I’ve learned a lot from the scriptures about being a mother, but I learned the most important thing from the apostle Peter. Peter was so earnest, so loyal, so determined to be true to the Savior. He tried so hard to be who the Savior wanted him to be. As a mother, I feel like Peter. So earnest, so determined to be a good mother. I want so badly to be who the Savior wants me to be.
When Jesus was getting ready to go to Gethsemane, he told his disciples they would all be offended by him that night.
Peter denied it hotly. “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”
And Jesus answered him, “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”
Peter again protested, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” And he meant it.
I vow every morning and recommit every night to being the best mother I can be: patient, loving, kind, fun, a good example, an inspiration, a testimony-builder for my kids. There’s no way I’m going to yell at my kids or say mean things to them or give them anything less than my undivided attention. And I mean it.
When the Roman soldiers came to get Jesus in the garden, it was Peter who leapt to his defense and cut off the ear of Malchus. He was loyal and would have given his life for his Savior.
When my kids are in any kind of danger, especially social media or bullying danger, I am ready to scratch someone’s eyes out. I would gladly give my life for any of them.
As the soldiers led Jesus away to Caiaphas’s palace, most of the disciples ran away in fear but not Peter. Peter alone crept into the palace with the servants to watch what was happening. He watched Caiaphas and his men taunting Jesus, demanding that he declare himself the son of God. When Jesus answered, “Thou hast said,” Caiaphas accused him of blasphemy and sentenced him to die. Then Caiaphas and his men spit on him and hit him, and Peter couldn’t take it anymore. He wasn’t prepared for feeling this overwhelmed. Self-preservation took over.
Under the best of circumstances, kids are overwhelming. We often find ourselves in situations with them that are so far over our head we’re straight up overwhelmed. Self-preservation takes over, and we may lash out or check out.
Peter stumbles outside of the palace, fearful, overwhelmed, and distraught. A damsel asks him if he was with Jesus of Galilee. Peter denies it. Another damsel asks him the same thing, and he denies it again, this time with an oath. Finally a third time, Peter is accused of being with Jesus, and he denies it more vehemently yet, with cursing and swearing.
Suddenly the cock crew, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him. Peter remembered promising Jesus he would not deny him. Ever. And when Peter realized what he had done, he wept bitterly. He couldn’t take it back. There was nothing he could do.
Despite our noblest intentions, we falter as moms. Either from fear, or anxiety, or exhaustion, or something else. As hard as we try not to harsh our kids, it happens. And when we do, we weep bitterly. When my daughter was about 13, I lashed out in anger and said something so unforgivably mean that I was racked with shame. I hope she doesn’t even remember. It was that bad. I couldn’t take it back. There was nothing I could do.
Peter let the Savior down out of weakness. Peter wept bitterly, but the Savior did not condemn him. After all that, and knowing all along that Peter would do it, the Savior still made Peter the head of his church.
When we saw my daughter’s counselor, I spilled my guts about how awful and unforgivably mean I had been to her. The counselor, who is LDS and the Young Women’s President in her ward, asked me, “What do you think Christ would say to you right now if he could.”
I said, “That it were better a millstone be hanged about my neck and that I be drowned in the depths of the sea?”
She said, “No. He would say thank you. Thank you for hanging in there when it’s so hard. Thank you for taking care of my little ones and not giving up.”
I was mean to my daughter out of weakness, and I wept bitterly, but the Savior did not condemn me. He knew all along that I would have my terrible mom moments, and he still made me a mother.
If Peter can deny Christ thrice and still be the head of his church, then I can fail utterly as a mother and still be forgiven. Christ doesn’t reject us for our weaknesses. He holds in his mind’s eye the vision of who we can become.