We would get out the playdough almost daily and bake cookies just as often. We would read books, lots of books. The classics.

There wouldn’t be any yelling.

Everyone would get along in peace and harmony. I didn’t envision bickering. I didn’t envision exhaustion.

I didn’t envision my own utter and complete selfishness, exposed daily as I mother and wife.

With every teary “Mom, he said . . . ” and attempts to stay home from school because of a stomachache and meltdowns over what’s for dinner, I can feel the joy starting to leak.

Then, of course, like every good mother, the boa constrictor of guilt quietly encircles my neck and starts to squeeze.

Guilt because I don’t get-out the playdough each day. Playdough is an outside toy in our house. Honestly, I despise playdough (unless my friend Anni makes it because it smells good and doesn’t crumble.)

Guilt because instead of baking cookies from scratch, we usually break apart pieces of ready-made dough and pop ’em in the oven.

Guilt because though I’m an avid reader that doesn’t watch TV or play video games, my children do both more than I had planned.

And yes, I know I’m the parent and can change that but there’s something else I didn’t envision before I had children: I didn’t know it would take so much of me to adequately give to them.

If you’ve spent any time around here during Christmas, you know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, jumps on my heart on December 1 and stays until the end of the season.

So this morning, as I dazedly stumbled around the kitchen, yearning for a yet-to-be-made cup of of coffee, being forced to make decisions my brain wasn’t ready to make, I thought of her.

I live in a different generation. Very, very different generation.

I have a refrigerator. A sink with running water. A washer and a dryer. Access to grocery stores where I can drive my mom van to purchase the food we need.

I have it so very, very easy compared to Mary.

Yet a mom’s heart is the same through generations.

Even though sometimes I leak joy, it’s because I’ve allowed my own expectations to get in the way. Mothering is filled with unexpected twists and turns. It’s part of the job.

The sick child who stays home from school and disrupts the full day ahead. The lessons and the homework that interfere with dinner and suddenly, it’s 6 p.m and no one has eaten and it’s bath night and we won’t get to bed on time – which means less “me” time tonight. In other words, life.

Did Mary get cranky? Did she leak joy because mothering can be so exhausting and exhilarating at the same time?  Did she ever feel like she wasn’t the mom she thought she would be? Did she quietly yearn to not have the pressure of being the mother of the Savior?

I don’t really know and of course, there isn’t scriptural support to any of this but . . . Mary was human. She had human emotions.

Mary was a human mother.

I’m certain she got irritated with Joseph now and then – maybe he tracked wood dust into their home from the bottom of his sandals.

I’m certain she listened to bemoaning from her other children as to why Jesus was just always so perfect.

I’m certain there were times when she just didn’t feel like she was cut-out to do this.

But.

God chose her. Just her. No one else. Not Elizabeth, or Sarah, or Rebekah.

Her.

So despite the lack of mothering skills we see in ourselves, despite the unrealistic standards our before-children selves put-in place, despite the times when we leak joy, we can rest in knowing we were chosen as well.

You. Me.

Just you. Just me.

We were specifically chosen to raise the specific children we are raising.

Just like Mary was chosen to raise Jesus.

And no, our children aren’t going to save the whole world but that doesn’t take away the importance of our job.

The very imperfect work we do each day is the same very imperfect work mothers have been doing for generations.

So maybe, like me, you feel like you aren’t the mom you had planned to be. Big deal. Let’s let go of that together, shall we?

Authentically imperfect teaches our children more about Jesus than surface-y perfect any day. Who needs a Savior if they don’t need grace?

And grace tells us . . . We may not be the moms we planned to be but we are the moms we are supposed to be.

So I exhale and release the expectations and trust . . . because God loves my children more than I do. He’s got this. We’re doing this together, He and I.

Just like He did with Mary.

What do you love the most about being a mom?

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