Confession: I often feel like a complete flop as a mama.

I cried ugly tears a few days ago as my three-year-old daughter sat on my lap and told me I seemed mad a lot lately. This conversation came after several days of tension and tantrums. I finally scream-whispered a prayer into my pillow, “What else?!” I was humbled. God moved in a sweet moment of reconciliation in our relationship as she sat while I stroked her back and invited her to be honest.

Our hearts connected when I didn’t think it was possible.

But afterwards? I still berated myself. As much as I knew things were better between my little girl and me, I felt like a failure. The familiar voices cropped up whispering: You don’t know what you’re doing. Do you think other moms lose it as much as you do? How do you expect to teach them anything when you’ve got so much to learn yourself? Your poor kids, you need to set an example for them, and look what a fine example you’ve been lately.

God, always oh-so-gracious, met me there and gently dropped some truth to my weary soul.

Can I lean across the table, where my hands are curled around my coffee mug, to whisper something that I needed to hear just as much as you might today?

God did not accidentally give YOU as a parent to your child.

Just because you fail daily does not mean you’re a failure as a mother. Your child does not need the mom you see at church or at school who seems to have it all together. Your child needs YOU.

Yes, YOU, sweet mama, with all of your junk, your temper, the disciplines you want to have but can’t master, all of habits you DO have that you’re trying continuously to shed.

Yes, you, with your piles of laundry, third day hair, the baby weight that just won’t come off, and the nagging voice that says you look like a slug next to all of the “put together” moms you see.

Yes, you, the one who struggles daily with patience and with reining in the sharp words. Extending grace is not easy because you feel backed up against the wall of your own rules and the words “not good enough!” echo loud.

Yes, you, the one who wonders how in the world you will ever be a good mama because your own relationship with your mother isn’t what you’d hoped.

Yes, you, mama to the toddler who throws screaming tantrums in the middle of Wal-Mart and makes you wonder if you’re the conductor of the crazy train.

Yes, you, mama who is charting the murky waters of the teen years and trying desperately to reach your child’s heart.

Yes, you, the solo mama working the long hours, the tears in your pillow, trying so hard to make ends meet and to be everything even though it feels your bones will break from the weariness.

Yes, you, the one who feels laden with guilt for all of the things you haven’t done, and all of the things you still need to do.

We all feel it some days, don’t we?

The nagging fear that says we’ll never be the mom that our kids really need.

Can I tell you something?

The weaknesses will never go away. They’ll always be there, tapping on our shoulder or sometimes taunting us in the mirror. It will always be a temptation to look at someone who appears to have it together and compare that small snapshot with our entire reality. There will always be days when the ugly parts of hearts show thick, and it seems all of our work is futile. There will always be blogs with suggestions and ten answers to the same question.

Those things can be helpful, absolutely, but often Satan uses them to keep us trapped in defeat. Why? Because he knows that God wants to use those very weaknesses to bring us victory and Himself glory.

Then He said to me:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friend, God knows all of your weaknesses and imperfections, and He incorporated that into His plan for your parenthood. You and your child(ren) are a match made in heaven, and God has given you everything you need by the power of His spirit and His Word to parent your little ones. Your personality, your weaknesses, your strengths, your shortcomings, your passions and gifts? ALL of it is usable and fit for this Kingdom work of mothering.

We all mess up.

We all doubt our mothering; we all wonder if we are royally screwing this whole thing up.

Take heart.

He sees it all. He knows. He knew before it even happened. He knows the struggles we both will have next week, a year from now, and until our babies are grown.

Yet, He still made you and me to be mothers anyway. He uniquely fashioned us to fit right into the families He placed us in. In fact, He’s so creative (He’s the Creator of the universe, after all) that He made it just so that our lives wouldn’t look quite like any other family. He gets pleasure out of the things He makes, and He calls it good. He gives a blueprint in His Word, but there’s plenty of room for our unique differences to bring in color and life. He planned on that.

Every single one of our strengths and weaknesses as mamas are woven into the beautiful tapestry that is our families and the unique ways we display His glory to the world. Sometimes I like to think of it as a song — every family has their own. And when we try to borrow someone else’s, it just doesn’t work. We feel depressed, defeated, and unmotivated. We feel we’ll never measure up.

But when we allow our song to be made to the tune of His spirit, His unique purpose for our mothering, our family becomes less of a fumble and trip and more of a dance.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. ~ Psalm 40:3

Just know, today, that you are EXACTLY the mom that your child needs. His strength through your weakness, your minute-by-minute surrender of weary arms. Moment by moment, ask God to help you step according to the rhythm He intended for you and your babies. Don’t be tempted to borrow someone else’s song; it won’t work, it will wear you out, and you’ll wonder why the beat seems off.

Yours may involve organic meals, or it may look like frozen pizza every Friday night. You might homeschool, or you might send your troops onto the school bus with prayers every morning. Yours may look like color coded schedules with fun stickers, or a spontaneity policy that involves random picnics when the walls start to feel suffocating.

Not sure what it looks like? Ask Him. He’ll show you. He’ll show me.

Whatever your song, be free. Let’s dance in it. Let’s own it and know that He created us for this, for our families, for Him.

And He calls it good.

0Ashlie Oestreich

If you had told Ashlie a few years ago that she’d be a stay at home mama birthing three babies in just over three years, she would have laughed. And maybe cried. But now, she wouldn’t trade the job God has given her for the world. (The laundry is negotiable.) She is married to her high school sweetheart, spends her days chasing her two blonde little girls and a dimpled boy, and lives in the rural midwest where hayrides are considered a party. She has a passion for encouraging women to find Jesus and His grace in their real, everyday lives. She drinks too much coffee, loves thrifting, chocolate, laughing, and her house is never totally clean. Find her writing, thinking, and dreaming at http://ashliewrites.com, Twitter: @ashliewrites Instagram: @ashliewrites & on Facebook.