Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

“I’m sorry. My little introvert hasn’t had time alone today.”

I made this statement to a lady who was at the grocery store picking up last-minute supplies for a birthday party. She saw my daughter’s sparkly bow in her hair and gave her a compliment. My daughter was trying to squish her 6-year-old body between my leg and the shopping cart to avoid any and all eye contact.

“She’s looking at me, Mommy. Tell her to stop looking at me!”

My sweet girl refused to respond to the kind woman’s compliments or the conversation she was trying to initiate. As I stood awkwardly in the checkout line with nowhere to run and a leg that was losing circulation from being clung to so tightly, I took notice of what was making everything so awkward. Many different feelings were floating around in my head: a unique mixture of embarrassment for the way my daughter was acting, longing for the lady to know how amazing my little girl really is when she does choose to engage, and guilt for having any of these thoughts at all. 

On the drive home, I thought about this situation and how many times I find myself explaining my four children’s actions to other people in fear of being misunderstood or facing unnecessary judgment.

“He’s just really tired.”

“She gets overwhelmed in big crowds.”

“He has a lot of energy he needs to get out.”

Oh, and my famous line, “We’re working on [fill in the blank with a behavior].”

These are just a few of the many statements made when I feel the looks of burning judgments all around me—or at least convince myself that these looks are, in fact, happening. Being misunderstood is my biggest nemesis. Knowing that people can’t see the full picture of my family’s situation or my children’s unique needs is difficult! I can’t let others into all the details of our lives, but I have this deep need to let them peek inside and learn more than they really probably care to. These little statements I make are ultimately excuses so others will be more accepting. These excuses give me a false sense of power and control in an otherwise out of control situation. 

If my kid is melting down and I say he’s tired, then maybe someone will give us more grace for the behaviors. Because, more times than not, he really IS tired! If my joy-filled daughter I am always raving about shows up to a situation and isolates herself, I convince myself that those at the gathering will look down on her and never give her the chance she deserves. When my energy-filled son seems out of control, I want others to know that I actually am teaching him better ways to expel that energy and that his energy is part of what makes him so determined and driven.

But do any of these excuses actually work? And who are they for? I always think they are for the other person or for my kids, but ultimately they are for me. They are for me to save face. They are for me to feel like and project that I have it more together than I actually do. 

One day I decided to stop. I needed to stop being my kids’ spokesperson and simply let them be kids—with all their crazy emotions and difficult back stories. I needed to be present to their needs in the hard moments and less focused on other people’s thoughts about them. 

The excuses were second nature to me, and I didn’t realize it until I wasn’t allowing them out of my mouth. 

Teacher: “We had a difficult time with your son in class today at first, but he turned things around!”

My first thought and what I wanted to say was, “Well, it’s been a chaotic morning and we didn’t get much time to calm him down before I brought him to class!”

What I actually said: “Thanks for letting me know!”

Then I turned around and spoke with my son about what was going on in his head and heart.

Inside, I felt better releasing the control. I cannot make people think about me and my family what I want them to think. Even if I list every excuse in the book. But what I can do is be there for my kids in the hard moments instead of spending my time and energy investing in changing the thoughts of others. 

Sure, there are some situations where an explanation is called for, but I am choosing to be more discerning of those times. I’m taking a different approach and allowing my kids’ behaviors to be a work in progress and not a reflection of me. Because it’s not about me!.

Years from now, I wouldn’t want my grown kids around their group of friends explaining every little thing I do: 

“Mom just gets this way sometimes when she doesn’t get much sleep.”

“Mom doesn’t really understand this because she grew up in a different time.”

No. This sounds terrible when I turn it around and walk in their shoes. I want the freedom and space to be me. The me who is grumpy in the mornings and a little naive but who is constantly working on bettering myself along the way. 

I’m choosing to give my kids this same freedom. We are each a work in progress—no excuses needed. 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Amanda Foust

Amanda is a wife, mother, writer/editor, and certified life coach. Pen and paper make her spirit come alive. She spends her creative time reading, decorating, and handwriting fonts. Her world is better with an assortment of chocolate and a stack of books packed and ready for travel. You can find more of her writing at http://www.downsupsteacups.com/ and http://thedailypositive.com/

To the Fifth Grade Parents: Thank You

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Arcade style photo machine, color photo

To the fifth-grade parents in my community: How are we here already? The end of fifth grade. The end of elementary school. It feels like yesterday we saw each other at kindergarten drop off, some of us through the tears of sending our first baby to school, some seasoned pros, and a small group of us with a touch of extra worry in our mama hearts—the special ed mamas. Among the many things I worried about sending my kindergarten son to school was how your children would treat him. Would they laugh at him like they did at his Montessori...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

Your Youngest Child Will Always Be Your Baby

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

The baby of our family is no longer a baby.  She turned five this year. She talks a mile a minute, rides her scooter on one leg with no hands, and is learning to read. She’s sweet and creative and has the best sense of humor that makes me belly laugh daily. She has long, strong legs, and her round toddler cheeks have morphed into something more mature. All remnants of babyhood and toddlerhood have long since gone from her. She is all little girl—a kid with the world at her fingertips, ready to explore everything life has to offer. I watch in wonder...

Keep Reading

I’m a Helicopter Mom Learning to Become the Place They Can Land

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child

My daughter places a paper in front of me on the kitchen counter, looking up at me expectedly. My eyebrows lift in question before reaching down to pick up the wrinkled sheet. Next to an empty line awaiting my check mark reads: My child has my permission to attend the field trip. The child is my kindergartener. The field trip is on a school bus. The school bus will travel into the city. Over an hour away. Without me. Two steps to my left sits a pink and yellow backpack. Next to it, a sequined lunchbox. The lunchbox is making...

Keep Reading

Six Feels So Much Bigger

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl with horse, color photo

Six . . . Six is only one number more than five,  one grade, one year . . . but it feels so different. Five is baby teeth and new beginnings. Five is venturing out into the world, maybe making a friend. Meeting a teacher. Learning to ride a bike. Six took my breath away. Six looks like a loose front tooth—tiny and wiggly, soon to be replaced by a big tooth, one that will stay forever. Six looks like a bright purple bike zooming down the driveway. RELATED: When There Are No More Little Girls’ Clothes Six looks like playing...

Keep Reading

You Were Meant to Be Our Oldest

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Brother holding little sister on back

Dear oldest child, Thanks for taking one for the team. You’ve probably thought by now that Dad and I really have no idea what we are doing. You’re not wrong. Please don’t misunderstand, we have goals and ambitions as parents. We’re trying to raise you to be a healthy, positive, and contributing part of society. But you are—and have always been—our guinea pig. You are the test subject to this whole parenting thing. Each new phase you encounter brings another new phase of learning and growth. Unfortunately, with that comes growing pains, and you often take the brunt of those....

Keep Reading

The Bittersweet Reality of Your Baby Turning 5 Years Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl lying on living room floor, color photo

Those first five. Those precious first five years have flown by. I blinked and here we are. I look back and think about all the times I wanted these days to go by faster. The times I couldn’t wait to get to bedtime. The days I wasted being irritable and angry because sometimes being a mom is just too hard. But now? Now, I wish I could have slowed it all down. Savored it a little longer. A little harder. That beautiful wild child who fought like hell from the moment she was born has been burning that fire ever...

Keep Reading

The Petrified-Squished-Spider Stage of Motherhood

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Bug squashed on windshield, color photo

There is a squished spider corpse dangling from the inside of my car windshield. I don’t know how long it has been there. Not because I don’t know when the time of death took place, but because I’ve lost track of the number of days it’s been a fellow passenger of ours. The burial service is past due. And a cleaning of my vehicle is so long overdue, if it were a library book I’d be banned from the library by now. When my husband removed his hat one evening while driving and used it as a spider swatter, he...

Keep Reading

Listen to Their Endless Chatter Now So They’ll Talk to You as Tweens and Teens

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and young daughter talking on the couch

I’m a talker. I’m a spill-the-beans, over-sharing, rambling on about my latest fascination chatterbox. I love words, and so do my kids. I’ve spent over a decade listening to my kids share—often, as they all talk at once. They go on and on about their day, rambling about how their sibling has been driving them nuts, their shenanigans with their friends, and never-ending factoids about video games. So many words, so many significant and yet simple thoughts brought to life in our bustling conversations.  Sometimes I love all the chatter, and sometimes the sheer volume of it drives me to...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergarten Graduate, My Hand Will Always Be Yours to Hold

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

Tomorrow you’ll graduate kindergarten. You chose the perfect shirt for the occasion. It’s a blue and white button-up. “Get one with big checkers, Mom, not little ones,” was your request. I know it’ll make your eyes pop from under your too-big red graduation hat. It’s going to be adorable. You’re going to be adorable.  You’ve been counting down the days. You’re ready and, truthfully, I am too—even though I’m so often in denial about how quickly this time with you is passing. Didn’t you just start crawling? How is it possible you’ll already be in first grade next year? RELATED:...

Keep Reading