Maybe the laundry is piling up. Maybe you served cereal for dinner. Maybe an electronic screen with bubbly TV characters “babysat” so you could get in your first, and possibly only shower of the week. Maybe you felt the burning eyes of strangers as your toddler had a sleep-deprived meltdown in the grocery store. Whatever the causes, you feel like you’re failing in your high calling of being a mom and raising up precious souls for Christ’s kingdom.
Sure, we may fail at individual tasks and tests, but that does not change our identity. I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve cried those tears. I’ve felt like a failure as a mom. But it’s a lie.
Here’s the truth:
Our failures do not define us.
We are not failures as mothers who just have the occasional good day. Rather, we are great moms, always picking ourselves back up and trying again the next minute, the next hour, the next day. We are pursuing an incredible calling, and we occasionally fail. Our continual reliance on God’s grace, mercy, and guidance define us in spite of our failures.
Fatigue and stress amplify the lie.
Don’t get me wrong, anxiety and depression are legitimate conditions, especially post-partum. But before you pursue a diagnosis, consider if your physical state is feeding into your mental and emotional state. Are you getting adequate rest, or are you subsisting on intravenous caffeine? Are you taking care of your nutritional needs and loading up on water? Being “hangry” is more than just a joke to sell candy bars, hunger is an incredibly fixable problem that contributes to our stress. Try to see if resolving external stress helps your overall wellness before sinking into the despair of false failure.
Bad days do not comprise—or destroy—your kids’ childhoods.
Oh my goodness, do parents have bad days! I can still remember, though I have already forgotten breakfast, the feeling of rain soaking into my clothes and shoes as I waited over an hour for my mom who had forgotten to pick me up from a summer school event. This was the first and only time my mom, a hardworking nurse on the graveyard shift, had ever done anything like this, and when it happened, it hurt. However, it is the whole of my childhood, made up of countless talks, girl’s nights, and family meals, that shaped me. The vast majority of days in which my mom was intentional in raising me color my memory and love for my mom more vividly than that one rainy afternoon. You and I and every mom will have bad days, but by God’s grace they will not outweigh or overpower the good!
You can, and should, ask for help.
You wouldn’t believe how many moms miss this one. Maybe I’m talking to you here, and I want you to hear me: it’s okay to ask for help when you need it! Our moms weren’t perfect, their moms weren’t perfect, and so on all the way back to our first mother Eve, and goodness knows she wasn’t perfect! Nobody will be—or should be—surprised if you’re in the throes of diapers, sleepless nights, or the special needs of a special child, and you need assistance. If you can afford to hire help with any of your countless responsibilities, great, but never let your pride hold you back from asking for help! After I learned this lesson, the dam burst and I’ve since lost count of how many times I’ve enjoyed fellowship with ladies from church over coffee and a mountain of laundry. Reach out, you may be amazed at who God puts in your life to meet this need!
Sweet Christian mom, take a deep breath. Turn to God’s Word and his peace in this tough season. I personally love Psalm 51, it’s God’s gift to anyone who tries, fails, turns to him, and tries again. Its 17th verse tells us “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Yes, God calls us to holiness, but he does it by our continual sanctification, the lifelong process by which he forms and molds us for his glory. We don’t get there by being perfect moms, wives, teachers, even by being perfect Christians. We only get there by humbling ourselves, admitting our brokenness, and chasing Christ with empty hands.