I took my two youngest daughters to the park this afternoon. It was a park trip that almost didn't materialize due to semi-poor behavior and lack of obedience with a happy heart. But they came through in the last seconds, and the trip to the park was salvaged.
While there, I happened upon a home-school mom with her three very obedient, non-fit-throwing, correctable-the-first-time children, and one of them was autistic! I watched her call them to her for correction in a lilting, refreshing, soft and kind voice. She got down to eye level and whispered her expectations to them gently. Of course they responded perfectly, instantly modifying their behavior in a happy tone with no arguing. She seemed unphased by their constant clamoring for her attention and she never once sat on the bench (by me) for a break. She was constantly diverting potential bad behavior, redirecting requests to be worded politely, and saying no by giving choices that were actually enticing. When her daughter peed her pants, she calmly said, "Where do we go potty Karissa? Let's make a better choice." And when their park trip was cut short because of the potty accident, all three kids ran to the car giggling instead of protesting.
As I watched her excel at mothering in an area that I feel most vulnerable, I felt myself begin to feel really inferior. Good grief. She did everything exactly the way I would do it in a dream world. The one time at the park that I said "No" to my daredevil daughter, she immediately started arguing and presenting her case for why she really NEEDED to stand on top of the monkey bars instead of monkeying under them. I heard a voice in my head whisper, "Failure. Why do you bother trying?" When I gave my hooligans the five-minute-warning, I felt inferior because Perfect Mom didn't need to give a warning. Her kids just dropped what they were doing and ran to obey. "Failure."
We weren't in the door two seconds when my over-dramatic daughter started wailing about something completely insignificant, and since she gets her flair for the dramatic from her wear-your-emotions-on-your-sleeve mother, I responded in an equally non-quiet, non-calm way. "Failure." Our toddler, who was nearly perfect for the first 3 years of her life, has recently discovered that she too can join the ranks of Very Naughty Children. She decided she didn't need a nap and made sure I knew about it in her sassiest voice. I was being tormented by a constant chant of, "Failure. Failure. Why can't you be more like Perfect Mom?"
When I finally got my toddler to sleep and took some time to be with the Lord, I realized that God didn't cross my path with Perfect Mom to elevate my feelings of inferiority or make me feel like I can't do anything right. The person whispering those lies in my ear was Satan and we all know he's a fat, toothless dog with no power over me as a daughter of Christ. As I claimed that truth, I felt the cloud of failure lifting. I heard God whispering to me, "Look. You've been faithful in asking for help in this area. And you're making progress, but still have a long way to go. So guess what? I gave you a visible picture of what a calm, gentle, consistent mom looks like. And by the way, you have other gifts and talents as a mom that Perfect Mom was admiring in you."
And so, I press on. Trying to make James 1:19-20 come alive in my life and be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to get angry in the hope that it will result in a righteous life. I won't ever be Perfect Mom, but I can pray that God will continue to transform me into Flawed Mom Who Reflects a Bit of Who Jesus Is to her kids.