Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

We tend to expect a happy ending.

That’s the way we’re programmed. That’s the way it works in the movies. The happy ending helps us negate the pain we went through to get it. It resolves the anxiety (for the moment) and leaves us with enough warm fuzzies to get us through until the next time we’re smack-dab in the middle of the misery.

We wait for it.

The good news ends the nightly broadcast. The book’s conclusion is satisfying. We sense a “but” is coming as the article full of hard truth draws to a close.

And inevitably, when we talk about our hard days, we feel compelled to do the same.

It’s incredibly difficult to open up and be vulnerable at all, but when we’re brave enough to do so, we have to follow it up with a “but.”

But I’m so blessed.

But life is good.

But it’ll be better tomorrow.

But this is just a season.

Those things are surely true, but we don’t always feel them at the moment. We’re just groomed to soften the truth. That’s what people expect. And if we don’t do it, we’re afraid people will think we’re weak or ungrateful. Lacking character. Lacking faith.

But, can we be real?

Not every story has a happy ending. Not every day does, either. And sugar-coating the truth isn’t always helpful.

These tales we tell each otherwhether on a phone call with family, over the internet with virtually everyone we know, or around a table with friends and winethese tales are more than simple stories. They’re the experiences of our days. So it’s important we’re honest about them, as hard as it may be.

These are stories about real life. They should be authentic.

And this is a piece of my story.

RELATED: Can We Stop Saying “I’m Good” and Start Telling the Truth?

I spend most of my time at home with my kids.

I love them more than I ever thought I could love anything or anyone.

My heart feels like it’s bursting when I hold them tight, when we snuggle, when I look at their smiling faces.

I would do anything within my power—and pray for everything outside of it—to ensure their happiness and good health.

Genuinely, they bring me unparalleled joy.

BUT.

That doesn’t mean life is perfect. It’s not all Instagram-edited and Karen-approved.

Some days feel never-ending. Sure, we read books and craft dinosaur footprints from Play-Doh. We paint pictures, take baths, watch movies, build snowmen, assemble tile castles and LEGO forts. We cover all the magical things memories are made of.

Yet, I suspect even a magical life would feel ordinary if there were never dull or difficult moments. And we have plenty of those.

Life doesn’t always sparkle. Sometimes it’s just so painful all we can do is get through.

Some days—no, most days—are sprinkled with tattles and tears, sickness, behavioral issues, desperate pleas for half a dozen foods that are prepared and never eaten. Morning snuggles give way to tantrums. My little sweethearts are often temperamental, totally irrational, and impossible to please. (In other words, they’re human beings.)

I spend a good chunk of the day cleaning noses and tushies. Otherwise, I’m constantly cleaning a house that remains perpetually cluttered. I’m always tired, and I probably will be until the end of time, which is an agreement I didn’t realize I was making when I signed up for the parenting gig.

Yes, it’s worth it. But I’m still exhausted, and that’s still hard.

Some days, the kids’ battles with each other somehow turn me into Monster Mom. And Monster Mom makes everyone miserable.

RELATED: Dear Kids, I’m Sorry I Was a Jerk

Some days, I don’t know the person in the mirror. Others, I don’t like her. Many days, I find faults in her appearance. More often, in things she does and says. I replay it all in my mind.

Some days, the anxiety is more than I can handle. The psychological anxiety is tough enough, but there’s physical anxiety on top of it. I cannot reason myself out of that.

Some days threaten to never get started. Some days, I’d rather stay in bed. And then I battle myself to get off the couch. But I have to. And I feel completely worthless when I can’t.

Some days, I’m physically drained, emotionally wrecked, and mentally torn apart. Just a little of anything feels like too much of everything. I’m overwhelmed. I snap too easily.

Some days are full of doing all the things, yet nothing gets done. And I wonder why I bothered in the first place.

Some days are lonelier than I ever thought possible.

Some days, I cry in the shower. Or on the toilet. Or wherever I can go to be alone for a minute. Except I usually don’t even have the option because someone always wants to be with me . . . even in the bathroom.

Some days, it feels like the soundtrack of my life is a Sarah McLachlan song on a loop.

Some days, I wonder why I gave up my professional identity. Why did I derail my career? Did I get all the degrees for nothing?

Some days, I wonder if I’m fooling myself. Why am I trying to pursue my dreams? Did I hear God’s voice correctly? Did I project my own goals into His will?

Some days leave me feeling shattered. I thought I’d be more accomplished by now. I imagine people are thinking that I had such promise, and instead I chose to just stay home. They probably don’t know how challenging it is. They probably don’t know that so many moms-at-home have some kind of dream-chasing or craft-selling or teaching or side-hustling going on. Or those who don’t are still working insanely hard.

I try to remind myself it doesn’t matter what people think. But I still care.

Some days, my chest feels heavy and tight. My mind is full, and it won’t stop racing. But my heart, the thing that’s supposed to feel full, instead feels empty . . . on some moments of some days. That’s just the reality of being human, of being a mom, of being a woman, of being me.

RELATED: My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

Some days are not MOST days. But they still impact me, and I’m trying to remember I still matter. And they impact everyone else, too.

Some days, all I can do is look toward all the somedays still left.

Because I know the dark days are only the antagonists of my story. They will not win.

So, no, not every story has a happy ending. Not every day does, either.

But while there will inevitably be dark days, every day can start a new story.

And God and I are still co-writing mine. His plans for me are good, and I’m determined to live like it. I’m determined to have more happy endings than anything else.

Some day, I’ll look back and see that goodness and beauty were woven into the dark.

But for now, on those darkest days, what matters is that I’m honest about them. And that you’re honest about them, too. What matters is that we’re not alone in the struggle.

So, if you’re having a dark day . . . just know I’m fighting alongside you. We’re in this thing together.

Previously published on the author’s Facebook page

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Cassie Gottula Shaw

I'm Cassie, and I'm a writer, mama, Jesus enthusiast, cliche coffee drinker, and lover of all the stories. I believe in the power of faith and empathy, radical inclusivity, and the magic and beauty of ordinary days. I'm inspired every day by the firm belief that we owe something to each otherlove and human connection. When I'm not writing, you can find me running from dinosaurs, building castles, pursuing joy, or watching the sun rise over the fields of Nebraska (coffee in hand) where my husband and I are raising two spectacular children. For more stories, visit my Facebook page, From the House on a Hill with Cassie Gottula Shaw; Instagram, Cassie Gottula Shaw; and the blog, fromthehouseonahill.com

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

Praying For Your Kids is Holy Work of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mom hugging daughter by bed with open Bible

While excavating Mount Masada in Israel, archeologists discovered something extraordinary . . . a date palm seed. It might not seem like much (especially if you’re like me and totally expected it to be a new dinosaur or something), but this particular seed sat dormant in the dry desert soil for almost 2,000 years. Scientists ended up finding several more seeds like it throughout the Judean desert, and with a little TLC, they were able to sprout not just one but six of them. Six date palm trees, now bearing fruit that hasn’t been seen in two millennia. Incredible, right?...

Keep Reading

Choose to Be a Mother, Not a Martyr

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, black-and-white photo

There is a trend in motherhood right now . . . maybe it’s happened for a long time, but now since I am a mom, I am experiencing it: this idea that everything we do as moms makes us a martyr. And honestly, I am guilty here more times than I’m not. RELATED: You’re a Mother, Not a Martyr We have these inner, silent dialogues between us and our husbands, parents, in-laws, and friends. Things we say and think, but they never hear. They compound on each other in the hallways of our hearts before bitterness creeps in without us...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Reminds Me How Much I Need Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby in nursery, color photo

Parenting is not only about the work it takes to raise up a child, but it’s also about continuing the work of being raised in Christ. Stripping back our innermost layers of selfishness and laying our pride exposed. Seeing ourselves as the center of our own personal schedule is no longer an option. Feeling like we have power over anything quickly vanishes into thin air. Parenthood pushes us to surrender and accept God’s sovereign control. Parenting sanctifies us.  Parenting shows us our sinful attitudes. When plans are ruined, when another blowout spoils the perfect outfit you chose, when your toddler...

Keep Reading

When Did I Become Such an Angry Mom?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman with head in her hands

My oldest children and I had just navigated a tabletop board game. My son lost. My daughter won. I also lost. She’s four. For the record, I was trying my best. We were all putting the game away together when my son grabbed my daughter by the face and yelled, “IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY BECAUSE YOUR BREATH STINKS!” And then, Mount St. Meredith erupted. I (not so gently) removed him from the situation and (not so calmly) insisted that he . . . brush his own teeth. Yep. For the record, I was trying my best. RELATED: Mom Anger: Taming...

Keep Reading

Angel Babies are Heaven’s Gatekeepers

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Mother and baby silhouette

I never seemed to have the right words. I didn’t have the right words at four years old when my parents lost my 11-month-old brother, and I never seemed to have the right words as I watched family members and close friends lose both the new life growing within their wombs and the beautiful, precious life resting in their weary arms. So, I did what I thought would offer the most comfort. I simply tried to show up and be there the best I could. I shopped for their favorite treats. I dropped meals off on front porches and toys...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

So God Made a Farm Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Family walking on farm road at sunset

One day, God looked down at all the fields, barns, pastures, and farmers and knew He needed someone to take care of all the families on the land. He knew it had to be someone confident in herself to see that the farm doesn’t come first, even when it sometimes feels like it does. He knew the farm needed someone who understands her role is important, too—especially during the seasons of motherhood when she’s not out driving a tractor. Someone proud to stand by her farmer’s side.  So God made a farm mom. God knew farm kids would need someone...

Keep Reading

Even If It Doesn’t Feel like It, God Is Holding You

In: Faith
Woman sitting against tree outside

Sweet friend,  When you’re sitting in that doctor’s office, waiting to find out what is wrong, I know you’re scared. I wish I could come and sit down beside you, hold your hand, and reassure you that it’s going to be okay. No matter what news she tells you, it’s going to be okay.  Your world might change in an instant. I know there are so many feelings swirling inside you and that you’re fighting back the tears, but it’s going to be okay.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it, God is holding you. He knows exactly what’s going...

Keep Reading

God Doesn’t Make Mistakes, Even When Motherhood Doesn’t Look Like You Planned

In: Faith, Motherhood
Teen with Down syndrome sits on couch with mother

I see you trying to keep your head above water every day, trying to juggle all of your responsibilities, have time for things you want to do, time for self-care in a world that glamorizes it, to meet the needs of your other kids, your husband, and have a social life on top of therapies, IEP meetings, meltdowns, evaluations, working with your child one-on-one, and just all the additional stresses that come with this life. There are too many to list, but if you know you know.  I see you wondering if you’re doing enough for your child when you...

Keep Reading