It is a snow covered world here in rural Ohio. Our kind neighbors have been plowing our snow for us and large piles tower by our doorstep. Yesterday morning we were leaving the house and I put shoes, not boots, on my four year old son as we prepared to leave the house and attend a meeting.
As we walked out the door I was preoccupied with the two year old and didn’t see my four year old head straight for a snow drift. By the time I realized what he was doing he was up to his knees in snow. I told him to get out of the snow bank but he was having fun and not obeying, so, still holding the two year old, I grabbed his arm, pulled him out roughly and said some angry words. He headed for his carseat and I walked around the car to strap the two year old in with the thought crystal clear in my head: “I am such a terrible mother. I should never have had children.”
Later in the day I read a blog titled “dear mom who sometimes feels like she is a terrible mom.” This is part of a larger series of “dear mom” letters from a blog titled finding joy. It is a good article and a recommended read, but I didn’t find any comfort there except in the fact I’m not alone in these feelings. These days I tend to be more of a realist. Maybe I’m not a great mother. Maybe I shouldn’t have had children. But I am now a mother. And I do have children. This is the reality I must live with.
Later in the day I cleared my kitchen floor from all that had accumulated there these last weeks and made a home cooked meal. We all sat down at the table, and when my two year old yelled out “Jesus! pray!” her four year old brother said, for the first time in his life, “I’ll pray!” He offered up a sweet, quiet prayer of thanks for our food and his toys and his sister (who wanted to be included too). And in that moment I realized loosing my temper does not mean that I should not be a mother. My little boy chose to pray regardless of my failures that day. Regardless of how much or little I’ve taught him on the topic of prayer. Regardless of whether I fail him or not.
I will always struggle. I will loose my temper again and again. I will ask for forgiveness again and again. But over and above and beyond any failure is my love for my children. When my child is out of the snow drift and shivering in the backseat because the now melting snow has overwhelmed his legs and socks he knows his mother will show him love. He knows I will make sure he is warm and cared for. There is no doubt of my love in his eyes. And that is what matters most.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8