How being a Mom is like wearing a shoe that’s too big

Mallory in my boots

Nobody told me I would have days when I wouldn’t feel like being a Mom.

When I had my first baby, I thought I was ready.  I had been babysitting for years, so I knew how to take care of children, how to manage more than one, I had done it tons of times.  And then I had to nurse an infant.  And it didn’t work.  It hurt and I couldn’t even perform a simple task like feeding my baby.  I was at a loss.  All the years of babysitting, church nursery working, and helping out other Moms was nothing compared to the real deal.  Quickly I realized that knowing how to take care of children and actually being a Mom were two completely different things.

Once I got a handle on nursing, I thought, “Well, when she sleeps through the night, then things will get better.”  And so she slept through the night, but then new challenges came with another baby, just a year later, and on it went hoping for my children to reach the milestones in their development that I thought would make caring for them a lot easier.

I’m beginning to realize that no matter how many milestones my children reach, no matter how independent they might become, I will never have this Mom-thing totally figured out.

Being a Mom often feels like wearing a shoe that is just a bit too big.  Walking around clunking your feet, sometimes falling down and stumbling over things.  That’s how I feel most days.  Oh, sure, someone will get potty trained or learn how to make their bed {albeit imperfectly}, and I’ll feel like the shoe fits for awhile.  But then five minutes later, books are flying off of the shelf, children are crying because a friend won’t invite them to a birthday party, and instantly I’m back in those too-big shoes wondering how I’m going to settle these trivial problems –that don’t seem so trivial when you’re in the thick of it– of a Mom-life, and just make it to bedtime.

Giving birth doesn’t automatically give us all things necessary for mothering.  It’s a constant growing-into.  We learn to nurse, change diapers, manage on little sleep, grocery shop while being asked a million questions, cook with people pulling on our legs, go to the bathroom while holding a baby and trying to keep the others from touching the trash can in the public restroom.  We send our kids off to school, stumble our way through teaching them about relationships, getting hurt, and resolving conflict.  My oldest is almost six, so I have many more milestones to reach, but I’m told that even parents with adult children struggle with knowing how to be a parent to their kids.

Each day we strive to understand how to meet the needs of our children, all of whom are different, and it is overwhelming, exhausting and often unrewarding.  And if I’m honest with myself, and with you, some days I just want to run away from it all.   To just have a day, or okay maybe a month, without demands, constant teaching and correcting, sleepless nights, and the never ending feeling that I’m not quite getting it right.

Lately, being a Mom has been really hard.  Yes, my kids have been disobedient, whiny, and sick.  Yes, we’re in the midst of a move, the holidays, and a lot of change.  But what I’ve found that it really boils down to is that being a Mom is hard when my heart isn’t right.

And when my heart isn’t right I need to repent.  To surrender my wants, my comforts, and my plans, to the Lord and allow His infinite grace to change me, not my kids, not my circumstances.

Just today, I read the devotional in Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, about Jonah.  And this is what she said about repentance and grace:

“You aren’t equipped for life until you realize you aren’t equipped for life.  You aren’t equipped for life until you’re in need of grace.  In the moment of realizing your limitations, your shortcomings, your inescapable sins, all that you aren’t–in that moment of surrendered lack, you’re given the gift you’d receive no other way: the gracious hand of an unlimited God”. 

Motherhood is not about my ability.   I need to recognize that I will never have it figured out.  I will never be a perfect Mom.  There is no perfect Mom.  And if I think that somehow between having toddlers and sending my kids off to college I will reach perfection, I am sorely mistaken.

Motherhood is about my humility.  The recognition that I can do nothing apart from the strength of the Lord.  My greatness in being a Mom is dependent upon my reliance upon a great God.  God who enables, imparts wisdom, offers forgiveness, extends grace.  And His abilities are limitless.

On the occasional day when I think, “I nailed it,” the days when my kids love how we spent our time, bubble over with excitement as they share the activities of the day with their dad when he gets home from work.  Days when I love to snuggle, don’t lose my temper, and joyfully let them help me in the kitchen.  On those days, it’s only by the grace of God that the shoe fits.

If I can remember this and learn to keep leaning into Jesus, He will make me a great Mom.  Because my kids will see Him, not me.  And they will wonder at the greatness of God who enabled their Mom to love them, ask them for forgiveness, teach them, enjoy them, and spend her days seeking to honor God.

Colossians 1:29


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  • Reply Sandra Roberts

    God has given you such wisdom. How I delight in reading what you have learned. Keep on writing. Your blog is a blessing.

    December 16, 2014 at 6:51 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Thank you, Sandra. You’re always such an encouragement!

      December 17, 2014 at 5:57 am
  • Reply Autumn

    Yep… true…..I’m a mom to five and know exactly what you mean…..”motherhood is about my humility” …..the sooner we learn that the better. I’m trying to just enjoy what today brings; today that is sick kids 😉 but by Gods grace we will glorify him no matter how we “feel”!

    December 16, 2014 at 8:38 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Yes, feelings can easily turn our hearts from the Truth. Praying right now for you as you handle your sick little ones!

      December 17, 2014 at 5:58 am
  • Reply Cindy Duncan

    And always remember that at the end of the day, you can thank Him that when He looks at you, He sees a perfect mom because He sees His perfect Son with whom He is well pleased 🙂 What a glorious and gracious God! Thank you, once again, for a beautifully transparent post!

    December 16, 2014 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Marla

    Oh, Lauren! Even this 61-year-old mom whose youngest son got married this past weekend, needed this reminder! Thanks so much for sharing your heart and soul with us! Love you!

    December 16, 2014 at 9:42 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Congratulations! We wish we could have been there, but do know that I was thinking about you all day!! The pictures you sent are beautiful.

      December 17, 2014 at 6:00 am
  • Reply Carrie Devers

    Thank you for your encouraging words. I have been “in the midst” of whiny attitudes, and a newly sulky pre-teen. Prayers have been often and it seems right now, that I’m doing all the “talking”. I’m hoping for conversation with my sulky son to happen. God is still good through it all.

    December 16, 2014 at 10:52 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Praying for you right now to have some opportunities with your boy. Yes, God is still good!

      December 17, 2014 at 6:00 am
  • Reply Jerra

    I just had one of these days of heart not right, struggling in all MY energy and feeling frustrated, incapable, impatient and downright unloving until I literally came to my knees on the floor, right in front of the kids, and cried out to God in repentance and for His mercy (Psa 40:1). He is so good to take our burdens when we cast them on Him… if we’ll do that. Humbling ourselves, like you said. A constant battle. After that I was able to share how much I need Jesus on a daily and moment-by-moment basis with my kids and they were able to see that God answered mommy’s prayer for help in that my heart had been changed and grace ushered in. Thanks for sharing your struggles and heart and I love that Col. verse… needed to hear it today!

    December 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Thanks for sharing this, Jerra. Yes, talking with our kids about our need for Jesus is one of the greatest ways I think we can help them understand what it means to truly have a relationship with Him. Even though I hate messing up in front of them, I know that they need to see God’s grace at work in me too.

      December 17, 2014 at 6:03 am
  • Reply Ann Washer

    Your comments today touched my heart, as always. I’m so thankful for forgiving hearts from my children (your husband) when I didn’t do it ‘right.’ And, it’s a thrill as a parent to watch my children parent THEIR children. My grandchildren are so blessed to have you and Bradley as their parents. Love this picture of JV–she looks so much like her daddy’s baby pictures, down to her bottom lip;=).

    December 17, 2014 at 8:03 am
  • Reply Jenn A

    So, so true! Good to be reminded.

    December 18, 2014 at 10:53 pm
  • Reply Holly Anderson

    Thanks for sharing this, Lauren! Oh, so true and so freeing to know we don’t have to have it all figured out; we just have to surrender to him because he does! Of course that’s easier said than done sometimes! I’m sharing this with my Moms Bible study group. 🙂 BTW, Melissa is married to my cousin. 🙂

    January 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm
  • Reply Jo Beth

    Going to share this one with my Bible study group of young moms — a perfect segue as we begin going through “The Beautiful Mess” together. Thanks!!

    January 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm
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