ORLANDO (Christian Examiner) -- I've been clutching the edge the past two days. Edge of sanity. Edge of anger. Edge of depression. My words haven't been kind. My actions have spoken even louder.
So today I was going to get it right. My daughter's dearest friend and neighbor had surgery yesterday. My Ella Grace and I were going to bake cookies. I even remembered to set the butter out this morning.
My mantra? I will not get frustrated. I will not snap. I will be patient. I won't do it myself. I'll guide her...We make it to the kitchen. Ingredients pour out of cabinets and the refrigerator. Until. Until I have no flour. No flour and no cookies.
Disappointed mahogany orbs stare at me in silence. Silence so thick it presses me down, and I feel small. I'm so sorry. I whisper. I promise we'll get some flour and still make them.
It's all I have.
She turns, and her sad steps make their way to the bedroom.
Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get it right. This mothering. This raising and guiding and nurturing. There are days I'm so incredibly selfish. Days I look into the eyes of my children and know I'm getting it all wrong.
My inadequacies stare at me -- drag me down. Self-doubt and mommy-guilt. I find myself thinking of her. Of Mary. Did she ever feel the same?
Because how do you mother God? Just when I feel inadequate, I wonder if she ever felt like she was enough? She must have. But I'm reminded she was chosen. Chosen to mother Jesus. Despite her humanity. Despite her mistakes.
And I am chosen. Chosen to mother my Ella, my Caleb. I'm not chosen to be perfect. Maybe, just maybe I'm chosen because of my imperfections. The lessons my mistakes will teach if I learn.
It doesn't take long for my daughter to come back to the living room wearing her middle name.
Because here is what I'm beginning to see—if I mother from grace, my children might also give grace. They always learn more by example.
Maybe this is why I should struggle with weaknesses. So He can shine through my cracks, my broken, my imperfect. And really? My children most need to see Him. In me. Because when I am weak, He is strong.
His grace is enough for me. For you. For our children.
This year. This New Year. I'll not mother out of guilt. I'll not mother striving for perfection. I'll not mother in order to measure up.
Instead, I'll mother from Grace -- the kind flowing from arms stretched out. Stretched and torn across splintered wood. The kind I must drench myself in before I can pour on my children, my family.
Mothering from grace means hugging longer. Apologizing more. Serving hearts with an honest look at my own fragmented soul. Less berating of mistakes -- theirs or mine. Choosing the selfless rather than the selfish. Speaking words that uplift instead of tear down.
Because kindness goes further than perfection. Forgiveness heals when anger cannot. Grace teaches more than guilt.
Mothering from grace. In this I am resolved. And in this, the year will be beautiful. Since beauty flourishes when grace is let loose.
-- Heather B. Iseminger, a high school English teacher and blogger at PetalsofJoy.org, lives with her husband of 16 years and two children in Central Florida, where they actively attend First Baptist Church in Eustis, Florida.