Through years and years of blogging, I almost always avoid the topics of motherhood and parenting. The question is, why? I have four children, for crying out loud! You would think I would know a thing or two about motherhood, yet time and again, I avoid the topic. The reason I avoid that subject is that I am afraid to speak into such an important role, especially in a time when it seems our culture is quick to cancel you. What if I rave on about my parenting skills, then my kids make a mess of their lives? What then? Will I be considered a phony?
One thing I am learning about myself as a mother is the temptation to make an idol out of the “righteousness” of my children. I am tempted to make “their” righteousness or lack thereof a reflection of my own. The struggle with perfectionism easily becomes a virus that spreads from one generation to the next if one is not careful. It is easy for us as moms to “cover” for our children in the name of “saving face.”
What do I mean by this? Well, I don’t know about you, but I struggle with wanting to be respected by others for being a good mother. I struggle with this because somehow, I am convinced that if others view me as a “good” mother and they view my children as “good” kids, then that must be the reality. Never mind that I am placing my worth and value as a mother in the hands of flawed human beings.
I recall attending a weekly Bible study with other moms and toddlers when my kids were much younger. It was hands down the most stressful part of my week; I know that sounds terrible. Before I even arrived at the study, anxiety began to stir up within me because I just knew that my kids were going to misbehave. And sure enough, they did. It was always my kids — yep. They were always too rough, too loud, too mischievous, too destructive, and way too toddler.
Anybody in the house feeling me yet?
I got in my car sweating and overflowing with anxiety, mad at my kids because they did not behave, and even madder at the moms who insinuated that it was “my kids’” fault. How exactly could they tell between prayers and scripture reading that it was, in fact, a Dasher that was at fault? Girl moms blame everything on boy moms! Did they have eyes in the backs of their heads? I am laughing as I write this, but some of you are “amening” and “shouting hallelujah” like there’s no tomorrow. You’ve been there. You know what those settings can be like. Everyone is trying to outdo the other. Mom groups can get about as competitive as a county fair pageant in July, and no, I am not downing county fair pageants; I was, after all, Miss Cherokee Capital Fair back in my day. Ha, I just had to throw that in there for kicks.
Now before you get all hot and bothered and ready to call it quits with your Mommy and Me group, just hear me out. The greatest lesson I am learning through being a mother is found in one simple word, applied all over my life, every day of my life, and now more than ever. The term is GRACE. GRACE ON ME. GRACE ON MY KIDS. GRACE ON HER.
GRACE ON ME (YOU) – YOU AND I ARE NOT PERFECT MOTHERS. We never have been and never will be. You can search Instagram over, and you will find a whole lot of amazing moms. You will find a whole lot of trendy moms, creative moms, talented moms, but a perfect mother, you will never see. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is just that; that they would know we are a continuous work in progress. I strive to confess as comfortably as I praise within the walls of our home because I genuinely believe I experience the most praise through confession. Not the kind of praise that says, ”Wow, you are an awesome mom!” Nope; instead, the type of praise that says, ”Wow, you are an awesome God!” So awesome that I could screw up that big, yell that loudly, overreact to that extent, and yet, through confession, God begins to heal my family once again. And again, and again, and again. Give yourself the grace that God so graciously gives to you.
Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)
GRACE ON MY KIDS (YOUR KIDS) – MY KIDS/YOUR KIDS WILL MESS UP. Their rap sheet will include sin; there is no way around it. None of us likes to think about our children as sinners, and we certainly do not want to advertise it; nonetheless, it is true. As you begin to learn to give yourself grace as a mother, it allows you to dispense it to your children more easily because you are not trying to maintain an image. Dispensing grace is NOT covering for your children; rather, it is the opposite. Grace is exposing the truth and loving them despite it. That does not mean it is easy. I will confess to you, as a mother, I do want my children to be perceived in a beautiful light. But way more than that, I want them to be men and women of integrity. This will not happen in a vacuum. If I desire that of my children, then that is who I have to be as a mom — someone honest about who she is, the good as well as the bad.
GRACE ON HER – Let’s be honest, motherhood can bring out the worst in us at times. Yes, it is true. If you are a mother, and you are reading this, you may very well have the mom or moms in your life who just always seem to have it out for you. With passive-aggressive words, they critique your children, your parenting, your lifestyle, or your style for that matter, and you find yourself bending over backward to try to earn their favor. Don’t. Quit going back to the well of man’s approval. Show them grace and seek the wisdom that comes from above. Ask the question, is this a God-honoring friendship?
God forbid, you may have actually been that mom, oh, hey, now. Well, I, for one, was on both sides of this coin, and I can say for sure that many times, the moms I most set out to destroy, even if only in my head, were the ones I secretly admired the most. Why are we so quickly prone to see the worst in others? I think it is because we believe the lie that for someone to be great at something means we must be less than. This is simply not true. In fact, God created us each different, possessing specific gifts for the purpose of building up the entire body.
… from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
God meant for us to thrive in community with one another, building up each other in the gift that God gave to us for the benefit of us all. Become a champion of others. Satan may thrive in the battle of comparison, but we do not have to step foot on that battlefield. We can choose to be different. What if, instead of our children hearing what is wrong with everyone else, they heard what was right? How might that change the way they learn to interact with their friends? How might that change our hearts if we truly understand our need for the body to work properly to grow in love?
GIVE GRACE. RECEIVE GRACE. BECOME A CHAMPION OF OTHERS.
At the end of the day, in our attempt to be the best mothers we can be, the key to remember is this. It is not about the righteousness of your children (they will mess up). It is not about the virtue of your motherhood (you will mess up). It is about the righteousness of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. It’s the understanding that, as believers, we already are canceled. His blood canceled our debts, and for that reason, we should be all the more eager to lavishly and regularly dispense GRACE. TO OURSELVES, TO OUR KIDS, TO EACH OTHER.
Jill Dasher is a blogger and speaker who is passionate about sharing the message of being known through authentic community with God and each other. She resides in Asheville, NC with her husband Zach and four children. In between sunset hikes and camping weekends she works alongside her husband running a media company.
Follow Jill on Instagram @jilldasher