So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

How many times in a week can one mom cry as she drops her kids off at school?

That’s a fun math problem, isn’t it? One that I can solve a lot easier than my fifth grader’s common core math worksheets. You’ve had those weeks too, haven’t you? Last week, the answer to that math problem was two. Could have been worse. Has been worse.

There are so many reasons for mama tears during morning drop-off—the kids struggling with us leaving them, our struggles with being away from them (I travel extensively as a speaker, and have hyperventilated and even thrown up (excuse my transparency) in an airport parking lot once because I was so upset about leaving—but that’s a whole other post).

Our tears sometimes fall because our kids are having a bad day, or we’re having a bad day. How many times does a mom have to tell her 10-year-old that hangers and dirty clothes aren’t bathroom decor before she raises her voice? How many minutes can a mom wait before intervening to help her four-year-old who’s trying to button her coat while fighting back tears of frustration that I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF!

Sometimes our tears come from knowing the difficulties our children face at school—bullying, learning problems, struggles with teachers or staff. I’ve cried all of those tears and then some, and I’m sure you have, too.

There’s something so vulnerable about letting our kids, even more vulnerable, walk through those school doors each day, knowing that we can’t help them with what they encounter. We can’t protect them from the teasing, the frustrating tasks, the difficult learning situations and worse.

It downright hurts some days to kiss them goodbye as they head out the car door or cross the threshold into the classroom.

But then . . . 

Some days you’re parked in the never-ending car-line slurping your second cup of cold coffee and you see it, as your fifth grader jumps out of the car to catch up to a classmate—a classmate who’s been more cold than warm to her over the years—who’s part of the “popular group”.

You hold back tears and bated breath because you can’t stand the sight of her being ignored.

You can hear the muffled sound of her calling out her classmate’s name. You cringe, waiting for the rebuff.

And then you see it. 

A smile!

A genuine, full-on, happy-to-see-you smile, beaming back at your daughter from her classmate.

And as you watch your beautiful girl beam back at her, your tears start to fall.

“Did I just see what I think I saw?” you wonder out loud. You fight back the urge to go fist bump your daughter for the successful exchange and awkwardly hug the other girl and instead wait anxiously for the other never-ending car-line at the end of the day to hear more about it. ‘Cause chances are good that you’ll hear all about it and then some at the end of school day from a tween, right?!

I made it from Tuesday to Friday last week before I cried again. High five to me! Because our children are equal opportunity tear inducers, this time, it was an experience with our 4-year-old daughter who brought on my waterworks.

Our Ava is shy. Acutely, painfully shy like my husband. Get to know her and you’ll need ear plugs and a good pain reliever to cope with the noise and energy flying at you at warp speed, but until then, be prepared for her to not look at you. Be prepared to strain to hear her whisper a response to you, if you get even that.

I worry about her. Not just because she’s so shy, but because she has complex medical issues that have impacted her life and will continue to do so. She looks like any typical 4-year-old girl with a mass of curly brown hair, big brown eyes, and an infectious grin, but some days, all I see are the holes in her heart that we’re praying close on their own. And I fret. Not only for her physical health, but her emotional and mental well-being.

I’ve laid awake more nights than I count, wondering what the future holds for her, worrying she will face the wrath of bullies or the barbed words of oh-so-honest children with no filters who ask frank questions and sense differences from a mile away. I wonder if she will make friends.

But then . . . 

Some days you’re stuffing the puffy marshmallow of a winter coat and way-too-large-for-a-preschooler backpack on the way-too-small coat hook, and you see it.

A smile!

From a mom of a fellow preschooler and the little boy, as they cram items into his cubby.

A genuine, full-on, happy-to-see you smile, beaming back at your daughter from the two of them.

And as you watch your beautiful girl beam back at them, you fight back the tears starting to fall.

“Did I just see what I think I saw?” you silently wonder. You fight back the urge to go fist bump your daughter for making eye contact with them and smiling and awkwardly hug the other mom and little boy, and instead wait anxiously for the other never-ending car-line at the middle of the day to hear more about it. ‘Cause chances are good with a 4-year-old that you’ll hear all about it and then some at the end of school day, right?!

As hard as it is to send our kids through those school doors each day, no matter how many tears of sadness, uncertainty, or fear that we shed for them, there’s always hope.

Hope for learning new things, achieving goals, overcoming obstacles, forming friendships.

To the classmates and mother who smiled at my daughters, I thank you. Your smiles not only made their days, but they made mine.

They give me hope.

And to all of you fellow mothers (and fathers) out there fighting back tears at drop-off, I see you. I feel you. You aren’t alone in your struggles.

And thankfully, you’re also not alone in your tears of joy. Today’s a new day for all of us—our kids included.

You never know what good things may happen today for your child. You never know what amazing achievements or situations you’ll be hearing about later.

And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to see them unfolding right before your very eyes.

I guess that’s one good thing about there never-ending car-line. You get a chance to see hope unfolding.

You may also like: 

Dear God, Please Fill the Holes

Motherhood is a Series of Bittersweet Goodbyes

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden is a well-known Christian and Pro-Life Speaker. She is the author of the award-winning book, You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. Melissa is a frequent guest on radio programs such as Focus on the Family, the BBC, and the Mike Huckabee show. Melissa’s a frequent contributor to sites including The Mighty, LifeNews, and Fox News. Melissa, her husband Ryan, and daughters Olivia and Ava reside in Kansas City, Missouri.

Don’t Let Anyone Rush You, Mama

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother with two kids at home relaxing

From the moment our children are born, other people make it challenging to stay in the present moment—they start asking questions that look forward instead of at the now we are in. Can you believe how big she’s getting, where did your newborn go? Oh my goodness, he’ll be walking any day now! Are you thinking about preschool? What will you do when they’re both in school? What will you do when your baby goes to college? While these questions may come with good intentions, they’re not helpful at all. We moms need to be allowed to be fully in...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading

Kids Crave Your Time, Not Fancy Things

In: Kids, Motherhood
Dad and daughter with basketball smiling

I have four kids, and like most parents, I’m doing my best to give them a happy childhood, but we’re not really an activity family. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good day trip to the local water park or a night out at the movies, but with several different ages and a tight budget, activities or outings are rare for us. Sometimes I end up feeling bad about it, like our kids are missing out, but then I take a deep breath and realize that some of the best moments come from the simplest of things. Lucky for...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergarten Graduate—Wherever Life Takes You, I’ll Always Be Your Safe Place To Land

In: Kids, Motherhood

I cried on your first day of kindergarten. Did you know that? I held it together through the getting ready and the goodbyes—but once I had waved one last time and was pulling out of the parking lot, the lump in my throat poured out as hot tears down my cheeks.  How could you be starting kindergarten? You, my precious firstborn baby. We had some growing pains as we adjusted to a new routine. The school days were so long. I spent my days missing you and you spent yours missing me. We were apart from each other more than...

Keep Reading

The Secret to Slowing Down Time Is to Notice the Moments You’re Living In

In: Kids, Motherhood

Dear current self, You’ve heard a lot of mothers admonish you to slow down and enjoy every moment with your children. They’ve warned you with phrases like “before you know it,”  “in the blink of an eye,” and other cliché’s that haven’t really hit you, but they will. Soon, they will. I am writing you now because I’ve seen you trying to wrap your mind around the how-to—as if holding time in your hand is a skill anyone has successfully mastered. I’ll save you the suspense. It can’t be done. It is inevitable. Your kids are going to grow up....

Keep Reading

You Don’t Have to Celebrate a Holiday Just Because It’s On the Calendar

In: Kids, Living

I switched on the computer, adjusted my chair, then quickly swiveled back around again toward my husband, “Are you sure? You don’t mind?” “Me?” he made a swift waving motion as if swatting a fly. “Psht. Yeah, I’m fine with it. You?” He lifted his head and locked our eyes a little more securely, “Are you sure?” “Yes,” I said firmly, without hesitation. “OK, good,” my man turned back to his phone, “Love you.” “Good,” I confirmed. A rush of relief swept through me as muscles I didn’t even know were tense suddenly relaxed. A bubbling surge of energy had...

Keep Reading

I’m Raising Wild Boys

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy and toddler smiling at each other, color photo

Yesterday my boys (two and eight) were playing outside in our cul-de-sac—running, yelling, tackling each other . . . all the normal stuff. One of the neighbor moms was out as well, looking on as her son joined the fray.  “I need to send him over to your house for a week or two,” she joked, “so he can get more in touch with his boyness.”  “No, you don’t want to do that. My boys are wild things,” I quickly replied. And I wasn’t joking. My sons are rough, tough, primal beings.  Moments before this conversation, my oldest was ramming...

Keep Reading

A Big Move Brings Big Emotions For Little Kids—Here’s How to Help Them Cope

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

It doesn’t matter how outgoing or funny or charismatic your kids might be, the possibility of uprooting their little lives and relocating to a new city is terrifying for any parent. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and it’s an idea that feels almost insurmountable.  But when my husband got a job offer we couldn’t refuse, we packed up the car and drove our two kids (eight and four) west from Pennsylvania to the great state of Arizona. The decision weighed heavily on me, and I wasn’t prepared for the avalanche of mom guilt that followed. But as I’ve...

Keep Reading

My Kids May Never Be Professional Athletes, But They’ll Be Strong, Confident Adults Because of Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tween boy playing hockey, color photo

I have pivoted 180 degrees over the last few years on one major bone of contention in our household of four, which includes two sporty kids who love ice hockey and baseball: the rationale behind our, in my opinion, excessive expenditure of resources on our sons’ youth sports careers, and whether this makes any sense.  Neither of them is NHL or MLB bound. Or at least the chances, statistically, are extremely minuscule. And yet, we have directed an inordinate amount of our life savings as well as our precious time to not only club sports, but also private lessons, to...

Keep Reading

Food Allergies Won’t Stop Her—How My Daughter Is Teaching Me to Be Brave

In: Kids, Motherhood

Dear daughter, I know sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever do normal things without me hovering over you. Double and triple-checking your snack labels and drilling you about whether your allergy meds are packed and ready. It’s a lot for you to carry, physically and emotionally. But you’re so strong, sweet girl. Flexible, too. You can do this because you were built for it. And someday, someday, you’ll see it: that this story is yours because you carry it with grace. You don’t complain much, and when you do, you follow it up with a wise comment, saying this sort...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections