There’s a mom I know. She makes homemade meals every evening for her family. Her children’s birthday parties are Pinterest pin-worthy. She’s patient with her children’s faults. She reads stories every evening at bedtime. She nursed all her babies for a full year. She does not grow weary of the incessant demands of raising a family. She bandages wounds, wipes away tears, and keeps her home running smoothly. Her laundry always seems to be folded and the dishes put back in their proper cabinets. Her children’s hair is neatly combed, and their clothing looks freshly pressed.
Who is this woman of many wonders, you might ask? In my head (which is where she resides), she is called “The Perfect Mom.” Even though she’s mythical, she’s very much alive in my heart. If I’m not careful, I end up living joylessly in her shadow, always feeling the weight of my own inadequacies. There is nothing I’ve ever wanted to get right more than motherhood. Yet daily I fail to live up to my own image of the perfect mom.
Do you also suffer from Perfect Mom Syndrome? The symptoms include comparison with other moms, a sense of failure, judgmental attitudes, fearfulness, joyless performance of duties, incessant chasing of new activities, and a weary and worn heart. PMS consists of moments of elation: I’m a good mom because I cook healthier meals than she does! It also consists of moments of despair: I’m such a failure. How does she get her children to two sports and violin practice? As we vacillate between judging others and judging ourselves, the pressure to perform builds like a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode.
Problem of the Pursuit
In my pursuit of perfection, I become worn and weary. Perfectionism is pride-based performance, a determination to live up to my self-appointed standard. The truth my soul needs to remember is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Perfection is impossible. A chasm separates me from righteousness. It is a height I can never reach, an expanse I can never cross.
By accepting this first truth, I can believe in a second truth: I am justified freely by his grace through redemption in Jesus. The more we understand and experience God’s unmerited favor in our lives, the more we reflect Jesus in our parenting.
The remedy for our malady: His grace is sufficient.
Our weaknesses are not cause for despair. Our strengths are not cause for boasting. God is at work in both. Some areas of mothering may come easily. Other areas may involve difficult struggles that humble us. As Paul encouraged the Ephesians:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2: 8-10)
The Performance Pendulum
The extravagance of is favor leaves us with no room for boasting. Any good within us is from his gracious hand. He prepared these works in advance for us to do. Any failure that we fear is covered by his sacrifice. In Jesus the performance pendulum stops—both the pride of success and the despair of failure are absorbed by grace.
A grace-based response to both success and failure is worship. When we grow into the moms we hope to be, we overflow with praise to the One who is at work in our hearts. When we fail once again, we thank God that our sins are fully paid for in Jesus. His grace is sufficient for our weakness. His grace daily gives us strength. Motherhood is simply one more opportunity for us to live a life of worshiping our Savior, trusting in his power, rejoicing in this truth: “God is able to make all grace about to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all time, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8)
Excerpted from Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger Copyright © 2015 by Melissa B. Kruger. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.