I Am THAT Mother
By Annah Matthews
I was the coordinator for our women’s bible studies at my church and I was also leading a small bible study group of my own. Our lesson that week was on speaking truth to your issues. Heavens knows I had plenty of issues that I needed some truth-speaking.
When leading a women’s bible study group there is a delicate balance of being authentic without sharing every single detail of your life. There are some things that definitely need to be left just between you and the Lord. My issue was that while I wanted to be real with women about the struggles I faced in life, there were just some things that I was too embarrassed (ahem…prideful) to speak about.
I had a three year old at that time, who was in a difficult phase. He had a new baby sister, he was in preschool three mornings a week, and he was biting! In preschool world this is like the holy grail of no-no’s.
Pushing and shoving, being a tattle-tell, not sharing, throwing dirt, or pulling someone’s pigtail would have been better than biting. I mean, I cannot even begin to tell you how frustrated and embarrassed I was about this behavior despite my pleadings, discipline, consequences, reward system, and outright bribery to get through his head that the biting had to stop! Yeah right.
Have you ever tried to reason with a three-year old?
So I just kept this embarrassing secret to myself because I was convinced that his bad behavior was a direct reflection of my terribly inept parenting skills and I was so frustrated that I could not figure out a way to help him.
After class I was walking down the hallway with a girl from my bible study as she thanked me for leading the class and telling me how much she appreciated it. We both stopped in front of the door where our children had been in class together. As her little boy came out, he gave his mommy a hug and then whimpering said,
He bit me!
Who bit you honey?his kind, loving, and obviously wonderful mother said to him.
On cue, my little guy walks sheepishly to the door just as her son points towards my son.
Oh. No. He. Didn’t.
I was dying inside. In that moment I went from good bible study leader to the mom with the kid who bites. The secret was out and even worse her child had been hurt. Yep, I was THAT mom.
I apologized profusely, told her that we had been working really hard at home on curbing this behavior, and that I was so sorry that he had hurt her son. I also made my little guy apologize to her son right then and there. I felt so ashamed, humiliated, and frustrated.
And you know what she said?
Oh my goodness no worries, I had a daughter who bit other kids when she was younger and I know exactly how this feels. Thankfully it was just a phase and she outgrew it. I’m sure he will too.
I was dumbfounded and genuinely humbled. The grace and kindness she showed me along, with the nonchalant attitude that it was just a phase, was amazing. She didn’t blame me for being a terrible mother, she didn’t denunciate me for not disciplining my kid, matter of fact, there was no accusatory tone in her voice at all. And in that moment, standing there in the hallway of preschoolers I thanked her for being so gracious and understanding to me and for telling me about her own daughter.
I had a sliver of hope that my son would one day also outgrow this phase. It was a genuine blessing to me.
On the way home the Lord pricked my heart and reminded me that pride had gotten in the way of sharing a struggle with other women who could have encouraged me. And sometimes a little dose of humility is exactly what I need in order to move from shame to grace.
I’m doing my very best yet my children are still going to make mistakes and that’s okay. God, as our perfect parent, still has children that make a lot of mistakes too. It is no reflection on Him. It’s just an opportunity for Him to scoop us up, offer us forgiveness, and give us grace and love as He turns us back towards the path of righteousness.
By the way, it was a “phase” and I am happy to report my little fellow has grown and matured. He’s no longer the kid who bites.
What keeps you from being authentic and sharing struggles with others? Pride? Embarrassment? Fear of being judged?
Allow the Lord to humble you and seek out a trusted friend who you know will listen to you as you share your struggles. Don’t let pride get in the way of letting the Lord use other women to encourage and pray for you through your struggles.
Thank You Lord for the gift of love, grace, and humility. Help us to turn to You when we feel ashamed and frustrated instead of turning inward and hiding our hurts and struggles. Allow us to be humbled and send us a trusted friend who would encourage and pray for us through our pain as we allow You to speak the Truth to our issues.
© 2019 by Annah Matthews. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Wednesday, 31 August 2022.