I still remember the time I became a mom for the first time. The only word I can use to accurately describe that moment is ‘magical’. I can remember it like it was yesterday (it’s actually a little more than 11 years ago). After going through what I can only describe as a tug of war where my whole body felt like it was being torn apart (and what experts akin to running a marathon) out popped this screaming lump of perfection. With that one moment, all the earlier hours of pain, discomfort, and thinking I was going to die were all forgotten. It was like the earlier moments had never happened. All that mattered was the baby in my arms. Like I said, magical! I knew then that my life would never be the same again.
They say you never know your heart’s capacity to love until you have a kid yourself. That is inaccurate. Not only will you learn new things about your heart’s capacity to love, but also about its capacity to fear and worry, and its capacity to swell with pride at every one of your little one’s ‘accomplishments’. In the words of Anne Lamott, you will discover that “there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”
There’s one other thing you will discover and that is your ability to love someone so much and still want to kill them at the same time! There are days when my kids are just perfect. They like all the healthy stuff I make, do their homework without being asked, have a bath as soon as I tell them to, are nice to each other, help me with chores, and clean up after themselves. Ok, who am I kidding! That’s never happened. At least, not all on the same day! But still, there are days when things go mostly good and I feel like I’m killing it at this #momming thing.
And then…. there are those other days. Days when I’m less a mom and more a referee. Days when the sassy behavior and talking back makes my blood boil. Days when there’s a tantrum thrown every 5 minutes and days when they don’t do a thing I ask them to until they’ve unlocked the psycho-mom level in me. I don’t like those days. They wear me out and make me question every parenting mantra I have. But those depressing days are also when I really learn more about something called unconditional love. You see, even on their brattiest days my kids never stop being my kids. I may be mighty irritated with them and ready to put them in a year-long timeout, but for some reason I don’t stop loving them. I can’t explain it. That’s just the way it is. That’s what unconditional love is, something that can never be broken no matter how much it is stretched.
That is also the way God loves us, His children. I have learnt more about the nature of God’s love through my relationship with my kids than from any book or sermon. On those ‘enfant terrible’ days I feel the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit reminding me that God too loves me without any conditions. He loves me no matter how many times I mess up. There’s nothing I can do that will separate me from His love. He loves me. Period. Sometimes it is easier for me to accept the fact that I will always love my kids no matter what, but not the fact that God loves me unconditionally and I need those reminders from the Holy Spirit. Only when I receive His unconditional love for me, rest in it, and live like I believe it am I able to more clearly reflect it to my kids. Understanding God’s love for me also helps me better love my kids when they push my buttons. It’s difficult to give something that you don’t have inside. Showing unconditional love isn’t easy; look what it cost Jesus. Receiving unconditional love can also sometimes be a challenge. Let’s learn a lesson from little ones and learn to receive God’s love the way kids receive ours. I’ve never had any one of my kids come up to me and ask me what they need to do to earn my love.
Unconditional love also means forgiving yourself for not being perfect. The question,” Am I a bad mom?” weighs me down every time I feel my mom skills are not up to par (which is every other day). It’s the worst feeling in the world. While hiding in the bathroom and pretending I’m alone works for a bit, the only way to really fight the guilt and shame is to remember that I’m a flawed human being who’s trying her best to raise other flawed human beings. Moms, here’s a news flash, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT MOM! Kids don’t come with an instruction manual and there is no fool-proof parenting method. You’re going to make mistakes as a mom so stop aiming for perfection. That’s a standard even Pinterest mom can’t achieve! The only one perfect here is God so let’s learn from Him and aim to love our kids the way He loves us instead.
Betsy Sony is a stay-at-home mom who has the full-time job of looking after 4 beautiful girls. She came to the United States from India along with her husband Sony about 4 years ago and loves all things Skyline, reading, being outdoors, and experiencing new cultures and cuisines.