The Truth about Mommy Fails

11:33 AMHeather

I bet if I asked every mom I know about an epic mommy fail, they could quickly recant at least one or ten stories about moments when they felt they totally missed the mark.  In some seasons of mothering, we might feel we are living on an endless loop of mommy fails.  

We have a way of doing that, you know.  Come on, jump in the car, kids...time for a guilt trip!  And for all the times we find ourselves slipping into a guilt trip lecture with our children, we've taken ourselves on a guilt trip many times more. We can lean toward beating ourselves up pretty good.

When it comes to parenting fails, we all have our moments.  

Like this one, which I saw all over social media yesterday.


Or this video, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, which I find one part entertaining and two parts disturbing.  This one, however, is more of a deliberate "what-would-happen-if-I-pretend-to-mommy-fail."

Oh, those epic moments when we just cringe at how we fell short. 

Today, whilst reading my Bible in the book of Luke, I cannot tell you the consolation I found on this subject as I read about one really truly epic mommy fail.  

After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
Luke 2:43-45

Oh, Mary, Mary.  Can you even imagine?  If you've lost your child for even a moment in a crowd, then you know this sinking feeling.  You know the panic and frustration and anger all at the same time.  Toward yourself for losing your child...toward your child for running off.  I mean, Mary, the mother of Jesus, of all people?!  Can you picture the moment...

..."Um, God.  I've got a problem here.  I seem to have lost your Son."

Yi, yi, yi.  Talk about a face palm moment.  

And then, THIS happens:

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them 
questions.   Luke 2:46

Three days, y'all.  Three long days of searching.  Sometimes, I just wish that the Bible gave more details.  Like, how Mary felt.  Or the conversations she and Joseph had with each other.  Or, where all they looked?  

(And by the way...I just noticed as I typed this paragraph.  Jesus was missing for 3 days...coincidence?  Or foreshadowing the 3 days he would be in the tomb? What say you?) 

So, after what had to be a frantic search, with poor Mary likely going through the whole gamut of emotions, they find Jesus.  Whew!  Mommy fail moment over. 

Or is it?

Here is what Mary said to Jesus upon finding him:

His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  Luke 2:48

Ever since becoming a mom, I have often imagined what mothering was like for Mary with Jesus.  I mean, we are talking the Son of God here.  The one without sin.  Bless her, what an easy gig, right? I'm thinking she never had to correct bad behavior.  He always did what he was asked.  He was kind and respectful and well...the perfect son.

Yet, I love this glimpse of humanness between Mary and her son.  This sorta follow-up mommy fail moment.  When Mary basically lashes out at Jesus for going missing...like we all do...often passing the buck to deal with any guilt. 

"Son, why have you treated us like this?" Oh, the irony.  That the Son of God was busy doing his Heavenly Father's work and Mary dares to assert her own agenda there.  I assume her job of mothering Jesus certainly had unique challenges, but it had to be quite unlike parenting her other children.  

Yet, like any mom, her angst and anxiety and guilt and panic all lead her to basically misspeak.  I love it.  Because it makes me feel like I'm in good company when I drop the ball and then essentially take it out on my kids.  Only later, realizing that I had reacted to them out of emotion rather than really thinking it through.  

Can I get an a-men?  Haven't we all been there?  One of my biggest weaknesses as a mom is when I get so focused on a task or my agenda that I snap at any interruption from my kids.  Even if they are asking a legitimate question.

Mary.  I just love her.  I want to sit with her in heaven someday for a decade or two and just ask her all my questions about what mothering Jesus was like?  All that is missing in the Bible between say, his birth and this temple scene and then suddenly his ministry. 

Mary.  Called blessed and favored by God.  Chosen.  Out of all the women in history of the world.  She alone was hand picked to raise that particular child.  

Just like every single one of us.  Anointed and ordained to be the mom to the kids in our care.  Blessed.  Favored.  Chosen.

Yet not immune to mommy fails. 

Because we are, after all, human.

And the God who entrusted these kids to us is well aware.

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

You want to know what God thinks of our mommy fail moments? We need only to look at the verse prior to the one above.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

Compassion.  Grace.  Gentleness.  Response -- not reaction.  

Now, there's something we can emulate. There's a plumb line to go to in our mothering.  Asking God to help equip us with his compassion. 

But that doesn't mean we won't still have our mommy fail moments. It doesn't mean our life will be perfect.

Because, oh YEAH, Mary was raising a perfect child and she still had a moment for all of mankind to read about from that point forward, documented in the Bible. A moment where she took off for for an entire day, not realizing her pre-teen son was missing.  Then telling the Son of God how dare he treat her that way? 

So what then?  What did she do then?  We know from Psalm 103 that God is not surprised by our faults and mistakes and brokenness.

So how did Mary move forward from there? 

Interesting. So let's look at the verses immediately following her questioning of Jesus.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:49-51 

In the context of this passage, Mary and Jesus and Joseph went on about their way, about their life.  Back to Nazareth.

And Mary treasured all these things in her heart. 

I'm still chewing on the significance of this.  That Mary was able to ponder and meditate and treasure these moments of mothering.  All of them.  That she was able to somehow assimilate even her mommy fails as part of the mothering experience.  That she seemingly accepted them as part of the process and she enjoyed her mothering of Jesus.  

That we could do the same.  That when we fall and fail, as we are bound to do, that we remember God gets us.  Completely. And his response is not harsh rebuke or rejection.  But compassion.

And that we could be like Mary.  Treasuring every part of mothering.  Recognizing and appreciating the wonder of being entrusted with these kids.  Taking the good with the bad, the hard moments with the easy.  The victories with the defeats.  And treasuring them.

I looked up the definition of "treasuring" -- out of curiosity.  To help me wrap my brain around Mary's approach to mothering. 

Treasuring -- to retain carefully or keep in store, as in the mind; to regard or treat as precious; to cherish

Oh, fellow mamas (and dads)...that we would regard every part of our parenting as sacred and precious.  That we could laugh at our failures and move forward with lessons learned.  That we could see even the hard stuff and the frustrations as something to regard.  It's all part of this roller coaster.  The valleys and the mountain peaks of life. Every moment of our humanness is something to be cherished and to store up.  It's all part of what shapes us and our children.  

Learning to be broken together, as the Casting Crowns song says.

Learning to accept and believe God's grace and to extend it to others and to ourselves.  

Learning to treasure ALL these things in our heart.

Learning to quit being so very hard on ourselves in a world that is constantly throwing standards of comparison at us.

That we would know that these days, even the hard ones, where we are raising our children, are days of precious ministry.  All of them are treasures.  Knitting our hearts together.  Learning to love beyond imperfections.

I wonder if Jesus and Mary and Joseph ever looked back on this misadventure when Jesus was 12?  Did they later on ever have a good laugh about how they'd lost the Son of God?  Did they chuckle at themselves for how they scolded Jesus?  How they misunderstood what he was all about?

May we all be encouraged by Mary.  Yes, she was blessed and chosen and highly favored by the God of the Universe.  And it had nothing to do with her abilities or her perfection.  It was all about her willingness and her commitment to press on.  To regard the bigger picture and to treasure it all up in her heart.    

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