Giving your real self (as God created you to be) to the world can be scary because it requires vulnerability and authenticity. These are skills that don’t come naturally to a lot of people (myself included!).
Because we have a family of ten who’s always on the move with the military, my authentic life goes beyond imperfection. I’ll be honest, it’s downright chaotic sometimes! Read on for a good laugh!
I got a call from the school nurse that my daughter was ill. So I made a same-day appointment for her, canceled my afternoon plans, and picked her up from school.
I drove to the doctor with her and my two preschool children and met my husband at the doctor’s office on base to pass the two littles back to him so they could go home and get a nap (my littles, not my husband). Fortunately, he finished work early that afternoon and was able to help me out. A rare treat for a military spouse.
As I was walking in the door to my house, I got a call from the school secretary saying that no one was at the bus stop to meet my kindergartener, so the bus driver was bringing her back to school. Oh yeah! Her two older brothers both had after-school activities that day, and I had her older sister. There was no one left to walk her home—a detail I had overlooked in all my rushing to and fro.
I apologized to the secretary and told her I had just walked in the door with my daughter, but I used the wrong girl’s name. She corrected me and said I couldn’t possibly have my daughter because she was on the bus going back to school! Oh, never mind! No point in explaining that I really can remember what I named my children if given enough time. I grabbed my keys and left again.
I raced to get back in the van and asked my sick daughter to tell her dad that I was leaving again. He called me while I was on my way to ask what was going on. After I explained my failure to my husband, he informed me that he had to go pick up our teen daughter from track practice at a different school. He couldn’t leave until I got back because our children who were old enough to babysit the younger ones were all at other activities.
I arrived at the school to find it empty. No secretary. No daughter. No bus. I stood lost for a moment, wondering what to do next when my phone rang. It was my oldest teen son. He had my kindergartener and was walking her home. What?! I thought the bus driver was taking her back to the school! I thought you were at work!
Apparently, the bus driver saw my son walking home from his job and recognized him as the older brother of the forgotten child. So she stopped the bus and handed my daughter over to her big brother. I’m sure the bus driver was eager to find a responsible family member to claim my child. That was why my daughter never arrived back at the school.
So I headed home once again. My teen son and my poor abandoned daughter got home ahead of me. My bewildered husband was trying to piece together why I drove to pick up our daughter from school, but she came home with her brother instead. (Wasn’t he working today?)
I asked my son how the bus driver knew that he was the older brother of her unclaimed passenger. As a military family, we had only recently moved to the area and didn’t know many people on the tiny island where we were living.
It turned out that the bus driver had a second job as my son’s supervisor at the local grocery store. (The town we were living in is so small it’s called a “village.”) She knew his younger siblings because they had come to the store before to see their big brother in action at the checkout register. (Yeah, he loved our visit about as much as you think he did.)
There wasn’t much time for chit chat though. My husband and I “high-fived,” passing command of the household and all therein from him to me, and he raced out the door to go pick up our oldest from high school track practice.
Shortly after he left, I remembered that I was supposed to give someone information to include in a newsletter. Oh dear! I had missed the deadline! I quickly fired off my inputs in an email, only to learn later that she had to send the newsletter out without my information because I was too slow in responding.
And all of that is just one afternoon in the life of a mother of eight children. I’m exhausted and anxious all over again just from writing it out!
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If this scenario were just a one-time occurrence, a wild exception, or a fateful fluke, it would be easier for me to deal with it, but sadly, it’s not. There are so many times in life I feel like I fail more often than I succeed. Many days are one step forward and two steps back—over and over again.
I hate to confess this wasn’t the first time no one was there to pick up our kindergartener. One time the principal even drove her to our house because no one could reach me on the phone. (In my defense, I was on an airplane with my phone obediently switched to airplane mode at that exact moment. But that’s a whole different story!) Can you see why homeschooling eight children is in some ways easier than sending them to public school?
The week before this comedy of errors happened, I had just barely missed my daughter’s Native American presentation at school due to a miscommunication (they changed the time and didn’t tell everyone). She was sobbing by the time I got there, and her sweet teacher allowed us some extra time for a special one-on-one presentation by ourselves.
My daughter was very understanding, and it all ended well, but boy, did I feel like the worst-mom-of-the-year recipient when I first got to the school. All the other on-time parents had stared me down as my daughter’s eyes filled with tears! Oh, the shame and humiliation of being the one who didn’t get the memo.
The weekend after this, our family was two hours late to the AWANA awards (because yours truly wrote down the wrong time in her overbooked planner). We arrived just as everyone else was leaving. The upside was that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have time to brush the girls’ hair after all. No one even saw them.
The downside was the kids missed out on the ice cream party afterward. I’m so glad children excel at forgiving the repentant! Making kids miss an ice cream party is a huge mommy fail of epic proportions. (Don’t worry, concerned citizens. We got them a treat elsewhere and we detect no permanent psychological damage or emotional scarring.)
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So that’s what transparency can look like. You might be thinking, “Umm. Excuse me, but your flaws are showing. In fact, they are hanging out all over the place! Put that unsightly business away!”
But this is me. This is my real life. It’s messy and wonderful, crazy and blessed. Time with my family can be total chaos and utter bliss all at the same time. I don’t want my life to be any other way. God knew what He was doing when He brought us all together, and we trust Him to see us through this wild ride.
Every time I try to argue with God and tell Him that I don’t have what it takes to raise eight children well, He abruptly reminds me that He already knows. “Shoot, girl! You don’t even have what it takes to bring one child up in righteousness, let alone eight! That’s why I’m here. I already know you’re inadequate. I just need you to realize you aren’t enough so that you will depend on Me and My all-sufficiency. With Me, nothing is impossible. Let Me do all the heavy lifting. You just learn to relax more and enjoy the thrill of the ride!”
Why did I wait to tell it publicly…online? It comes down to pride.
I don’t want you to think I’m a loser mom. I don’t want to hear you say that I’m in over my head. I don’t want to have to bravely face that condemning look in your eye or to have you exclaim, “What?! You forgot your child and called her by the wrong name? That’s it! I’m calling CPS on you.”
But if you told me that you had done all those things, I wouldn’t judge you. I would nod in understanding saying, “Girl, I’m right there with you!” Why is it so hard to give myself the same grace I easily give you? If I’m honest, it’s fine for other people to be imperfect, but not me. At my core, I really want to be perfect. Trouble is, only God is perfect and my desire to do what He alone can do is pride.
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The good thing about transparency is that it destroys our pride. Pride annihilation is a good thing. If you know the whole backstory of how the glorious and powerful angel called Lucifer became the Adversary of all that is good and right (Satan). It was his pride that started his downward spiral to hell. He attempts to use the same vehicle to drag us down with him–our pride.
When I look at my life, there is no way I can claim credit for all the beauty and grace it holds. I know it’s not because of me. I’m the lady who forgets her kid at the bus stop! Every wonderful thing in my life is from God alone. He gets all the credit!There's power in your imperfection. Own it. Let God's light shine through all the cracked pieces of your life. That's part of His masterpiece. #imperfect #beloved #powerful #beautiful Click To Tweet
If that means that outsiders see me as a loser mom, then so be it. My God, my husband, and my children all know the depths of love in my heart even when my outward actions are less-than-stellar. They know the Grace by which I stand. They love my imperfectly ridiculous self, even when I accidentally call them by the wrong name or mess up our precariously balanced schedule.
As I tell my story, my real story, I am set free from my prison of performance and run unfettered as I truly am—messy and beloved. And maybe, just maybe, I can embolden you to do the same.
That friends, is the power of imperfection. Let us continually remind one another that God alone is perfect and laugh at the comedy of our own errors.
Got a story to share?
Tell us about your adventures in imperfection in the comments below. We promise to laugh WITH you, not AT you. 😉