A few weeks ago we had a prayer time at our church and I sat down in front of a wooden cross. I found myself thinking of Mary and what she must have been feeling, standing there watching her son be crucified. Obviously she would have been heartbroken. But did she also feel helpless? Did she feel like a failure for not protecting her son as a mother should? Did she wonder if she could have done something to prevent this series of events?
A Mother's Guilt. It can start as early as pregnancy when deciding which foods and vitamins to eat to help our baby develop properly. Then the baby comes home and the real worry begins. Suddenly you are in charge of keeping an infant safe from harm, making sure he gets enough sleep and the right nutrition. As the child grows, now you have to consider his cognitive and emotional development too! There is an endless list of things we as mothers are responsible for. Diet, exercise, safety, health, toilet training, education, character development, and of course documenting all of the important milestones. We compare our mothering skills and children to others and then feel guilty when we don't seem to measure up. I would bet that mothers of even the most successful children still struggle with feelings of regret and failure.
I know I'm not immune. I lose my patience and yell at my kids. I wonder if I'm spending enough "quality" time with them. I worry about whether I'm making healthy enough meals and teaching them good eating habits. I feel guilty that they aren't driven to grow spiritually and that I'm not doing enough at home to encourage that. I see their character flaws and wonder if my actions contributed to them. I see them get hurt and wonder if I could have prevented it. I know I have many reasons to be proud of the way my boys are developing, but I still have a nagging fear that I'm failing them in some way.
So what do I take away from this picture of Mary at the foot of the cross? I remind myself that just as God chose Mary to be Jesus's mother, he chose me to be the mother of my sons. He knows my strengths and weaknesses, just as he knows yours. I also remember to trust in God's plan and that He can use any situation for good. It may grieve us to watch our children hurt and struggle, but God won't waste that pain. Just as there was a reason for Jesus to die, so God can use our children's struggles to shape and mold them into the people he wants them to be or serve a greater purpose. The things we perceive as "failures" may fall exactly into God's plan.
So Mommas - Do your best and then give yourself some grace. You were chosen to be a mother. God loves your children. Let's trust Him enough with their futures to let go of the unnecessary guilt. Hopefully we can look back one day and see the ways in which God has uniquely shaped their lives and be proud of our part in it.