Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

I discovered a meatball under the china cabinet this morning. We haven’t had meatballs for two weeks in these parts, and I found it surprising that I saw the meatball before I smelled it. I pondered it while I continued my search for hidden treasures beneath the rest of the dining room furniture, and I also pondered the ordinariness of my daily life.

Ten years ago I spent my days teaching students with disabilities inside the walls of a respected high school. I used the knowledge attained through my master’s degree on a daily basis, and every day brought new challenges and changes in my schedule. My husband and I traveled overseas often, and when we had a week off, we regularly took off across the country with our camping gear in the back of the SUV. Life was filled with adventure and possibility.

I remembered the adventures as I peeled a gooey piece of some unknown fruit off the leg of the dining room table, and part of my heart seemed to mourn the loss of my former life. While I love being a mom–and most days I even prefer full-time parenting to full-time teaching–there are days when the ordinariness catches up with me. There are days when I join my working friends for dinner and find myself jealous of what they have: eight daily hours of socialization with other adults, stretches of uninterrupted quiet time, coffee breaks, lunch without little hands snatching it off the plate, and projects that are noticed and appreciated by others.

Moving to the kitchen, still on my hands and knees, I almost started sulking in the thoughts of what my life could be. That’s when he caught me. My two-year-old refuses to let me clean the floors without jumping on my back and riding me like his very own pony.

“Giddyup!” he shouted, as I wiped under the kitchen table. And in that moment, I decided it was time to shrug off the sour attitude and embrace the ordinariness of my life and the 30-pound cowboy on my back. I decided it was time to make a plan for adding some extra joy to our schedule. Here’s what I came up with:

Start Counting Blessings
Too often, I correct my toddler when he climbs on my back to play cowboy. I tell him I need to clean the floor and I can’t be a horsey. What if, instead of embracing frustration in these moments, I counted them as blessings? What if I kept track of all the small blessings of each ordinary day: daffodils springing through black soil, robins on the lawn, rain pounding softly on the windowpane, and poplar leaves racing across the deck. Keeping track of the things for which we’re thankful opens our hearts to walk in greater joy. There simply isn’t room for grumbling in a heart that’s filled with thanksgiving.

Incorporate Some Simple Fun
As I crawled to the couch with my little cowboy on my back, I realized that I might actually enjoy joining him for some simple fun. Instead of trying to keep him occupied while I cleaned and attended to the day’s tasks, what if we did something we would both enjoy? In no time, we were dressed in our play clothes and headed to the woods with a bucket and a net.

Simply watching him chase moths, toads, and salamanders filled me with great joy. Joining him only amplified my pleasure. Adding a playful activity we both enjoyed livened our day like nothing else.

Mix up the Schedule (as much as you can without disaster)
While most of me enjoys keeping on a schedule, there are days when the daily routine feels like it’s draining the vitality from my weary body. After too many of these days, we pick a day to completely mix things up. We head to visit a friend out of town for the morning, spend a day with my parents, or drive north to Lake Erie for a day. I make sure there’s an appropriate place for a nap (the carseat works) at the appropriate time, and we enjoy a change in schedule.

Remember This Is a Season
When our first child came home from the hospital, I thought I’d never brush my teeth or remove my contacts without a baby in my arms again in my life. It seemed that the intensity of the newborn stage would last forever, and it never crossed my mind that completing daily tasks would actually get easier in time. Our daughter is now approaching her seventh birthday, and the few months of carrying her everywhere are long gone. This season of parenting little ones will go fast. We honor the season when we don’t wish it away and keep it in perspective. This is just a short stretch of our long lives.

Find a Community
I used to think that since I was a young mom, I needed to join a mom’s group. I tried several, but none of them were a great fit. Finally, I decided to embrace the community I already had. I was intentional to invite my friends for coffee regularly. I started hosting book clubs and study groups in my home. We had potlucks with neighbors, and I joined online blogging communities. Whether it’s a group of moms, a group of friends, or even an online community, we all need a place to share life with others. Stepping into community is nothing short of revitalizing.

I haven’t mastered the art of enjoying every moment of my life as a full-time mom. I’m not sure it’s possible to enjoy every moment of any occupation. But one thing I know is that when I slow down to intentionally enjoy my children, when I give thanks, and when I stay connected with other adults, this ordinary life isn’t too bad at all.

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

Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe lives with her husband Darrell and two children in western Pennsylvania. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a writer, mentor, and teacher. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their passions and make an impact in the culture. She enjoys hiking, camping, running, and spending time outside with her family.

You’re Learning Life by Watching Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child touching mother's face as they lie on a bed

Every morning my daughter and I go outside for some fresh air. She feeds her chickens and plays and explores and walks around with her dog while I follow her around and have a cup of coffee.  This morning, my girl grabbed one of her coffee cups from her toy kitchen and brought it outside with her while she walked with her dog and pretended to take sips out of it.  Guys. I stood there watching her with her toy coffee cup, walking around with her animals, and I cried giant baby tears.  RELATED: I Wasn’t Counting On You Growing...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Love Means Slowing Down

In: Friendship, Kids
Two boys on bicycles riding to park, shown from behind

Think of something faster than a 7-year-old boy on a two-wheel bike. Maybe a race car at the drop of the checkered flag? Perhaps a rocket ship blasting into space? Or how quickly a toddler mom books it out of the house after being told she can have a hands-free hour ALONE in Target. Yes, all of these things are seriously speedy, but I have still never seen anything quite as quick as a boy on a bike on a sunny day with endless open track ahead of him. Until today. Today, my 6-year-old son wanted to ride bikes with...

Keep Reading

I Am a Wrestling Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three young boys with wrestling medals, color photo

As the sun is rising on a frigid winter morning, a brave and determined group of athletes are weighing in at a high school gym. They are physically and mentally preparing for a long day spent at a tournament where they will spend only minutes wrestling, despite the hours they sit and wait all day. Their sport uses offense, defense, and mental strength unlike any other sport. My sons and nephew are wrestlers. They are part of a special team of athletes who work together but compete as individuals.           Their youth team is run by all volunteer coaches with...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading

Dear Busy Sports Mom: It’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mom watching soccer game, photo from behind

My daughter stands on the front porch every morning and waves goodbye to me as I pull out of the driveway to go to work.  She is 11, and recently eye-rolling, long sighs, and tears have become more commonplace in our daily interactions. But, there is also this: “Bye! Have a good day!” she calls to me in the quiet of early morning, neighbors not yet awake in their still dark houses. “You are AMAZING! You got this!” she continues in her little adult voice, sounding more like a soccer mom than a fifth grader.   Her hair is still a...

Keep Reading

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

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Raising You Right Is Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
little boy walking in sunlit field

You were the baby who slept nights. You were the infant who quietly stacked blocks one on top of the other. You were the toddler who watched other kids go down the slide at the park 20 times before attempting it yourself. You were the preschooler who hunkered down quietly and patiently when meeting your grandmother’s chickens. So I assumed you would be a gentle boy. And you are.   And yet, now that you’re eight, I’m beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I had my first inkling that day when you were five...

Keep Reading