Messy Faith,  Motherhood,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings

When I’m not enough to be a good mother: where God’s grace begins

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I think that God created motherhood to show me how sinful and inadequate I am at being a good mother…and thus how much I desperately need Him and His grace. Because there is nothing more humbling than being a mother who feels like she’s not enough.

Except for being a mother of a sick child.

And being a SICK mother of a sick child.

The collective “we” of our household have sick, housebound, isolated, and alone. Ezra and I have both been miserable, exhausted, sleeping poorly…and bored out of our minds.

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I went to bed last night anticipating a happy Monday…a fresh start. Ezra was feverless on Sunday, and I figured it was okay for us to resume our normally scheduled activities, which for today meant the first MOPS meeting of 2013. I had made muffins yesterday and was excited about seeing a new friend that I met at the park and had invited to come. My “prison sentence” had ended and life as normal was resuming.

But my best-laid plans were for naught as I awoke to find that Ezra was slightly warmer than usual.

No, no, nooooo…not this. Maybe if I don’t take his temperature it will go away!

But knowing that the health and wellness of other children depended upon my actions, I did what needed to be done.

99.4. Drat…

Resentment and anger coursed through my body. My jaw became set in a frown.

I was ticked off…

Another 14 hour day with no where to go and nothing to do stared me in the face and laughed at my hope.

You are stuck. You are isolated. You are alone… You are not enough. 

Today was definitely one of those days where I could wholeheartedly repeat Sarah Mae’s Desperate sentiments:

“I can’t be a mother today, Lord, I’m just too tired.”

(Desperate, Introduction)

not enough 5

Four hours later you could find me locked in my room with my Bible and the book Desperate, just begging God for grace and the strength to find love in my heart for my whiny, clingy, needing-me son who was banging at the door.

not enough 4

I stopped when a verse referenced in Chapter 3 caught my attention. I ended up reading entire book of Galatians and stumbled upon another verse that really struck through my heart:

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

I’ve been doing a really poor job of expressing anything but frustration…let alone expressing faith through love.

This afternoon I was slightly more patient. I rocked him longer, nursed him when I didn’t feel like it, did a puzzle with him, and read him a book four times in a row.

But even after letting him play in the bath for a very long time, letting him watch Baby Einstein, reading some blog posts, and getting some down time–by the time my husband got home from work I was more concerned with getting a hot shower and escaping to the bedroom again than the fact that my son’s fever was up over 101 and that he and my husband were going to have pizza for dinner.

In the moments before Russ (and the pizza) got home, I read this post by Sarah Mae about cultivating a realistic vision of what it means to be a good mother:

“You will never arrive at becoming the ideal mother of your dreams.


your vision of an ideal mother is sinful.”

She goes on to describe her motherhood ideals, then says this:

I didn’t consider sin. I didn’t consider my fallen body that is so often tired. I didn’t consider my emotions, my dark days, or my selfish ones. I didn’t consider their dark days or selfish ones. The only thoughts I had about their bad moments had to do with disobedience, and I would swiftly deal with any disobedience. I read books on disciplining and training children. I would be ready for that. But everyday sin? Tiredness? Darkness? The Mundane of it all? The needs, the asks, the energy, the day-in and day-out of it all…I didn’t consider it, because I just didn’t think of it.

Sarah Mae is right. I don’t view this mess I am in as ideal. In fact, I think I’m pretty much sucking at this motherhood stuff. I didn’t consider how annoyed I would feel at my sons cries for hugs and nursies…how angry I would be when he wakes up at 4:50am…how often I would want to scream when he refuses to eat what I fix him at meal time…how much I would resent him when he gets sick.

When I finally got into the shower at 5pm, tears ran down my face and I told my husband, “I’m just SO TIRED!!”

I got out, threw on pajamas, pushed all thoughts of the evils of pizza out of my mind, let Russ and Ezra eat and watch Pingu while I sat on my bed with my iPhone reading Chapter 2 of Hope for the Weary Mom, where Brooke so aptly describes everything I’m feeling in this moment. But she encourages with these words:

“But he 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 my rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

So boast, mom. Boast in the fact that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, NOT ENOUGH to be a good mom. And watch what God does. Boast. Be honest about where you are, who you are, and who you’re not. Wiggle out of that straight jacket as Jesus turns the key with HIS mighty right hand and let Him be strong for you.

At the end of the chapter, the last study question asks me to “Share five ways you are not enough.”

Just five?

When I'm Not Enough To Be A Good Mother: Realizing that I'm "not enough" to be a good mom is exactly the place I need to be, because it is THERE that I am driven to find my grace in Him.

5 Ways I’m Not Enough to be a Good Mother

1. I don’t smile enough. In fact…I really don’t smile that much at all. I so desperately want to be the happy mom…I want Ezra to remember me smiling. I took this picture the other day simply to force myself to have to smile for him.

not enough to be a good mother

2. I’m not strong enough…physically. “Chronic fatigue syndrome” means that I am tired. all. the time. And when I don’t get “enough” sleep, (and by “enough” that means “a whole lot”) I simply don’t feel like I can function. Trying to be a good mother to a child who has never been a good sleeper seems like a really cruel joke sometimes. Being well into the second month of very early morning wakeups with Ezra (as early as 4:50 am) and constant cries from said sick toddler to “nurse mommy nurse please nurse mommy?” has given me flashbacks to endless sleepless nights and long lonely days that left me exhausted for months on end. I feel like that mother to a teething, sick infant all over again, even though I know that this phase will pass just like that one did.

3. I don’t work hard enough. There is a really fine line between not working on housework because you have a physical condition that keeps you chronically tired and not working on housework because you are just lazy. Those lines get blurred…a lot. Like…a whole lot. And I know it…that voice that pops up when I’m wasting time on Facebook for the 15th time in a day saying, “You lazy bum…why don’t you get off your butt and do something for once? What kind of example are you setting for Ezra?”

4. I’m not selfless enough. I like my alone time. I don’t like to be bothered. I don’t want to have to stop what I’m doing to hug, serve meals, change diapers, and nurse 15 thousand times a day. In fact, I’m so over nursing it’s not funny. I hate losing sleep because my kid can’t figure out how to sleep beyond 5:30am. I miss my sleep, my free time, having my own life and my own time to do whatever I want. I’m really selfish.

5. I’m not kind enough. Sometimes I yell. I sigh. I huff. I push him (both hims) away. I tell them to leave me alone. I hide in my room. Make up reasons to be in the bathroom alone. I complain about Ezra on Facebook. And even when I’m not doing those things I hear a tenseness in my voice that I’m sure they hear too.

But for the first time, tonight, in this post, admitting these things doesn’t fill me with guilt. It doesn’t make me feel like a horrible mother. After reading these two books and the multiple blog posts that have gone along with these books, I am realizing that these feelings are so normal. That moms yell. That moms get desperate, tired, weary and frustrated. That moms are sinful. That a mom is not enough to be a good mother without the grace of God in her life. It’s just a fact.

And so I am boasting in these areas…not to flaunt my lack of goodness, but as a public testimony to the grace and patience that God bestows upon me to be a good mother each day. Because when I’m not good enough, His grace covers my sin and fills in the gaps that my sin creates. That’s what grace is all about…not being good enough. That’s why we need grace in the first place. And that’s why grace is so beautiful…because it’s totally unearned. “Good moms” don’t get more grace or favor from God than “bad moms” do. Realizing that I’m “not enough” to be a good mother is exactly the place I need to be, because it is THERE that I am driven to find my grace in Him. I can rejoice in knowing that I’m a good mother because of Him, even when I am totally and utterly…not enough.


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