My Imperfect Mother

My mom and me. Isn't she cute?
I’m glad I don’t have a perfect mother. Can you imagine what it would be like to eat the dust from following that train? Instead, I have an authentic mother – one who did the best she knew how and trusted God with the rest.

But my mom did a lot of things right. Today, on Mother’s Day, I thought I’d list a few.

1. She taught me there’s no shame in just being a mother. 
She never went to college. She never dreamed of a career or sought professional recognition. From early on she aspired to be a wife and a mother, and she’s accomplished it gloriously – for 57 and 54 years respectively, and counting. 

2. She showed me how to care for others. 
Our family has a long history of looking out for their own. It's what we do. As a child, Mom saw her godmother care for her mother-in-law for 11 years following a stroke. Mom  took her own mother, my grandmother, into her home until Granny’s health deteriorated and she needed professional attention. 

She babysat countless children, and every one of them wanted to call her Mama. No surprise, really, because she loved them like her own. 

When my first daughter was born, there was no question. Of course she would care for her while I worked part time. Unlike other new mothers who sobbed all the way to work that first day back, it never occurred to me to cry. I knew my newborn was safer in my mother’s arms than in my own. This was one of the greatest gifts of my life. 

3. She gave me the blessing of security. 

She and dad stayed married, even when marriage wasn’t fun. It never once occurred to me that my parents might split up. Ever. That, too, was a great gift. 

I never wondered if she’d be home when I got there. Or if there’d be food in the fridge, clean clothes, and someone to ask about my day. My sisters and I knew what we were having for dinner on any given day because Mom had a meal plan that included seven meals. Spaghetti day was my favorite. Hot dogs and beans not so much. There was that time when she cooked liver and tried to pass it off as steak, but I’ve forgiven her. Even the greatest can have a momentary lapse in judgment. 

4. She’s loved me well. 

I knew from an early age that my mom thought I was intelligent, creative, and clever, but she didn’t shower me with praise. It was just understood. She was proud of my accomplishments but never pushed. If I’d chosen mediocrity, she would have loved me the same. Knowing this gave me the freedom to achieve without the pressure to do so. 

Sometimes even now I catch her bragging a bit about something I’ve accomplished. It makes me glad she has something to say. Every child, 5 or 50, wants to make her parents proud. 

My mom gave me a gift in her imperfect mothering, one that, instead of excusing my own faulty attempts, makes me want to try harder. I know what an impact her influence has had on my life. If I can do as well as she did, I reason, perhaps my daughters and grandchildren will be similarly blessed. May God’s gracious hand make it so. 

Thank you, God, for bypassing the perfect mom and giving me instead the perfect mom for me. She’s a gift I’ll never take for granted. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!

"Every good and every perfect gift comes down from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).

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