While in the thick of raising three humans who were conceived and born within a 42 month split-second, I considered my mothering flair wonky at best. Some days, even my reflection in the mirror gave me side-eye.

We find out along the journey that the learning curve for being a mom never bells out. If a full cycle of understanding is to be graphed out on the paper of how to raise kids, I’ve yet to reach that end point.

The truth is, you can’t really assess in full your mothering capabilities and super powers in the sludge of uncertainty. It takes a few ages and stages coming to pass before you can look back and glean wisdom and insight from the footprints.

For me, I was a ripe 23 years old, less than a year into marriage, when God dropped son one in my arms—which seemed absurd, all things Creator of the world and omniscientness considered. Didn’t He know I ate uncertainty for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Somehow my mom instincts took over. Where from, God only knows. And why some surfaced, only God can forgive. Because motherhood throws shade one minute and fills you with joy the next. In rapid cycling fashion. Especially in the tween, teen, and young adult years. Which means only 12 years of parenting make any sense.

So, I don’t know much, but this much I know: a whole 10 perspectives from the empty side of the nest:

  1. Even on your worst days as a mom, you’re still a great mom

Why? Because you’re giving your heart and soul to your child 24/7 even if you are clueless about most things. This means you’re a spiritual warrior for even trying! And doing your best is enough. Has to be. Just ask God.

  1. Trials and struggles enlighten you

While motherhood is synonymous with blessing, another comparative word is struggle—which may be where our greatest treasure lies. In the mess, we find out who we are, why we’re here, and what the Hellen Keller we’re doing. Kind of. Kids help us unlearn all the crap that’s kept us from knowing and loving who we are in the first place.

  1. A special gift lies in the tension of motherhood

Motherhood is a hodge podge of blessings and heartaches. A delirium of chaos and bliss. And we find the collateral beauty of hope, healing, strength, and immeasurable love when we appreciate the tension of holding both the joys and struggles together.

  1. Stop worrying. No, really, stop

Worrying gets you nowhere. Well, it actually gets you somewhere: down a rabbit hole of missed opportunity. When we consume our minds with what ifs and worst case scenarios, we can lose sight of all the blessings. And I’ve come to learn more times than all times, that most of what I fretted over NEVER came to pass. “Trust more, think less,” says the mom still figuring this out.

  1. You’re not alone on a mothering island

Millions of moms share the same shore because the feelings side of our unique experiences are universal. When we choose to speak authentically about how we feel rather than stuff the truth for fear of being the only mom on earth who could possibly feel this way, the faster our self-confidence grows.

  1. Speak, but also be

While the speak/listen ratio in mothering young kids is probably 60/40 or 70/30 because of inherent needs to train, instruct, guide, etc., the tweens, teens, young adult ratio needs to invert—like 20/80. Our kiddos need us to listen and be present, not over-comment, over-suggest, or over-guide. Their life is in turmoil and unsolicited meddling adds more confusion and frustration. I’ve come to see the tremendous value and necessity of letting my kids learn themselves into the answers, and sometimes it’s gut wrenching and painful as a mom, but a must.

  1. Cherish everything

Did I mention cherish everything?

  1. Count to ten before all things

Perspective is key. And the sooner we practice tempering our impulses, the easier the parenting in the later stages. Not only because we grow in patience and control, but because we need tongue biting to become a non-thinking automatic. Getting olderish makes it impossible to remember lots of stuff, let alone a mindfulness about counting to ten.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers

All I can do is drop the mic on this one and saunter off the pretend stage. Because comparing is despairing.

  1. Live simply and simply live

De-complication = bliss. Eighteen years lasts for 10 seconds. I can’t bear to look back at the number of trips around the clock that were lost on me due to frazzledness or freak out mode. De-complicate at all costs and just live one simple breath at a time.

The journey of motherhood does a number on our heart for sure. And if we allow ourselves to learn from the flux, the experience can leave us with a head full of retrospect and a heart which continues to morph in a gazillion ways.

When it comes to raising kids, you all know we can’t make this doo doo up. Nor should we. The whole shebang is one glorious gift.

Fall into Grace, crazy Mommas!

Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.