Books about how to multiply your baby’s intelligence.
Books about how to make your child physically superb.
Books about how to build strong immune systems with a traditional, whole foods diet.
Books about how to foster a lifetime love of learning by homeschooling and employing each child’s individual learning style.
Books about how to raise happy, obedient children.
And many, many more.
I was totally confident that I could achieve these goals with my knowledge and ability. Plus God gave me these children, so he would make this glorious vision of perfection come to pass to be a beacon to the world…wouldn’t he?
An honest evaluation of my life and my children revealed to me that I have failed on every point with every child. Every one of those dreams of child rearing has died…my Glorious Vision of Motherhood obliterated.
And what is left in the ashes of total defeat? Dirty, messy, disobedient children who are neither geniuses nor prodigies, neither physically superb nor perfectly healthy. They are many times rude, disrespectful, average, and markedly below average. They often hate school and love soda. And do I blame them? No, I blame myself totally and completely because I am the Mother and I have failed.
“God,” I ask, “How can I move forward?”
He answers in the ancient verses of Isaiah 46:6,7.
“Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales – they hire a goldsmith, who makes it into a god; Then they fall down and worship! They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it, they set it in its place, and it stands there; It cannot move from its place.”
What if I had all the time and money to carry out all the good advice in all of those books? What if I had the wealth and the gold to hire a goldsmith to create for me the perfect child? Beautifully carved, perfectly painted. It would never get dirty or have a runny nose. It would never pee in its bed, poop in its underwear, or throw up on the couch. It would never be rude or illicit dirty looks from old ladies in grocery stores. It would never scream at me and backtalk. I wouldn’t have to worry about it falling out of a tree and breaking its perfect neck. I wouldn’t have to prescreen every TV show it watches in order to protect its pristine mind. I wouldn’t have to constantly be concerned about its schooling or properly stimulating its mind. I wouldn’t have to wonder, during those moments of eerie silence, what they were destroying or who they were torturing. I could be at peace knowing my perfect child was still sitting there…perfect. I could lift them up on my shoulder and show the world with no shame. Look everyone! My stunning, marvelous child! Forever and perpetually perfect and unchanging! Yet cold and hard and lifeless. No breath, no life, no will, no heart, no desires, no sin…no love.
DEAR GOD!!! My dream for my children is an idol! A gaudy idol with eternally unblinking eyes. That sickening chill fills my soul as I realize – I must cast that idol down, see it smash into a million pieces at my feet and ask for forgiveness.
I don’t want idols! I want children. I want the grimy, rosy cheek warm against mine. I want the smell of dirt and sweat as I embrace them. I want the tornadoes of chaos creating one mess after another. I want the inappropriate thoughts blurted out as inappropriate words. I want to bear their disrespect for everything I hold dear. I want to see them struggle and sin and fall…because I get to see them rise again. We all fall short and miss the mark, and so will my children. When they do fall, it will not be my fault. I get to love them and pray and love them some more.
My new dream for motherhood is immerging like the first rays of the dawn. I am not sure what it will look like at midday, but I imagine it something like this.
Brilliant, dazzling, blinding, sparking jewels of worth beyond all estimation…peaking out bit by bit from cracked and broken jars of clay.
2 Corinthians 4:7
“Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them.” God’s Word
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” NRS
Whew! How light I feel without carrying those heavy idols around. Now I can let God carry me (Is 46:3,4). He gave my all of these wild children, so I think I will let him carry them too! I am a much better mother without the false Glorious Vision of Motherhood. Now I am free to laugh and enjoy…the imperfection of it all!