Here's some real-life, down-to-earth truth for moms. You're not going to get it perfect and you need to hear this hope for why that's ok. Parenting is hard and mothering carries a weight all its own. Encouragement and inspiration for weary mothers and those who love them.

5 (more) things I wish another mom had said to me

Last summer, I wrote a little post after walking into a store and seeing the school supplies. I realized my last summer with my last child was closing in on me and a flood of emotions hit all at once.

I scribbled down some thoughts and hit publish. And then I wondered, “Am I the only one who feels this way?” It was a little unsettling to show so much of my crazy to the rest of the sisterhood, and I almost hit delete. I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t, because that post opened my world to the world of countless other moms who struggle with the same thoughts.

I found out I wasn’t the only crazy one. The only one who felt like time was her worst enemy. The only one who couldn’t imagine how she’d handle the next season. The only one who felt like she was always in a battle.

Nope. There’s an army of us crazies out there, and we need each other. We especially need the ones who have made it over the next mountain to shout back and report, “It’s more climbable than we thought!”


I have a few more things I wish another mom would’ve said to me along the journey.

Beyond any of these, however, the thing I’ve learned most resonates is simply to admit: this. is. hard.
I believe that’s because if you think it’s not supposed to be hard, it gets harder. And if you think you’re alone in the harder, well — that’s when it’s the hardest.

5 (more) things I wish another mom would have said to me

1. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t “enjoying every moment.”

You can’t enjoy every moment just like you can’t slow down time. Relatedly, you can’t remember it all. Some things are just for the moment. They aren’t meant to be remembered. That’s ok.

You don’t have to capture every award, performance, or “first” on your phone or worry that some years are now a blur. Your scrapbooks don’t have to be up-to-date and you don’t have to keep every card, note, and handmade gift.

Let yourself off the hook.

But DO be present in the moments while they are happening. Put your phone down when your child or teen walks in to talk. Realize you are sending a message when you choose to give your child your attention. It’s a gift. Give freely.

Choose to embrace the journey.
This journey.
Here and now.

Embracing isn’t the same as enjoying. It’s accepting what God has offered you for today without waiting for tomorrow to be better. I learned this the hard way, as I was always looking forward to _____(fill in the blank) when things would slow down and be more manageable.

I heard someone say, “God’s never gonna let your life be manageable; ‘cause then you’d just manage it.” #Truth.

Don’t miss today wishing for a better tomorrow and don’t count today a loss if you didn’t enjoy each moment.

For more on embracing the journey: One practical secret to practice choosing joy

2. A + B doesn’t always equal C.

Actually, I’m not sure A + B ever equaled C, but you get the picture, right?
Someone somewhere somehow convinced us there was a formula and it was up to us to solve the equation.

Guess what? There is NO formula. No “do this” and “get that.” No sure thing.

You’ll see this more and more the older your children get. Even if you’re still in the sweet, young, “whatever-you-say, Mommy” stage, this is important to remember and be prepared for.

The math isn’t always so simple and as the derivatives get complicated, your factor will have less effect on the outcome.

Yes, we have a responsibility to God to work our fields and sow good seeds, parenting in God’s wisdom, God’s grace, and God’s strength. But through it all, we have to remember God is the one in charge of the harvest.

It’s not all up to you and it’s not all about you. They were given to you, but they aren’t yours. And one day, they won’t be children anymore. You are raising young adults who will be responsible for their own decisions.

So write this one down and memorize it:

Your children do not define your worth.
Their successes do not elevate you to super-parent status
and their failures do not sentence you to shame and reproach.

For more on this subject: Dear Parents of Teens: This. Is. Hard & What to expect when you’re launching

3. Your parenting is a mosaic.

It’s not your magnum opus, pièce de résistance, or masterpiece.
Likewise, it’s not your fiasco, epic failure, or annus horribilis.

You’ve seen those computer-generated mosaics where thousands of images are selected, sorted, and arranged to create an overarching picture.

That’s your parenting.

In the end, it’s a pattern of wisdom, restraint, kind gestures, and loving moments that overshadow the times you yelled, forgot to send lunch money, showed up late to the award ceremony, or let them learn a lesson that ended up being more than you counted on them learning.

Here’s some good news I continue to be amazed by and wish someone had told me earlier:

They remember the good stuff. You remember the good stuff. Hindsight is NOT 20/20 — it’s rose-colored.

When my grown children talk about their childhood, they laugh and smile and recount the times I got it right. Similarly, I don’t reflect on the birthing pains, sleepless nights, or times I cried myself to sleep over their sin.

We may remember some of the hard, but we reflect on the sweet. God gives you a highlight reel. It’s called grace.

I discovered this with my youngest, and we wrote a mother-daughter post about it: The day my parenting was graded

4. You are not enough.

I just went against the mantra of so many popular authors and speakers with that one.

Here’s the reality:
You can’t do this without Spirit-filled strength, wisdom, and fruit. This is kingdom work and the enemy knows it. So he will throw everything at you in his arsenal, including yourself.

Yourself — you are likely your own worst enemy. You expect perfection and when you don’t measure up, you beat yourself up. It’s a vicious cycle and a spiral that can hold you captive to a self-fulfilling expectation of defeat.

Romans 7-8 is for your parenting. I don’t know how those who aren’t believers do this. You need The Spirit testifying within your spirit to affirm you are God’s child before you can even think of parenting your own children. You need the Spirit’s intercession and the promise of no condemnation in Christ. Your flesh by itself makes a weak parent. You do what you don’t want to do and what you know you should do, you don’t do. Have mercy.

Thankfully, God not only has mercy, but new mercies. Each morning. Lamentations 3:23 is also for your parenting. It’s the great do-over passage, and parenting is all about do-overs. The key is to keep doing over and overcoming until there is less to be overcome and undone. Progressive sanctification. In progress.

Prayer, honesty, and humility are some of the greatest defenses against the enemy that seeks to drag you down into a pit filled with discouragement and self-loathing.

I have a friend who always said her parenting failures simply reminded her children there was only ONE PERFECT parent in their lives: their Father God.

For more on why the enemy has you in his sights: Why Mothering is Kingdom Work

5. It will hurt, but you’ll be ok.

I know you look at that nine-year-old and think, “Half of my time with him is over.” Or you attend that middle school end-of-year performance or ceremony and think, “Only four more years before she’s gone.”

You wonder how you’ll let them go.

They leave you in stages. It starts when they are in high school and they drive off by themselves. They begin to need you less and less. You might not see it initially, but one day you wake up and realize things aren’t the same. It stings.

And then come the big events like graduation, first days of college, moving out, getting married, and so on.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It will hurt when they leave. Each time. It should hurt. These people are connected to you in a way NO ONE else in the world is connected. You have poured your life into them and when they walk away, a piece of your heart follows.

Here’s what I’m learning. This is grief.
The only way through grief is to grieve.
Lean into it and talk it out with God and trusted friends.

I’m realizing the truth of this quote more and more:

“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”
~ Shel Silverstein

Think about it. We use the term “Commencement” to mark the END of schooling years when the word itself means beginning. Endings are interwoven with — and inseparable from — beginnings. You can’t have cookies without milk, Mindy without Mork, chips without salsa, or beginnings without endings.

So here’s what else I’m learning. Find your own new beginning.
It may take a while or it may already be obvious. But there is a beginning to be begun. God’s not finished with you. In fact, this next season may be your most productive for the kingdom at large.

Your heart will beat again. Have you heard this song? One of my favorite lines is this:

“Beginning. Just let that word wash over you.”

Embrace the journey.
Lean into the endings and walk through the grief.
And when you get to the other side, you’ll find there’s a new beginning waiting to wash over you.

P.S. Do you know how the book of Esther ends? Hint: It’s not about Esther. Find the answer here: Dear Parents of College Students: You need to hear this


P.S. Do you need some parenting encouragement?

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Christi5 (more) things I wish another mom had said to me

Comments 26

  1. Michelle

    Praying for all odd you on your new journey. And thanks for these reminders. I keep feeling like my kids are only going to remember the tired, working, yelling single mom. They seem to recount the “tired, but cooked a full meal anyway” mom.
    Love you guys.

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  2. aimeeimbeau

    The last point got me teared up. My hubby and I often mention how short of time we have left with our oldest. I joke to friends about locking her up so I can keep her at home with me…forever;) I’m not ready to let go yet. Not sure I ever will be.

    Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth.

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  3. Heidi

    Thank you so much for your posts! I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old. Your posts make me feel so much better about parenting. It is hard, and I always question myself, but when I read your posts, it just shows me that I am doing things right:)

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      Oh, my. I know the feelings you speak of! Thanks for letting me know stringing these words together matters in your world. It’s why I write. Hang in there … as I often say: The ones who are most concerned about doing it right are the one who probably are most of the time!

  4. brandy dille

    My mom passed away from an aggressive brain cancer and she was my only family ..she was an everyday part of my life..being a single mom …two weeks after the funeral…my son left for college..the same little boy for four years before having my daughter I was a single parent too him as well…was my buddy..we did everything together…I met my husband four years layer had my daughter…just before my mom died I was going threw a mom died and two weeks later I watched this little boy leave for college and get his own apartment…it broke my heart..I felt GRIEF..GRIEF AND MORE GRIEF…I don’t know I even took care of my daughter..who is mentally challenged…so the comment that you hurt is true him leaving made me feel the grief almost the same feelings I felt the night I held moms hand and said goodbye to her. I had lost my husband mom and now I was saying goodbye to my little boy..who was going to make it in a world that I was now experiencing as scary, unsure, and very unstable…I felt alone and proud for him…but I hurt…I saw him every weeknd at first..but then he got a job and I only saw him when he could come home…so a lot of phone calls and thank god for facebook…in a week he will be coming home for summer and this mom is estatic!!! This first year has seemed like eternity!!!!

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      Wow. This is a lot, sister. I am so sorry and I simply don’t have words ~ but I know the one who can hold you and I am lifting you up before our great God. There is so much we can’t understand or make sense of this side of heaven. Thankful this world is not our home, but hurting for the hurt you are experiencing. Hold on to hope.

  5. Paula Hughes

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Christie. I am going to forward to my girls so they can be encouraged by your words.

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  6. helloredds

    Another wonderful post, sister!
    You have once again shared great wisdom coupled with incredible balance!
    I wish you were moving further south rather than further the other way!
    You bless me!
    (And, thank you for including my book in this post!)

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  7. Gleniece

    Thank you, Christie. What a beautiful reminder for all of us grieving mothers. Because we all are grieving something, aren’t we? Our children leaving, our failures, our hopes. You spoke well these realities of parenting.

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  8. joellepovolni

    I soaked in this post like I take slow bites of food and savor the flavor when something is so, so good. I love that you said, “They remember the good stuff. You remember the good stuff. Hindsight is NOT 20/20 — it’s rose-colored.” Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging us mom’s who are still in the middle of motherhood.

    Blessings to you,

    from your neighbor at Grace & Truth,


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      Thank you for visiting! Grace & Truth is my all-time favorite place to connect. I love that you resonated with the hindsight observation! Sometimes this gets me in trouble, as I glorify the past too much, but it certainly comes in handy for smoothing over the rough patches!

  9. Julie F

    I had been defining my self worth by the actions and decisions of my daughters and it nearly killed me. My oldest daughter has made so many bad decisions and I blamed myself because a lot of other people did too. That’s not who I am and God keeps telling me this through my husband.

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      I am so sorry you are experiencing such grief. Keep seeking God’s face and His truth. Thankful it seems like you have a husband who is speaking truth over you. Praying for you now as I type these words and asking God to fill you with His peace that passes all understand and the grace to trust Him in this storm.

  10. Katrina

    #5 hit me hard – maybe because my oldest will be a senior next year. We’ve had so many changes already, and my momma heart is trying to appreciate and soak up all these firsts (and lasts) and not be overwhelmed by anticipating the loss.

    (and that Danny Gokey song? Gets me EVERY time)

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  11. Amanda

    It is a blessing to hear that other moms feel the same way I do and go through the same emotions. It is so very true that parenting cannot be done without the Holy Spirit!!

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  12. Katie payne

    I’m so thankful for these words of wisdom. “I am not enough” Yes! Thank goodness! And it was good to hear that this morning.

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