There’s something amazing about having children, how they open our hearts and eyes like never before. How they show us the ugly side of human nature and the grace of God all at the same time. There’s also this dangerous side. This selfish side. There are these tiny little people who “belong” to me and love me completely unconditionally. These tiny people who think I can do no wrong and that I’m perfect. They worship me. I rule their little worlds. I can mold them and shape them into what I want, I can relive a life I never had through them. Except, I can’t really do it that way. Not if I want to do the absolute best for these little hearts. Not if I want what’s best for any of us.
Because the truth is, I was never meant to rule their world or be the center of their worship. They were never meant to belong to me or be my second chance. I was meant to guide them through this life, but not tell them how to live it. I was meant to be a model for them, but never their goal to attain. I’m no better than they are, I’ve just been doing this life thing a little bit longer.
So I tell them. I tell them when I mess up. I tell them I’m sorry. In fact, I tell them I’m sorry a lot. I let them see me cry. I tell them the truth when they ask hard questions even if that means telling them that I don’t know the answer. In those first moments of my motherhood journey when I “messed up” and showed them that I was imperfect, I found something beautiful. I thought it would break them to know the truth, but instead I found how much better I was as a mother when I was real. When I gave up trying to keep this fantasy of perfection going for my children, I found how much better it was for all of us. They didn’t lose respect for me or look down on me, in fact, it’s like they loved me more. Maybe they were relieved to know I was just like they are – flawed – so it must be ok. I think maybe we all found the freedom to love each other a little bit more.
I was never meant to model perfection to my children. I am supposed to show them how to navigate through life in even the hardest circumstance. I can’t do that if I’m hiding the truth from them. If I’m allowing them to believe that all those times they see me mess up are ok. So I say I’m sorry, I let them see me break down every once in a while, I tell them when I’m having a bad day, and I’ve told them of things I’ve done in the past that I regret. Because I’d rather be seen as loving and flawed than hypocritical.
The time will come when they will realize I am not perfect. And that time can either be now, with me leading the way, with the truth being shown in love and with a lesson. Or that time can be when they realize for themselves that I’ve done something wrong, with them resenting this woman who always pretended to be perfect, with them learning nothing from me at all. I want to be the one to tell them I’m not perfect. I want to be the one to tell them who I really am. They will figure it out one day anyway, so why don’t I just go ahead and tell them now? It feels so much better not having to pretend. And for some strange reason they still love me unconditionally. They still think I’m the best person in the whole wide world. Who would have thought?