Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

I don’t know how it is in your house, but in our house, this mama right here finds everything. Every. Lost. Thing. If it’s lost I find it, except of course when I lose my own stuff.

“Where’s my backpack?” my daughter yells in the morning.

“In the front hall closet, where it always is,” I say back.

“Do you know where my library books are?” my son asks.

“In the library basket,” I answer.

“I lost my sparkly dress-up hat from three years ago,” my son says.

“It’s in your closet, upstairs, behind all your Lego bins,” I say.

When something is lost, I don’t stop until I find it. Victory is mine; I dust my hands off and walk away with a smile on my face. You can’t hide from me, I think to all the stuff we have in our house.

I like finding things—it’s a challenge. Also, it just adds to my insomnia when I can’t find something. And I need one more thing on my insomnia list like I need another pile of laundry to fold.

But lately, there’s this little nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I’m not helping the situation. It’s not just the annoying fact that the people in my house loose a gazillion things a day so they ask me a gazillion times a day where things are; it’s this thought that my kids are horrible at looking for things. They are downright lazy. And I have made them that way, I suspect.

The other night when my son asked where the tracing paper was, I suggested he look on his shelf in our living room. I knew the paper was there—in fact there were four pads of Strathmore tracing paper with the easy-to-find, bright yellow cover on his shelf. Only the blind couldn’t find this tracing paper.

He looked and whined and looked and whined and couldn’t find it. I could have easily jumped up and grabbed it for him, but I talked myself back from the ledge and let him search.

At the same time my daughter said, “Have you seen my new Wings of Fire book? I just brought it down and can’t find it anywhere.”

“Just brought it down as in when?” I asked.

“As in this morning,” she threw back at me.

“Nope, haven’t seen it,” I said. And I kept reading my own book. Let’s be honest here, I wasn’t really reading the words as the sound of two children whining over not being able to find what they were looking for pierced into my concentration, but I was pretending to read and I was not helping them. Neither was my husband.

Or, maybe we were helping them, in a way. Helping them work harder to practice their investigative skills, helping them by letting them problem solve, instead of me solving the problem for them.

“Help me,” my daughter snarked.

“I’ll let you look for it on your own first, and then, after you’ve exhausted everything you can think of, I’ll help you.”

“That’s mean, you’re not helping me at all!” she said.

“I am helping you,” I said.

“How? How are you helping me?” she said in her nastiest tone of voice she uses when she’s especially frustrated with me.

“I’m letting you learn to look for something on your own.”

“Great,” her sarcasm dripped from her words. And two seconds later, “Found it!”

And before I could even smile inwardly at the fact that she did, in fact, find her book all by herself, she spit out, “Thanks for nothing, Mama.”

Whoo Boy! Do my kids know how to get my hackles up.

“You do not speak to me like that,” I said at the exact same time as my husband said, “Don’t ever speak to your mom like that, Lily. You need to apologize.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled from her chair.

My son was still looking through all the books and pads of paper for the tracing paper. I could see it from where I sat. Maybe that kid needs glasses, I thought. Seriously, it’s right in front of you! I wanted to scream.

I thought of all the things we are trying to teach our kids daily. How to be kind, how to be respectful, how to problem solve, how to have compassion, how to not give up, what it means to eat healthy, what it means to have healthy relationships, how to take care of our bodies, how to take care of each other, how to take care of the planet, how to grow self-confidence, how to be brave, how to love. Academic skills, emotional skills, spiritual skills, and simple life skills. On and on forever!

Often times, the way we teach them is with an action, but in this case, my daughter’s words rang in my ears, “Thanks for nothing, Mama!” Maybe she was onto something. It’s one thing for me to find all the lost things for everyone, but by doing that I’m not helping them learn how to search for things on their own. In this case, my non-action would hopefully help my kids down the road in life more than my go-to action of taking charge.

I know it’s hard to step back, to not do something to help our kids, but I believe there are times when us not doing something, when the “nothing” helps them build up their grit, their survival skills, if you will.

And as hard as it is for me not to find every lost thing in our house, the next time my daughter says, “Thanks for nothing, Mama!” because she had to do something for herself, my answer will be, “You’re welcome.”

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 now!

Order Now

Sara Ohlin

Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the upcoming contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher and Salvaging Love. You can find her essays at, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, and Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers. Find her at

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading