Feel like your failing? There’s a point to that asking if you are.

One mother meltdown to start off our Monday.

Three assessments today. They scored “Advanced.” They smile with pleasure to hear their score. They have heard from their parents they are smart, but somehow they believe it more when they are assessed by an outside source.

I look out with delight at two fresh blooms in the garden. At lunch, my fingers reach continually to fuss with an arrangement of flowers celebrating those blooms.

As I organize my baskets, empty frames and decorative holders for my business my eyes spy ivory crochet squares through the lid of the yarn box as I stash away. I did not know my daughter could crochet these squares. It looks beautiful.

I think of the flower arrangement she cut for me on Mother’s Day with lavender, purple sweet peas and, for greenery, wandering jew. She chose a cut crystal bud vase and snipped to particular heights. It is enchanting.

Next to it on the table stands a Lego creation by son. He followed his father’s suggestion to build my garden but did it in such a way that includes the white bench, the tree, my husband fixing a broken sprinkler and, along with me watering the flowers, water flowing out the other side of the plant, unbeknownst to Lego me.

I asked my clever daughter why she switched beds with her brother to use the tallest bunk. “Because then Peter doesn’t bother me at night.”

I asked Peter the reason he does not do a particular thing the other kids do. “Because I’m scared to,” he answers with honesty and insight.

The day began with me staring at my limitations.

As the hours passed the opportunities to see their gifts grew.

I hope that I can communicate to them about their gifts. I hope I can recognize and make them feel that their gifts are seen and appreciated. I hope my mother-meltdowns are not the sum of our lives together.

In the Catholic Church May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother’s Day just passed. Our time of crisis ended a while ago. What happens now? Do I measure up now that things are calm and my excuses are gone?

I see my weaknesses and wonder.

My friend tells me the fact that I ask these questions is probably a protective factor against the outcome I fear.

The risk takes place if we never ask or if we stop asking and begin to answer. We answer with the negative. Instead of asking, do I measure up? We begin to tell ourselves, I do not measure up. I am not enough. This is not good enough. This never will be enough.

Or in the opposite direction, wherein we no longer notice our weaknesses. “It’s fine.” “At least I’m not like so-and-so.” “I’ve got this down” with the sort of satisfaction that tells us we can give up and stop trying to grow.

We cannot standstill.

The urge to ask the question of how we are doing and if it is enough is an invitation. Maybe it is an invitation to reassurance, to take stock of the value, to see the good before us and graciously allow that we had something to do with that. Or it is an invitation to honestly assess where we have failed and how we need to approach the path towards improvement, however painful that may be. Sometimes we need to be reminded we are human. Sometimes we need to be reassured that human though we may be, transcendence is possible.

It all begins with the question, not the assumption.

The assumption lowers us, locks us in, and stagnates us. The question, though painful at times, opens us up.

Had I not been questioning myself this month, would I have noticed how surrounded by gifts I am? Would I have seen the creativity, willpower, problem-solving, artfulness in those around me?

I may never feel secure in my ability to be a mother, but I can see the fruit of the effort, and that is worth a great deal indeed.

1 Comment

  1. Anne Glenn says:

    I enjoyed this post. Definitely important to be objective and reflect on what’s going well and what’s not and avoid all or nothing thinking. We have to take responsibility for areas we need to improve in but also give ourselves credit for the things we are doing well.

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