Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

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!

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

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.

Dear Daughter, It’s Okay If You Hate Me Right Now

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking up at mother

Dear daughter: I’ve heard it from you a thousand times when you don’t get your way. You yell it when your force of will doesn’t bend mine, thinking it will convince me to give in. But I’m here to tell you once and for all: I don’t care if you hate me right now. Last night you hated me because I made you take a bath before bed. This morning, it was because I made you wear pants. I’m the worst mom ever because I told you to eat a vegetable, and the whole day is ruined because I won’t...

Keep Reading

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