So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

“If you two can’t get along, we’re taking the puppy back – today!” I shout through my hazy cloud of summer-induced frustration.

For the fourteenth time of the morning, my children are fighting over who gets to hold the puppy, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to burst at the seams before summer ends. Part of me realizes that adding an eight-week-old beagle puppy to the chaos of our summer schedule was asking for patience-testing moments. The other part of me just wants to enjoy this beautiful time of year.

I’ve spent most of my life longing for the reprieve of summer. From the day I stepped foot in the kindergarten classroom until the day I graduated from college, I craved the open schedule and open spaces of summer. The sense of eager expectation for June, July, and August continued as I embarked on a career as a special education teacher. I loved my job and the opportunity to impact the lives of students, but I also loved the warm air and freedom of summer.

I find myself recalling fond memories of summers past as I slump into the kitchen chair, both kids and the puppy all wailing like I’ve crushed their tender hearts. I feel utterly defeated. I longed to make this a memorable summer for my six-year-old. With a successful year of kindergarten under her belt, I hoped having her home would fill her two-year-old brother with joy. And I thought adding a puppy to our family would double the pleasure.

I was wrong. My toddler is distraught that he no longer has full-dominion in our home and resorts to screaming, hitting, and biting his big sister. Big sister is frustrated that the barely-walking baby brother she remembers from last summer now wants to do everything she does. The puppy has her own agenda, which includes howling like it’s nobody’s business when she’s not being coddled and destroying everything in sight in her happy moments.

Sinking into the hard kitchen chair, it dawns on me that the greatest problem in the whole juxtapose situation is that I have my own agenda. I want to stay in my schedule of early morning Bible reading, exercising in the basement, laundry, showering, lunch dates with other moms, and two hours of working online during nap time. When my little ones disturb my schedule or throw me off course, I lash out in anger and impatience. It’s ugly.

I close my eyes and offer a weak prayer, “Lord, I need you to guide me in all this. I can’t do this anymore.”  

The Lord’s sweet grace falls on me like soft summer rain, and I sense his forgiveness. My heart is utterly broken in a thousand pieces, and I beg for the Potter to reshape me into his design.

I realize the first step in embracing these summer months is laying down my personal agenda and embracing this season of life with little ones.

My long lists of personal goals for a clean house, thriving community ministry, and lean body are partly for the good of my family. However, these goals are mostly self-centered ideals that are all about me. My primary calling is to raise these children in the love and adoration of the Lord, and I forfeit this high calling when I keep my eyes on my personal to-do list all day.

Mulling over the many times I’ve lost my patience in the past two hours, I mostly want to sink into the linoleum and spend the day in a puddle of self-loathing tears. I’ve failed my kids, and I know it. I offer another whispered prayer:  “Lord, forgive me for not enjoying this life you’ve given me. Forgive me for taking my kids for granted.”

I am suddenly reminded to extend the same grace to myself that the Lord extends to me.

Every mother fails her children from time to time. We lose our tempers. We forget to slow down and enjoy this life. We sulk. We blow it big time.

Messing up is simply a part of parenting. Just as we’re called to forgive those who sin against us, we’re called to forgive ourselves when we sin against those we love the most. I apologize to my children, and there are hugs and smiles. I throw my to-do list in a basket on top of the fridge and we head to the yard with the puppy, determined to embrace the day.

As I bask in the sunshine, I pull out my journal and make a list to remind myself of what to do when summer gets hard:

  1. Lay down my agenda and embrace these moments as opportunities to invest in my kids, even when that means I’m breaking up arguments and teaching them to get along.
  2. Forgive myself when I blow it.
  3. Remember how quickly this season of life will pass.
  4. Turn off autopilot mode and look for small moments to enjoy.
  5. Plan pure summer fun – things that I will enjoy too.
  6. Put down the phone, spatula, or broom and listen deeply to their stories, thoughts, and concerns.
  7. Embrace silly moments.
  8. Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.
  9. Blow bubbles.
  10. Dance in the sprinklers.

I’m interrupted by cold water squirting from a plastic dolphin’s mouth, and I look up startled. My  playful toddler stands beside me in unsure expectation. I laugh, grab my water bottle, and squirt it high over his head. Squeals break out across the yard. This summer’s not over yet, and we’re going to embrace every moment we can.

Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe lives with her husband Darrell and two children in western Pennsylvania. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a writer, mentor, and teacher. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their passions and make an impact in the culture. She enjoys hiking, camping, running, and spending time outside with her family.

Jesus Meets Me in Motherhood With His No Matter What Love

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother embracing daughter in sunlit room

My toddler was that kid on the playground—the one who would push and bite, erupting into a tantrum and needing to be carried home screaming. As I would carry my child to the car, the other moms looked at me with sympathy, confusion, fear, and . . . judgment.  Parents of challenging kids know this look well. We see judgment everywhere we go. I knew others were judging me, and I knew our challenges were beyond the normal bell curve, but as an overwhelmed young mom, I did all I knew to do: I blamed myself.  At my lowest, I...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading

Dear Girl, Give Jesus Your Mess

In: Faith, Living
Woman holding Bible, color photo

Oh, dear girl, Give Jesus the mess. Your mess. The mess you think is too much or too big or too unbearable. The depths of the mess. The very worst of the mess. Lay it at His feet. He knew you long before the mess existed. Nobody knows your mess like Jesus. I assure you—this will not catch Him by surprise. Even when you do not understand, even when it is most difficult, even when you have your head buried in your hands. Praise Him, for God wastes nothing.  Even when it feels like opposition is coming at you from...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Is an Endless Pursuit

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child on bike, color photo

I look at him and my heart breaks into a million little pieces. It simply hurts too much to know he hurts. He is my heart, and it squeezes and revolts when he struggles. I want to close my eyes and hold him close, and when I resurface, I want the world to be different for him. Look different, smell different, taste different. But, it remains the same, this pain.   In the beginning, when he was in my womb, I held my hands on my stomach and his tiny feet kicked me back. His bodily imprint on my skin. He...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Brings Me to the Floor and Jesus Meets Me There

In: Faith, Motherhood

I recently came across a short memoir writing competition with the theme, “Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me.” I could write something for that, I thought. I’m by no means a jet-setter, but I do have a passport. I spent my 16th birthday in Russia on a three-week mission trip. During college, I lived in Thessaloniki, Greece for a four-month study abroad program. After my British husband and I got married, we settled in the UK, where we’ve spent the last 10 years. And now, I’m back in my sunny Florida hometown. These experiences and places...

Keep Reading

I Will Be a Friend Who Prays

In: Faith, Friendship, Living

You mentioned it casually. They had found a lump in your breast again. You’ve been here before, and maybe that means you better know how to navigate it. Except how can we possibly know how to handle such things? What emotions lie hidden behind your words? You tossed out words like lumpectomy and biopsy as if you were sharing a grocery list. I don’t know you well yet, but as you spoke the words, I had a deep desire to let you know I’m sorry. Seated around the table that night, you asked us to pray for you. I committed...

Keep Reading

I Wish I Could Tell You There Will Be No More Mean Girls

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and two daughters, color photo

Tonight before bed while I was tucking you in, you seemed really down. You are normally bubbly, talkative, full of laughter and life, but tonight you seemed sullen and sad. I asked what was wrong, and at first, you didn’t want to tell me. But then you shared with me what was breaking your heart. You told me about a mean girl. You told me the hurtful things she said and the unkind way she acted and the sneaky way mean girls bully by making you feel left out and less than.  It made me sad and angry. I didn’t...

Keep Reading

In the Hardest Moments of Motherhood, I’m Reminded to Look Up

In: Faith, Motherhood

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, and you know the scene—I step on a tiny Barbie shoe as I’m walking to the sink. I shove it to the side with my foot and release a heavy sigh. I momentarily think about picking it up, but my back is aching from bending down to gather up treasures all morning. I place my half-filled coffee cup into the microwave to re-heat it for a second time. I need just an ounce of energy to get through the afternoon. My daughter heaves another basket of toys up from the basement, step by step. I can...

Keep Reading

Sometimes God’s Glory Shines Brightest in the Hardest Parts of Life

In: Faith, Living
Woman's hand with chipped nail polish

Half of the fingernails on my hands still show remnants of nail polish. It looks pretty awful. People might notice it and think, Really? You can’t take just five minutes to wipe off the chunks of color that haven’t flaked off already?  And I could. It probably wouldn’t even take five minutes. It’s not that I don’t have the time or that I’m being lazy. I just don’t want to.  You see, my daughter painted my nails almost a month ago. She’s five—they were never pretty to start with. They were sloppy with small strips at the edges left unpainted....

Keep Reading

God Tasked Us With Raising Beautiful People in a Fallen World

In: Faith, Motherhood

Today, I watched my little boy put an oven mitt over his hand and mix up an imaginary meal. Like any mother would be, I was touched to see my son enjoying himself—playing fearlessly in the Children’s Museum and exploring with many fun and creative toys. He would open the wooden fridge and purposely put a spatula in a specific compartment. Though his reasoning was not known to me—or anyone else for that matter—you could tell he had a plan for that metal spatula, and it was to be in that freezer. RELATED: The Secret No One Told Me About...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections