An Unexpected Moment of Grace
I woke up today thinking, “Thank God it’s Friday.”
But my excitement for the week’s end doesn’t make much sense given I am a stay at home mom.
I am NOT going to get this weekend off.
No, I am going to wake up tomorrow morning and continue caring for my family, because this is what I do 7 days per week, 365 days per year. That’s not a complaint…it’s just the reality of motherhood the way I am tackling it.
This weekend will be oddly quiet – there isn’t a barrage of activities lined up, so when I am finished composing this post, I need to figure out some sort of entertainment...
Technically, the weekends are just as much work in my world, but still, when Friday comes along, I am always relieved.
On Fridays, I reflect and reset.
That's when I consciously create a sacred space for myself even if I only steal an hour. Pausing to catch my breath helps me feel less overwhelmed in motherhood.
This week has been particularly rough so I’m glad I can lay it to rest.
But wait. Now that I have said that I have struggled, I feel guilty.
I am minimizing my stress, because this week, I acknowledged the suffering of two friends. One just finished up chemotherapy, and the other had a miscarriage. These moments of compassion where I dropped off food and flowers were my opportunity to return the love and support they both showered me with once.
Yes, I have been in that dark place where you need all the love and support you can find to pull through.
But I am NOT there now. Yes, I should be nothing short of grateful.
Truth be told, I am a rather ungraceful version of myself lately.
For this reason, the quote, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection” resonates with me today.
The first thing that comes to mind is:
This is a good intention for me to set given the scene that unfolded yesterday around a bowl of lentils. My seventeen-month-old was just playing with her snack. She really thought it was fun and exciting to dump that bowl of beans on my head as I was cleaning the floor beneath her high chair.
But after a long and complicated day that ended with a torrential downpour during drop off at religion with all of my kids in tow and no umbrella, I was feeling especially frazzled. There was dinner to start, homework to supervise and then the text from my husband saying the train was late and he couldn’t help me with pick up.
I had to drag three of them back out in the rain again to pick up the fourth.
As the mush of tiny green beans fell into my hair and down my face, I heard her gleeful cheer, “Yay!”
But I scolded, “Not nice, Rosie, NOT NICE!”
She put her head in her hands and cried. My six-year-old comforted her broken spirit, because I was too busy cleaning myself up before I had to check on the lasagna and throw everyone back in the car for religion pickup. On the way out the door my three-year-old was talking instead of putting his shoes on (as usual) so I yelled at him to hurry up.
His brown eyes got all big and sad, so as I strapped everyone back in the car, I apologized.
“I am sorry I yelled. Mommy is just really tired today.”
My sweet little boy replied, “It’s ok, Mommy. I still love you.”
You would think this was enough to calm me down, and find grace.
I mean, it motivated me to be better, yet that manifested as the impulse to be strong and carry on.
What I really wanted to do was cry....but I didn't. I went on yelling for one reason or another until they were all in bed.
That's why on this particular Friday morning reflection, I am feeling pretty lowly.
Not because I yelled, well I suppose because I yelled (at all my kids this week), but mostly because I am not practicing what I preach.
See, earlier this week my girl got in a scuffle at school and there was a call home from the school.
Like I said, it’s been one of those weeks…
When I was trying to get to the bottom of my daughter’s reaction and what was really bothering her, she said, “Mom, I wanted to cry but I was embarrassed so I yelled instead. Raising my voice keeps me from crying.”
I told her it might have been better if she cried. I mean, at least she wouldn’t have hurt the other girl’s feelings….
But I don’t know if this was the right response. I never know what to say in these moments, so I just pull something out of my heart and pray I’m guiding her right.
Back to my lesson: Sometimes we just need to cry. Sometimes its better to cry than hold it all in when something is bothering us.
Sometimes it’s better to acknowledge our most authentic emotions because if we bottle them all up and pretend we are ok when we’re not, if something pushes our buttons it can all come out in the wrong way….
…and someone’s feelings might get hurt.
It's ok to be sad, frustrated, angry or whatever even when we don't have really big problems. We are all human, we all have our stuff and if we don't deal with it properly, well...let's just say I totally deserved to be doused in lentils.
But I’m taking my own advice now because more than once this week, I hurt my children’s feelings. These beings I created and love more than anything else – I let them down. I failed. I need to cry.
So I'm doing that now (crying) as I write. And if you must know, I am also eating a bar of chocolate. The kitchen is a mess, and the bills I need to pay are piled up. All of this is calling to me, because the baby is napping and everyone else is at school:
There is time to catch up.
But this, I have decided, is my moment, my "weekend."
On this particular Friday, I needed a moment of surrender.
And, since I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, I’m actually going to publish this post about my parenting fails this week.
I know I am not the only mom out there who feels like she’s failing.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that holding onto remorse won’t make tomorrow any better for any of us. This nonsense will continue on if we don’t make a conscious effort to shift our perspective.
That’s why I think to myself, “What went well?”
There is a list. I can come up with a really long list of what I did right this week.
Want to know the best thing I did this week?
I showed up with love.
Love is always what I am good at. Love is what every mom I know is good at. On any given day, we know how to give hugs, kisses and try really hard for our kids: the effort is love.
But in the times we are wrong, maybe we just need to say we are sorry and move on. Then we should trust that our kids are learning about how to deal with imperfection by watching us manage our own flaws.
At least, this is the conclusion I come to on my Friday morning moment of reflection.
And with it comes what I was striving for:
a moment of grace.
I am calm, collected, recharged and ready…all in just one hour.
But I didn’t find grace by trying harder.
I found it in surrender.
Maybe then we shouldn’t strive for grace, but expect to find it in the absence of perfection.
Now, I can’t wait for my kids come home from school so I can give them all a hug….tell them how much I missed them while they were gone and hear about their day.
Then tomorrow we’ll snuggle, watch movies all day and be lazy together because that's what I have decided the weekend calls for.
Motherhood is a delicate dance between determination and surrender.
I don’t always get it right, but I always show up with love.