Before I became a mom, during those months of fitfully pregnant sleep, I had recurring dreams that I was bombing mommyhood. I dreamed that I forgot I had a baby and left the child alone somewhere. I dreamed that the baby arrived early and I didn’t have any gear. I dreamed that the baby came out talking and I was so surprised that I never managed to say anything back.
You don’t have to be Freud to figure out what was going on there (HELLO, subconscious). Even during my waking hours, I wondered, What if my baby can sense that I don’t know what I’m doing? What if my baby prefers other moms to me? What if I fail at the most important job I’ve ever had?
It wasn’t until Graham was born that I learned something revolutionary: I might not be the best mom. But I am Graham’s mom. He connects with me not because I rise above the other moms in the lineup or because I’ve passed some kind of motherhood test, but simply because we belong to each other. He is mine, and I am his.
It occurs to me that this is true in every other arena of life too. We don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect person for the job. God calls us and equips us for what he wants us to do right here, right now—and he’s not sizing us up against anyone else.
Perhaps more than any previous generation, we are hounded by the monster of comparison. Our grandmothers might have compared their kids’ birthday parties to the ones thrown by the five other moms in bridge club, but they weren’t stacking themselves up against the entire world wide web.
Everywhere we look, we are faced with the shiny images of someone who is doing it better or prettier or more organically. It’s enough to make a mere mortal (especially those of us with perfectionistic inclinations) want to throw in the towel altogether.
But that’s not how God’s calling works. He doesn’t line us up and then choose only the ones with the top rankings. He gives each of us exactly what we need to do this job, in this moment. With these people, with these gifts.
Has God called you to create? You don’t have to be better than everyone on Pinterest; you just have to create.
Has God called you to study or write or make dinner? You don’t have to be the best student or writer or chef the world has seen; you just have to do the thing you’ve been wired to do.
Has God called you to be a daughter or an employee or an aunt or a teacher or a mentor? You don’t have to measure up to everyone else; you just have to carry out your role with the grace you get each day.
To my surprise, Graham seems to accept me as his mom, no questions asked. And so this little 16-pound person is teaching me that I don’t have to be the best mom. I just have to be his mom. And that is enough.
Each of us has his own endowment from God, one to live in this way, another in that. It is an impertinence, then, to try to find out why St. Paul was not given St. Peter’s grace, or St. Peter given St. Paul’s. There is only one answer to such questions: the Church is a garden patterned with countless flowers, so there must be a variety of sizes, colors, scents—or perfections, after all. Each has its value, its charm, its joy; while the whole vast cluster of these variations makes for beauty in its most graceful form.
Francis de Sales
I’d love to get your tips! What new role are you wrestling with right now? How have you gained confidence in carrying out that calling?