When I went tonight to check on the kids in bed, the littler ones were still half-awake in their room. I was going to try and sneak away but as I turned, Quinn rolled over and spotted me in the dim doorway. She pushed her bangs from her eyes, then lifted a small hand in greeting, beckoning. “Mommy!” she whisper-hissed brightly. I couldn’t resist.
I dodged strewn toys and pieces of clothing to the end of their “bed”: After continually slipping out of their twin beds to bunk with their big brothers in the next room over, we pushed the frames together to create one giant bed for the two of them. The mass of mattress, held somewhat together by a king-sized sheet, had a space in the middle seemingly just for me. I waded in on hands and knees, collapsing between them and their hushed giggles.
Since Quinn’s gained inches in a recent toddler spurt of growth, I’m often asked if they’re twins. With their similar tans and dark, dark eyes, I can see why. Those so-dark eyes shone in the half-darkness, increasingly more hidden by heavy lids as I stroked their hair. They were quiet as their breathing slowed, their lips puckering into relaxed pouts that likened them to their infant selves.
In that beautiful, still moment, I had an ugly, prickly thought as the day’s events rushed in on me. While Quinn and Noah slipped into the secure slumber of adored children, I was remembering my mistakes for the day, a flaw I’ve been unable to discard. I wondered, there, if I was doing okay as a mother… as their mother.
In almost divine timing, as I guessed at this Noah wiggled closer to me, resting the warm curve of his face against my arm.
Somewhere along the way, I fell prey to the lie that ‘doing my best’ equated to perfection. The most magical days have been mentally destroyed by my guilt over mistakes–a raised voice, flash of impatience, moment of selfishness after a series of tantrums. I strain to forgive others quickly but can’t manage a modicum of it for myself. I’ve decided decades before my probable departure from this life that I failed at it.
Tonight, with my rambunctious toddlers snuggled against my side, I decided that this will not do. Anchoring myself to a fear of potential rejection–chained, yes, to the conviction it’s deserved–will take me more quickly to the depths of life than I can possibly imagine. This thing I think I am reaching for, missing every time… It’s the outline of a futile goal.
In an existence where perfection is unattainable, to act with love is always an option. Through the stinging hail of my own missteps, I can choose to wave a lantern of compassion, of grace. This is enough. There is the assurance of something that melts away even the most threatening waves of self-doubt: The absolutely perfect love of God, always available, always whistling through the storm as a rescuing cape.
Oh, the first two I wrap around my shoulders. The third I clutch close, tightly against my chest to the same place where I pull near the ones I love. Yes, it is enough — Love always is. Amen.