The Good Mom
Updated: May 20
I end most days with the feeling that I haven’t done enough.
I didn’t spend enough time on the floor playing, I didn’t clean up after our messes, I didn’t follow the sleep-training plan, I spoke out of anger, I turned on the TV in a moment of desperation, I didn’t work out, I sat down when I should have kept going.
These thoughts go on and on. Mom-guilt is relentless. A constant, vicious, disdainful clamor that fills my mind.
I show up to a playdate with MomSweat** and look around at the colorful story time room full of well-behaved, nicely dressed children and mothers who—unlike me—definitely look like they have managed to wash their hair in the last week. I immediately second guess my decision to wear my At Home Leggings rather than my Nice Leggings and tug down my top, trying to better camouflage my postpartum tummy pooch. Why did I let my daughter pick her outfit today? Why did I bring prepackaged snacks? Why am I drowning in this slow-simmering, unyielding feeling of inadequacy?
**MomsSweat: a term I have coined which means sweating from the effort of trying to live up to what I think a Good Mom should be, while also wrangling two children under two in and out of a minivan.
After a scene like this, I usually come home and make a list of how to fix the inadequacy. Next time I will pick out everyone's outfits the night before, get up earlier and shower, buy the healthier snacks, and flat out refuse my daughter's screaming request to wear her dirty unicorn pants from the laundry basket, ignoring the alligator tears that will result.
But every once in a while, I slow down just enough to catch a snippet of what God is whispering to me.
When I stop to examine the root of my feeling that I am not enough, more often than not it is a result of holding myself to cultural expectations rather than true conviction from the Lord that I need to reorient my behavior.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The truth of the gospel sets me free from the things of the world, so why am I allowing myself to feel burdened by expectations that have no impact in the face of eternity? When I remember that God has given me these babes and only HE can equip me to mother well, It releases me from my grinding attempts to accomplish my way into being good enough. The truth is my own efforts are NEVER enough, that is the point. God alone can give me the strength, endurance, humility, gentleness, and patience required to schlep my tiny people to the store to buy milk without someone having a meltdown (myself included). The Lord gives us abundant grace. Today he gave me grace by providing a pocket of time where Barrett was sleeping and Vera was playing happily. I got to listen to an entire podcast (an educational-type one even, not the murder-ey kind) and make a wholesome meal for my kids. This is the kind of meal I wish I could provide for them three times a day, every day. But in the stage we right now, it is such a rarity that I actually stopped and took a PHOTO. Someday, I hope a well-balanced meal won't be worthy of documentation because it will just be the norm. But that day feels pretty dang far away, and that is okay.
For now I cling to grace—beautiful, winsome, glorious, holy grace. Grace that covers the moments I can’t do what I wish I could, because I too busy being covered in children and chaos and sweat.
And I will tell myself the truth, that I am a good mom for realizing it is okay to not be the Good Mom today.