Earlier this week, I was browsing Mother’s Day cards at Target, and I was surprised with how terrible the vast majority of them are. My unscientific estimate is that 93% of all cards for moms have this underlying but very intense assumption of perfection. Moms receiving these cards apparently always worked hard but completely valued quality time, always knew the right thing to say and when to be silent, always loved without fault, always sacrificed, always set a great example of independence, and are also continually responsible for the happiness of their family and and the “awesomeness” of their children.
I have an amazing mom and mother-in-law. I know a lot of fabulous moms. But wow, that’s a lot of pressure. Too much pressure. I sure don't do those things perfectly.
So, it really made me think… What do I want my Mother’s Day cards to say in twenty years? What do I think I should be striving for?
I don’t want my kids to buy me a card that says I was or am their “everything”.
I do want my kids to buy me a card that says we are friends. And that I loved them well. And that I showed them God’s love and grace. I recognize the huge role I have in discipling my kids.
I want to get a card that says I pointed them to Jesus. Because we all messed up in the same house, watching each other. I want my kids to say that by my mothering they knew they didn’t have to be perfect. Because they saw me need Jesus’s perfection, they knew that was what they needed too.
Do they make cards that say that?
In my current season of mothering, this is humbling! I don’t point my kids to Jesus as often as I should. I get preoccupied with other things and worry more about the dishes in the sink. I am selfish and care more about myself when they ask for one. more. tuck-in. I forget that I can “teach” the right thing but it might not matter because my kids will learn exponentially more from watching the way that I act. Even when I do repent and run back to Jesus, I don’t always do the best of job of apologizing to my kids and telling them that’s what I’m doing. I just rush on to the next thing and hope they forget.
I think we tend to find ourselves on one of two extremes when it comes to Mother’s Day (even if both occur on the same day). On the one hand, we get our expectations up and hope for the best day with extravagant gifts and pampering where everyone recognizes just how hard we work those other 364 days of the year. Or at the other side, we concede that we have failed to love our family well and so we pity ourselves, pretending we could sweep the day under the rug.
So what are we to do? The phrase “preaching the gospel to yourself” is such a helpful one for us mothers who need to remember that our true worth is not found anywhere close to Mother’s Day.
The most well known Bible verse when we think of the gospel has something to say to you, regardless of if you’re at one of those extremes or somewhere in the middle.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17, ESV)
Feeling pretty good about your mothering and have high expectations for the day? Remember, you are still a sinner who needs a Savior. Thank God for the amazing gifts He has blessed you with. They are all only because of God’s grace for you.
Feeling pretty terrible about your mothering and thinking about all the ways you’ve messed up in the past? Remember, you are a child of God who is deeply loved and saved. God’s grace is more than enough for you.
After all that, I still want to say: Happy Mother’s Day friends! It is a day to celebrate the regular (not perfect), like all others. Love your family well because you have been loved so much better.