being mama

Sep 17, 2014

You guys.

Sometimes being a mom is hard

If you had asked me how motherhood was going a year ago when Noah was not even a year old, I'd probably have said, "I got this. I know what I'm doing".

Fast forward a year later to when that sweet little immobile baby is now a fully mobile toddler with his own personality and independence and a lot of days I'd look you in the eye, maybe with a tear in mine, and say honestly, "This is harder than I thought". 

First let me say- motherhood is a joy. I wake up every day excited that I get to be Noah's mama, and mama to our soon-to-be-born baby boy. My heart swells until I think it will burst when I look at Noah and remember all over again that he is my son and that I get to take part in shaping who he is and who he becomes. All those big joys and fun times and precious moments make up a huge part of being his mom.
I've wanted to be a mom for a long time, so parenting methods have been on my mind for awhile. I've researched and read so many different perspectives on the subject and feel like I'm pretty sure of the kind of parent I want to be and the kind of things that are important to me in raising children. 

I feel that children are a blessing. I feel that children aren't objects we own to control, but fellow human beings to be lovingly guided into adulthood. I feel that children shouldn't be hit. I feel that children's emotions and thoughts and experiences matter just as much as ours do and should be treated with the same weight. I feel that children should be treated with the same respect we would give anyone else, no matter how old or young.

Of course all of those things are going to play a part in how I handle big and small situations, from the way I talk to my children to the methods we use to teach and guide them. But what I've been slowly realizing is that there's not a perfect formula for being a mom (imagine that!). Sure, I can have an overall idea of how I'd like to address certain issues or principles I want to teach, but there are also really challenging times when I have no idea what to do and not enough time to figure it out in the heat of the moment.

The hard part about times like those is that life in that moment can't be put into pause mode. There's no app on my phone that I can open that will make my child stop in his tracks while I figure out exactly what to do. Most of the time life with a toddler is constant movement, excitement, exploration- wonderful things! But when you're a first-time mom to a toddler, it's challenging trying to feed that desire for knowledge while setting limits for safety.

I've found myself flustered many times while needing to deal with something Noah's doing, especially when I'm met with opposition. There is so much that goes in my head in those few seconds (that feel like an eternity at times) of instruction. I involuntarily recall every piece of research and opinion that I've ever read. I recall how I've seen similar situations handled in the past by family or friends. I'm sorting through those-assessing which ones match up to my values, which ones I've been told will mess my kids up for life and to never ever do...ever. All the while asking the questions- How am I going to enforce limits while still respecting how he's feeling? How will I remain calm in this moment, even when my emotions are slowly trying to get the best of me? How can I say what I need to say in a way that he will understand? How can I remain consistent while leaving room for grace? From the outside it probably looks like nothing, but sometimes, by the time it's over, I'm wound up, doubting myself as a mother, wondering if I handled it effectively, and trying to work through my own emotions that were brought up in that moment.

I know those are probably signs of a rookie mom who isn't quite sure of herself, and I'll go ahead and raise my hand and accept that label. I may not have admitted that a year ago, but I've been so humbled recently- by situations I've found myself in when I had no choice but to pray, by conviction, and by encouragement from veteran mamas. 

I have a friend who told me awhile ago that she had stopped reading parenting articles. I always thought it was a little extreme- after all, there is some good that can come. You might find ways that work for your child or perspectives that make you view things a bit differently. And those articles and books and research are what originally opened my eyes to how I want to parent and how I view children.  But now, as I'm really getting into the stage of actually needing to parent, I see some value in her decision. She didn't stop there, but told me that instead, her plan was to love her children with everything in her and surrender her parenting to God. And by the end of one of my last rough days with Noah, surrender was exactly what I had resolved to do.

I'm tired of the has-to-be-perfect me holding the real me, who makes mistakes and needs daily grace, to a ridiculous standard. I'm going to mess up. I'm going to feel completely lost when I encounter new challenges with Noah. Sometimes, I'm going to curl up in bed at the end of the day and feel like I did every single thing wrong.

My mom told me something this week that she used to tell us when we were younger and we would be on the other side of a difficult mother-daughter situation- "this is my first time". When I was five, it was her first time as the mom to a five year old. When I was thirteen, it was her first time as the mom to a teenager. She had to remind herself of that, and I have a feeling that I will be reminding myself of the same thing many times. This, life right now, is the first time I've ever been a mom to a 22 month old. I'm not going to be perfect. I'm not going to get it right every time. I'm not going to know how to handle every new situation.

There are days that will be even harder, and those are the days that I have an opportunity to get on my knees at the feet of my Savior, ask Him for grace and wisdom and perspective, and choose to believe that He is faithful and will give it. Those are days that I can accept grace and determine to move on and do better. Those are the days that I'm given an opportunity to be humble before my children, to let them know that mommy isn't perfect either, and that I need just as much grace as anyone else.


  1. I love that you wrote this. Children are such a blessing and sometimes they really can test how much patience you really have. I love to think about it and parent gracefully.

    Amanda - Life With Grace

  2. Yes.

    You've heard me say I was a perfect mom before I had kids... Now I'm trusting God to work it all together for good for his glory. It's a hard and humbling calling.

  3. Oh, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs on planet earth and you are so right, we need so much grace and thankfully, HE grants that to us. And, I love what your Mom said about "this is my first time." Both of our children are way past grown but there are still challenges and we still need a whole lot of grace. Blessings to you!