A few days after we rung in the New Year, I made a good hearted decision.
My family should have a “blessing jar” and a “prayer jar.”
And like all the great, inspirational, “I can do that” ideas in this world, I saw it on Facebook. But of course, my jars had to be just as cute, or even cuter.
Unfortunately, like most of said “great, inspirational, “I can do that” ideas”, it wasn’t that simple, and it should have come with a disclaimer – “do NOT, I repeat do NOT attempt to do this with your 6 and 8 year old, especially the last night before returning to school from a two week vacation”. I know that statement comes across quite harsh and unloving, but creating those jars with my children brought out the “ugly mommy” in me.
Before I share this “mother of all messes” – a peek of me in the raw- it is fitting for me to give a cent of my two cents on Motherhood.
I am a mother of four wonderfully and distinctively made children – ranging from ages 6 to 17. It is through the small mundane things in life – cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring – that I am able to express my love and devotion to them. But this is merely a pinch of what I do.
As you know, motherhood is much, much more.
There was a time in my life that reflecting on my mothering brought tears of guilt and disappointment. Time and time again, I felt underserving of this wonderful gift God entrusted me with. I thought I had to do more, and be more… I wasn’t meeting the criteria.
In the back of my head I had developed this fictitiously immaculate perception of a mother that is exceptionally perfect. A mother who dotted all her i’s and crossed all her t’s. Wonderfully flawless.
She was –
Perpetually Happy – She never yells or gets mad.
Organized – Her children, house, and even she looks amazing.
Energetic and Creative – Her family’s calendar is filled weekly with play dates, fun educational outings, and Pinterest inspired arts & crafts sessions.
Frugal – She collects coupons and makes clothing for her family
Health Conscious, – She cooks healthy gourmet food daily. Because fast food, simply, not an option
I can keep adding to this list, but I am going to assume you get the point.
Over the years, through much reading of God’s word I have learned that motherhood isn’t about being perfect, or being able to check off all the things on this list.
To quote Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “There is no one perfect way to be a good mother.”
But… sometimes… I find myself going back to my misguided misconceptions of motherhood.
My “Mother of all Messes”…
It was the night before the first day back from Christmas vacation. The materials were laid out neatly on the table: 2 mason jars, decorative tapes, twine – of white, sky blue, and black- , a white chalk marker, and a set of puffy fabric paints.
My two younger children had gathered around the kitchen table with such enthusiasm and anticipation for what they were going to create. As they happily choose their decorative tape, twine and puffy fabric paint, I placed the mason jars in front of them.
Their first task was to place the decorative tape around the lids. But the decorative tape kept ripping. It kept gathering. And when they finally got it on, it was lopsided, and the jar wouldn’t close properly.
So I ended up having to place the decorative tape around the lid.
The next task was to write “Blessings” and “Prayers” on the labels with the chalk marker. The chalk marker was the only item I purchased in the Dollar section. (Which is shocking given that I often mosey on by the section. My purchases alone should account for a large percentage of their yearly earnings.)
Nevertheless, it was a capital B, BIG MISTAKE!
The markers wouldn’t work. After much pushing down on the tip, I finally got it to work, but then the tip was destroyed.
So I ended up having to write the words on the labels.
The third step was to place the labels on the jar. Having already seen the work my children had produced, I had already predetermined that I would handle this task. so the labels wouldn’t be crooked.
So I ended up putting the labels on the jars.
(“Are you seeing a pattern here???”)
At this point my children started to feel like they hadn’t contributed much- which they hadn’t. Their unhappiness led to whining and fussing.
“We haven’t done anything!”
“This isn’t fun!”
“This is too hard!”
My patience was running thin.
As I previously indicated- it was the night before our first day back to school and work after a glorious two week vacation. And all I wanted to do was make one last memorable family moment.
The last step was to create dots all around the jar with the puffy paint.
Something they can do!
Everything was going well, until my son decided to press too hard and squirted the felt paint all over the jar and table.
So I ended up letting out a yell.
A yell, that even startled me.
“Nathan, what did you do?!”
His eyes started to water, he said a few words back to me, and ran out of the room. As I cleaned the mess, I felt horrible inside. I couldn’t believe it. I allowed this project to overtake me, and push me over the edge.
After much apologies, and coming to terms that the jars weren’t so child- friendly, I ended up completing the jars.
But that night, the two little ones shared a blessing and prayer to add to the jars.
And that is what truly matters!
After much reflection that night, I came to the conclusion that my behavior earlier that day had to do more with me, and not my children. It was our last night together before going back to the routine of school and work, and I wanted to be that exceptionally perfect mom. But instead, I became the “ugly mommy”. I pushed myself over the edge.
It is through the mishaps and shortcomings, like the one above, that I have experienced God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
God has called and equipped us to be the mothers of our children, and yes, it may look different- stay at home mom to working mom. But, at the end of the day, you are their mother, and to them you are “good enough!”