-filled eyes saw were toys that had never been picked up and a section of the floor that had never been swept.

Seriously?!? I thought to myself. And then - in a mutation all too natural - I morphed into a monster.

"Are you kidding me? You were supposed to clean this up!" I grit my teeth and throw my hands in the air.

I pause, and having a moment of clarity I think - you sound ridiculous...but, not to be deterred by ridiculousness, I soldier on with my rampage.

"Mommy just cleaned the whole kitchen and all I asked you to do was pick up these toys and vacuum! There are toys left out and spots that didn't even get swept! I cannot believe --" 

I gasp...and it hits me in the gut like a freight train. What was I doing? Was I seriously acting like this? How could I spew so much anger? And I hear a tiny whimper coming from the dining room. I walked towards the sound and there in the corner is my five year old, curled up with fresh tears in her eyes. She looks at me with those water-filled eyes and says;

"I was just trying to be helpful."

My knees feel weak. I am a failure. I am the worst mother ever. Jesus, I need you! I pick up that defeated little girl and wrap her in my arms. I feel the tears begin to spill over my lashes and run hot down my cheeks. I try to swallow the hard lump in my throat and I can't catch my breath. I sit her on the kitchen counter so that I can look into her eyes.

"Evelyn, I am so sorry. {sob} Mommy was wrong. {sob} I love you so much." I pause for a moment to compose myself. Praying for help - God, what do I say? And a calm washes over my body. I look into the face of my sweet girl. The face I have kissed and caressed so many times. The same hazel eyes that I stared into as I nursed my sweet baby...the same button nose that I have nuzzled time and time again...I would never do anything to hurt this precious gift God has given me.



And yet...I was a puddle of regret. No - bigger than that. A sea of remorse.

"Mommy was very wrong. I should not have spoken like that. Did you know that sometimes mommy's and daddy's make mistakes?" She shook her head, and looked at me with anticipation.

"I made a mistake. You were being very helpful and I was having a very bad attitude. It is not okay for me to act that way. Will you forgive me?" She nodded and smiled and wrapped her arms around my neck. Oh, the sweet free-flowing forgiveness of a child.

"I need to tell Jesus that I am sorry and ask Him to help me have a better attitude. Will you pray with me?" I asked. In a very serious tone, she said 'yes'. And so we prayed together in the middle of the kitchen - asking for forgiveness and guidance. When we finished, I looked into her now dry and bright eyes and I wrapped her in my arms. I kissed her head and told her I loved her {a few dozen times}. "I love you too, Mommy" she happily replied and then skipped along her way.

I could make excuses. I could say that it had been a long weekend, and the baby was up half the night teething, and - and - and...but it does not matter. As Amy Carmichael says,

"For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."

My water was far from sweet. My cup was half-filled with something more murky - stagnant and filthy from sitting for days never being refilled. You see that "busyness" had not only caused my house to be in disarray, but my heart as well. It had been days since I had communed with my Father, meditated on His word and rejuvenated my soul. I was a fraud - an impostor. Racing through the days, performing task after task. With each one I resented it more and more but felt trapped by the commitments and expectations.

But Abba Daddy - He is full of grace. An ocean of grace to swallow my regret. I found myself graveling on the floor at His feet. Grasping for the cup in His hand. Just one taste of His sweet mercy. And He lifts the head of this broken and weary daughter, places His gentle hand under my chin and pours the cup over me. I am a a mess - dripping with forgiveness. It is warm and it tastes like honey. I bask in His glory and goodness.

How great the Father's love for us. I see my reflection in the eyes of my daughter and a monster stares back at me. But, He looks upon my mistakes and sees a weak and wounded child - a daughter who needs more and more of Him. He does not yell or hiss or spew angry words. He draws me ever closer to His heart - and whispers sweet love songs to my soul. He is the greatest example of love without conditions - and grace without contingency. I hear the joyous laughter of my daughter down the hall, in spite of my failures and I have been restored and redeemed. His grace is sufficient, even in my weakness. The truth is...I didn't fail - I learned a very valuable lesson. Tomorrow is a new day and I will do better.

{My sweet gracious girl with her grace-seeking mama}

I keep this scripture posted on a dry erase board in our home as a constant reminder:

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." 
-James 1:19-21

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment & share :)
Have you ever had one of these "failure" moments?
Have you had to humble yourself and apologize your children?

28 comments:

  1. Stopping by from A Mama's Story link up!
    I love this post. I so appreciate your honesty. I catch myself expecting too much of my little one sometimes.
    God is so good to us though, He gives us grace and helps us recognize our mistakes.

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    1. Thanks you for stopping by! So thankful for His grace :)

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  2. Oh man, this sounds like me all too often(only way worse)! I wish I could point my finger at a single angry-mommy incident so easily. I need to pray a lot for God's guidance in this area. Thanks for sharing Em!

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    1. Oh, Jesi! I hate to admit this - but trust me, this is just one of MANY times that I have lost my cool and said things I regret. I pray often - Jesus, give me patience! Thankfully, these moments are not the only thing that define us as mothers.

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    2. Thank you Emily (& Jesi) for sharing! I struggle with not yelling at my children. My sin makes me sick. I know God forgives me, but I have a hard time forgiving myself. It is so frustrating to have the power of the Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead yet still struggle. Tomorrow is another day, and there is always hope with Jesus!

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  3. Great post! I find myself having those moments as well. So thankful that we can ask forgiveness from our children. I think saying we are sorry, and acknowledging our wrongs are so important!

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    1. Thanks, Misty! You are so right - I believe that apologizing and being honest about our mistakes is so important to our children :)

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  4. I am amazed at how God orchestrates things in our lives. Yours is the SECOND blog I have read this morning that has hit on exactly how I feel/think/act lately. Too much anger and filth, not enough grace and mercy. It's time for a break, for a change, a rearrangement of priorities to line up with His. Thank you for your beautiful words :)

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    1. God has done that for me so many times, I will keep hearing the same thing over and over and realize - He really wants me to GET this! I appreciate your sweet feedback - Blessings :)

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  5. Great post! I too have many a day where I just have to seek out His mercy.
    I had a question to the side of the real point, but I thought I would ask. My daughter just turned 5, and she is very unwilling to help when it comes to chores. I want to introduce some, but I don't know where to start. I don't even know if she could push our vacuum, it is rather heavy. Anyway, any suggestions?

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. My daughter turned 5 in March, and has just begun vacuuming in the last few months (our vacuum is pretty light-weight). Before that, I started out having her sweep the kitchen floor (broom), wipe the counters/table after meals, bring dishes to the sink, make her bed, etc. Make it fun - have a chore time each day and turn on some music. Make it clear that you cannot do fun things until the chores are finished. Creating a chore chart, where she can see her progress has help my daughter feel more excited about it - hope that helps! Have a blessed day :)

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    2. Not that you asked for my input but my son LOVES to help with laundry. He can put clothes into the washer, transfer from washer to dryer, take clothes out of dryer, and sort .. he is 6 and a half so he has recently started to fold and hang also. Just thought this may be something that your daughter may enjoy also.

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  6. Sweet story. I can relate all to well with you.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your heart, your story. I'm not sure there is a mom who can't relate to you. How blessed are we to have a gracious, loving, forgiving Abba Father? God bless you and yours! :)

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    1. Amen! Thank you for the encouragement :)

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  8. What a great honest post. Thank you for the MANY reminders you shared. {{hugs}} from a fellow imperfect mom.

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  9. I am one of those people that can't relax if my home is in order and I hate it! I want to chill out and I'm working on it! :)

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    1. Oh, yes - I am working on it too! Thank you for sharing :)

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  10. A agree with all the above comments. I don't even really have much to add :) but really wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading such an honest and beautiful piece -- I think it is so helpful when we have the courage to open up and show others what it looks like to be imperfect & then ask for forgiveness. It shows such leadership. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for your kinds words, Wendy. I appreciate the feedback! Blessings :)

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  11. What a wonderful example of humility you are showing your children. My dad would never... EVER... admit that he ever made a mistake. It's so hard for me to apologize to my kids, but I'm trying. Thanks for the example :)

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    1. It can be difficult, Courtney. I have to credit my mom, because she ALWAYS apologized to us. It is awesome that you recognize that you struggle with it - and are trying to do better. Keep at it and keep seeking Christ in it. Blessings!

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  12. I appreciate this more than i can put into words! i think so many many moms can relate.. we are human. And while we dont want these things to happen, they do. But i believe ( or hope) they teach our children, its ok to have emotion..to make mistakes. to be human. I read a book once, that said, its ok for them to see you lose your temper sometimes.. or cry.. They will eventually have all these same emotions. And they'll know (by our example) its ok, and its going to be ok. And... i told myself (during bad break up and my son seeing my cry some.. and then heal, and get past it) teaching them resilience. forgiveness.. strength.
    Sorry, rambled there...
    but what i want to say. Is Thank YOU. for your honesty.. humility. Just being REAL. and for those, like myself, that can relate... helping us with some WISE words from your experience.

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    1. Thank you for sharing from your heart :) We will never be perfect as parents, so we try our best and when we fail - we humble ourselves and admit it. Blessings to you and yours :)

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  13. Emily, you have a beautiful way with words and this post just about had me in tears. I am that mom who hates a mess. And I've been that mom who morphed into a monster. I wallow in my own sea of regret. Thank you for reminding me of His forgiveness and endless grace!

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    1. Thank you, Kasey! It is blessing to know I am not alone :)

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I really appreciate your comment! I read every one and try to reply in a timely fashion. Have a blessed day :)

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