Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

It’s the eve of back-to-school. I’ve labeled books and bags, filled up BPA-free water bottles and made sure there are enough pairs of matching socks for the next few days.

We sit our two elementary school-age kidlings down and lecture them on our expectations this year.

They will bounce out of bed with a happy “good morning” at 6:30 a.m.

There will be no whining at breakfast. You get what you get.

The morning routine will take place without argument and without parental intervention.

This is the year they will practice the piano consistently. They will also learn to play the ukulele and the drums.

Kid 1 will be in soccer. Kid 2 in gymnastics. Both will learn to play badminton and to skate.

And homework. That will happen every evening between the exact hours of 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

As for screen time? Absolutely nothing, nada till the weekend.

We are also going to eat healthy this year. In fact, we’ll be having fresh fruit for dessert every evening.

(And all of this will happen while mama makes her 10,000 step goal on her Fitbit every single day, while swearing off carbs and sugar.)

Yes, I was the very picture of the overachieving, perfectionist mama. It’s my start-of-the-school-year-avatar. It’s like the New-Year-resolutions mama failed, went into hibernation – and came back with a double dose of enthusiasm. It’s when my expectations scrape the sky. When lunchboxes are packed with personalized notes. When uniforms don’t have ketchup and chocolate stains on them.

When I know that it’s only a matter of time before real life happens.

Because there are going to be mornings when we’re going to hit the snooze button too many times.

There are going to be many, many breakfasts with sugary cereal and not the overnight oats with chia seeds and fresh raspberries that I’d envisioned.

There’s going to be yelling at the top of the stairs: I can’t find my fill-in-the-blank.

There’s going to be missed homework and forgotten science projects.

There’s going to be days when the piano, the ukulele, and the drums will lie forlornly untouched, gathering dust bunnies.

There are going to be “forget your shower and just get in bed” days.

There’s going to be days when my Fitbit will look at me accusingly from my nightstand.

There’s are definitely going to be grab-handfuls-of-chocolate-chips-when-no-one’s-watching days (at least for mama).

In other words, there’s going to be real. And that’s perfectly okay.

This year, I choose practical over perfect.

This year, I choose average over achievement.

This year, I choose ‘good enough’ over guilt.

Sure, there’ll still be expectations and I do hope for excellence (where it counts). But I won’t hold myself – or my kids – to a standard where either of us feels “less than” if we don’t make it.

So this year, I look forward to the messes and the beauty of real life. Because I’m in the business of raising kids. And what matters most to them is not that they can play three instruments and two sports. But that they are raised in a home where love trumps performance.

Now, quick, where’s my stash of chocolate chips before my munchkins tumble through that front door?

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

Susan Narjala

Susan Narjala is a freelance writer who shares her faith with authenticity and humor, and has been published on leading Christian sites. You can find her at susannarjala.com and @susannarjalawrites.

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

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

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

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

Our Kids Need Us as Much as We Need Them

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sitting on bench with dog nearby, color photo

During a moment of sadness last week, my lively and joyful toddler voluntarily sat with me on the couch, holding hands and snuggling for a good hour. This brought comfort and happiness to the situation. At that moment, I realized sometimes our kids need us, sometimes we need them, and sometimes we need each other at the same time. Kids need us. From the moment they enter the world, infants express their needs through tiny (or loud) cries. Toddlers need lots of cuddling as their brains try to comprehend black, white, and all the colors of the expanding world around...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading

This Time In the Passenger Seat is Precious

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Teen driver with parent in passenger seat

When you’re parenting preteens and teens, it sometimes feels like you are an unpaid Uber driver. It can be a thankless job. During busy seasons, I spend 80 percent of my evenings driving, parking, dropping off, picking up, sitting in traffic, running errands, waiting in drive-thru lines. I say things like buckle your seat belt, turn that music down a little bit, take your trash inside, stop yelling—we are in the car, keep your hands to yourself, don’t make me turn this car around, get your feet off the back of the seat, this car is not a trash can,...

Keep Reading

So God Made My Daughter a Wrestler

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young female wrestler wearing mouth guard and wrestling singlet

God made my girl a wrestler. Gosh, those are words I would never have thought I would say or be so insanely proud to share with you. But I am. I know with 100 percent certainty and overwhelming pride that God made my girl a wrestler. But it’s been a journey. Probably one that started in the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with my first baby and having the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. I remember hearing the word “girl” and squealing. I was over the moon excited—all I could think about were hair bows and cute outfits. And so...

Keep Reading

A Big Family Can Mean Big Feelings

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Family with many kids holding hands on beach

I’m a mother of six. Some are biological, and some are adopted. I homeschool most of them. I’m a “trauma momma” with my own mental health struggles. My husband and I together are raising children who have their own mental illnesses and special needs. Not all of them, but many of them. I battle thoughts of anxiety and OCD daily. I exercise, eat decently, take meds and supplements, yet I still have to go to battle. The new year has started slow and steady. Our younger kids who are going to public school are doing great in their classes and...

Keep Reading

You May Be a Big Brother, but You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother with young son, color photo

It seems like yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. Back then, we were new parents, clueless but full of love—a love that words can hardly explain. I can vividly recall holding you in my arms, rocking you in the cutest nursery, and singing sweet lullabies, just like yesterday. I can picture those times when you were teeny-tiny, doing tummy time, and how proud I was of you for lifting your head. And oh, the happiness on your face when “Baby Shark” played over and over—that song always made you smile! We made sure to capture your growth...

Keep Reading