Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Last night I plopped on the couch after a long day of work, daycare pick-up, dinner, baths, playtime, and bedtime. I looked around my messy living room, defeated, and started auditing my life.

My kids just went a week without a bath. 
In the last week, my 13-month-old has eaten dirt, a crayon, dried leaves, and cat food. 
I should really start cooking healthier meals for my family. We had tacos again tonight. 
My baby hates broccoli. How did that happen? Did I not expose her to enough food? 
My toddler has been having more meltdowns lately, and the old tricks don’t work anymore. 
I should really text my friend about getting together with the kids some time, but I have too much to do. 

RELATED: To the Overwhelmed Mom Who Feels Like She’s Failing

But then out of nowhere, I felt God speaking to my heart, you cannot do it all. 

It wasn’t a negative thought or a shameful thought. He said it lovingly, gently. You cannot do it all. 

Since when did we start trying to do all of it–all by ourselves–perfectly?
When did we start feeling like we have to?

Honestly, I’m tired. Aren’t you?

Listen up, mommas: your kids will not remember the messy van, whether or not there were vacuum lines on the carpet, the gourmet salmon meal, or the perfect craft activities. But they will remember the tickle attacks, running through the sprinkler in the yard, bedtime stories, and hugs.

They will remember you.

And guess what else? You are not meant to be everything to your kids. Build up a community around yourself and your children. You can’t do this by yourself.

RELATED: Thank You For Being a Dad Who Shows Up

Don’t rob your husband of the unique ways he fills up their little hearts. Ask him to take the kids to the zoo for the morning. Don’t be caught up in the fact they returned with ice cream all over their shirts and one shoe missing. Listen to your toddler laugh as he tells you about dad pretending to be a monkey, riding on his shoulders, and eating ice cream for lunch. Watch how the baby falls asleep on his chest, exhausted but happy as he puts her down for her nap.

Visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles. Let them give the toddler too much chocolate milk or walk around with the baby. They want to build relationships with your children. If they give you unwarranted advice, just take it with a grain of salt. They’re just trying to help–and they’ve been in your shoes.

Invest in your friendships with other moms.

Get to the point where they feel comfortable telling your own kid no, to where they can count on you to watch their kids if an emergency pops up, to where your kids hug and fight like siblings. Prioritize your time with them over your kids getting down for a nap by a certain time and don’t cancel a playdate if your baby has a runny nose.

RELATED: Kids Remember the Memories, Not the Mess

Your kids will survive just fine. You do not need to maintain the perfect world for your children. There is no such thing, and you could use a walk around the block with a friend.

If you’re feeling like you’re failing as a mom, it’s because you’re trying to achieve the wrong things. Or, rather, it’s because you’re trying to achieve something.

My friend, there are no As in motherhood. But there is the feeling of your toddler’s little arms wrapped tightly around your neck. There is the sweet sound of the baby’s squeal as you play hide-and-seek. Yes, there can be frustration and anxiety, absolutely, but don’t miss the sheer magic of these years.

And there is a grace that will calm your heart if you let go of your expectations to do it all–to be it all–and start holding on to the Lord and to other people in your life.

You are not enough for your kids. And you are not supposed to be.

Originally 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 for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jill Smith

Jill is a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers and bonus mom to a teenager. Her days are spent drinking too much coffee, stepping on LEGOs, and convincing her 3-year-old there are other food groups besides chicken nuggets. You can find her at www.graceonrepeat.com or on Facebook @graceonrepeat. 

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading