Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Am NOT a Perfect Mom!

No More Perfect Moms. 

That was the theme of this year's Hearts-at-Home Conference. If you have never heard of Hearts-at-Home and you are a mom, then seriously....check it out.

Jill Savage, the CEO and Founder of H-A-H, has written many books (three of which, are sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read), but this year she wrote a book called No More Perfect Moms. And boy did it hit home for me.

Every speaker showed a perfect picture and then a reality picture. So here are my pictures:

Perfection: (Awww, look at the smiling faces...)

aaaaaand Reality: Yep, that's more like it.

The day I spent at the conference was life changing. And I don't use that term lightly. I went there expecting to learn how to be a good mommy, but boy did God have other plans for me. He really convicted me as a wife and as a Christian. I realized how much I need to strengthen my relationship with my husband and more importantly, with God. For the last five days I knew I wanted to blog about the conference and what I learned, but there was so much to tell I just couldn't I've been putting it off. Then today happened. And I knew exactly what to write.

I'm lucky enough to be involved in a wonderful moms group in my town. This year I am co-leading it with a dear friend. She and I were both at the conference and after we left, we knew we wanted to change up the schedule and talk about Jill's book at our group this week. Even though I had a mess of other things to do, somehow I squeezed in some time to leaf through the book, watch the DVD, and review my notes from the conference. There was so much information that we could have shared, but we were forced to squeeze a 9-week study into a 105 minute session. Still, I was so excited to pass on this revelation to our group. None of us are perfect! And that is OKAY! Who knew?!

We had a great meeting, focusing on the parts of the book that we felt were most important. Some women really opened up and shared stories that I know were not easy to share. I felt like it really bonded our group even closer. At the end of the meeting I was SO happy! I know I struggle with feeling like everything has to be perfect and I so badly want to tell every mom, every where that we don't have be anymore. Jill says so!

So far this blog post seems pretty perfect, right? She went to a conference, got filled with the Holy Spirit, and is now out to change the world. Well, let me add in a large dose of reality. 

As my three-year-old and I were leaving after the meeting, we got to the car and she, being her silly self, started going to each door of the car that was NOT hers and saying "This one Mom?", "No, Jilly, not that one.", "This one?" "No Jilly, not that one.", and so on. She got to the back of the car and pointed to the liftgate and said, "In here?". I laughed and asked her if she wanted to ride back there and of course she said yes. Then, as I remember it, I took her hand to guide her around the car to the proper seat. What really happened? I grabbed her hand and apparently pulled hard enough that the poor kid fell on the gravel and skinned her knee (through her jeans!). My heart dropped. Did I just do that to her?! I really didn't mean to! I wasn't mad, upset, or frustrated. We were playing and having fun! How did I just do that to my baby?! Of course, tears ensued along with a type of cry that I don't often hear from her...which made the hurt in my heart even worse. By the time we got home, I was in tears, too, apologizing over and over, and telling her that mommy would make it all better. 

Nice Mom huh? Hey, kid, let's be silly and have some fun, and then I'll knock you over and skin your knee. Okay with you?

We finally got her knee cleaned up, made a quick phone call to Daddy to help dry her tears, and got lunch made. While Jillian was eating, I started to clean up my kitchen. From time to time, I make frosted sugar cookies. You know, the fancy kind that take FOREVER to make. Currently, I am working on a big batch for a friend that is due next week, and it has taken over my life. 10 dozen cookies. I have a decent sized kitchen, but I do NOT have optimal counter space. So there are cookies everywhere. As I started to pack up some of the ones that were dry, I was counting them and realized some were missing...I mentally retraced my steps from the night before, trying to remember where I had stashed them. Last I could remember, I had placed them on a drying rack and then put the rack on the stove...and then when I made the casserole this morning for my mom group I moved the rack to the edge of the kitchen table so the icing didn't melt. But I'm looking at the rack and there are no cookies on it....what...why is there icing on the chair...and why is there icing on the carpet....and why is the dog hiding in her kennel....WHAT?! 

Yep. The dog ate my homework. Or in this case cookies. A dozen to be exact. In my rush to make the "perfect" casserole (and clean, because of course I HAVE to make a clean casserole, I can't just make a normal casserole like everyone else) and be "perfectly" on time to group, and set up the tables, chairs, and food so it's "perfect" when everyone else gets there, it never once occurred to me to put the SUGARY, PEOPLE FOOD in a place where the PEOPLE-FOOD-LOVING DOG couldn't reach it. 

Once I realized what happened I called my husband bawling. I am so thankful for him, because he calmed me down and steered me away from dumping the dog at the nearest shelter. I came up with a plan, he offered to help where he could, and I felt like I could breath again. Meanwhile, Jillian is "limping" around the house, milking her injury as much as possible, a talent I can only assume she learned from her big sister, and I just had to laugh. Wow, God sure had a lesson for me today. 

And that's the moment when I knew what I wanted to write in this blog post. Even though I heard all the words from Jill and took the notes, watched the DVD, leafed through the book (which I DO plan on reading), and was so excited to pass on this great message to other moms, I still wasn't evaluating my own actions. Even during moments where you aren't doing anything to try and be perfect, like walking to the car, you can still have an imperfect moment. I need to forgive myself for accidentally hurting my daughter. I need to stop trying to make everything so perfect and take a moment to think about what really needs to be moving the cookies to a safe place. I need to forgive myself for the fact that these cookies have taken every minute of my time this week, leaving the kitchen a mess, laundry piled up, and the house not very well attended to. But it's okay, because I'm not perfect, and I'm doing the best I can.

In Jill's book, she talks about not expecting perfection from ourselves or from others. Everywhere we look, we tend to compare ourselves to what we see, whether we think we are better or worse. I'm guilty of it, and I'm sure you are, too. It's started what she calls "mommy wars", moms constantly judging other moms for living differently, making different choices, and for appearing perfect all the time. It's time to stop. I don't know how many times I've had the conversation with friends about why women can't just get along. Why can't we support each other and lift each other up, rather than talking behind backs or tearing each other down? We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by the same God and He made us women for a reason! I mean, we all know our husbands will never fully understand us, so why not be there for each other?

Jill and Hearts-at-Home have started the Knock It Off Commitment. It's a commitment that you sign online stating that you realize how often you judge yourself and how often you judge others.

I have decided to take this pledge, and I challenge you to do the same. The website says:

Because of these realizations, I commit to:
  • Give myself grace when I make mistakes
  • Extending grace to other moms when they make mistakes
  • Offering other moms the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping to judgmental conclusions
  • Recognizing that I cannot be and will never be a perfect mom
  • Refusing the temptation to judge when other moms make different choices than I make
  • Embracing differences instead of criticizing them
  • Resisting the urge to compare my insides to other women's outsides
  • Making strides in honesty with other moms and living an authentic life
  • Doing my part to stop the mommy wars, one "Knock It Off" decision at a time. 
Will you join me? Right now, the website says that 378 moms have made this commitment...lets make that number skyrocket. 

I am NOT a perfect mom. I caused my kid to skin her knee today. I haven't done laundry in over a week, and we are ALL on our last pair of underwear. I haven't made my bed since...I'm not sure when. My kitchen is a mess. My floor needs to be vacuumed. I forgot to sign my daughter up for softball last night. We ate frozen pizza last week. (That's not really a big deal, but even in my striving to eat clean, I am NOT perfect!)

But it's okay! As Jill said, God didn't make us perfect, just able to be perfected. God has given us the most grace of all, by sending His Son to die for us. So can't we extend ourselves and others some grace? 

Hi, my name is Evie, and I am proud to be a NOT-perfect mom!

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