Grace · Parenting · Survival Mode

Giving Ourselves Grace

You might be the worst mom ever.

How could you let him play Minecraft that long?

Did you even think about what vegetable to serve for dinner tonight? 

He can’t have that much sugar. Why did you say yes to the candy bar? You’re choosing easy over what is right, again.

Why didn’t you sign him up for the social skills class sooner? How is he going to get along in the world?

You let him play outside without finishing phonics. He is never going to learn to read if you can’t be more disciplined.

They weren’t physical enough today. They need more exercise. You know the research about exercise and brain function. Why didn’t you do more?

These children are failing, and it’s your fault.

This. Yesterday. From 3:00 – 5:00 PM.

Two full hours of berating myself.

I caught myself thinking, “You might be the worst mom ever,” at about 4:30.

I actually stopped what I was doing (laundry, because of course) and I decided to write down all the things I had thought about myself and my mothering for the two-hour period between school and dinner.

I learned I am seriously taking myself out, every single day.

Worse yet, the more I think these things, the more anxious I become. The more anxious I become, the more I start to believe all the lies bouncing around in my head. The more I believe them, the more I start to take this fretful, negative spirit and project it onto the people I love the most.

I have written before about the lies that creep up, and that I tend to believe about being a “special needs” momma. And those still rear their ugly heads too.

But this is different. This is everyday, just getting through the day as a mom stuff.

 

After writing them all down, I was a little taken aback…

I am really, really mean to myself.

It’s like there is a wicked boss in my head that is never, ever satisfied and never retires.

When I was in fifth grade, we had a really difficult vocabulary test, and I didn’t study for it. I got a “D” on the test, and that meant my mom had to sign it, and return it to the teacher the next day.

I still remember the dread. I was beside myself, walking home from the bus stop that day.

I was sure that my failure would require punishment.

I was sure my failure would be held against me.

I was sure my failure would define me, both at school and at home.

When I gave her the paper, my mom looked at me and said,”Well, I know you don’t want to get this grade again. Are you going to study next time?” When I said yes, she signed it, handed it back to me and said, “OK. That’s good.

And that was that.

I still remember it because I was stunned. I stood there and thought, “That’s it?

I was relieved and grateful and committed to a better grade next time around – and I got an A on every vocabulary test for the rest of the year.

The moral of the story?

Grace.

Grace motivates. It doesn’t exhaust. It doesn’t defeat. It doesn’t add weight. It inspires.

I know I strive to have grace for my husband, my boys, my friends and my family.

Why am I so afraid to have grace for myself?

I want to rewrite the script in my head. I want to believe things about myself that others accept as truth. I want to give myself a break. Not only for my exhausted and overextended heart, but for my children and my husband. I want them to have the best part of me. Not the downtrodden, self defeated, anxiety-ridden woman they too often see.

I find it far easier to be mean to myself than to give myself grace. And I have read enough of your comments to know many of you do too.

So today, instead of writing a letter to the mommy I was seven years ago, or offering myself another helping of chocolate, I am writing a letter to the momma I am right now…today…right this minute.

And I am writing this letter to the momma you are today, right this minute.

Because grace motivates, it heals, and it inspires.

Giving Ourselves Grace

Dear Momma,

You have had a rough couple of weeks.

Girl, the truth is, you have had a rough couple of years. And you are still here. You are still getting up every single day, looking for ways to care for these kiddos and love on your husband and hopefully do a little good in the world. You make meals and clean up messes and engage in endless conversations about reptiles and gardening and compost bins and Minecraft and microgreens and fermented foods. Most of the time, you even do these things with a smile.

You will mess up. Of course you will. You are not perfect. That’s how it works. And you know what? Your children will not be the sum of all your failures. YOU are not the sum of all your failures.

You have friends who are so good to you, a family who laughs with you, a husband who cares for you, and two little boys who clearly adore you. You are blessed. You are beyond blessed. You are loved.

The days when you are the meanest to yourself, are the days when you lose sight of this. When you get focused on what isn’t working, or what may not go well in the future, you lose sight of all the good that is happening right in front of you – right now. Right this second.

So go. Go snuggle that little one, and play Snap Circuits with the big one. Make dinner for the man that makes it all possible, and stop breaking your own heart.

Love, Me

P.S. While I am at it, may I just say you look great with your hair in an unwashed bun. And those loose, black yoga pants are straight awesome.

photo(14)
And always take selfies in the mirror that desperately needs to be cleaned. It totally adds character!

 

 

27 thoughts on “Giving Ourselves Grace

  1. OMG! Love! Love! Love! You and I have the same voice in our head. But you know what?! We ARE blessed. I listened to this wonderful preacher one time talk about your “cross to bear.” He said the cross wasn’t a burden but a gift. I decided right then and there that my son was my cross. That was several years ago, and I had forgotten, until wonderful friends recently reminded me. He’s NOT a burden, but a gift. Just like the cross was a gift.

    1. Absolutely beautiful, Becky! The cross IS the ultimate gift. What a wonderful way of reframing that old adage.
      Thank you for your sweet words.
      Love,
      Shawna

      1. Love this post and really needed to read it today! My 2yo ran off this morning while I was trying to watch my kindergartner in his school parade, and I was thinking, why can’t I control my kids like everyone else?!?! 🙁

        To add to this cross comment, I saw a friend once post something that basically said ‘we all have a cross to bear and it only bothers us when we try to remove it’. Not that we are trying to remove our kids but you know what I mean! 🙂

        1. This cross thread spoke to me so. And last night, I remembered it when my family was praying the rosary and were about to meditate on Jesus carrying the cross, and my child who is driving me crazy lately climbed into my lap. It was so helpful for me to have these comments in mind, to pray for both myself and my daughter who is my cross and my gift and who it is my privilege to carry. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in our lives.

  2. Although I’m not a mother, I am a loving Aunt, Daughter, Niece, Puppy Mommy, friend and woman……we ALL are hardest on ourselves. Not only are you a great Mom to special needs son, wife, daughter, etc….remember to be KIND TO YOURSELF. You do the best you can do with the inner resources you have at any given time. That is all ANYONE, INCLUDING GOD can ask. Thank you for sharing your journey and when you need to be reminded to be kind to yourself ….let us know! BIG HUGS YOUR WAY! Sue

  3. When I hear myself talking to myself that way, I say out loud “shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” LOL! Seriously, when you have that voice in your head, ask yourself, “Would I let anyone else speak to me that way?” I know I wouldn’t. BUT…this is one more blog of yours that I totally relate to…there have been so many. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I am so glad you can relate. Sometimes I am so sure it is only me, and then so many other women say, “You too?” There is strength in numbers!
      Love,
      Shawna

    1. Hahaha! The dirty mirror made me crazy once I actually posted the picture. (I didn’t notice it until it was larger than life on my draft screen.)
      I am glad I decided to embrace it. It just is a part of reality.
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Love,
      Shawna

  4. Needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing. Was at a conference last month in which we had a session with a motivational speaker. One of the biggest things I took from that session was to say out loud positive things about myself when the negative thoughts start talking. The thoughts can’t be heard over the spoken words. Hugs!

  5. Bahahaha! Good thing I read the caption under your picture, I just assumed it was my dirty computer screen 🙂 You perfectly summed up what I have been working on myself the past few weeks, the grace not the dirty mirror. Don’t worry, my mirror is just as dirty 😉

  6. Oh, that mercy to ourself….
    I read this morning from James 2 v. 13. But mercy triumph over judgement.
    God have shown on the total mercy any one can be shown, and in his love we can get mercy and love enough to show our self them same amount of mercy that he do to us every moment. It is difficult to do in our own strength, we need him to do it. May the grace of the Lord be upon you.
    Love and prayers from a mom by grace to another mom by grace.
    Dorthe

    1. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Amen and Amen, Dorthe.
      We can never, ever have grace for ourselves without the One who has given us the most grace.
      Thank you for always pointing me back to the Father.
      Love,
      Shawna

  7. Oh my goodness, my Shawna! I cried, laughed out loud and then cried again. But the last pic was THE best! I needed to see your smiling face. And please clean your mirror, for the LOVE!:)
    Love, your neat freak BFF

  8. This is great! We all need to hear this…and here’s something else to try. Write down (for just a day) EVERYTHING you do. Did you stop and pick up your toddler for a quick kiss? Read a book to the kids? Don’t forget to include the chores, but all the other stuff you do is important as well! You’ll be surprised at what you actually accomplish…

  9. I loved your mum’s reaction to your D. I try to do that with my kids. I just forget that I do do it and often. Funny how the negative thoughts drown out all the memories of the good.

    That talking out loud the good stuff is a good idea and I think I will track what we do get done rather than what gets missed. Sometimes what happens in a day was not on my to do list. I think I will add in what we did do and ignore all those tasks that didn’t get crossed off. 🙂

    You have great friends and a great community here. Thanks.

  10. Shawna, one of the things that connects us is that you are so hard on yourself, and it’s clear to everyone around you that you shouldn’t be! I see how you are totally awesome in a hard situation, and it helps remind me that maybe I’m a little awesome too! Not perfect, but that’s not God’s standard for us, so why should it be ours for ourselves?

    And I think God is so wise to put us in circumstances that challenge us; I, at least, would love to be consistently competent and not need grace, but he knows I need grace more than I need to be great. I see how my family reacts when I give them grace . . . praying we can accept our weaknesses as well as our awesomeness and give ourselves grace too. 12-Steppers have a saying, “easy does it” — much better than hard, yes?

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