So, this just happened.

My baby walked barefoot across the stage to receive her college diploma yesterday. Now I sit here the morning after, dumbfounded and unable to fully grasp the enormity of this motherhood moment. The hubs and I are somehow 25 years into this parenting gig with three college graduates now walking along the path of full independence.

Are you kidding? What is my life right now?

Two decades ago, I had three littles running circles through my house, and now I have three twentysomethings running full speed into their own lives. The only word I can muster to describe how I feel is grateful. An overarching sense of gratitude that God led our family to this moment; regardless of how in the world we got here. It will be a slow go unpacking the rest of the feely stuff inside me.

The bigger question is, “What is your life right now?”

If you are in the weeds trying to manage and balance your family life while navigating heavy and vacillating emotions around how on earth you are going to survive, this message is for you.

First, let me say there is hope, mommas. And hope does not disappoint.

I make this promise because having three kids in 42 months made for a long season of weed-living in my world. Most days, I mothered from pure survival mode: keep my kids alive, feed them something, and try not to lose my mind or allow too much mom guilt to crush my soul.

Clearly, I had no idea what I was doing. The word “balance” in relation to motherhood, my marriage, work, friends was laughable. Raising the kids felt like 100% of the pie chart. So many nights, I’d stare into the abyss at 3 a.m. feeling complete dread and angst over my seeming unpreparedness for each new age and stage of child rearing. A litany of questions would race through my mind: Will they be able to adapt to new surroundings, overcome challenges, deal with bullies, make new friends? If they make poor choices, struggle with mental illness, battle addiction, suffer in relationships, will they be OK, and will I be able to help them?

The short answer to the long list of anxiety-ridden questions was yes. Between my three kids, every situation and circumstance I worried about above manifested in real life. Plus more. But the time-tested reality is, yes they were able to adapt, and yes I was able to help—the best I could. I never thought I’d make it to this point. Yet here I am.


Because God had my back, my kids, my life—my everything. In all my weakness and imperfection, worry and doubt, reservation and uncertainty, God stood in the gap, carrying me through. Seeing my joy-filled, capped, and gowned daughter in the arms of her big brothers yesterday awakened me to the gravity of this truth. It was a coming-full-circle moment for me, where I realized that in all my efforts to personally ensure the well-being of my children, it was the letting go that really helped me hang on. Trusting God to take care of my family was the best decision I ever made. I didn’t have to know what I was doing because God knew what He was doing. Hallelujah.

God’s got your everything too, mommas. Whatever overwhelms you now contains the life force that is moving you toward a season that will take your breath away. For all the times I was exhausted, racked with guilt, or drowning in fear, I can now look back and see that God was there all along. Sometimes I just couldn’t see Him. Maybe I should have been more like my daughter and walked through life on my bare feet. She’s known to go shoeless, and does so to feel more connected to God. Having her feet touch the earth keeps her grounded. I could have used more days of feeling like I didn’t need to be in control (not to mention I wasn’t anyway!).

Seeing our kids blossoming into the young men and women God is calling them to be is beyond fulfilling. Watching them unfold their gifts, follow their hearts, pursue their dreams, and find out who they are is fairy-tale like. Observing them overcome adversity and push through their suffering is a relief.

This is the hope we can all hold onto. And hope never disappoints.

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