A Not-Quite-Perfect Mother's Day

May 16th, 2014

It's 2:45AM, and I can't sleep. I am usually a night owl, but this is ridiculous for even me. I will be exhausted tomorrow. My husband and I started talking, and here I am now—wide awake. It's OK. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am glad we can still get into long late night discussions about everything and nothing. It makes me feel young again. If only that feeling would carry over until tomorrow.

It's the day after Mother's Day now, and as I sit here in the quietness of the house, I can't help but think about how I celebrated my 18th Mother's Day, how different it was from that very first one.

Then, I had one child, only a little over a month old. Now, I have four ranging from 10 to 18. Then, I thought I would be the best mother in the world. Now, I truly understand the difficulty of being a mother and realize that no matter how hard I try, I will always be human. Then, I would have imagined how a perfect Mother's Day would unfold. Now, I have a truly different perspective on perfection.

Today, we didn't get to attend church together. My two older boys have jobs at a fast food restaurant and had to work.

Today, three of my four sons were upset at some point. My second son woke up angry because his father and brother sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night to get me a present, and he missed it. My second son was upset because after a late lunch I had stopped at the store for a few things and took much longer than expected—an hour and a half longer than expected. He was tired, had a headache and wanted to get home.

And today my youngest son was furious because he didn't “get lunch until supper” and second because I tried to make light of it and jokingly told him that I got his burger from a different restaurant than he had requested. Then he wound up in tears later in the evening when he burned his hand bad enough to form blisters.

The boys were at times tired, cranky, and emotional, and so was I. It was less than a perfect day.

However, today my artistic teenager gave me a pottery vase that he made at school. It sits in the middle of my table as a reminder that he thinks of me, even when we aren't together.

Today, my husband told me how my youngest son acted as they prepared for their middle of the night excursion. He used a flashlight as he went through the house and wouldn't let his dad turn on the lights to the car until they were out of the drive. “Can we do this again next year?” he asked. He was excited about surprising me.

Today, when my oldest son got off work in time to go to lunch with the family and my parents, he asked his boss if his brother could leave a few hours early so they could both be there with me. He knew that I wanted to be with all my boys on Mother's Day.

And today, my sleep-walking child (who has to take medicine to help keep him in bed at night) was upset because he hadn't been able to stay awake. He was willing to give up sleep so that he could help pick out a gift for me.

Eighteen years ago, when I held my first born on that first Mother's Day, I was young and ambitious. Now, I am much older and much more realistic about my expectations— of myself and of others and of life. Then, I had some vague notion that my family could somehow be perfect, if I just worked hard enough, prayed enough, did enough. Now, I know. I know that perfection does not exist except in Christ.

And it's OK. God didn't put me here to be perfect, and God didn't make me a mother to be perfect, and God didn't give me a husband or children who are are perfect. In fact God put us here, together, so that we could love each other and help each other get through the imperfect days of this imperfect life in this imperfect world.

So, as I sit here in the stillness of a house that is usually teeming with arguments and tussles, I think about how there was a time when I would have been disappointed because this Mother's Day was not perfect. But not today. Today I cried a little, laughed a little, and smiled a lot. I cleaned and did a little laundry and worked around the house (but I didn't have to cook!). I received a hug from my husband and each of my boys. I got to spend time with my parents and my family. No, this was not quite a perfect Mother's Day, and tomorrow will not be perfect either. But that's OK.

Today was a very, very good day, spent with the people I love most in this world, sharing our lives together, the good and the bad, and celebrating our love for one another. And if you ask this mom, I have to say, until we get to heaven, this not-quite-perfect day is about as good as it can get.

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