Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

A few weeks ago, one of my mom friends put up a social media post saying she hadn’t taken a picture of her kids on the first day of school. She hashtagged it “#epicmomfail.” 

Um, no. That’s #beingtoohardonyourself.

I know this mom, and she is amazing. She cares about her kids. She’s enthusiastic and involved. I’ve never seen her when she wasn’t smiling. (Note to my children: no, you cannot have her instead of me.)

I also get that she probably wasn’t really being that hard on herself. But maybe she was? The pressure to be the best moms we can be is huge because we know a terrible, wonderful truth: THIS JOB MATTERS. And because it does, we want to get it right. Or, at the very least, we want to try to get it right most of the time.

My struggle–and it’s one I know other moms fight against–is that getting it right can get out-of-control. In her mom must-have, Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul, Angela Thomas warns, “The ‘right thing’ can be good, and then it can be oppressive and consuming. The ‘right thing’ can become more about keeping rules and performing for others.”

With God, there is grace. But if never failing as a mom becomes a goal we pursue at any cost, it is an idol. And Jonah 2:8 is starkly clear that grace and idolatry cannot live together peacefully in the same spiritual house: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

I don’t want to give up grace that could be mine. I don’t want you to give up grace that could be yours.

Missing a kid photo-op, whether it’s the first day of school or the last day of school or some day between, does not mean you have gotten motherhood wrong. It doesn’t make you a failure as a parent.

And I, personally, don’t think these other supposed mom-misses qualify for the fail hashtag, either:

  1. Not serving a vegetable with dinner once in a while.
  2. Letting your kids quit piano lessons. Even if they “show promise” and could be amazing. And play at Carnegie Hall. And perform a song they dedicate out loud to you.
  3. Being glad when your kids get old enough that you don’t have to do school holiday parties anymore.
  4. Sometimes telling your kids “not right now…I’m reading a book” when they ask you to play a game with them. (This is most especially NOT a mom fail when the game in question is Princess Memory. Please. The last time I had a memory high-functioning enough to tell all those girls apart AND keep track of them, I had my maiden name and got eight hours of sleep every night.)
  5. Letting your kids watch TV.
  6. Enjoying your alone time.
  7. Not throwing your kids an over-the-top birthday party ever year. (Or ever.)
  8. Not sending your kids to summer camp. Because you just never got around to figuring it out. (Sorry, girls.)
  9. Telling your kids, “No, you can’t have that thing everyone else has. It’s just not in our budget right now.”
  10. Not signing your kids up for every activity, club, lesson or team that could possibly “expand their horizons” and someday win them a college scholarship.
  11. Not remembering what your firstborn’s first word was. 
  12. Not creating beautiful, heirloom-level scrapbooks chronicling every small and large moment of your children’s lives. (Now. To those of you who do this and love it: how wonderful! What a gift you are creating! Your children will rise up and call you blessed! But I, personally, am driven to tears by the mere thought of scrapbooking. And while I am far from the smartest mom around, I know my girls are a lot more bothered by seeing me cry than they are by their scrapbook-less existence.)
  13. Not packing school lunches that are so appealing that when other kids want to trade with your child, your child turns down the offer.
  14. Feeling overwhelmed by the task of choosing the “right” bread and yogurt at the grocery store. And giving up and just buying Dove ice cream bars.
  15. Yelling, “Seriously?! There isn’t an example or an answer key in this math textbook? Are you kidding me?!” while trying to help your elementary student with her homework. (It goes without saying that you–and by “you,” I mean “me”–are not even attempting to help your middle or high-schooler with their math homework.)

And on it goes, but you get the point. Of course, you know what real mom-fails are. Never telling your kids you love them. Never hugging/kissing/back-rubbing them if they’ll allow it at all. Calling them derogatory names they’ll never get out of their heads. (As my girls would say, “Full-body shudder.”) Not doing your best to keep them safe and healthy. And maybe being too proud to ask for help when you get overwhelmed by this incredibly hard but unbelievably important calling called motherhood.

Listen up, mama: if you’re the kind of mom who’s worried enough about doing a good job to give yourself a mom-fail hashtag, you’re probably not doing anything to deserve one. 

In fact, I think you deserve ice cream for dinner. (Or those Dove bars you bought instead of bread and yogurt…see #14.) You could even share some with your family. I’ll bet they’d call that a #momscore.

This article originally appeared at Guilty Chocoholic Mama

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

Moms Take a Hard Look in the Mirror When Our Girls Become Tweens

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and tween daughter reading

We all know about mean girls. They’re in the movies we go to see, the television shows we watch, and the books we read. These fictional divas are usually exaggerated versions of the real thing: troubled cheerleaders with a couple of sidekicks following in their faux-fabulous footsteps. The truth about mean girls is more complex. Sometimes, they aren’t kids you would expect to be mean at all: the quiet girls, sweet and innocent. Maybe she’s your kid. Maybe she’s mine. As our daughters approach their teen years, we can’t help but reflect on our own. The turmoil. The heartbreak. The...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love is the Best Medicine

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child lying on couch under blankets, color photo

When my kids are sick, I watch them sleep and see every age they have ever been at once. The sleepless nights with a fussy toddler, the too-hot cheeks of a baby against my own skin, the clean-up duty with my husband at 3 a.m., every restless moment floods my thoughts. I can almost feel the rocking—so much rocking—and hear myself singing the same lullaby until my voice became nothing but a whisper. I can still smell the pink antibiotics in a tiny syringe. Although my babies are now six and nine years old, the minute that fever spikes, they...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Saturday Mornings

In: Living, Motherhood
Baby in bouncer next to mama with coffee cup, color photo

Here’s to the Saturday mornings—the part of the week that kind of marks the seasons of our lives. I’ve had so many types of Saturdays, each just a glimpse of what life holds at the time. There were Saturdays spent sleeping in and putting off chores after a long week of school. And some Saturdays waking up on the floor in a friend’s living room after talking and prank calling all night. I’ve spent many Saturday mornings walking through superstitious pre-game routines on the way to the gym, eating just enough breakfast to fuel me for the game, but not...

Keep Reading

From a Veteran Special Needs Mom: Don’t Lose Hope

In: Living, Motherhood, Teen
Woman making heart symbol with hands

When my son was newly diagnosed with autism, I was reading everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So much so that to this day, I can barely handle reading anything on the subject because I overdosed so badly on it. I went through a grieving process as all families do. Grieving my expectations, hopes, and dreams. It was during this time that all hell broke loose. My child, like a lot of other people who experience autism, has a lot of other psychological and medical issues that interact with his autism. The combination of all those things led to...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

They’re Amazing Grandparents but They Were Great Parents First

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grown woman with her parents

My parents are phenomenal grandparents. They are without a doubt my children’s favorite people. They show up to babysit with activities ready. They pick up the kids from daycare and go straight to the ice cream shop. They are the first ones to get on the floor and play cars or dress up when requested. They read the best bedtime stories and spend the extra few minutes tucking in tiny toes and kissing chubby cheeks. They’ve never missed an opportunity to spoil their grandbabies with too many toys and lots of love. But before they were the world’s best grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Raising a Teenager Is a Long Walk through a Tunnel

In: Motherhood, Teen
Two people walking down tunnel, color photo

So much parenting advice asks us to envision bridges as a metaphor for finding the path forward–bridges we need to create now during these tumultuous teen years to build connection with our kids and pave the way for a brighter future when they are adults. Bridges that override the lonely chasms created by chaos and tension. Bridges that link us together from one season of family life to another—from the island of childhood to that of adulthood. Bridges are regal, durable, and confident. They touch the sky with grandeur. They are exciting and powerful. When we ride over a bridge,...

Keep Reading

This is the Bittersweet Goodbye to the Baby Years

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Little girl pushing toddler brother in baby swing, color photo

Last August, I had my last baby. Oof. Even typing those words makes my heart ache. There’s something so final, so sad, so unreal about acknowledging the end of having babies. Maybe it’s because I’m the type of person who likes to keep all the doors open. I love possibilities. I hate goodbyes. And this, my friends, feels like a very hard goodbye. When I think about being done having kids, it feels like a goodbye to the baby years. For six years now, all I’ve known is the baby years. And while the baby years can drain me and...

Keep Reading

Each Child You Raise is Unique

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three little boys under a blanket, black-and-white photo

The hardest part about raising children? Well, there’s a lot, but to me, one major thing is that they are all completely different than one another. Nothing is the same. Like anything. Ever. Your first comes and you basically grow up with them, you learn through your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They go to all the parties with you, restaurants, sporting events, traveling—they just fit into your life. You learn the dos and don’ts, but your life doesn’t change as much as you thought. You start to think Wow! This was easy, let’s have another. RELATED: Isn’t Parenting...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know Anxiety until I Knew Grief

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Woman crouched on ground by waterfront

If you had known me for the first 45 years of my life, you would say I was an extrovert. I loved going places, meeting new people, and striking up conversations with all ages. I talk a lot, often sharing too much in the way of being transparent. It’s been said that I have never met a stranger. Yes, I will admit, I am that woman you see in the grocery store line starting up conversations with the people around me. A few years ago, my life started changing, and I struggled with becoming introverted. Though I had once loved...

Keep Reading