onestly, you don’t have to know what you’ll do when the kids grow up, buy a Mother’s Day card for you, while they tell their friends, their therapist, and their kids that you got so much wrong.
You just have to know that you’ll humbly own it.
Because they aren’t wrong.
It’s tender and true: You could have held them longer after they grew too big for your arms: held space for their pain, held their eyes, held them up in relentless prayers. You could have said yes to more campfires, jumped more on the trampoline and been known more for your loud, rowdy laughter instead of being the ready critic. You could have asked more honest questions and lingered longer, simply honouring them with listening space. You could have said yes. And No. Both at the right time.
Where you tried and fell short, they now trip and fall and have bruises to prove it.
Much dysfunction is a function of denying brokenness. The madness of much dysfunction ends now, ends with our owning it. Yes, things were broken. And: All the brokenness can be the tender breaking open of a seed to grow better.
No matter your hidden regrets or their current age: You can tenderly own that you took some wrong turns and it’s never too late to simply turn toward the Light.
Life always turns on the turn.
And it’s worth writing down by the kitchen sink: Parenting is never about how your kids turn out. It’s always and only about how you keep turning toward your kids and their Maker.
It’s okay: Motherhood is never about training your children to be good so they won’t ever fall — it’s about letting them see you fall in love every day with a good God.
And even after you’ve fallen hard — they see you keep falling hard for God.
Simply: The work of every parent is to give the best they know how now — and the work of every child is to forgive their parents the best they can now. Our work will look different, but we both have growing work to do.
There is always grace coming to meet us.
I became a mother on the eve of Mother’s Day. I was a wide-eyed girl of 21. He was 4 weeks early. I wasn’t ready, he was tiny, a curled soul in my hand, and I had no idea how to unfurl him into man.
That boy who made me a mother now turns 25. I’ve now been a mother for a quarter of a century. I had no idea I’d end up becoming the mother of one and a half dozen kids — which is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying I’m the mother of 7 kids — while saying that a whole lot of days that felt more like mothering 18 kids.
I have lived through days —countless of them — that were unashamedly our actual dreams come true — and I have lived through honestly our very worst nightmares.
Prodigals. Rejections. Diagnosis. Needles and daily injections. Constant meds. ICUs. Self-harming. Open heart surgeries. More than once. Mental health fractures. Mine and theirs. Car accidents. More than once. Drop outs. More diagnosis. Sleepless nights. Prayer pacing and soundless tears at 3 am. More than once.
Seven miraculous kids has meant non-stop riding seven roller coasters with all of the wondrous, exhilarating heights — and heart-dropping plunges.
Life always comes in waves, the cresting and the crashing — and we just have learn how to accept the way of the waves.
Our nightmares end when we accept that where we are, can still be where dreams come true. To accept is to wake.
All l needed to know about mothering I learned that first long, sleepless night of being a brand new mother.
It wasn’t that wails of the brand new baby that kept me awake. He barely stirred. I stared at him for hours, as dusk deepened into dark and his face was lit by the hospital hallway, him swaddled in the bassinet rolled up to the side of my bed. I couldn’t turn away from his newborn sleep, couldn’t hardly breathe through the mounting realization that I could wreck this tiny human being entrusted to my blatant inexperience.
My terror was kinda palpable: How do you mother and raise an actual living human being?
I’d opened up the most ancient book and traced a trail of words that had been worn down as tried and found true for centuries:
“He carries them close to his heart
and gently leads those that have young.” Isa. 40:11
In the shadows of a dark room of a neonatal ward, I’d laid there wide awake with The Mother Epiphany:
You need to carry out your mothering the best you can, but the Shepherd carries your babies close to His heart, and He is the one responsible for carrying your babies home. God is ultimately the shepherd of our children, we just have to keep faithfully carrying on.
God gently leads those who have young, because He is leading us on a journey — that journeys with our kids who are on a journey of their own.
No parent gets to decide a child’s outcome — we only get to decide to always come alongside our child. We only get to offer our child with-ness and witness on their way — we don’t get to determine their way.
We can only relentlessly pray that they will choose the only One who is the only Way.
It’d take me years to realize:
No shock, no shame, no matter what they do.
Only sharing the sheltering arms of the Shepherd.
Parent or child, we are no different, we are all wandering sheep, easily lured, who all need the rescue of the Shepherd from the lostness of lesser loves into the embrace of the greatest Love, Love Himself.
When a mother stops seeing herself as the shepherd who needs to be good enough get her child safely Home, but instead sees her and her child both in need of a Good Shepherd, this is how she always stays safe in the home of God.
When I’d turn toward the expanse of dark hospital room windows, there was my reflection, a mother desperately fearing she was not enough, backlit by the glow of hospital hallway , and there was clear Heart of the Father:
Mama, trust Me:
You are not lacking.
I brimmed….. dropped my eyes, shook my head…..
But there is the Comfort of the Father, gently gathering up all the Mothers of children, hushing away all the fears with the song they know by heart:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Ps. 23:1
Mother, in the arms of your Father:
You are not lacking.
You lack nothing.
You. do. not. lack.
Mother, in the arms of your Father,
no matter how things unfold with your children:
You are Beloved.
Live out of your Belovedness,
Parent out of your Belovedness,
Love out of your Belovedness —
because your perfect Belovedness kicks all fear out to the curb.
On the eve of Mother’s Day, my hours old newborn son slept soundly, and I cried quietly in the arms of my Father and it would take me a long quarter of a century and 7 kids later to know it fully:
God’s a perfect Father with His own prodigal kids — and He only has perfect grace for my prodigal parenting of these imperfect, glorious kids.
It would take me all this quarter of a century of mothering to find the relief of it:
If we don’t turn inward — it all turns out.
Turn outward — toward your children, and toward your Shepherd — and in the end, it will all turn out.
You will get things wrong, the prodigal parent with prodigal kids, and you and the kids will both make wrong turns, only to turn and find the arms of the Shepherd who left everything to come and find and gently lead all the way through.
A Shepherd who whispers to each of us, New Mother, Young child, Old Mama, Adult Child, Wounded and Wandering and Wondering, no matter where any of us are on our own journey:
Beloved. All will be alright, all will be all redeemed, all will be all restored.
So honestly? The truth is, no matter what anyone says about you, to anyone, you don’t have to know how any of the journey will go, but you can quietly forgo buying any Mother’s Day card and simply make one of your own — for you, for your own mother, for your own child, one that simply transcribes the heart of the Father right now:
I am your Shepherd &
You are mine.
You are not lacking,
You Lack Nothing.
You are not lacking.
You are Beloved.
All Three Free Gifts have profoundly impacted my 25 years of parenting — so I just really wanted to wrap it all up & give to ((YOU)) as a free gift from my mama heart to your brave one — or for your own mother — a deeply meaningful gift that you don’t have to go out anywhere for, or spend any money on — kinda perfect in strange days like these — and it’s exactly what every mama want the very most: a 10 Point Parenting Manifest for JOY (regardless the age of your kids), everything you need to literally make your house into a house of prayer (especially needed in days like these) — and a printable that gives every mama what she wants most: a Truckload of Grace.