My Imperfect Mother's Day

I'm guessing many of you celebrated Mother's Day in some fashion this past weekend. Many of you are moms yourselves on the receiving end of the Mother's Day celebrations. 

Was your Mother's Day how you imagined it would be? 

Did your hubby and children wake up early to make you breakfast in bed? Did you have blissful kodak moments with your children while they showered you with Pinterest worthy homemade gifts? Did you get some sort of sparkly accessory? 

Or was it maybe like mine instead...

We started our Sunday, as usual, a little bit behind. Everyone was rushing everyone to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get out the door in time for 7:45AM church. I didn't eat breakfast in the car on the way to church like I usually do, so that's almost like relaxing in bed with a breakfast tray! 

After exactly two nights away for the first time ever for my hubby and me, our children on this particular Mother's Day unleashed a frenzy of emotions fit for both a fiery dragon and a blubbery whale. Nothing was right and nothing would make things right for them. To be fair though, I was surely feeling appreciated as they must have missed me! ;) 

I had more than one conversation with more than one person about how this Mother's Day, we would really enjoy being alone. This even after having almost three entire days without my children!

My Mother's Day wasn't exaaaaactly perfect this year. It didn't really resemble what the commercials show on TV or what I saw on someone else's instagram. I think in the past this probably would have gotten me in a sour mood. Thankfully it didn't bother me; it's not like I really expected picture perfection to occur anyway as nice as that might have been.

Maybe I'm finally starting to understand how this mom thing goes? (It's only been four plus years... don't want to rush into things you know.) Being a mother, having children, living life--these things aren't perfect. In fact, nothing but our awesome God is perfect.

So why continue to live with these crazy expectations in life? Why even consider breakfast in bed a possibility when I know church is that early? Why expect perfect angels for children when I know they missed me and were exceptionally exhausted by time spent with Grandma and Grandpa? Why make myself feel guilty for wanting to spend time alone when all moms everywhere come across these feelings time and time again. Mother's Day is still a day in the life of being a mom. A day where imperfections happen. A day when sin is still ever present. 

Imperfections are what make motherhood what it is. Being a mom is about embracing these not-so-perfect moments, taking them in stride (or not, depending on the day!) and reaching up to our Heavenly Father to ask for help to somehow trudge on.

Imperfections are what make the special moments (whether they be plenty or few on that given day) so memorable. 

Imperfections are what make moments, like when my four year old wanted to know how to spell "Jesus died for Dad, Mom, Penny and Jack" or when my two year old shouts out during a prayer, "Jesus died for ME!" so treasured. We are all imperfect, except our loving God. And He is so loving that he has given us perfection for free through his son Jesus. 

For now, our lives and worlds are imperfect, and that's okay because perfect will be in our futures in heaven. If it were perfect heaven on earth, what would we have to look forward to anyway? 


For now, my day involving children on emotional roller coasters, a meal where my kids barely sat to eat, a snicker or two with my hubby over another meltdown, time spent with my cranks instead of away from them, never-ending yard work, and a front stoop full of freshly planted annuals thanks to my hubby and kiddos will be the perfect amount of imperfect to call it Mother's Day.

O Long-Expected Jesus

As in years past, this Advent has been filled with imperfection and failed expectations. I never did finish – or even start, for that matter – many of the “homemade” gifts I intended to give.

The family Christmas letter I pride myself on writing every year once again found its way into the mailbox much later than I would've hoped, despite my most hopeful efforts to not be rushing to get it out before Christmas Eve.

I used a credit card to purchase a couple gifts this year even though I knew it was a bad idea.

I fell days behind on my Christmas Scripture Writings – multiple times.

Nights came and went when I realized after tucking the kids into bed that we had again forgotten or ran out of time for their nightly Advent story.

And baby Jesus has been in the manger for weeks already.

I'm guessing I had you up until that last statement. Allow me to explain:

One of my clearest and dearest memories of Christmas as a child revolves around my mom's nativity set. Simple yet beautiful, it sat on the floor underneath our tree every year. The manger, however, was one of those two-piece figurines which enabled baby Jesus to be removed from the scene. So the manger itself would sit empty, all throughout Advent. Then on Christmas Eve, after returning home from singing our hearts out at our Christmas program at church, whomsoever year it was to have the honor would place baby Jesus in His lowly manger between Mary and Joseph. That's how you knew Christmas had really arrived.

Empty Manger

As an adult with children of my own now, there are many traditions such as this one which I try to re-create with my family. Knowing the impact that small gesture had on me as a child makes me crave that for my own kids.

So I now have a nativity with a baby Jesus separate from the manger.

Only it's not going quite as I had planned. And I'm learning.

I put out our nativity set not long after Thanksgiving – Mary, Joseph, a shepherd or two, even a donkey and a cow. But baby Jesus I kept hidden away, intending to wrap Him up and present it as the first gift the kids would open on Christmas morning.

But my boys wouldn't have it.

After carefully arranging the nativity (sans the baby) and walking away, my two-year old twin sons promptly scurried over and began pointing. And not a simple point of curiosity. This kind of pointing meant something was seriously wrong.

Where is the baby? they seemed to say. Aren't you forgetting something?

As I returned to the scene, I began attempting to explain that it was not yet Christmas and that we needed to wait for the baby to arrive. Wait.

But again, there was no reasoning to be done.

I watched as those boys stood there, in front of the stable and Mary and Joseph. Waiting. Wondering. Wanting. They would not tire. They would not concede.

It wasn't until I finally placed the baby figurine in its rightful place that the boys moved on to something else. Once the baby was in His bed, all was right with the world and the two could go back to playing.

But I remained, crouched in front of a 2-inch baby, with tears in my eyes.


My boys would not leave until the Christ child arrived.

Granted their fascination most likely had more to do with their recent obsession with babies than their knowledge of who that baby really represents, but I still couldn't help but feel God's tug at my heart through the actions of my boys.

After all, isn't that how we all should feel? We simply cannot move on until we know that Jesus has arrived?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. And yes, there are many things which I feel are “undone” or incomplete. I also know that tomorrow and Christmas Day itself will come and go and with it, a slight feeling of disappointment and let down will follow. A let down that will inevitably make me wonder what was the point of putting up all of the decorations just to take them down or serving a Christmas meal which I knew none of the kids would have any interest in eating?

But the truth is that if our Advents were perfect and our Christmases pure magic, Christ's birth would mean nothing. Our Heavenly Father's almighty plan is necessary because of the imperfections within and around us with the baby in the manger at its center.


Maybe next year I'll be able to explain my “plan” to the boys clearly enough that they'll let me get away with an empty manger through Advent. Or maybe they won't. Or maybe I'll just not be able to wait and have to place Him there for my own benefit after learning so much through watching my boys. But regardless of where the baby ends up for those three weeks prior to Christmas, I know one thing for certain: I'll be anxiously awaiting His return!

Come, O long-expected Jesus, Born to set your people free; From our fears and sins release us By your death on Calvary. Israel's strength and consolation, Hope to all the earth impart, dear desire of ev'ry nation, Joy of ev'ry longing heart.


Born your people to deliver, Born a child and yet a king; Born to reign in us forever, Now your gracious kingdom bring. By your own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By your all-sufficient merit Raise us to your glorious throne.


~Hymn #22 in Lutheran Worship, 1st published in 1835