The following blog entry will appear as part of a series called “Middle of the Night Motherhood,” hosted by fellow blogger Marie Osborne. The purpose of this series is to encourage moms in the thick of the not-so-easy-parts of motherhood. Stop by her blog to follow along!
By Dana Matas
The phrase “beautiful ugly” is a term used to describe a fashion model whose striking features could be considered either beautiful or ugly, depending upon the eye of the beholder. An apparent contradiction, it prompts one to reconsider their natural inclination to separate two extremes that are inherently related. It is a saying that in many ways describes certain characteristics of another highly esteemed occupation. Motherhood.
As a child, I grew up watching shows like The Brady Bunch, Little House on the Prairie, and Leave It To Beaver. The mothers depicted in these shows always had the perfect response to their children’s disappointing situations. Whether they lived in the suburbs or on the prairie, they were not only well dressed at a perfect size 2, but they had enough time to shower, apply makeup, clean the house and serve a home cooked meal. These mothers never scolded their children or lost their cool. They were the standard-bearers for what it meant to be a mom; and we as a society put them on a pedestal for all to emulate.
While wholesome entertainment, I eventually found that these shows offered a warped sense of reality, raising up a generation of mothers who fault themselves for not living up to a standard that isn’t possible outside of a television studio. I tried my hardest to mirror these examples once I became a mom, bending over backwards to make certain every childhood milestone was flawlessly captured for the family scrapbook. I managed to snap plenty of photos worthy of a Pinterest pinup, but behind the scenes our life was less like Leave It To Beaver and more like Teen Mom 2—or at least somewhere in the middle.
For those unfamiliar with Teen Mom 2, it is a reality show that chronicles the lives of several teen moms, seemingly handicapped by immaturity, lack of a higher education and a broken home. The show offers an honest portrayal of the highs-and-lows of motherhood under less than ideal circumstances. Such reality shows often get a bad wrap for being a “train wreck,” particularly when participants display their less than stellar moments for public consumption. But isn’t that what motherhood is at times—our own personal train wrecks, bloopers and retakes?
We may not broadcast our mommy-meltdowns for the rest of the world to see, but those who count (our kiddos) witness them all the same. And yet, our children love us despite the scenes from our life we’d prefer left on the cutting room floor. They’d never call us as a “train wreck.” Instead, they affectionately refer to us as “mom.”
After 13 years, four kids, and many mishaps along the way, I’m learning that the unconditional love of my children is much more visible from the battlefield than way up on a pedestal. Certainly there are plenty of days when I seem to have this motherhood thing all figured out. The kids are happy. The hubby is happy. Everyone’s needs are well beyond met. Loving me is easy. But it is during life’s struggles that our children come to understand the depth of our love for them, and we have the opportunity to see such love reflected back at us.
In 1 Corinthians 13:7, God tells us that love “[…endures through every circumstance]”—good and bad. Through sleep depravation. Through raging hormones. Through financial woes. Through sickness. Through misunderstandings, mistakes and frustrations. When our children love us through those moments that most of society considers ugly, we must not beat up ourselves, assuming that our children are victims of having a less than perfect mother. Rather we should rejoice upon witnessing the evidence that our children are becoming the person our perfect God desires us to be—and that is beautiful.