So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

There’s a common saying making its way around social media—kids don’t need a perfect mom, they need a happy one. I only halfway agree with this statement. No, kids don’t need a perfect mom (which is good, because they’re certainly never going to get one), but they also don’t need a mom who is always happy. Kids need moms who are well. My kids definitely don’t have a perfect mom, and it’s unreasonable to expect they’ll always have a happy mom. What they do have is an anxious mom, and she’s not always crushing it when it comes to motherhood. Nor is she always well.  

I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. Really, my whole life. As a child I was flippantly misdiagnosed with asthma when I was actually having panic attacks. The (incorrect) belief persists to this day that kids can’t possibly have anything to be anxious about, fed by the opinion that anxiety is always and only situational, a choice, and avoidable. 

If only, if only. 

Now that I have all the joys and pressures of adulthood, in addition to three very high-needs children, it’s rare that anyone dares to question my experience with anxiety. Now that my life is busy and full, the uninitiated find no fault with my shortness of breath, panic, and rage. Now, they reason, there’s really something to be anxious about. 

I’ll let you in on a secret about anxiety: sometimes there’s nothing to be anxious about. That’s the thing about anxiety—sometimes it’s in reaction to something, sometimes it’s chemical. Sometimes my brain overproduces chemicals that put my body into a state of fight or flight. Sometimes everything in my life is rainbows and cupcakes, and I still find myself with a tight chest, clenched fists, racing pulse, and a mind full of terror. 

This is when I take my medication. 

RELATED: I Take This Little White Pill

Medicating mental illness is a hot topic in some circles, and that’s fine. I’ve made the choice for myself, after much prayer and even more suffering, that medication was necessary to help with the crippling anxiety I often face. 

Being so hypervigilant and on-edge put me into states of rage, anger I was taking out on my children. My mind was telling me we were in danger, but my mouth was telling them to shut up. My heart was pounding as though I was running for my life, but the rest of me sat frozen, unable to participate in activities that made me feel like I had no control. Here were three beautiful and smart little people who I loved deeply, and I couldn’t enjoy them. 

I wanted to be the mom who played with them.

I wanted to be the mom who could bake with them without needing to hide afterward and catch my breath.  

I wanted to be the mom who went on field trips without sweating in fear. 

I wanted to be the mom who spoke to my children with love, not out of irritability. 

I wanted to be the mom who made my children feel wanted, not like inconveniences. 

And so I took the medication. 

RELATED: Being a Mom With Anxiety is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I took the medication that slowed my heartbeat and evened my breathing. I took the medication that took the edge of panic off just enough for me to be able to participate. I took the medication that wouldn’t make me a zombie and didn’t allow me to remain a monster. 

Do I still yell sometimes? Sure. Do I still fight against paralyzing and terrifying anxiety? Every day. But am I helpless against it? No. 

I have a counseling degree. I believe in the power of prayer. I know the benefits of therapy, of breathing exercises, of quiet time, healthy diets, the great outdoors, plenty of water, exercise, and oils. I also have a very real anxiety disorder, and none of these things correct the chemical imbalance that causes it. 

I tried to be the anxious mom who overcame anxiety. I tried to be the anxious mom who treated anxiety naturally. I tried to be the anxious mom with the testimony of healing.

But I have accepted that I am the anxious mom who takes anxiety medication . . . and because of it, I’m a better mom. 

I’m a better mom when I’m able to breathe. I’m a better mom when I’m able to speak gently. I’m a better mom when my need for perfection or my fear of harm don’t hold me hostage and keep me from participating in my children’s lives. And I’m humble and honest enough to realize that I’m a better mom when I take medication for anxiety. 

Jennifer Vail

Jennifer is married to the very handsome man she's loved half her life, with whom she juggles 3 hilarious, quirky, sometimes-difficult-but-always-worth-the-work kids. She is passionate about people and 90's pop culture, can't go a week without TexMex, and maintains the controversial belief that Han shot first. She holds degrees in counseling and general ministries, writes at This Undeserved Life, and can often be found staying up too late but rarely found folding laundry.

Being the Mother of an Athlete Means Learning to Let Go

In: Motherhood, Sports
mom watching sports game

This is my post. Has been for years. I’ve held this spot sacred, watching you play for so long. Yet as you grow older, I find myself mourning the day I‘ll finally have to give it up. I’ve worn a path here, pacing back and forth with worry. I’ve packed the earth here, jumping up and down with excitement. I’ve found friends here, locking arms so tight that they’ve become bonded like family. I’ve made room in my heart for teammates here, cheering as if they were my own children. I’ve learned to respect, to love, and to offer grace here,...

Keep Reading

My Little Girl Has Big, Brave Dreams

In: Kids, Motherhood
School paper with little girl's handwriting, color photo

My 6-year-old daughter wants to be a soldier.   When we heard from the ultrasound tech that we were having another girl, that was not exactly the career path that popped into our heads.   There’s something absolutely terrifying knowing your child wants to do something big like this. I’m sure I’d be petrified if I had a son with the same ambition, but there’s something extra scary about it being your little girl. There’s something weighty about raising a daughter who wants to be a soldier. But honestly, it’s not a surprise at all. RELATED: God Has Filled Your...

Keep Reading

Thanks For Leading by Example, Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Adult woman and mother smiling, color photo

Dear Mom,  Thinking back on my life as a child, young adult, and now a middle-aged mother myself, I am indebted to you for the many life lessons you have taught me—some directly, mostly leading by precious example.  If I have any bones to pick with you, it could be that you made it all look so easy. So very, very easy! Marriage, motherhood, working outside the home, relationships with in-laws, relationships with co-workers, relationships with church friends, and just relationships in general. I hardly ever saw you cry. The few times I did see you cry stand out to...

Keep Reading

Dear Introverted Mom, Take that Break

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman outside with book and food

I am alone, in a hotel room, 20 minutes from home, lying back in the crisp bed, feet propped up on billowing white pillows. A good book is in my hand. The large window beside me overlooks the Mississippi River as the sun slowly sets and people unwind for a southern Louisiana evening in downtown Baton Rouge. I’ll probably order room service for dinner. I spent the afternoon at the coffee shop across the street, sipping on a deliciously caffeinated beverage carefully made to my liking. I ate a delicate snack filled with fruits, fancy lettuce, and expensive cheese while...

Keep Reading

As an Anxious Mom, I Remind Myself You Were God’s Child First

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping

I remember bringing that squishy baby home from the hospital. His 9-pound birth weight didn’t label him as scrawny by any means, but he was so small to us. I cringed the first time I laid him in the bassinet beside my bed. I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on him all night long like the nurses in the hospital nursery. I couldn’t make sure he was breathing every second of my coveted slumber. To calm my worries, we turned on our bathroom light and left the door wide open. The extra light wouldn’t disturb our angel from...

Keep Reading

Home is Holy Ground

In: Faith, Motherhood
Kids and mom at home

Some days, I wake up and walk around my house feeling my chest rise looking at the chaotic mess I didn’t get done the day before.  Trampling over toys, incomplete laundry, and dishes that seem to load up by the end of the day. I pause, I stare, and I wonder which of the objects in each room I should tackle first. I take a deep breath and notice my heart and my mind are overwhelmed with a running checklist. Why can’t everything just get done all at one time? You can talk to a dozen mothers and I am...

Keep Reading

I Want My Kids To Know God’s Always There

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding cross in the palm of her hand, color photo

A few months ago, my friend lost his dad. And it impacted our community profoundly. Because he loved SO BIG. Everywhere he went, he couldn’t help but talk to and engage with people—sharing a joke to make them smile or offering a compliment to build them up. He was a connector. And in all the connecting he did, he was quick to remind everyone he encountered that our hearts are ever connected to a God who loves us. It had become his thing to pass out little wooden crosses to those he happily chatted up as he went about each...

Keep Reading

As My Children Grow, I Miss It All—Even the Sick Days

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler on mom's shoulder

I whisk my daughter through the doors of urgent care and cradle her head as I stand behind three other mamas clinging to their babies. We’re each rocking in different ways but moving nonetheless. The silent, comforting rhythm of motherhood. I see sad, sick eyes from the babies with their heads nestled into the necks of their mama. I’m tired from the sleepless night, and I shift from foot to foot. There is hushing and humming and back-patting. A pacifier drops to the floor. All of a sudden my daughter feels heavy. A vague sinking feeling comes over me, like...

Keep Reading

Life with Autism Is Full of Ticking Time Bombs

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother, father, teen daughter, color photo

Many of us who live with autism are familiar with the comings and goings of the ticking time bomb—one that disappears for periods of time, so much so that we might forget about it. Then, suddenly, this bomb drops at our doorstep in the form of a returning or new obstacle, so intense that it causes us to pause our lives, alter our plans, maybe even change our current paths. For our family, the new challenge has been sudden, piercing, sporadic screams. Not constant, not even often, thankfully, but jolting nonetheless. So here we were, in the midst of our...

Keep Reading

In Motherhood, Grace Makes up the Difference

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding young child

Today, I have been the mean mom, the tired mom, the overwhelmed mom, the anxious mom, the impatient mom, and the want to turn in my mom card mom. Mostly, I’ve felt like the I have no clue what I’m doing mom. I have raised my voice 47 times, told children to “suck it up, buttercup” 36 times, and have intervened in approximately 83 sibling disagreements. I have rolled my eyes 59 times, sighed 148 times, and visibly showed other signs of impatience, well, way too many times. RELATED: I’m a Good Mom, You Just Caught Me in a Bad...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections