I was standing in our kitchen the other night with my husband, having one of those random conversations that happen after supper plates have landed in the sink and kids have scattered and half-empty cans of Coke sit on the counter and things are momentarily calm.

“Honey,” he said, responding to some comment I made about feeling like I’m not doing ‘this’ right, “you’ve never had anyone you know well do exactly what you’re trying to do—raise five kids and be the breadwinner (I hitched my wagon to a teacher, so take that line with a grain of salt) and travel for work and be married to a guy who’s gone half the year coaching. You can’t compare it to anything you know.” He shrugged. “We’re making this up as we go along.”

In my mind, he also added, “So, just freaking relax.” Apparently Brad does voice-overs for my subconscious.

Understand, his comments weren’t a pat on the back, a way of saying our situation is better or worse or more complicated or superior. At. All. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky (not blessed—Brad thinks that makes it sound like we’ve found favor with God and are being rewarded; I promise, for those of you who recognize through my blog posts the emotional-mess of a 90-pound dog we’re raising alongside the kids, we are, if anything, paying some sort of a penance), but it’s not lost on us that our day-to-day would be someone else’s sweaty nightmare. Gross, but legit.

His point simply was this: Our lives are different. Our situation is different. In the same vein, your life is different and your situation is different. And many times, what we read and see and hear—taken in totality—isn’t meant for our personal reality.

I Google my own life to death (“How to learn to wake up earlier” is my favorite search at 11:00 p.m.) I seek advice from magazine articles and blogs, and snoop the pages of Facebook friends for insight. I overanalyze comments and perceived backstories and imagine how other parents manage to live and work and stay in shape and shop and clean and organize their homes and show up on time (or early?!) and raise their kids so much better than I do.

It’s easy to get caught up in “I should” and “we should.” I should lift something heavier than a 3-year-old, repeatedly. We should plan date nights beyond our coffee table and take-out burritos. I should buy more organic and less Haribo (Best. Gummies. Ever.). We should have conversations about our children’s education that dig deeper than, “Have either of us practiced spelling words with the 1st grader this week? (Pause. Deep sigh.) OK, do we even know where the list is?”

That’s not to say that all of that reading and sharing and listening isn’t important; it is. Heck, I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t feel those things mattered. Learning from others is how we get better and, in many cases, feel better (commiserating can be amazing therapy). But all that stuff you take in is only as applicable as your reality allows. Until folks are living in your house and sleeping in your bed (surrounded, perhaps, but any number of little people also sleeping in your bed) much of what you read and hear and imagine will help make “your life work” won’t work.

Brad (who isn’t nearly as wise as I’m making him sound, I swear) constantly says, “Jess, that’s not our reality” when I bring up an “I should” or “we should” statement. It’s super annoying. And occasionally it’s an excuse. But the majority of the time it’s just a fact that doesn’t jive with what I want.

And trying to force the issue, trying to make the square peg “shoulds” fit into my polygon world, only makes me nutty. Because there isn’t an exact search hit for “How to wake up early to run 6 miles when your activity tracker says you only sleep in 45 minute increments due to insomniac children.” Trust me, I’ve tried.

So, here’s where I am (at 10:00 p.m., trying desperately not to Google “How to stop procrastinating writing assignments”): Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep listening to the people you truly respect and admire. Then take all those bits and pieces that motivate and inspire and encourage you and place them together to fit your reality.

And let the rest be.

Because no one else has ever “done” your life. And we’re all making it up as we go along.

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

Jessica Rettig

Jessica Rettig lives, works and, after years of being told to do so (she has a sneaking suspicion it was to make other parents feel better about their own chaos), documents daily life (at Facebook.com/fivelittlelunatics) with her husband, Brad, five kids—Keaton Amelia (11), Hutton (6), Rustyn (5), Joey Michele (2) and the baby, Roosevelt-- and emotionally-challenged Weimaraner in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also tries to run away on a daily basis--usually four or five miles--but she always comes back.

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

To the Mother of My Son’s Future Wife

In: Grown Children, Inspiration, Kids, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
marriage, wife, husband, grown children, www.herviewfromhome.com

To the mother of my son’s future wife, I’m in the midst of dirty diapers and temper tantrums, but I do have days where I think about the future and what it will look like for my son. I wonder who he will be, what he will do and probably most of all, who he will love. I wonder about the type of woman he will bring home to meet us one day. I have my own thoughts on the type of person I wish my son would fall in love with, but we all know that the heart wants...

Keep Reading

Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith

In: Faith, Inspiration, Relationships
Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith www.herviewfromhome.com

The string quartet began playing Pachelbel, as my dad and I took our first steps down the aisle. I began to lose my composure as we proceeded to the altar. Hundreds of guests had their eyes on me as tears streamed down my face. Struggling to look my future in the eyes, I looked to the ground for reprieve. God, everything around me looks perfect, so why doesn’t this feel right? I’m not sure how I got here. The flame once dancing inside of me, has extinguished. Lord, I need you. Dad squeezed my hand gently, “Are you OK sweetie?”...

Keep Reading

Children Don’t Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

In: Inspiration, Mental Health, Motherhood
Children Don't Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger www.herviewfromhome.com

“This too shall pass.” As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches. In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now. Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of...

Keep Reading

This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere

In: Inspiration, Kids, School, Teen
This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere www.herviewfromhome.com

When Paula and Kevin Burckard’s third child was born, she arrived with a little something extra the North Dakota couple never saw coming.  Newborn Grace had Down syndrome, and the diagnosis initially left the young parents devastated. “When Grace was born, I thought all my dreams for my daughter had basically been dashed,” Paula said.  But it didn’t take long for those fears to subside.  As Grace grew, not only did she meet and surpass milestones, her infectious joy, inspirational grit, and deep love of all things Michael Jackson transformed the family—and countless hearts. The Burckhards went on to adopt...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, When I Forget What It’s Like To Be Little

In: Child, Inspiration, Kids, Motherhood
Hey Mom, Don't Forget—You Were a Kid Once, Too www.herviewfromhome.com

The kids were squealing in the backseat. For the five minutes prior they were begging me to spill the beans on where we were going as I had only told them to get their shoes, get in the car and buckle up. It’s one of the ways I’ve learned to make a simple trip out of the house one that is a mysterious adventure to them. As we took left and right turns away from our house, they were trying to guess where we were going . . . and when we finally pulled up to a brand new playground...

Keep Reading

My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me

In: Inspiration, Journal, Motherhood
My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me www.herviewfromhome.com

Before I was a mother, I was a human being. A human being with life experiences, passions, fears, talents, hobbies, goals, friends and aspirations that I cherished and tried to honor. Even though I went through a variety of seasons of life . . . from school-age days, to working adult, to wife . . . those things always stayed with me. I stayed open to evolving, but never let go of who I inherently was. Then came motherhood. And suddenly I found myself abandoning my commitment to remain true to me, and leaving any semblance of myself in the...

Keep Reading

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy: Simplicity

In: Inspiration, Journal
My Mother-in-Law's Legacy: Simplicity www.herviewfromhome.com

The memories of my mother-in-law spilled to the forefront of my mind, just as the contents of his jacket pocket fell onto our dresser. It was Proverbs 31, written on hotel stationery, in my neatest block print. Holding the small papers in my hand brought me right back to her graveside, on a hot summer morning, seven years ago. “Her children arise and call her blessed.” (verse 28) As my second daughter gave a mighty kick from the womb, visible to every mourner present that day, I couldn’t help but to allow my mind to wander. Were my values apparent...

Keep Reading

A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce

In: Inspiration, Journal
A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce www.herviewfromhome.com

I drove back from my son’s college concert near midnight. Exhausted, I glanced at my 14-year-old daughter, Beth, asleep in the passenger seat. We were only 10 minutes from home. I thought I could make it until I heard a road sign flatten on concrete. As the car flipped three times across a bare Ohio field, we left behind an ordinary life. I escaped with cuts, bruises, and blood-matted hair. Beth was another story. The car was cut open and a helicopter rushed her to Toledo. A doctor told my husband John that she was paralyzed. When John broke the news...

Keep Reading

Dear Mama, You’re Allowed To Not Be There

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Dear Mama, You're Allowed To Not Be There www.herviewfromhome.com

Friday afternoon was not much crazier than most afternoons. My husband was mowing the lawn, my daughter was hangry and my youngest son was due to be in a talent show in twenty minutes. I stood in the kitchen—where it seemed like I’d been for an hour—trying to motivate my family to eat dinner and get ready to go. “Get dressed, Jude. Make sure you eat something.” “Dean, do you want a slice of pizza before we leave?” I screamed over the lawn mower. “Maeve, are you going to the optional soccer practice or the talent show? You need to...

Keep Reading