Desperate Online Book study, Chapter 1: Ideals and Going Under

Happy at the Moon's House  My Composer son, Joel, 26 and somehow still emotionally healthy in spite of me!

“Ideals” is practically my middle name. When I was a little girl, I remember watching Miss America and when I saw the “beauty” crowned, I practiced walking around our living room, preparing for the time I would be crowned queen. Stories of heroines in books and movies piqued my interest because I knew I was destined to be a protagonist in some great story.

Idealistic about faith, about romance, about life! Except one area: I didn’t have any ideals about being a great mother. Honestly, I was one of those women who just didn’t think about having children or mothering them. Having only brothers above me and being the only girl, I never had babies in my home, and I only remember babysitting about twice in my whole life–and that under duress.

Now if I had been a mothering/baby-oriented sort, I would have been idealistic about that, because I was idealistic about everything I knew about–but I didn’t know anything about being a mom–especially about one of babies. After all, what could be so hard about having a baby? I would have figured that as a fairly mature Christian (after all, I had been in ministry for eight years, and missions at that! ) So I supposed I I should also be a fairly mature mom.

Fast forward, a few years into marriage. Living in Southern California was such a challenge for me as a young mother of two young children. Clay worked 65-80 hours a week, I didn’t know many women in my area, and I had almost no “mother” friends. Our families lived halfway across the United States and I was exhausted all the time. It didn’t help that I was pregnant with my third child and struggled with morning sickness for six months.

After straightening up my house one afternoon, I poured bubble bath into my large oversized double sink with Sarah, 4, on one side and Joel, just under 2, in the sink next to it. I gave each of them small plastic cups to use in the warm, bubbly water to play with while I hoped for a reprieve.

“This will hold them for at least 30 minutes and I can get a break,” I thought as I waddled to a chair nearby.

All of a sudden, 22-month Joel stood up straight in the sink. With a very exuberant smile from cheek to cheek, he screamed in delight and started scooping bubbles and water out of the sink and onto the floor as fast as he could, having a merry old time. He was just being an exuberant, happy little boy.

Something in me burst, and I started screaming at him with vein-popping intensity. “What are you doing? You are making a mess all over my floor! Stop it. Don’t you know you are making a mess? Don’t you know how tired I am?” The lecture had evidently been stored up for months, and I just kept going and going in anger and frustration.

Leaning up Against an Invisible Wall

Sweet Joel, all 6’5″ of him, now all grown up– a composer–(find his beautiful, original music here at Joelclarkson.com)

My stunned, happy, easy-going boy plopped down (making another big splash on my floor) and looked at me with wide, big, sad eyes and then just started crying and crying and crying, as though I had wounded him for life.

All of a sudden, I felt soooooooo bad. What had happened to me? Where had this kind of anger come from? Here was my gentle Joel, my cuddly one, who was doing nothing wrong but just being a darling little toddler.

Shame poured over me in waves. Sarah looked at me in fear. The fun I had planned was totally spoiled. Everyone was crying. And all afternoon, I shook my head over the incident. How could someone who called herself a mature believer lose it like that? I was not worthy to be a mom. What would my friends think? What would Clay think if he had heard me being so irrational?

Darkness seemed to cover my whole being in disappointment with myself. I knew I had been wrong and impatient; that my son had done nothing wrong. He had been so delighted in his bubbles and then …..!!!!!

As a young mom, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I had three children in less than five  years. I had never been trained to take care of children, to change diapers, to nurse a baby, to miss hours of sleep for months at a time; or anything else that was required, and had almost no knowledge of what it looked like to be a “good” mother. Of course I read as much as I could read, but the books didn’t cover everything. And then there were so many formulas and so many differing voices!

Scripture, though,  became my saving grace. I would pray and pray that God would help me–and little by little, He started building in me a philosophy of parenting, motherhood, and home building; generation-inspiring messages, and I found grace and freedom as I slowly grew. As I sought Him, and followed what I believed was the way of wisdom in parenting my children, by faith, I began to really, really fall in love with my children, with who they were, and the deep call of motherhood. This took years and for me, it was never easy. But my home became a place of deep happiness and fulfillment. It was not from seeking the fulfillment of ideals, but from seeking Him and His wisdom and seeing His love and patience with me.

“Even as a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on you.” Psalm 103

So, God, as my Father, was compassionate towards me and knew my limitations and still loved me. And so I learned to have compassion on my precious little ones and practiced loving them more each day.

I wish I had known ahead of time that motherhood was a place of battle and growth.

If only I had understood that there were no perfect moms and that all moms, including good moms,  became frustrated, sinned and were selfish, and succumbed to exhaustion. If only I had  not wasted so much  time on guilt and inadequacy, but instead focused on seeking to enjoy life with my children more–to lighten my load– to lighten up in general.

I wish I had known that all mamas get angry, that messes happen on a daily basis–that is the norm–nothing to get upset about. I wish that I had understood that children are pre-wired to behave like children and do toddlerish, babyish, teenage-ish, things–and that God wanted me to learn to enjoy them and not be so neurotic about every single little thing.

I wish I had relaxed my ideals as a young mom, and just leaned into the life of being a mom more.

So many of my friends miss their children now that they are older. Most all of them say they wished they had relaxed more, loved more, and paid more attention to them personally–looked into their eyes more often.

Wisdom applied:

What are your biggest disappointments over how you expected yourself to be as a mom compared to your reality?

In what area were you least prepared?

How do you most need to adjust your expectations and find a way to enjoy this stage of your children’s lives?

I try to remember, “This is the day the Lord has made (right now, this stage, this child, this circumstance) I will rejoice (I will choose to worship God right now; I will look for what I can be thankful for) and be glad.

I choose gladness and will live fully in this season and  grow little by little–knowing God is holding my hand and leading me.

 

 I hope you’ll join us each week, as SarahMae and I take turns discussing topics from Desperate, Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe! You can read SarahMae’s posts on Tuesday at SarahMae.com, and mine here every Thursday. Join us on Momheart.org today for more of a discussion of this chapter. And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you can by clicking the picture below!desperatebook

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Comments

  1. MamaBethy says

    Oh Sally! This really encouraged me. Thank you for sharing these little failures that brought such condemnation, because that is what I am experiencing right now. Of course I adore my children and do intentionally take time to spend with them, but in the thick of the day when I just need to get dinner in the oven and the dishes out of the sink and the kitchen floor swept…I become a monster…so intollerant sometimes! I feel so guilty all the while telling myself…why should I get upset when my daugther pours out all the dishsoap and floods the floor…she’s trying to help…why should it bother me that kids want to sweep (or unsweep) the pile I’ve just gathered? Why should i be so tasked oriented when their little hearts matter more…but sometimes, when there’s a deadline in front of me or someone is coming over…I just fail. When the baby goes in the bathroom and starts playing in the toilet, I find myself yelling at the child who left the door open. When I’m trying to clean up for company and they want to take out more toys, and leave puzzle pieces everywhere, I fail in patience. In there little minds they might think my tasks are more important than they are and I feel so wrong, so convicted, but so sad because I’m just a bit of an overeactor…so, where do I go from here. HOW do you lighten up, HOW do you let go of the little things, brush off the messes, the chaos and calamities with calm cool collected discernment? I know you probably don’t have time to write back to me. I know you’re getting ready for the conference, and I’m so sad that I won’t be able to attend. It was a dream of mine to be able to go, but it seems God has other plans and I have to trust Him for now. I wouldn’t say openly that I’m struggling necessarily because I try to be positive in all things, but I’ll admit here, many times as a mommy of 3 ages 1, 3, 5, I feel I’m struggling to make it through each day with a good attitude…I can make it till about 4:00 I’ve noticed and then the time right around dinner goes downhill…and my husband has night classes to catch up on his schooling so I feel too exhausted to be gracious and feel so condemned most evenings. Anyway…this got way too long. I’m tempted to erase it, but at least maybe you can pray for me. thanks. :)

    • Becca says

      Oh girl, I’m so there with you. I have a 1, 3, and 5 yr old too. One of my mommy mentors has told me to use every moment as a teaching opportunity instead of a time to use a consequence. I even got a little hand vaccuum so my 3 yr old can vaccuum my swept pile of dirt instead of attempting to sweep. I LOL’d when you wrote that part cause that was happening so much. I wanted to let them help but it was actually making more of a mess for me to clean up. Sweeping definitely is an art;) I dread dinner time!!! Everyone is cranky, including me. And I need that time to cook so we can eat (a bit of a neccessity), but when my 1 yr old is pulling snacks out of the pantry or trying to push me away from the counter and wanting to be held, I’m torn. I know she wants my time, but we gotta eat! My man works late nights a ton so the help isnt’ always there. I cook mindless easy things on the nights that he’s not home. And when he is home I’ll cook the more time consuming stuff or I’ll take the time to make a double batch and freeze 1. That way it becomes a dinner for another time. I let my babes watch tv at certain times a day, and one of those times is while I’m cooking dinner;) There’s a lot to be said about that plug-in baby sitter. The Lord knew what He was doing when He gave someone the talent to invent the tv!! Prayers for you momma! I’m feeling ya!

      • says

        Oh mamas, I can so relate!! I have a 5, 3, and 1 year old too. We are in the eye of the storm right now I think, and it is so hard. I am ashamed to say I lose my temper and many evenings I am filled with guilt and shame over my actions that day. Just wanted you to know that you are not alone. Praying for you, and hope that you will pray for me :)

    • says

      I right there with you on the 4:00 chaos! I think I must still have my 8-5 work schedule still stuck in my head, so I’m expecting a break at that time. It never happens of course, so instead I lose all my patience, the house gets worse, and Im ready to give up. Oh and mine are 4, 2, and 5 months. And I have my 3 year old niece most days.

  2. says

    Sally,
    Thank you so much for sharing this and for the book! I just finished “Desperate” yesterday, and it spoke so deep into my heart. I have a 5, 3, & 1 year old, and life feels so overwhelming some days. This book is reaching into my soul, revealing my sin and stirring up the passion and longing that I have to be a mom that captures the hearts of my children every day. My husband is a Pastor of a very small church, and there are really no women for me to connect with. The older women seem to have completely forgotten what it is like to have young children, and the only other mom with little ones has her hands full with a disabled child and is a very different mom than me. I am blessed to have an incredible mother, but she works a demanding job and so I feel very alone in my motherhood journey. Some days I just want another adult to talk to for a minute. I am praying for God to open doors for some like-minded mama friends. You are such a blessing, and I am so looking forward to hearing you speak at the Teach Them Diligently Convention. Praying that this book reaches all the weary mamas out there :)

  3. Jenn says

    You are speaking my story almost exactly, except I am in it right now. I just got your book in the mail yesterday and am hoping to do this book for our mom group this fall in the new school year. Is there a teacher study guide for it? Thank you and many blessings from our Lord!

    • Amy says

      I know Sarah Mae mentioned avfree study guide for small groups – I think there’s a link to it on her site (sarahmae.com).

  4. Brianna says

    What are your biggest disappointments over how you expected yourself to be as a mom compared to your reality?

    I thought I was a much nicer person before I had children. Somehow, having children brought out the very worst in me. ;) I was disappointed in my displays of anger, the way I would lose my cool over things that should have been manageable, the way my children annoyed me sometimes instead of delighted me.

    In what area were you least prepared?

    I wasn’t prepared to have the endurance to care for the routine, mundane things that wouldn’t stay done. I was used to doing something and being done with it. I as used to working on exciting new projects. With mothering four little children, I found that there was a LOT of mundane work that was simply never ending! It wasn’t exciting to do those same things over and over and OVER again and I often found myself looking for escape. You all likely know this, but if you try to escape those routine, mundane tasks when you have several small children, they will find you and drown you (the tasks not the children). :P I’m still learning how to persevere and be faithful in doing the things required just to have my home run relatively smoothly. Just to have clean laundry and food to eat and some semblance of order. It’s hard for me to faithfully, consistently, habitually do those tasks after a life that was trained in habits of bursts of energy, and a cycle of procrastinate and then whirl through things at lightspeed. That approach has not served me well in this season!

    How do you most need to adjust your expectations and find a way to enjoy this stage of your children’s lives?

    I need to realize the work is not.going.away. It’s just there and it is what it is and it needs to be done. Everyday. And there are going to be messes. All.the.time. And it’s OK. I need to adjust my mindset, accept the workload, make it easier by living with less, and teach my children to work with me. I need to enjoy my children. To have fun with them! To get down and play with them (this is so hard for me).

    • Hollie says

      Brianna, I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote. Not being sure you have “the endurance to care for the routine…” This is so exactly how I feel, too. That has absolutely been the aspect of mothering in which I was least prepared.

  5. Brandy says

    I always thought mothering would come easy to me because of how much I loved children. I was my church’s go to babysitter as a teenager. It totally threw me for a loop when I had so many littles in the house at once(4 under 6), how much anger and nastiness I was spilling out on my babes. It scared me enough to seek counseling and to really reconfigure how I was parenting. Some of the parenting experts that were pushed at me at the time had very unrealistic standards for the average child. And it was pushing my idealism to it’s very limit. When I let that go and parented each child according to their little individual needs and personalities, the pressure dissipated greatly. Now almost 10 years later with a handful of teenagers, a ten year old and a almost 5 year old, I do still have some times of desperation. But I definately wish I could go visit my young mama self and let her know that it is totally okay to let go of a parenting formula and to parent the way God leads you to with each child. And to give myself and my little ones way way more grace.

  6. says

    I was always the Pied Piper of children-it was the one gift that people would recognize and comment about. So of course, being a mom was going to be a cinch for me. (I can’t help but think God’s laughing now as I remember this.) But my first daughter was way more than I expected–more sensitive, more withdrawn, more easily agitated, more everything. I finally received the answer of what made her so different after having had her evaluated by three different child psychologists/development specialists. I was even given tools to make both of our lives easier. But still, I spent four years being so frustrated and angry. This wasn’t what I bargained for.

    Then I went to a MOPS meeting. The speaker detailed how she too would get so angry and frustrated but that she came to realize that she was in a predicament much like Esther’s questioning why she should be in a position that she didn’t understand, couldn’t cope with, and did not expect. And she had her answer coming from the mouth of Mordecai, “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14). When I heard those words tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized that God sent me here for a very specific reason; and he gave me each of my children for a very specific reason–because I am the one who can best parent them. I have the tools and the gifts that my daughter needs and he has equipped me to do that job. That day eight years ago was a turning point for me and I can still remember the burden that feel from my shoulders and the loosening of the tightness in my chest. I had a job to do to raise my daughter and to train her up in the way she should go–not in the way I had daydreamed about parenting an idealized child.

    Once I was able to release my dream child. I began to see my daughter for who she was. I began to see the benefits of her quirks and the uniqueness of her gifts. I began to sympathize with her struggles rather than seeing them as a threat against me. I was able to calm down and figure out how to best parent her in the way she needed. And I feel utterly and totally head over heals in love with my perfectly unperfect little girl and even if I could take away her differences, I wouldn’t. I love her exactly as she is for that is how God made her to be-wonderful!

  7. Jeanette says

    Thank you. Every page of this book gives me new hope. I have longed needed to hear that I am not alone. This last year I ‘blew up’ at my children for the first (and unfortunately not last time.) Thankfully the Lord is lifting me out of this pit. I am learning and I know I will look back and be thankful for how I have grown.

  8. says

    *Sigh* I’ve recently realized my expectations for motherhood came from a very distorted place. There has been little in life I haven’t excelled at. I was the “good kid” at church. I excelled in school. Everyone wanted their kids to be like me. While God dealt with my pride along the way, there’s nothing like a small child to deal the biggest blow. Because parenting isn’t a formula. And there are no grades to give immediate feedback. And they are little mirrors back to our souls, showing us who we are. During the first year of my daughter’s life, I remember wondering what was wrong with me – other mothers seemed to do everything so effortlessly. I felt like I could be good at everything except the one thing that was most important – mothering my child. Thankfully, some woman poured some wisdom into my life. Thank you for continuing to do so.

  9. says

    sometimes i think the most healing words we can speak to each other as moms are not “here’s how” or “try this way” — but “me, too.”

    so often our struggles are intensified by the pain of the lie that we are the only ones who battle this. thank you for being real, Sally. and thank you for reminding us that we are not alone.

    • MammaY says

      Isnt this the truth! Sometimes we don’t need someone to tell us how to do it better, we just need to know that we aren’t alone.

  10. says

    People always told me that marriage reveals your true colors. I couldn’t disagree more! At least for me, parenting revealed just how selfish and impatient I am. I have never felt so wrapped up in anger and fear, and disappointment and…my rap sheet of sinful attitudes is a mile long.

    I was unprepared when our first (a surprise pregnancy) came along. I picked a nearby obgyn and we were off!

    Four kids later (and I’m typing this one-handed while I nurse my youngest) I’m beginning to feel a fog is lifting. I’m still learning to parent with love and grace. I’m still learning to set reasonable expectations, and be flexible when even those go unmet.

    Thank you for risking vulnerability to reach out to other moms. What a treasure!

  11. Kami says

    This was such a perfect read for me as I can relate to so much of what you wrote about. I’m a momma to an almost 11 yr old girl, 8 yr old boy and 4 yr old quadruplets. So many struggles. We moved away from family 2 yrs ago and it’s been a long and lonely 2 yrs. God brought 2 wonderful Christian homeschool moms into my life a few months ago. We’re going to go through your book together. We’ll be in TX at the conference. One of them paid my way so I could come. Talk about a blessing. We can’t wait to come see you! Thank you for serving us!

  12. says

    Sally, thank you so much for writing! I have just come to this point in my life in the last year. I realized that although I had much training in manners and appropriate moral behavior (outward), I had little to no training in spiritual discipline’s, or any self-discipline at all. I had no training in how to teach or train children, except if you count the “super-sitter” class I took when I was 12 at our local hospital.:) I grew up in a single parent home and am just now seeing it’s affects on who I am, my marriage and how I mother. I have 4 children under 5 and have often found myself in places of anger, confusion and well, just completely overwhelmed. Your lasts two posts have come at a wonderful time of renewal in my walk with the Lord and growth as a mother and wife. I’m so excited to fall in love with my children more and had even in the past 3 days written down my vision for the year concerning our home and family. Then I read your posts and it’s confirmation that God is gently leading me with my young onto His paths for His glory. Thank you for sharing your heart on these things. I’m so relieved that I’m not alone in the battles and truly excited to “lean into” being a mom.

  13. jackie s says

    thank you for your honest post. i was a Christian mom – loving husband – but also working outside the home 5 days a week, always stuff on my plate – took the kids to church, did lots of spiritual mentoring – but to be honest, i felt like i was just keeping up day to day and i know my temper took over at times. i’m now 50, my “baby” is having her first baby at age 26 and she seems so much more mature than i was. i’ve felt guilty lately thinking of the times that i just wasn’t focusing on “what God would want” but on the craziness of each day. God forgives and my kids swear that I was a great mom, but i’m starting to finally understand how to let God take over, love my kids and husband (no matter what), and feel I can be a mentor to those that are just starting their families. it also helps that i’ve got a great mentor myself.

  14. says

    What are your biggest disappointments over how you expected yourself to be as a mom compared to your reality? I think I expected myself to be MORE patient and to naturally turn to the Lord…um yeah. ;)

    In what area were you least prepared? I think I was least prepared for how something I love (being a mom) can turn monotonous if I am not careful and don’t take care of myself. I also think I was least prepared how much mothering would effect me being a good wife. Everything needs a balance!

    How do you most need to adjust your expectations and find a way to enjoy this stage of your children’s lives? Over the years, I’ve come to realize there are very few things that REALLY matter and others that aren’t as critical. I’ve asked the Lord and continue to ask Him to clearly point those out to me in every area – housework, outside activities, homeschool opportunities, child training, rhythm in the home etc. I find that if I feel “stressed or bored or overwhelmed”, I go back to the Lord and His master plan. He never fails to reveal what is wrong with my priorities. :)

  15. Michelle Clinton says

    Thank you Sally. Thank you for sharing your trials with us. Mothering has been like nothing I thought it would be. I dreamed of having children when I was eight years old! I was going to have a red hair little girl with green eyes. Obviously I hadn’t taken any biology classes yet…I have brown hair with brown eyes as does my man. Her name (my daughter’s) was going to be Nicolet. Don’t laugh. I used to draw pictures of her. After nine years of marriage with no children, my man & I decided to adopt. BOYS! Two boys. They came home when they were 3 & 2. Six months later I delivered yet another healthy baby BOY! Can we say…overwhelmed. I never knew I would cry so much. People were always telling us what great parents we would be. People offered to make us their children’s godparents or they would put us in their Wills to care for their children if they should die….HA!! I’m not kidding.

    Now here we are with an 11, 10, & 7 year old and they are still BOYS! Even as I write my youngest is wanting to call his dad at work for the third time today. (He just memorized all our phone numbers.) I so struggle at being a mom. Harshness, anger, yelling…these are words that too often describe me. I’m thankful to the Lord that He is good. That He is a patient Father. Slowly, slowly I am learning to follow His ways in parenting. Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone.”

  16. Kristi says

    The first chapter really made me realize that I absolutely can not try to hold myself to such high standards and just roll with life in the season God has placed me in. Tryin to make the house immaculate is sensless if my little seeds arent being watered. Im so thankful for this book, although I never had a good upbringing the Spirit truely has guided me to be the mom wife, and daughter I needed to be for Him. Im so thankful for our sweet Jesus that is so comforting and constantly refreshing my perspective on life. This blog post really gave me a little reliefe as I have also let stress and sleep deprivation steal away my joy and zeal. Feeling endless guilt about my reaction to my little 8 mos and 21 mos old. All they want is love, the dirty cloths can wait until later. I wanna make everyday count in their little lives and never regret where my priorities were at the end of the day. The LORD is my portion, He will fill my cup back up when it starts running low on rest, mommy time, and time with HIM. He always does…:-)

    • says

      Amen Kristi! This post was so timely for me as well, as I had one of these days this past week. All my children wanted to do was be kids, but my pounding headache I woke up with and my selfish desires took priority as I snapped at them and sulked in my guilt. It was a beautiful day here and my oldest kept begging for the park. I finally get them all out and my headache is relentless. The catastrophic events of my 2 year old throwing everything in the trash that morning, too her jumping on her 1 year old sister left me very low on patience for the rest of the day. I finally pulled in the park with lunch and didn’t want to get out due to exhaustion and this headache. I finally mustered up the strength too get them all out the car and all my girls were silent. They knew Momma was mad and what could be an enjoyable moment was being ruined by my bad attitude. Then guilt sets in… ughhhh… Why can’t I just relax and enjoy my kids?! I couldn’t fight back the tears as guilt and shame overwhelmed me… Feelings of failure overtook me, but sometimes those quiet moments of tears are a release to God and allow healing. After they finished lunch, the older girls ran with GLEE over too the park to play. I needed their joy and their ability to so easily forgive in that moment! And then I realized they are so worth it! And watching them find joy brings me so much more joy! I too was rejuvenated by the fresh air. It ended well and that afternoon was redeemed for me. His Grace Carries me every day. My girls are so gracious to their Momma, and I long to return that same grace to them.

  17. says

    You know I’m reading Sally post and all your comments, and I’m thinking well, these moms deal with outbursts and anger too, I’m not the only one. But that still doesn’t make me feel any better for the daily annoyance and frustration I feel about my kids. I love them so much and this is of course why it bothers me that I am so frustrated. Just now for instance, I’m with my 6-year old, doing the obligatory nightly reading, and I’m so annoyed that she’s not getting the words she’s seen 100 times. I realize that much of the reason I’m frustrated is because it’s getting late and I’m just plain tired (I’m falling asleep while reading with her). It’s not the right time for her or me to be doing this but it’s so hard for me to establish any kind of routine. I’ve been thinking lately I guess this the best I can hope for and resigning myself to failure. I know this isn’t the right attitude and lacking in faith regarding Jesus’ power in me but I’ve been in this parenting business for almost 10 years now and I don’t know if I am doing any better than I did when I first started. I hope that I along the way Sally I can do as you said, devour the Word, keep having faith and pray and pray, and maybe change will come.

  18. Kristin M says

    “It was not from seeking the fulfillment of ideals, but from seeking Him and His wisdom and seeing His love and patience with me.”
    Aaha, there it is again…. seek Him. Thank you for reminding me of what I ought to seek. Psalm 105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek His presence continually.

  19. says

    I could write a book of my own on these three questions, but I’ll be brief :)

    I had big expectations and was really going to be the best mom — EVER. And, I was pretty great at it for a while, but that baby turned three and in between we added DD #2 who was born with some special needs. I was exhausted. I’m still tired a lot of the time, but nothing like that exhaustion back then. We have three daughters now (ages 15, 13, and 6) and I worry daily about how terribly I’m failing them as a mother.

    I was so not prepared to manage more than one child. Managing a preschooler and a baby is tough. I’ve always said once I learned to handle more than one, I could manage ten. (We didn’t try that, though!)

    My expectations are realistic — I think. I teach high school English, so I understand the teenage mind. I fully expect mistakes to be made; I fully expect attitudes to occasionally be ugly. I gave up the idea that we would have picture-perfect anything in our family life. Maybe I lowered my expectations… There are areas I might ought to raise the bar in and areas I should expect more accountability from my girls. Lots to think about! Thank you, Sally!

    **I wish I’d had this book 15 years ago…

  20. says

    My stomach turned and the tears rolled as I relived your account that I personally relate to. I thought motherhood would be like the corporate model I had been well trained in-lay out the expectations and everything would fall into place. Unfortunately babies have personalities and my plan was rubbish in the first week! I was totally unprepared for making time and room for all of the details of mothering, like special meals, poopy diapers as you are walking out the door, a baby who will not stay in a nursery with a stranger or even with grandma, a toddler with ADHD & Asperger’s and the guilt that comes with a diagnosis and looking back at all of the ineffective punishments and anger… unsympathetic friends… the need to forgive myself and move on-without this, there was no moving on!
    Today, I am not sure that I am prepared for the coming teenage years, but I have finally found a group of supportive families in a church where we can plant ourselves and find relief. God has used all of the difficult days to draw me to him, to strengthen my marriage and gird our faith! I am watching an listening. I just found you, Sally! Thank you for sticking up for me!!!

  21. Thia says

    What I was least prepared for was to do “this” alone. As I grew up, all my grandparents and great grandparents were very involved with my life. I expected that my children would be similarly bless and so would I, with their help. Instead, there are no grandparents involved in my children’s lives. My husband works long hours. So I often feel like it is me and the kids, 24/7. It’s only once every several months that I seem to get time without at least one child to care for and even then I’m grocery shopping or doing something for “the family.” I did not expect this and I often rage against it.

    • Kristi says

      Thia, Beautiful sister, I totally feel where you are coming from. I am in the same situation. At the end of Ch.1 in desperate it points out that women who are alone in motherhood are a prime target for Satan. Being a ommy is tough, and when your man has to work so much (like mine) to support the family the days seem longer. But staying positive in the worst situation helps. Seeking Jesus will truely refresh your Spirit, even if that seeking takes up part of the only 30 mins you get free in the whole day, Its worth it and will strengthen you mama. Hanging onto the hem os His robe sometimes if it feels like just a thread im hanging onto by faith to get me through to naptime, His love never fails and great is Thy faithfullness. Try to find a playdate group also with women in the same season as you and in the faith likewise, getting me and the kids out for a change of scenery does a mom justice. From one mom in Christ to another, with love. :-)

  22. Karen says

    I chat weekly with a few homeschooling moms. These will be l♡vely scriptures to share and questions to discuss as we walk this road together, for His glory. Thank you for your kind sharing.

  23. MammaY says

    What are your biggest disappointments over how you expected yourself to be as a mom compared to your reality?

    Just like in the book, I expected to be a perfect model of motherhood, that I would be able to handle anything, that my children would never argue, because I was teaching kindness and love…..screeching halt to reality!! Oh boy! I also expected that I would keep calm in all situations, that I would never lose my cool or be one of those mothers that are yelling all of the time. (and somedays I feel I m doing just that)

    In what area were you least prepared?

    I didn’t realize that I could let a nine year old push my buttons so much, that I could get so angry, and that if I gave myself permission to yell once, that it would be easier to do it the second and third and tenth time.

    How do you most need to adjust your expectations and find a way to enjoy this stage of your children’s lives?

    Right now, I am consistently calming myself and learning for the signs of limits trying to be pushed. I am learning to control myself and take a moment before I react. I have been trying to be more of a listener instead of a talker. So far there has been a lot less yelling and a lot more love, both ways.

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