Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

We drove through a holiday lights display event the other night. I texted my friend to let her know it was great and that my three teens enjoyed it

“Ugh,” she replied. “I can’t get the teenager to go. He said it’s for little kids.”

“MAKE HIM GO!” I angry-texted back. “He needs some holiday cheer.”

Because if there was ever a year our teenagers need some Christmas magic, it’s this one.

Every kid in the country has missed out on something in 2020, some more than others. In our area, school has been shut down, sports canceled, and social events non-existent. Most parents are begging their teens to wake up and get on their laptops so they can face hours of online learning, then after school, they spend hours trying to figure out what they were supposed to have learned that day.

They miss their sports and activities and friends. Their already teen-limited motivation is at an all-time low. Their mental health is pushed to the brink.

And as parents, we are left grasping at straws trying to figure out what to do for our children. How much do we push? How much do we turn the other cheek? Where is the line between safety and socialization? What is their breaking point?

For most of these big kids, I don’t think they have any idea what they need right now, so sometimes we have to give them a little push in the right direction.

In the case of my friend whose son is having a particularly hard time these last few months, I felt he needed a big fat shove to go see some lights. I know he’s been holed up in his room, sullen and despondent about missing his basketball season, his girlfriend, and school. Normally an energetic kid, he has withdrawn completely from the outside world. Torn between keeping his family members who have an autoimmune disease safe and the desire to feel “normal,” it is a lot for a 15-year-old to handle.

His mom tried to give him some space, but unfortunately, when left to his own devices, he withdrew even further. It became harder to get him to come out of his room, to get him to exercise, to care about anything. He is stuck in a cycle and he can’t break free.

Sometimes when we see these adult-sized children in front of us, we forget their brains aren’t fully developed yet. In times of crisis, they don’t always make the best decisions for themselves; when their lives are tough, they don’t always know how to get out of the muck.

Sometimes, we need to aggressively encourage them to participate.

Forced family fun is never wrong in these situations.

Because big kids still get excited by Christmas lights, they still love hot chocolate, they still wonder what the gifts are under the tree—even when they act like they don’t care.

Surly teens may say they don’t want to bake cookies, but make them do it anyway. Adolescent girls may roll their eyes when you want to take the cheesy photo in matching pajamas in front of the tinsel tree from your childhood, but make them do it anyway. Your man-child may not want to put his video game controller down long enough to watch The Grinch, but make him do it anyway.

The next night my friend texted me. “Thanks for pushing me to make him go. We ended up having a great time. We even took a selfie!”

If there was ever a season our teenagers need a little holiday magic, it’s this one.

Even if they need some extra prodding to participate.

PS – If you’re a mom of teens, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make Christmas perfect . . . you’re doing great.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

Sundays Hit Different When You’re a Mom

In: Motherhood
Mom sitting with child in chair in darkened nursery

I’ve had my fair share of Sunday scaries throughout my life. In elementary school, I felt disappointment in the last week of summer, and in middle school, I felt a little bummed when Sundays rolled around. In high school and college, I learned to live for my weekends. In my first job, I dreaded the work load the week would bring, knowing I had to prove myself as a first-year teacher. I’ve even worked in toxic jobs that made me sick to my stomach just before Monday morning. But nothing can compare to the feeling I have today. Sunday scaries...

Keep Reading

I Wish I Had a Real Mom

In: Motherhood
Woman sitting on park bench alone, black and white image

I wish I had a mom sometimes. I’m sorry, I think that sounds a little insensitive of me. I mean, I do have a mom, but at times I wish I had a real mom. You know, one of those moms who you can call at 2 a.m. when the baby is screaming and you don’t know what to do. Or a mom who doesn’t hesitate to come over when you need a break. I can count the times my mom has had my daughters overnight on one hand. And the number of times she has offered, without me having...

Keep Reading

Ordinary Moments Can Become Precious Memories

In: Motherhood
Smiling child looking through playground equipment

Something I’ve started to realize is that every moment has the potential to be a memory. Yes, even the everyday, nothing out of the ordinary moments have the potential to be a memory we’ll remember years later when our hair shines gray. Every moment has the potential to become a memory we vividly remember if we take a moment to breathe it in. RELATED: The Secret to Slowing Down Time Is to Notice the Moments You’re Living In The moments when we’re so tired from the day but find ourselves playing tag in the backyard, feeling the breeze in our...

Keep Reading

Really Good Moms Are the Ones Who Never Feel Good Enough

In: Motherhood
Mother with infant and preschool son, color photo

“You are such a good mom.” Those words were medicine to my tired heart. They were Tylenol for my splitting headache. Motrin for my annoying cramps. And serotonin for my dejected mood. Six simple words strung together were all I needed to hear. I just needed to be seen for everything I was trying to be. Recognized for the role no one is ever fully qualified for. Complimented when my inner voice was critical. Being a mom is exhausting. It’s demanding. It’s never-ending. It’s not always rewarding. It’s not always pretty. It’s hardly ever restful or uneventful. Accepting those truths...

Keep Reading

The Girl I Used To Know

In: Motherhood
Woman smiling, black-and-white photo

Sometimes, I see her. That girl I used to know. The one who used to smile. Ear to ear. The one who was carefree. Reckless even.  Her hair was long. Temper short.   Part of the appeal.  RELATED: I’m Not Putting My Dreams On Hold—I’m Holding My Dreams I steal glances in the same way she was stolen. Quick, fleeting. All at once. In restaurant windows, bathroom mirrors. The rare photo.  But she looks different now. Changed only in the way that life can. She has everything. Nothing. Finding herself lost.  But, still. I see her.  She’s sand washed. Softened. Yet her heart—full.  And while they sit there and watch the world,...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Friendships Are Like Blue Jeans

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Friends holding hands no faces showing, wearing blue jeans

Dear daughter, As you grow, relationships with other girls will often be complicated and sometimes feel discouraging. Friendships can be life-giving and beautiful. They can also be dramatic and draining.  Here’s a little trick to understanding the ebb and flow of friendships in your life.  Think of friendships like blue jeans.  They might be in your life for just a season. They can be trendy, but not last very long. Sometimes you will outgrow them. Sometimes they won’t fit, and you will have to put them back.  RELATED: Not All Friendships Are Meant To Last Forever Sometimes they are brand new, but...

Keep Reading

To the Parents of a Kid Who Throws Tantrums: You’re Doing a Good Job

In: Motherhood, Toddler
a little boy in rain boots standing on a log

To the parents of a kid who throws tantrums, from the parent of a kid who threw tantrums: GOOD JOB! I’m sure you need to hear those words. I sure did. Because smack dab in the middle of an epic meltdown, the last thought running through my mind was that I was doing a good job. But I was. And so are you. And you’ll hear and see words that’ll attempt to have you believe otherwise. You’ll be made to think that you ought to be able to control another human and their emotions (spoiler alert: you can’t). RELATED: Behind...

Keep Reading

To the Mom Overwhelmed by Anger and Guilt

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman with head in hands and kids in background

Long before you became a mother, you fantasized about the special connection you would share with your little ray of sunshine. You made the promise that you would arm yourself with all the patience in the world and be the calmest and most loving parent there is.   And how long did it take you to end up confused, worried, or disappointed when reality didn’t meet your expectations of being a mother?   In my practice as a psychotherapist, I often meet mothers overwhelmed by guilt and shame because, in their eyes, they don’t rise to the challenge.   I snapped at him...

Keep Reading