Today Kristen from Five in Tow, is sharing from her heart about God’s grace and love towards mothers. Please join us and then take a moment to visit her and read more about her life’s journey.
Dinner was a disaster.
Somehow, I had lost track of the time again. By the time the children started to complain about being hungry, the clock read 7 pm.
7 pm? Where had the day gone?
I scavenged through the fridge for the vat of leftover bean soup I had made the day before. It was cold and thick and I knew I should heat it slowly or it would scald, but I took a chance and set the burner to medium-high because the sun was setting and the natives were hungry.
A few minutes later, the soup was bubbling, but charred chunks of blackness rose to the top of the pot with each pass of my ladle. They swam about the children’s bowls like piranhas.
Except the children would have been delighted to see piranhas.
I did my best to pick out the largest bits of floating blackness but it was impossible to get them all. Worse, I didn’t have a backup plan. We were out of bread. We were out of eggs. We were out of cold cereal. I opened the pantry door and stared at my options: a can of tuna and a stale box of ice cream cones from last summer.
We were doomed.
“I’m really sorry,” I said as I scooted the steaming bowls across the table to my children. I avoided looking at Paul, who hates soup even under the best of circumstances. He avoided looking at me too because he was too busy trying to figure out if that was some kind of joke.
He looked up at Micah and said in all seriousness, “Ugh. Mom is tryin’ to kill me.”
The other kids giggled. They spent the rest of dinner delighting in the fact that they could be the very first children to die of soup poisoning. The deliciousness of certain death kept them from complaining, and soon the soup was gone.
But I felt the shame of it as I cleared the table and rinsed black flakes off the bowls. It was a special sort of shame reserved for mothers who serve their children charcoal for dinner.
Self-condemnation held me down and whispered in my ear.
I should be able to make my children a decent meal. I should be able to stay on top of the grocery shopping so I’m not in this kind of situation as often as I am. I should be able to plan a menu and I should be able to remember that my children need to eat every day—probably more than once—and not just when I feel like cooking.
It was enough evidence to condemn me. I came to the only conclusion I could: I am not a very good mother.
Just then, I felt someone tug at my shirt. It was Kya, my bright-eyed middle child. Her faced beamed at me as if I had just made the best dinner in the world.
She held something out for me. It was a construction paper heart, freshly cut. “I love you Mom,” it proclaimed in the language of six-year-olds and colored pencils. The words were shocking-good, like ice on a bruise.
“Thank you for that good dinner you made us, Mom!” she added, throwing a hug a round my middle.
I laughed a little and tried to shake off the grace she offered because it fit me all wrong. “It wasn’t very good,” I protested.
Kya blinked. The goodness of the soup had not occurred to her. “It was fun!” she exclaimed and pranced off to find her pajamas and get ready for bed.
It was fun.
I looked at that paper heart and realized I had done it again. I had allowed my doings to determine my worth, as if a pot of soup could make or break my adequacy as a mother.
Soft but chastising came the words I have wrestled with so many times because I fall for the same trick every time the trap is set. I get caught up in the works. I base my worth as a mother on the things I do rather than who I am.
This pot of soup is not my worth.
How many times have I learned that lesson? Just as many times as I’ve forgotten.
But there was my daughter, extending Kingdom of God-grace for a bit of burnt soup, and it got to me. I blinked back tears.
I am not always a good mother. I am not always organized and orderly. I miss opportunities to be caring or creative.
But there is grace, grace that doesn’t fit right because it is altogether too big and too wonderful and too much more than I deserve. It is the kind of grace that calls me out of the kitchen and asks me just to sit and listen, just to stop, and love.
It is the kind of grace that covers burnt soup, with enough left over for the mothers who feed their children charcoal. It is exactly the kind of grace for me.
Kristen is the wife of an Army chaplain and the homeschool mom of five kids, including twin boys. She burns soup. A lot. That’s usually because she is busy writing about real life and big grace at Five in Tow. Won’t you stop by? She’d love to share the journey with you.