So often there is a disconnect between the mom I am, and the mom I want to be. Or make that the mom I think I ought to be. A lot of times, I feel like Julia Roberts’ character Isabel in the movie “Stepmom”. In the opening scene, Isabel is frantically trying to get her live-in boyfriend’s two children ready for school. She struggles with making them breakfast, getting them dressed, and even finding the youngest child, who has hidden himself in one of the kitchen cabinets. She has a moment of panic when she realizes that she hasn’t washed the daughter’s shirt for purple shirt day, and as she suggests that the girl just wear orange instead, the girl rolls her eyes and shakes her head in disgust. Then in the middle of all this chaos, their real mom arrives and says “I can take it from here, Isabel.”
Just like the stepmom, I live in the shadow of a better, more organized, more patient mom. The one I’ve created in my head. She shows up whenever I’m feeling defeated, frustrated, or just having a hard time keeping up with the demands of two children and all the housework. She whispers to me that I’m a failure. She looks at me with contempt, saying smugly “Why can’t you get it together?” She follows me around throughout the day, constantly criticizing everything I do and the way I do it.
The so-called “real mom” is who I measure myself against. I imagine that she would never choose to be on Facebook when she could be engaging her children in creative, structured activities. She would always keep the perfect balance of maintaining a well-organized, clean home and taking care of the kids. She would prepare healthy organic meals from scratch, and enjoy doing it! She would always discipline wisely and teach school lessons with great enthusiasm, complemented by Pinterest worthy crafts. She would be ever patient with the litany of requests, both those spoken and those communicated through whining, and she most definitely would never, ever raise her voice or lose her temper.
When the perfect mother appears, I hear words and phrases in my head like “inadequate”, “out of control”, and “hopeless”. Thankfully, Someone else shows up too. Lost in these self-defeating thoughts, I am mercifully reminded by God, “You aren’t enough, but you don’t have to be. You don’t have to be everything to them, because I AM.” His truth shatters the lies of the enemy, in the form of my alter-ego mom. The lies that say I have to have it all together for my son and daughter to turn out the right way, and that everyone else does this mothering thing better.
God will meet me in my areas of weakness, when I admit them to Him, and give me the strength and grace to parent. It’s true that I am responsible for being obedient to my calling as a mother, but He ensures the outcome. These children I teach, feed, correct, and love on every day are really His. He has entrusted me with them, and I can rest knowing that even though I will never measure up, it doesn’t matter because He is enough. I can just let Him “take it from here”.