Grace For The Little Years

February 25, 2019

“I can’t believe this!” I silently fumed as I dug through The Black Hole, also known as my diaper bag. Another thorough search confirmed my worst fear: I had left my wet wipes at home. Catching another whiff of the dirty diaper awaiting a change, I rolled my eyes. What was I gonna do now? Improvise, improvise. A few minutes and several wet paper towels later, my baby had a clean bottom and a dry diaper. As I gathered my things together, I sighed in frustration. HOW had I managed to forget something as essential as wet wipes? This is my SECOND child. I’ve done this before. I should have a better grip on this.

While giving myself a mental thrashing, I remembered all my recent parenting fails:

~forgotten vital items: like wipes, pacifiers, and diaper rash cream.

~misjudging the weather and dressing my baby way too warm, causing him to drench his outfit with sweat. Then switching to his extra outfit to cool him off, him puking on that one, leaving him wrapped in a blanket at the play we had already bought tickets for.

~not waking up enough times to pump during the night and having to supplement with formula.

~not packing enough diapers for a day out and having to run to the store to buy more.

~being short-tempered and impatient with my five-year-old, and not spending enough time with her.

I felt like such a complete failure. I didn’t have it all together…or any of it together, for that matter. I felt like my life was a life-size reenactment of the Bop-it game at Chuck E. Cheese…when you bop one monster on the head, it pops right back up along with three others! 

Rewind to a couple weeks before:

In the nursery at a conference, I was once again changing a poopy diaper. A friend of mine walked in and caught my eye, relieved to see me.

“Do you mind if borrow some of your wet wipes?” she asked.

“Of course not!” I replied. “Use as many as you need.”

She explained that she had forgotten her wipes in the car, which was parked in the overflow lot across the street. She really didn’t feel up to carrying her heavy, (and stinky) baby all the way back to the car while wearing high heels. I totally got it.

“You’re not a bad mom,” I assured her.  “You’ve got a lot on your plate. It’s your second baby! You have TWO kids to take care of now.”

It was ironic to me how easy it was to give my friend a pass, while being so harsh on myself. I genuinely did not think negatively of her at all. She was human. But so am I! Why was it so easy for me to extend grace to other moms while expecting perfection from myself?

All of my life, through grade school, college, jobs, and relationships, I never expected perfection. I’ve always been content with my best. So why now, at the hardest stage of my life to date, was I expecting complete perfection? I didn’t expect it of my mom friends. Quite the opposite, actually. I try to be an encouraging, grace-giving friend to everyone…with the exception of me!

Parenting has made me come face to face with this humbling fact: I’m not perfect, and it shows in my parenting. 

However, I’m learning that my shortcomings causing me to be humbled is not altogether a bad thing. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. 

So at this stage in life, in the little years, I’m working on learning to accept less than perfection. Instead, I’m learning to accept grace…the grace that God gives me freely, without expecting perfection and in spite of my shortcomings. Grace from myself, allowing space to be less than perfect. 

1 Peter 4:10: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. As we have received much grace, we should give it to others, ourselves included.

Mama, do your best to give yourself grace in this time. 

Give yourself some room to breathe. Some room to mess up and make mistakes, and learn some lessons along the way. 

Accept the grace that God is offering you in this season.

Give yourself grace, even when, and especially when, you feel like you don’t deserve it. 

You are not a failure. You are a work in progress. And that’s okay. 

And remember, mama, if you’re doing your best, you’re doing a good job.