Thursday, March 13, 2014

Grace on a Thursday: I sort of want robots

Motherhood is so weird. I've never come close to experiencing anything else like it.

Being an employee means your job is to manage something for a fixed amount of time.

Being a zoo keeper or a botanist means your job is to nurture something for a fixed amount of time.

But being a mother means your job is to BOTH manage and nurture something for a fixed amount of time. If you can think of something else in life that requires both of those things simultaneously, please tell me.

I don't think it exists; motherhood is unique. I have a set number of years to manage a wily, unreasonable, rebellious, and doggedly independent human at the same time as trying to nurture him or her into an incredible, educated, humble, loving, and powerful force to be reckoned with in the world.

I am at my wit's end this week trying to reconcile the fact that at times, I sincerely wish my children were robots, since that would make the managing part so much easier. Just think how much easier it would be if children were no longer unpredictable and wild? No more rock-throwing, street-running, grocery aisle-screaming, food-dumping craziness. AND at the same exact time, I whole-heartedly want my kids to grow up to be beautifully unique world-changers. Just think how wonderful it would be to raise free-thinking, truth-speaking, love-giving, light-shining citizens of Earth. And I just flat out don't know how to do both at once - how to manage the one, and nurture the other. (If you're thinking as your little kids get older, the wildness goes away, you're totally mistaken. The wildness just changes into different forms of things that make me crazy).

I simply don't know how to nurture amazingness when much of my time and energy is spent on managing the messes, the homework, the laundry, and the feeding of these tiny humans. And when I stop for stretches of time to focus on the nurturing, then the managing just doesn't happen. I get that that's okay from time to time. But personally, I can become discouraged because I can't ever do both well at once. If I'm doing one job well, the other is suffering.

As if the above wasn't daunting enough, a child's needs are always changing. When you have tiny babies, the scales are dipped more on the managing side. As they age, they start to be able to manage themselves in more and more ways, but the scales tip further on the nurturing side. As my oldest is nearing age 12, I keep reflecting that I'm almost out of time. She's almost ready to drive away to a friend's house or Starbucks every day after school. She announced yesterday, from the top of the staircase, "Mom! In ten years from now, I'll be graduating from college." Ten years. Shorter than her life lived already. God knows my deepest fear is that I've spent too much time on the managing end of the spectrum and missed opportunities to nurture her into an awesome human.

Several years ago in MOPS, we took personality tests. I don't remember how we were categorized, but I think it was by color. Let's just say I turned out to be a Yellow. Whatever it was, the leader of this activity went about summarizing each color's strengths and weaknesses. When she got to mine - and I'll never forget this - she said, "And if you're a Yellow, motherhood will be the hardest for you." I can't tell you the number of times I've wished I'd never heard that. I've had to fight off and push down that label, that weight around me which shouts, "Because of your personality, you'll have a harder time succeeding at being a good mom." The implication was that I'd have a difficult time moving from the managing job to the nurturing job. Ugh, and guess what? I didn't need a test to tell me that.

This post doesn't have a tidy moral. When it comes down to the hundred daily decisions I have to make as a mom, I am not confident I know the recipe for awesomeness. Some ingredients, yes, I know quite well. But the majority of my mothering decisions range anywhere from educated guesses to exhausted concessions. And I suppose the only reason I'm saying any of this is to let you know I'm there too, if you are, and am in desperate need of grace.

Grace is the only salve for me when I feel stuck as a mom. Grace washes me off when I feel covered in Yellow. It's favor from the Lord that I can't earn and don't deserve. He just gives it because He loves me, and He fills in my gaps. The kids are His anyway, and I am not so powerful that He will let me completely mess them up.

Best of all, Grace whispers, "You don't need to make your kids become amazing people; they already are, because I've created them to be. Nothing you will ever do can remove my fingerprints from them. And trust me; you don't really want robots."

Well, I'll tell you one thing. If I come out on the other side of motherhood alive, then I do feel I will have earned at least a house-cleaning robot. Or something.

(After more than a year of a break from this Thursday series, I wanted to pick it back up. I'm missing my reflections on grace. We will never fully grasp the depths of what grace can do in our lives. But that doesn't mean I won't press in my whole life long to try to find out.)

Much love,



  1. Amen! Motherhood carries with the blessing of the highest highs you can get and the struggle with the lowest lows. Both places bring me to God. One in praise and one in need. He can work all things together for our good. So thankful for that truth. If my children love Him, He will make even the messes I have made, something good, in a way only He can do. I need You Lord, I need You.

  2. Leslie, once again you have nailed; LOVE THIS BLOG! As a mom further down the road (my kids are 21 and 23) I have beat myself up thinking did I do that right or did I mess that up while raising them. But as you said,the kids are His anyway, and I am not so powerful that He will let me completely mess them up. So true Leslie! I love that God gives us much grace as mothers! Great blog.