Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

“Yes. Those are my children.” 

I was waiting in the return line at Target. I found a bag from Target in the bottom of my closet with an item in it I had forgotten and therefore obviously didn’t need. I decided it would be fun to run into Target with my husband and children.

There are many decisions in a day I thoughtlessly makeand this would be one with consequences. 

Before waiting in line, I had loaded two children into a cart and one into my handy Tula carrier. I thought I’d just return my item with one child while my husband pushed the other two through the store until I could catch up with them. I expected to hear giggling and precocious chatter.

Instead, I heard shrieking and banging. My 2- and 3-year-olds were losing their minds in the cart my husband was pushing through the store. Screaming, yelling, and what sounded like an exorcism rang out up and down the Target aisles.

RELATED: I Wish We Would Be More Honest About the Struggles of Motherhood

Waiting in line, I heard them get closer and then move further away. Target is busy on Saturday but not busy enough to drown out the spectacle that was my children.

The people in line had not seen that the parent pushing those unruly children was with me.

They felt free to make knowing faces at each other and comment on their behavior. A person in line behind me said, “I wonder who those children belong to.”

“They’re mine. Those children belong to me,” I responded.

Before I had children, I knew everything there was to know about rearing them. I would have judged my older self very harshly for what I considered a lack of parenting. My children will never behave that way, I would have thought and signed my own future death warrant.

It’s very easy to look on the outside of a situation and think you’d be capable of the perfect solution.

There are times when a stern look won’t work, when a time out won’t work and when a spanking won’t work either. There have been times when despite my consistency and best efforts, my irrational child is incapable of being managed at the moment. 

RELATED: Motherhood Can Be So Overwhelming

Each of my children has brought me closer to Jesus. Just when I think I have one child figured out, I am thrown a curveball with the next. If you’ve seen me play softball, you know I can’t hit anything, but a curveball could prove especially challenging.

God likes to remind me that not only am I not in control of myself, but I’m not in control of my little blessings either.

I need Jesus every minute of every day to keep me in check but also to shape these little humans He’s entrusted to me.

It’s too much for me alone, and He shares little glimpses of that with me from time to time. 

I fail a lot. There are days when I’m not a loving mother. Sometimes I’ll get to dinner or bath time and realize I’ve yelled more than I have loved. I have found when I realize my mistake, God always provides an opportunity for me to make it right. My children will tell you their mom apologizes a lot, “Momma says sorry when she’s mean.”

RELATED: The True Weight of Motherhood is the Unrelenting Expectations

With three babies under four, my patience wears thin sometimes. My babies have seen me fail, but they’ve also seen redemption. I think sometimes seeing the imperfect in their parent can bring about more learning than seeing a perfect parent.

I want them to know what it means to be human and a sinner but also to be loved and forgiven by God.

You can always make a comeback. 

I want my children to be respectful. I want them to sit nicely. I want them to say “No, ma’am” and “Yes, ma’am.” I want them to listen to me with complete obedience. I want them to eat all their dinner and always brush their teeth. I expect clean rooms and for them to contribute to our household through chores.

Mostly, I want my babies to love Jesus.

I want their love for Jesus to produce fruit. I want their hearts to be in such good shape that they’re wonderful adults later in life.

We’re a hot mess right now because my babies are learning how to be. I’m doing my best to show them the love of Jesus and shape them into lovers of Jesus. Sometimes making a masterpiece is messy. Please excuse the mess. Yes, those are my children, but they won’t be forever. 

Previously published on the author’s blog

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

Shelley McCauley

Born and raised in northeast Florida and transplanted to Minnesota, I am a stay at home mom of four, daycare provider, and foster parent. My faith and my family drive me to get up each morning and encourage me to go to bed early every night. Writing has become free therapy and my outlet to connect with other women.

All I Could Do Was Make It to Church Today

In: Faith, Motherhood
Close up of man holding baby in his arms in church pew with kids in background

All I can do is make it to church today. It was the final thought that shut the door on all the other thoughts this morning. The thoughts that said I don’t look good enough. I should put on makeup. I should wear something nicer. I should find a way to paint my nails without them getting smudged up from holding a baby before they dry. The thoughts that said I am not doing good enough. I should have made supper last night. I shouldn’t have used that glass pan that shattered in the oven while trying to steam bake...

Keep Reading

It’s Time to Talk about the Crushing Weight of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and three children, color photo

As millennial women and mothers, we have been making waves in the sea of mental health. We have unashamedly and unapologetically shared our postpartum depression and anxiety stories so that future generations won’t feel as though they’re drowning in the weight of it all.  I remember sitting in my living room, staring at my newborn, crying in frustration and fear that I was already failing him.  I remember the pain of trying to use the bathroom for the first time after labor, to have family suddenly stop by, and feeling so embarrassed I screamed and they left, ultimately leaving me...

Keep Reading

Kids Need Grace and So Do Their Moms

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Woman touching child's forehead

We were having a hard morning. Our house was overrun with toys, I hadn’t had a chance to get dressed, and my stress level was increasing by the minute. To top it all off, my 3-year-old was having a meltdown anytime I spoke to her. Even looking in her general direction was a grave mistake. It was one of those days that as a parent, you know you’re really in for it. I was quickly losing my patience. My frustration began to ooze out of me. I snapped orders, stomped around, and my attitude quite clearly was not pleasant to...

Keep Reading

A Love That Will Never Leave You

In: Faith, Living
Cover art of book Pilgrim by Ruth Chou Simons

My firstborn spent a semester abroad in his junior year of college. Like any mom who’s separated from her child, I knew the exact distance between him and me those months he was away. It felt like a million miles, but it was actually only 4,533, including one very large body of water. While he was away, we weren’t even on the same continent, and truthfully, I hadn’t expected the ache to be so overwhelming. Thankfully, our weekly chats on video eased the sadness and served to remind me that, in spite of miles and time zones, there was no...

Keep Reading

A Mother Doesn’t Have to Be Prepared to Be Sustained

In: Baby, Faith, Motherhood
Mother cuddling baby on a bed

I feel the warmth radiating from my weeks-old baby girl’s body onto my lap. She sleeps soundly. But I can’t. My jaw is clenched, my forehead is wrinkled, my body is tense. I’ve been in complete survival mode. Our baby girl unexpectedly made her appearance one month early due to some placental deficiencies and was born at three and a half pounds. I wasn’t prepared.  When I saw my sweet girl, my heart was instantly taken over by immense love and immense fear. Fear grabbing me with every thought, every breath. I wasn’t prepared.  She spent some time in the NICU but not...

Keep Reading

Thank You God for Everyday Heroes

In: Faith, Living
Firefighter in gear walking, black-and-white photo

Tonight, our family watched a movie together. It was an action-adventure movie where, against unbelievable odds, the good guy saves the day. At some point during the movie, I turned to my husband, and said, “You’re that guy—the guy that is good in a crisis, who saves the day.” Once, when my husband and I were out for dinner, a woman seated near us fainted and was lying on the floor. The waiters and waitresses ran to her aid but didn’t know what to do. My husband is a firefighter/EMT. He had gone outside to grab a sweater, and when...

Keep Reading

I’ll Always Be the One Who Loved Them First

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Family with three small boys standing in kitchen, color photo

I’m no longer the last person he says goodnight to. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Here we are, just raising these boys, hoping and praying things over their futures, watching them grow, teaching them independence and other life skills, hoping they have heard the things we have said, and praying they make our faith their faith and choose to follow Jesus. And then, just like that, without any warning, without asking my permission, there is someone special in his life. Someone he spends hours on the phone with. Someone he wants to spend his time with. Someone who isn’t...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, about That Other 4-Letter Word

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Portrait of a beautiful little girl in blue shirt

As my kindergartner came bounding through the door back from the park, she seemed ecstatic to tell me all about her adventure, but what came from her sweet mouth was not the usual tale of making friends or playing make-believe. Instead, she stared up at me and said, “A little boy called me ugly.”  As I tried to assess her thoughts on the matter, her big brother was quickly confirming the story and acknowledging to me that it was not a very nice thing to say. As I looked at my husband coming in the door behind them, I could...

Keep Reading

Let Them Have a Bad Day, and Other Wisdom on Raising Teens

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom comforting teen girl with head in hands

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I have nearly four teens now, and I’ve learned a lot the hard way. I see other parents around me who are just getting to that stage make the same mistakes I did, so I want to share what I’ve learned:   If you want to teach your kids to walk in the way of God, you better not leave out teaching them about forgiveness. That’s a big deal to God. It’s pretty central. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the heaviness that comes when you have teenagers, and they...

Keep Reading

My Baby is Going to Kindergarten and God Will Go With Him

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Little boy with green backpack walking to school

My baby is going to kindergarten, and I am not going to cry. Yep, you read that right.  My blessing baby (aka surprise addition) is going to kindergarten in seven days, and I am not a weepy crying mess. My kind quiet 10-year-old is starting his last year of elementary school, and I am not going to cry about that either.  And my firstborn—the tiny, five-pound baby girl who made me a momma—will be in eighth grade. Her last year of middle school before high school. It all seems like big changes and big moments. But I am not going...

Keep Reading