Three years ago I had my first child. He fulfilled my every dream. He was an easy pregnancy, REALLY easy baby, happy and goofy, and my everything. I knew right away I would make his life nothing short of magical perfection. From day 1 I prided myself on focusing only on him whenever he was awake. I played with him nonstop and gave him effortless patience and love. It was one of the happiest times of my life.
Enter baby #2. For the first six months of his life he did not sleep more than twenty minutes at night, hated to be home, constantly needed to be held, despised nursing and drinking a bottle, and would only take a nap if I was contorting my body in strange positions to bounce him at the perfect angle, he would then change the second he thought I was too comfortable. The next six months only his sleeping improved, but the crying and no eating policy held pretty strong.
Everything I had cherished about being a mom felt lost. My weeks felt filled to the brim with a two year old fighting boundaries and a baby fighting the world. Those effortlessly perfect days of patience and kindness my #1 had experienced in his only child days had vanished. I lost my patience every day, sometimes all day. Every night I would go to bed with so much guilt. Why couldn’t I be nicer? Why couldn’t I be more patient? Why couldn’t I be fun all of the time? Why was I not finding joy out of playing with my toddler like I used to? Am I somehow ruining my boys? Why couldn’t I be perfect?
One night as all those feelings were rushing through me, I thought of Eve. Eve, the mother of all of us. She made a decision (which I believe to be conscious) that meant her children and the rest of mankind would never have it “easy” again. She literally chose for her children to live surrounded by hardships and disease and misery.
If you believe that she was simply tricked by the serpent into making this decision, then you believe she made a mistake, a HUGE mistake. She was an imperfect mother. This one mistake changed the course of life for every man or woman ever to be born. Mankind was thrown out of the Garden of Eden and forced to experience hardships, disease, and misery. However, her mistake’s everlasting consequence was twofold. Once mankind tasted the bitter cup of sorrow, it was only then that he could fully understand the sweetness of joy. Her moment of failure allowed all those to come after her to relish in peace, health, and happiness. Eve’s mistake is what makes our lives complete.
On the other hand, If you believe that she looked at her options and decided to sin so that her children could have knowledge, could have true happiness, then you can see her imperfections made her perfect. She decided to teach her children that hard work makes you proud, being sick makes you grateful, having your heart broken makes you humble. Eve believed that those lessons would give her more peace of mind than a beautiful, perfect, invulnerable garden ever could. She made sure her children would come to the end of their lives standing tall and proud with scars and wisdom. She looked that serpent in the eye and chose imperfection to make sure no child of hers would be weak or naive. Her decision led to men and women who would be knocked down, only to stand up and overcome.
Either way, mistake or not, Eve did not give her children perfection, and that in itself was the most perfect thing she could offer. So, maybe all those mistakes I make every day that leave me feeling dark only help to make the moments when I do it right so much brighter. If I never lost my temper and was always perfectly kind, how could I teach my kids the sweetness of an apology and the beauty of forgiveness? If I never raised my voice or spoke too harshly, they might never have compassion for others at school that seem hurt or are targeted by a mean spirited peer. If I never insist they play by themselves, they might not ever learn how to be comfortable alone to see where their imagination will take them. My mistakes, whether made consciously or not, are building little humans that know how to make it in this world. If I give them only perfection in my house, how will they ever survive the crazy college roommates, the power hungry bosses, and the terribly hard trials that life will surely throw at them.
I decided right then that my kids will not grow up in the Garden of Eden. Those effortless days with my first child would never have created the man I hope he grows into. I am throwing out that constant strive for perfection and the guilt that comes with it, and choosing to accept the moments where my best doesn’t leave me winning any mom awards. My house will be full of magic and twinkling eyes, moments that flood my heart with sunshine and leave huge goofy smiles stamped on those chubby little baby faces. But just like Eve, I will make tough choices, and even mess up and turn those twinkles into tears and smiles into frowns because in the end, those are the kids I want and that is the mother they need.