The Good Mother
“I kept tiny humans alive today.” I remember reading those words on a blog several months ago and something about them stuck with me. The basic idea was that the house might not be clean, kids might be fighting and plans might change, but at least the children were cared for and fed. And as a mom, I should take comfort in that knowledge in the middle of the day to day craziness and know that I was a good mother.
Except one day, I didn’t keep my baby alive. I had failed at the most basic aspect of motherhood. And suddenly, I stopped being a good mother.
In the days immediately after, I struggled taking care of my own basic needs. I didn’t eat for several days. I couldn’t stop using the bathroom. Everything made me want to be sick, or reminded me of everything I’d lost and rendered me a weepy mess barely able to function. And so I let others take care of my living children, too afraid that something might happen to them when they were under my supervision and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Honestly, this is something I might always struggle with.
I hadn’t been able to keep Solomon alive. I should have known. I should have protected him. And I hadn’t. It was all my fault.
I wasn’t a good mother.
I wished I could go to sleep and just not wake up. At least until everything stopped hurting so badly. Yet even sleep eluded me. It was like I was walking around with a huge gaping wound that everything in my daily life rubbed against and I wasn't sure if I would ever heal.
I am truly so thankful for the support of family and friends and the body of Christ during this time. So many brought meals, prayed for us, watched our children, helped with details for the funeral, or even just offered a listening ear. It completely blew me away. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have made it through without these tangible examples of God’s love.
During this time a sister in Christ reached out because she felt God tell her I needed to be reminded that I was a good mother. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read those words.
A good mother? Me? How could I ever be a good mother after my baby died?
And it made me realize something. Truly, even in my best, did I ever “keep” my children alive? Sure, I buckled their car seats, told them to stop when I saw them doing something dangerous, and took care of their basic human needs, but did I ever truly “keep” them alive?
The truth is, I’m not that powerful. And it’s a scary thought as a mother. I didn’t give them life, and I don’t have the ability to keep giving it to them, either.
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like a good mother again, but maybe its ok to just be the best one that I can be. To lead my children as a thoroughly flawed, human example and, in doing, show them firsthand what it means to follow Christ.
And to embrace grace. Grace that I don’t have to do everything perfectly. That it’s only by His mercy that I am anything.
Try as I might, I fail. And that’s exactly why Jesus came. So I can be freed from the endless cycle of trying to be good enough and always missing the mark. Instead, I do the best I can while resting in the promise that He already did His best for me on the cross.
And to remember that He is the only one who is good, and that is enough.