“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Any woman who has been a mother for more than two or three minutes will tell you that motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened in her life. But about two or three minutes later, she will have to admit (if she is honest!) that there are moments when she asks herself, “What was I thinking????”
So, much like Charles Dickens in his classic tale of war, love, loss, and redemption, in which he tells a tale of the best of times, and of the worst of times, many mothers will understand when I say that my “lives” as a mother have included some of the most joyful moments a woman could imagine. But I have also experienced the heart break and pain that frequently accompanies us along this journey called “Motherhood.”
As a young mother, I believed that somehow I would figure out how to be the one and only “perfect” mother . . . . I would never let my children see me without my hair combed, and would certainly never, ever let them know that mamas sometimes are tired, or sad, or . . . . Good heavens! Mamas actually get mad sometimes, too. But that was never going to happen to me when I was a Mama.
So as the sweet little babies came along I began my journey to the land of “Motherhood Perfection.” But it didn’t take long before I realized that this was going to be a bumpy ride with many challenges along the way. Never fear! “Super Mommy” would come to the rescue, fix every scrape and bruise, kiss away the pain, and bandage all wounds with a smothering of “Mommy Kisses.” And so I tried . . . . and tried . . . . and tried.
But as the years went by, somewhere along that rocky road I lost my way. One day, apparently, I wandered off into the Woods of Motherly Discouragement and couldn’t find my way back. For a very long time. You see, all those years of flying through the air with my Wonder Woman cape billowing out behind me had gotten me nowhere. Except exhausted.
And as I wandered around in the fog of confusion wondering why all those “Mommy Kisses” had apparently not fixed anything, I began to doubt myself. I began to ask questions such as, “Why did I waste all that time trying to “get it right,” only to find out that I did it “all wrong?”
Sitting on a rotting log in the shadowy Woods of Motherly Discouragement one day, I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father and asked if He would be so kind as to give me a clue where I went wrong.
That was the moment that the sun broke through the dense canopy of that wooded prison of my heart, and I knew that it wasn’t all my responsibility to make my children happy. It wasn’t my job to be the epitome of “Motherhood Perfection.”
It was my job to love my children, pray for my children, tell them about the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, teach them right from wrong, respect and responsibility, dress them, feed them, hold their hand and wipe their noses . . . and hopefully keep them alive long enough so that they could, in turn, travel that rocky road of their own journey through life. Wherever that might take them.
Suddenly, I was free. No longer would I wander through the dark and gloomy Woods of Motherly Discouragement questioning the wisdom of the choices I had made for the past 30 years. And in that moment of freedom, God called me to another journey of motherhood.
This time with a strong, loving, and faithful man who we call Daddy – a man who walks with me through every valley and on every mountaintop. A man who comes looking for me when I start to wander off, just in case I’m headed back to the Woods of Motherly Discouragement.
This time, my life as a mother reflects the confidence and joy that comes with understanding and believing that I am NOT perfect, and I never will be perfect, but that’s OK because only God Himself is perfect and that was a ridiculous standard to set for myself in the first place.
This time, I’m a different mama because I’m a different woman. God has set me free from the fear of failure, the insecurity that comes with striving for perfection, and He has given me the opportunity to be a Mama to our beautiful daughters who understand that their Mama isn’t perfect, but they know for sure and for certain that they are loved.
A Tale of Two Mothers – one young, vulnerable, trusting, and believing that the message she was hearing from her community was the truth. She believed that in order to be acceptable to God and those around her she would need never make a mistake, never be sad, never be angry, and certainly never, ever allow anyone to know if any of those horrible things should ever happen.
The other mother – me. Vintage Mama – a mama who knows that there is no other job in the world that God honors more than that of Motherhood. And so I continue this journey, no longer seeking the land of Motherhood Perfection, nor wandering in the Woods of Motherly Discouragement, but resting peacefully in the joyful place where “normal” is OK, no Wonder Woman capes are allowed, and it’s no big deal when Mama makes a mistake. I hope you live there, too.