As parents, we want more than anything to get this job right. We read. We listen. We pray. We trust. But there’s rarely someone to say, “Good job, mom,” or “Way to go, dad.” We just keep stepping through each stage, making it up as we go and hoping we get more right than wrong. I received a grade one day. And it’s not what you might think.

The day my parenting was graded

“Mom, I need help remembering some descriptive details.”
“About what?”
“That time at Allie’s birthday party when she didn’t like my towel.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you trying to remember it anyway?”
“It’s for a personal narrative essay for College English.”

My daughter was dredging up a memory from another decade and needed help with some of the specifics.
She’d put a lot of thought into choosing which story from her childhood she would tell.
It had to be pivotal. A defining moment. A perspective shift.

This is the one she chose: “Rocks and Rubber Duckies.

Take five minutes and enter the world of a 17-year-old pondering a story from when she was seven and then meet me back here. I’ll wait.

Rocks and Rubber Duckies by Makenna Gee found on


Did you read it? Good. Now here’s a Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story.”

I have absolutely no memory of that event.

Furthermore, the mom she writes about in that essay would have just crossed over from battling fibromyalgia and lyme disease for years leading up to that moment in time.

Living in a mental fog with unexplained pain and exhaustion.
Faking being “ok” more days than not.
Juggling work, marriage, and mothering and feeling like a failure at all three.

The mom she writes about in that essay sounds wise and put together.
Available. Present.
A mom in tune with her baby’s heart and quick with just the right amount of wisdom and compassion.

If you ask me, I don’t recognize that mom. I didn’t know she existed. But my baby did. My teen does.

Graded by my daughter

When my daughter asked me about the event, it opened the door to hear more of her viewpoint on life at that age.

I couldn’t help her with details — and really she didn’t need my help — but she let me be her cheerleader and read each draft. And then she acquiesced when I declared it had to become a blog post once she was ready.

She wanted to wait until her teacher graded it. She was unsure of her writing and thought the professor might have significant input about what to change.

She nonchalantly brought me the graded paper one day, devoid of many red marks. And on the last page, I saw this.

Essay Grade was 99 and comment said, "Wise mother!"


I celebrated her success and then joked about how I needed to frame a picture of the “wise mother” comment, as if the grade was on my mothering.

The truth is it was a grade on my mothering, but it didn’t come from the teacher.

Through the process of hearing my baby’s recollection of childhood memories, I realized she had a far different perspective than I did.

And I like hers SO much better.
Whether she realized it or not, all that she told me and the picture she painted of who I was in her eyes was like giving me an “A.”
I’ll take it.

Parent report cards

As parents, we want more than anything to get this job right.

We read. We listen. We pray. We trust.
But there’s rarely someone to say, “Good job, mom,” or “Way to go, dad.”

We just keep stepping through each stage, making it up as we go and hoping we get more right than wrong.

I wrote about those feelings in a post titled, “5 things I wish another mom had said to me.” It shot to the number one spot on my blog and has been shared more times than I can count.

As it is shared, moms take me up on my offer at the end of that post to pray for them and I get messages from kindred heart strangers. Names vary and circumstances differ but the crux of each message is the same. They are weary moms who are worried they are “messing up their kids.”

They are desperate for hope.

I don’t think the answer to all of this is a report card for parents. But it does underscore the need for affirmation.

If you are in the regrouping and releasing phase, look around for those still in the rearing phase.¹

Seek out young moms and dads at church, in the store, or in a restaurant. Smile. Make eye contact and comment on something good.

I’ve started doing this when appropriate, mentioning how patient the mom is or how happy the child seems. I can’t know if it matters in this moment and neither can you. But I know it would have mattered to me as a young mom.

And if you are one of those in the middle of parenting, take heart.
Those who are concerned about doing it right are the ones who probably are most of the time. And what’s more: You don’t have to get it perfect and it’s not all up to you.

God uses imperfect people,
failed attempts,
and outright disobedience
to develop character in His people.

You’ve seen this in your children.
Remember it applies to your parenting.

And please believe me when I tell you that in the end, it’s the good stuff that remains. I wouldn’t have believed myself ten years ago, but I DO hope that you’ll trust me on this now.

Grace will prevail
so hold off on that final exam
until you’ve finished all the lessons.


P.S. Do you need some parenting encouragement?

I’m betting on “Yes!” This short read “9 things I wish another mom had said to me” will speak to all your weary and your fear. Click here or below to get your FREE copy.

Free ebook for Moms - 9 things I wish another mom had said to me

Free ebook for Moms - 9 things I wish another mom had said to me

Encouraging You as You Inspire others,

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¹ The idea of “Rear. Release. Regroup” is inspired by my very wise friend’s blog. Her corner of the internet is FULL of parenting wisdom and hope. Check it out!

Other Parenting Posts

Do you ever feel like you are always fighting a battle? It’s because you are! ~ Mothering is suiting up for combat against an enemy who contends for your children. Take heart and take hold to the ONE who can equip you for the war.

In the pattern of "If you give a mouse a cookie," this cute post travels the journey of motherhood and reminds moms everywhere that God sustains you in each season of parenting. Mothers need encouragement and hope more than anyone!

Free ebook for Moms - 9 things I wish another mom had said to me

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ChristiThe day my parenting was graded

Comments 34

  1. Elizabeth Meyers

    Beautiful words! This is so encouraging to me. I have struggled for the past 8 years with depression and anxiety. It has taken a toll on me and my mothering. Thank you for reminding me that God is so much bigger than my failures as a mom. He can work through me in spite of me. Thank you for restoring my hope.

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      Oh, thank you for letting me know. That’s my heart … to speak the words that I needed to hear for so long. Hope is a powerful thing. Hold on to it!

      Appreciate all your trail of precious affirmation!

  2. Ruthie Gray

    Saw this on Twitter and don’t think I ever really read through it – plus your daughter’s version. So, so good. Putting it in the rotation to share! And so when I got to the part about “Release and Regroup” I thought – hey! That sounds familiar!
    Imagine my pleasure when I got to the bottom. ;) Thank you, dear friend. You are just the best. I feel like nobody can outgive you because you just keep on giving of yourself! What an example you have been to me, I’ve learned so much from your ethics and love of Jesus.
    So. Did I know you had Lyme’s too??? Good grief. We have more in common than I realized!
    You did sound wise when you made that fish tank gesture about the duckies and the rocks. I thought, “Wow. I wish I had said that to my kid when she was sad over not being the most popular kid on the van at school.” I think I said something like, “It’ll be ok. They’re not really your friends if they don’t like you.” …How comforting is THAT?!
    But you’re right – God does step in during our weakness. He is there all along, working in the background of our gestures, words, and facial expressions. My kids have told me things I’ve said that helped them and I’m like, “What?! I said THAT?!”
    We give God so little credit. He’s working it all out for His good. His burden is light. When will we learn?
    Love this post – love you more!

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      Girl. So much in this comment. Laughing at you discovering me talking about you behind you behind your back over here.

      Really taken aback by your comment about giving. Thank you for offering such honey to my soul by telling me that is what you see when you look at my example. I know you know how deeply that’s all I want out of this … because that’s all you want as well.

      We will have to compare all the notes one day. The list is growing into more than a coffee stop … it’s gonna have to be a retreat by the time we get to visit!

  3. Dawn Boyer

    Recently we were remembering with my own mother, things that happened so long ago that I am surprised I remember the detail. It was actually a sad memory but we both ended up laughing so hard as we revisited the past together. It was good to laugh with my mom and it was a lesson that I can begin to see with my own growing young adults. They have always told me I remember the bad things more than they do. They are so good at forgiving me for my mistakes. :)

    To be honest,I have worried FAR too much about what others think when it comes to being a mom and it hasn’t always been pleasant to get the list of what I am doing wrong handed out. Because of that, I find myself looking to those who are struggling, who are trying to get it right, who want to honor the LORD and are just needing a dose of encouragement. I remembered needing that jolt of approval to take the breath and move one.

    A sweet friend said, “You will always mother your kids, it won’t end just because they leave the nest ( or maybe don’t).” That, too, was a refreshing gift, because sometimes we think we have to cross every box off to make it right when really we just need to spend as much time as possible in communication with the Father who will lead us and our children. Isaiah 54:13 has been a verse I have petitioned the Lord with for years, ” All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.’, and Isaiah 55:11, ” So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth, it shall not return to me void, but will accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where I have sent it.”

    What a joy to have this memory to hold on to and to encourage you.


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  4. Alyssa J Howard

    I’m pretty sure I think about how my daughters perceive me on a daily basis. They are only 2 and 4 years-old, so I’m usually thinking to myself “I hope they don’t remember how I just lost it!” (Oh, how easy it is to lose it when you have two toddlers who insist on being human tornadoes destroying everything in their path… and doing so quite unsafely I might add!) Thank you for being an encourager – for encouraging moms everywhere to stick with it and to persevere the best we know how. And for reminding us to rely on God and His grace to get us through. :)

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      Hang in there, dear mama! I so remember being in the middle of a 2 and a 4-year-old. My 4-yr-old was a strong-willed son and there were days I didn’t think I could go on. You are so wise to focus on God’s grace. It applies to your parenting!

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  5. Rebecca

    This is a beautiful reminder that our children don’t judge us on the same scale as we judge ourselves. What a wonderful memory for you to share. And go ahead and frame that “Wise Mother” comment LOL !!

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  6. Beth Willis Miller

    Christi, I LOVE both your post and your daughter’s assignment post…so good I sent both links to my own 35 year-old daughter who has two sons, and a dear friend with a teenage daughter now…you and your daughter have encouraged man heart today! Many blessings to you both!

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  7. joanneviola

    A beautiful post. We may never fully know the effect of our parenting until later on. I am also so grateful God covers our mistakes in His grace :) So glad to have stopped here from Tell My Story this morning & I’m glad you told yours! Blessings to you both!

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  8. helloredds

    What a great post, Christi!

    I love this one and Makenna’s story! Y’all make quite a team!

    I will really look forward to sharing this one this week.

    One of my greatest prayers and passions at this stage is to encourage younger moms. Thanks for the reminder to keep this goal on the front burner.

    Hope you are having a blessed day today~

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      Thank you. I can tell you that prayer and passion of yours is being fulfilled. You have such a beautiful ministry to so many. Thankful to be part of that!

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  9. Maria from Collecting Moments

    Christi! An absolutely beautiful and inspiring story from both you and your daughter! You’re so right. Parents (like me) need that affirmation. We need confirmation that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re not going to mess our children up. So thank you, for sharing this, and for providing some kind of relief to those young parents when you compliment them, in however way you can. I only wish there were more of you out there–to spread the joy and the relief. To say “it’s ok…you’re doing fine”

    You’ve inspired me to do the same to any parent–mother, father, young or old–who may need that confirmation. My daughter is only 2, but if I can impart half the knowledge that you’ve granted your daughter by the time she’s 17, I would consider myself successful. Rocks and rubber duckies will be something I discuss with my daughter as well, when the time comes. Thank you for your words :) So glad I found you on Shine Blog Hop.

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      Maria, I pray I never get so far along on this blogging journey that I stop reacting to comments like yours with tears and a need to fall to my knees.

      That is exactly what reading your sweet words did to me just now. My heart is to help and offer hope, but I rarely know for certain that I did what I intended :) So, thank you for the affirmation.

      More importantly, how exciting to have at least one more comrade-mama out there spreading sweet relief and “It’s ok” messages!

      We need each other. This parenting journey is rough. I needed YOU today. Thankful for you precious spirit and priceless words!

      Hugs across the bits and bytes.

  10. Anita

    Priceless story from Makenna!! I just read it to my Mr. and he’s also now pondering the rubber duckies and rocks in his world….we have a wonderful visual here—& I am pondering how very wise you are in challenging us all to encourage others on the trail behind us in parenting. Amazing how far a kind word of encouragement can go! Thank you for reminding us all!

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      You both touch me deeply with these words. Thank you for such tender transparent encouragement. Blessed to have done so much of figuring out this parenting thing alongside you both.

  11. Clovis Barnett

    Well, I needed today to be reminded of your wise words to your sweet daughter whether you remember them or not! in my book you get an A+ in parenting and she is following after her older sister … Beautiful, smart, and godly!

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  12. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    I just adored this story and I’m so glad I read it!

    I struggle with rejection at times too. I will totally remember the rocks or rubber duckies and may use it with my own children one day.

    Isn’t it interesting that you struggled to recall this event. It just goes to show you how amazing you are all the time ;)

    Thanks again for sharing.

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  13. Shei

    Why do you always get the parenting win and all Blake remembers from his childhood is that I poured hot coffee down his back (because I TRIPPED and BUMPED INTO HIM, but don’t bother trying to convince him of that) and that when he was just about to start kindergarten I spanked him for making his “S” backward on his writing sheet that I made him do? (in my defense, that was clearly an act of defiance. He certainly knew how to make a proper “S.” We learned it on Sesame Street.). No pixie dust magic at my house, apparently. :)

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