As the mother of eight children who has written two books on motherhood, I must be the perfect mom, right? Wrong! Let me list my failures: To begin with, I am not a “fun mom.” I don’t like games and was not very good about taking my kids on fun field trips when they were little. My idea of a park date was to take my kids to the local swimming pool for a very prescribed amount of time—one hour maximum—so I could then go home and get more practical things done.
Birthday parties were never my forte, either. They stress me out, and I always gave a sigh of relief when my kids’ parties were over. I threw bare-bones parties with simple cakes, crepe paper streamers taped to the walls and ceiling, and lame games—definitely not like the parties hosted by my Martha Stewart-like daughter Allison. She throws themed parties with choo-choo-train cakes or handcrafted butterflies dancing from the ceiling. Not me!
I also hate crafts. How can you be a good mom if you don’t like crafts? In my penchant for order, crafts always represented mess and chaos. I was also not the perfect homeschooling mom. I did not teach my kids Latin and Greek, and only a few of my older kids attempted to learn Spanish. To be honest, we rarely, if ever, did science experiments. Only when we discovered Apologia science later on did James, our youngest, finally do some experiments.
It gets worse. Being 100% Finnish, I am not a touchy-feely person, and words of love and affection do not flow easily from me—definitely a poor quality if you want to be a good mom. But all those failures pale in comparison to my problem with anger. My parents let my strong, choleric personality go unchecked as I grew up. That surfaced in very unbecoming ways in our early marriage and in my first years as a mother. Thankfully, accepting the challenge to memorize Romans 6-8 at a conference accomplished a delivering work in my life. I realized that my outbursts of anger produced death, not life, to those around me. That truth helped break the power of anger in my life, and I can truly say that it no longer rules over me.
For some of you, your feelings of inadequacy and failure as a mom go much deeper. If your mom was incapable of mothering you properly or was absent, there’s a good chance your own needs were never met. As a result you came into motherhood totally unprepared. The good news is that God can heal and reverse generational cycles of brokenness and establish something new in your family line. Tamara Mackie (pictured above with her husband Jon and their four children) bears witness to this truth:
I come from generations of dysfunction, abuse, divorce, addiction, and broken parent-child relationships (since broken parents raising children results in broken children.) I did not want to be married because of the divorce I had seen and experienced in my family. And because of the lack of mothering I had received and my lack of relationship with my mom, I didn’t think I would ever be a mom.
Additionally, Jon and I were not free from the shame of our pasts—shame that came from our upbringing and choices we had made as young adults in relationships. Jim Anderson’s message of truth and restoration gave us keys to unlock that shame. God brought freedom and restoration to our lives that is now enabling us to raise our own family with wholeness and purity.
The moral of my story is this: be you. None of us had perfect mothers, and none of us will be perfect mothers. You don’t have to meet up to some image of what a perfect mom is like. Don’t compare your weaknesses with the strengths of other moms. God chose you to be the mother of the children He gave you. God never intended you to meet all of their needs—only He can do that. Be the best “you” you can be. Be teachable and correctable before God, and let Him deal with your sin issues and weaknesses. When you fail ask forgiveness of your children. It’s so good for them to see you admit you were wrong and know that you are a sinner in process like everyone else. If there is generational brokenness in your family line, seek God’s healing and restoration. If He can heal Tamara and set her on a new path, He can do the same for you.
God’s grace has been sufficient for me in my journey of motherhood. God’s grace will be sufficient for you, too.