Mind the Gap

What kind of mother did you imagine you’d be?

Most days I find myself thinking: this is not what I expected. I was chatting with a friend recently and she was expressing a similar frustration. Having had so much experience with kids before, she didn’t realize being a mother would be so difficult. She had an idea of how she would be and that’s just not how it’s going.

I knew what we were experiencing can’t be unique to us. I am positive that for a lot of mothers there is a gap between their imagined motherhood and their reality. And when you become a mother it’s staggering how many things you can feel guilty about, these unmet expectations being one of them.

The mother I thought I’d be: I will play with my kids all the time, My kids will always be well behaved, I’ll be crafty and full of fun ideas, I’ll be adventurous, I’ll be thriving when I can stay-at-home, I’ll be patient and soft-spoken…

Saying motherhood is difficult is an understatement and it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. But when it comes to unmet expectations that we had of ourselves, I think many of us could say we are not very gracious and forgiving.

Writer, Jill Churchill, said, "There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." Every single one of us makes mistakes. Every single one of us has a toddler that throws tantrums and has probably hit another kid in Sunday school. Every single one of us has had an accident that ended with bumps and bruises we didn’t intend to give. Every single one of us has been exhausted to the point of insanity. Every single one of us has the “gap” between expectation and reality, but that doesn’t make us bad mothers. I could spend a lot of time tearing myself down for what I am lacking and the kind of mother I am NOT. But I am realizing it’s critical to spend more timing focusing on what I have and the mother I AM. It’s exhausting to feel so disappointed in myself all the time.

The kind of mother I am: I cook my family meals, I make sure their clothes are clean, I create a welcoming and beautiful home, I am dedicated to raising respectful, kind, Jesus-loving children, I dance in the living room, I listen to Disney songs on repeat…I am committed, loving, creative, focused, selfless, serving, compassionate, understanding, strong ….

It look me awhile to come up with this list. I really had to sit and think about what makes me a great mom because I am so conditioned to believing the worst. If that might be you too, you’re not alone. Mind the gap and choose to focus on the ways you are a good mother. Even if it takes you days to come up with a list of why you are amazing, take the time to make it.

Philippians 4:8 is a verse I meditate on a lot to help manage my anxiety, but as I’m thinking about this “gap” I believe it applies here too.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Fill your minds with the beautiful, not the ugly. Mamas, you are doing a great job. You were created to be the mother of your children. Your children have unique needs that only you can meet, nurture, and guide. You will not be perfect. You will make mistakes. But our children are not looking for perfection, nor do they need it. They need women who will show them what love is and how to become human beings that make a positive difference in this world. And you can do it.