When Good Isn't Enough

I remember the first time I felt like a failure as a mom. It was less than an hour after my first daughter was born. I was trying to nurse her, and she wouldn’t latch on and I was kind of freaking out. I asked for help and a lactation consultant came in and patiently walked me through the process. She told me all the things that all the books I’d been reading for months beforehand told me. I knew what I was supposed to be doing, I just couldn’t figure out how to execute it all and my squirming infant wasn’t cooperating. That was the beginning of five weeks of struggling to nurse that ended with me in tears on Christmas morning at my in-laws house begging my husband to miraculously find an open grocery store and bring back formula because I was a complete failure at nursing and I couldn’t try and fail any more.

Life is so dramatic right after you give you birth. Post-partum is a jerk.

No one told me that motherhood is a constant struggle between pure love and joy for your children and feeling like a complete failure all the time. But that’s how it is most times. We are constantly wondering if we are making the right decisions - cry it out vs. co-sleeping; breast vs. bottle; cloth diapers vs. disposable; rice cereal vs. oatmeal; store bought baby food vs. homemade; pre-school vs. mother’s day out; mini-van vs. SUV- oh my goodness. When did raising a baby become so complicated?! And why are we so afraid that one wrong decision will dramatically affect our kids for the rest of their lives? I have to tell you honestly that I have no idea what kind of food my mom fed me when I was just starting out on solids. And it doesn’t really matter because guess what? I’m still here and I’m just fine. Also, I don’t think outlet safety plugs had been invented yet so there’s that.

Let’s take a breath together.

I’m not entirely sure why we take tiny decisions like this, and heap our entire self-worth as mothers onto them, but I think I have inkling as to why. Could it be that the reason we feel like we are not good enough as mothers is because we aren’t?

What did she just say?

I just said that maybe the reason we don’t feel like we are enough for our kids is because we aren’t. I know that as an inspirational, faith writer I’m suppose to kick in with the inspirational quotes and a few out of context scriptures at this point…but I think I’m going to go another direction.

The truth that I see in scripture is that we aren’t good enough. We always fall short and often make the wrong decision (Romans 3:23). Perhaps we don’t like to face the truth that we will fail fantastically and often, but if it weren’t true then why did Jesus have to come and die? If we are enough all by ourselves, then what do we need a Savior for?

The fact is, that we need a Savior because we can’t be everything our children need and to try will leave us in a puddle of failure. We don’t have enough love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, compassion or integrity on our own to do what needs to be done in our own hearts or in the hearts of our children. Sure, we might be phenomenal geniuses at navigating breast pumping schedules and diagnosing ear infections, but when it comes to the souls of our children, we don’t have all the answers. It could be that the anxiety we feel when we aren’t sure what to do in a situation is a gracious reminder from the Holy Spirit that we need Jesus. The most dangerous place to be in life is a place where we feel confident that we have it all together and have it all figured out.

Perhaps our insecurities are just the ticket to remind us to walk humbly before God. We don’t need another pep talk to try harder to do better. We need Jesus.

In my first decade of mothering, I have made a lot of mistakes. My children have survived so far by the grace of God. The one thing I have found to be true, is that I will never have it all figured out, and that’s ok because I have Jesus and he loves my children even more than I do. My failures remind me to put my faith in him, rather than in myself-and that, my sweet Mama, is God’s good grace.

My prayer for you and me this week is that we will look honestly at our failures, and rather than try to Google search our way out of them, we will turn to Jesus for the answers we lack. I pray that as we carefully weigh the decisions that will actually have a lasting impact on our children, we will remember to also ask God for the divine wisdom that only he has to give. I pray that when we feel as though our best isn’t good enough, the Holy Spirit will point us to the cross of Jesus as a reminder that his work is sufficient to meet all our needs.

But he (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses…For when I am weak, than I am strong.             2 Corinthians 12:9-10