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Today I’m going to tell you a story. A story of a mom named Kate. Kate had always dreamed of becoming a mom. She’s always wanted lots of babies and desired nothing more than the life of a homemaker as her “dream job.”
Kate grew up and got her wish. The handsome husband, beautiful home, three precious children whom she adored. Kate felt like her life was in a great balance. Her and her husband were smart with finances. They had a great schedule in place to manage their days with their children. They loved their church and were fostering a great love for the Lord in their children’s hearts. They ate healthy, lived rather active lifestyles, and did a lot of fun traveling together.
Life was not always easy, but it was always filled with faith and love. Kate found her passion in parenting and her pride came from being a mother. If she and her husband argued she’d think “whew, I’m struggling as a wife but, hey, at least I’m a good mom.” If she struggled to commit the time to Bible Study every day she’d think “I’m sorry Lord I know I need to make more time for you, but I know you are proud of me in my role as a mother.”
Then a 2016 came. And it was a hard year. A really, really hard year. And that balance that Kate had? It was all thrown off-kilter. Even through all the craziness that year brought, Kate kept feeling that “at least I’m a good mom” feeling. She held onto her role as a mom even tighter, feeling like she couldn’t control anything going on around her but she COULD make sure she was still that good mom.
Kate didn’t believe in excuses. Kate didn’t believe in letting the ball fall even if others would understand. Kate is a person who rises above circumstances. She never wants people to look at her and think “Well, it’s okay b/c she had a hard year.” She wants people instead to think “wow! Look at Kate! A super tough year and she’s not even stumbling!”
This past week was especially hard on Kate. Her husband had some health issues related to tests he had run. They had to put their family pet to sleep. She had an infection in her face that she was on a lot of meds for. She had a hair style issue that required repair. She had several dr appointments. Plus all the school functions leading up to the holiday break. It was a lot. She was overwhelmed. She felt like she was sinking and her only life raft was being that good mom.
Then Friday came. And it brought craziness on top of craziness. Kate picked up her two young daughters from their school and realized, since they had early release, that she had a little extra time before nap time. Her family didn’t have any bread. At all. And they had a holiday party the next day that required them to bring a dessert (which Kate decided to buy rather than make!). Plus her husband’s health concerns had lead her to try to read labels and find him the healthiest options of food available. She used that bit of time she had to take the girls to Publix. To get the basics before getting home in time for a quick lunch and naps.
The outing took a bit longer than anticipated because a 5 year old and a 2 year old tend to slow things down! And trying to read labels with two kids in tow ain’t easy. Kate finally got to the car and it was about 20 min till 1:00.
As Kate buckled her oldest daughter in her car seat it hit her. It was early release day. Not just for the girls. But for her son. Who rode the bus.
Never in her almost 8 years of parenthood had Kate felt the feeling she had in that moment. The pride she’d always had in her title of a “good mom” was gone. It was replaced by the worst feeling she’d felt in her entire life. The feeling that her child was not okay and it was 100% HER FAULT.
She started sobbing instantly and just kept saying “I’m such a horrible mother” over and over. That 8 min drive to her house felt like an eternity as they got stopped at every light. She had no way to contact her child. No one she could call who could get to her house quicker than she could. She thought she saw something about the early release being at 11 and she just kept picturing her sweet 7 year old getting off that bus to an empty house. Tears in his eyes. Fear in his heart. She let him down. She failed him. In all the craziness that life had put on her, she dropped the one ball she’d always refused to let fall.
When she got closer to home she hit traffic as she was stuck behind a school bus. Her heart felt a little bit hopeful through her tears. She knew her sons bus dropped him off only 5-10 min everyday before the high school bus would drop off. Her phone rang from an unknown number. She answered in sobs and a woman said “Hi, I’m your neighbor. I saw your son and he’s okay and I’m with him.”
As she pulled in the driveway she jumped out of the car and clung to her son. And then sobbed an ugly mess of sobs, apologies, and explanations all over her kind neighbor. The neighbor said she’d driven by and noticed the son walking around the house checking the doors so she stopped and spoke to him and told him she was a Mommy and she was safe and that he told her his teacher’s name, who she happened to be friends with, so that was how she was able to contact Kate.
Her son was fine. He’d tried to get in the house and had thought maybe Mommy was asleep inside because he knew his sisters always napped at that time and the week prior Mommy had been very sick in bed with a 102 fever so maybe she was sick again. He wasn’t overly scared or worried. And Kate later found out that his bus didn’t pick him up at school until noon so he’d really only been home for probably 10-15 min.
Even so. Kate couldn’t stop crying. She cried all day. Ugly crying. Crying so much that her children told her to stop crying. Her son kept telling her he was fine. It was okay. He knows she loves him and didn’t mean to forget and to just let it go.
But as a mom, how can she let that go? She def pulled the “my husband has gotten some scary medical news” card but she HATED doing that. It doesn’t matter what is going on in her world or her husband’s world. That is no excuse and it doesn’t erase that horrible awful feeling in the pit of her stomach.
We all have moments where we mess up as parents. We say “oops” or joke about having a “mom fail moment.” But for Kate this experience was different, it wasn’t just a silly #momfail it was a truly bad parent situation. She knew that woman who called her phone had to be thinking what a bad parent she was. And that her son’s teacher was probably thinking the same thing. And that all those people who often look at her and say she’s got it all together? That she’s a “Super Mom”? Well they would all be laughing and eating up the image of her struggling.
This was new territory for Kate. She’s never experienced feeling judged in a negative way by others for her parenting. And, worst of all, she’d never experienced feeling like she wasn’t a good mom. She had always been careful to not judge others. She was quick to defend parents who accidentally left their children in the car. Her own toddler was VERY quiet in the car and she could totally see how a change in routine could cause someone to forget their child was there. But she struggled to give herself grace in her own time of needing it most.
Thank the Lord that her son was fine. That he is so level headed and responsible. That Kate lives in a neighborhood where people like her neighbor stop and check on other kids. That Kate hadn’t stopped in the store to say hello to someone she recognized, that she hadn’t read a few more labels or taken the girls potty before loading up. Thank the Lord she lived so close to the store and that she was able to get to her child so quickly.
So often we think WE can handle everything. Even when life is overwhelming, we will find a way to manage it. We control the balance. We control the future. Kate has had a tough 2016. But it’s been filled with many lessons and the greatest one? Is that we DO NOT have control. There is only ONE who can control the future. ONE who can give us strength. ONE who gives us grace and reminds us that even when we fail we are worthy of love. There is ONE truly good parent who never falls short. Never falters. Never fails.
Sometime we need to fall in order to let God hold us. We have to be reminded that we can’t stand alone and that we need Him to prepare the path for us. Kate had a very humbling experience and she’s pretty sure that awful feeling will always be there lingering. Rather than using it to tear herself apart, to feel guilt or to start living in fear…she is going to let that awful feeling be a little reminder that she must daily walk in faith and daily surrender all to the Lord, her mighty Father.