Friday, April 11, 2008

Imperfection.....and grace

I am at the chiropractor. It is a small office, with six chairs comprising the waiting area. Today is especially busy and all of the chairs but one are occupied. I sit down, and Savannah crouches at my feet, ready to start tearing through the bag I have brought along. I always bring toys, coloring books, treats, whatever I can to keep her occupied, because I know it's no fun to be 2 and to have to sit, bored, for more than 5 minutes.

It is taking forever. Savannah's interest in her toys has been exhausted and she is looking at the fish tank that is right at her eye level. She puts her fingers on the glass, and I tell her not to touch. She immediately moves her hand away, and I am a little surprised but pleased at the instant obedience. The room is clearing out now, and there is just one older lady still seated. I have to speak to Savannah a few more times, and each time she responds quickly. She is being exceptionally obedient.

The lady smiles at Savannah. "She is really good," she says to me.

My heart swells with pride, and I say, "Thank you," as I nod in agreement. Then so I don't appear too big-headed, I add, "She has her moments, though."

To which she replied, "Don't they all??"

We chat for a few moments about Savannah, her neices, and kids in general, and then her name is called and she disappears into the back.

Not two minutes after she is gone, Savannah climbs up on the row of chairs and starts crawling across them. Her shoes are dirty, I don't want her up there, so I tell her to get down.

She keeps crawling. Smirking at me, and crawling right towards me.

My swell of pride deflates.

I lean forward. I told you to get down. Now!

She looks at me. And says No!

Discipline ensues. She gets down. I kiss her, tell her that she needs to obey the first time, right away, and she says ok in a small voice and then runs off to the fish tank again.

I sit there, and realize how embarrassed I am to have her publicly defy me. I think that is one of my big fears as a mom. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is not because people will think she is such a little terror. It's because I'm afraid they will look at me and think, What a terrible mom. She can't even control her own kid. Am I too proud? Proud, as in, I can't bear to have anyone see that I am not perfect? That there are so many aspects of the "mom" thing that I don't get right? Sometimes I think that even to some of my close friends, I try too hard to make sure I don't show any weaknesses, try to hide the fact that a lot of days I just don't have it together.

Obviously, discipline and correction are so important. I expect her to obey me, and there are consequences when she doesn't. But I can't expect perfection. There are times when she's tired, hungry, cranky, whatever. And so I have to learn to allow grace...not to her, but to myself. I feel like I'm always on edge, trying to portray the perfect model of motherhood, with Savannah as my reflection. And it doesn't always have to be that way. If she has a meltdown in the middle of Walmart, we deal with it and move on. I don't have to let it color the way I view myself as a mother. I don't have to worry about what everyone else is thinking.

If there is anything that I have learned from reading some really great blogs recently, it's that pretty much every mom has been there, and instead of condemnation there is great understanding. Nobody is expecting me to be perfect, and so I can ease up on myself a little.

And let me tell you, that has taken a load off my shoulders.


Jodie said...

It's so much easier to give grace to other moms and not yourself. I so so relate to what you're saying. All of it.
Great post! And from what I've seen here, I'd say you're a wonderful mother!

Life In Progress said...

Love this post!!