When I was in high school, I starred in a one-act play called “This is a Test” by Stephen Gregg. It tells the story of a teenage boy who gets up on the wrong side of the bed on the day of a very important exam (which he is convinced will determine how the rest of his life turns out) and the mental anguish he experiences trying to just finish said test before the bell rings.
Throughout the play, as the flustered boy and the stern teacher (that was me!) interact, he is driven nearly crazy by a phrase that plays over and over in his mind, a chorus chanted by the other students in the room:
“This is a test.
Oh, a test.”
No matter what he does, what efforts he puts forth to pass this all-important test, he cannot seem to succeed. A fellow student constantly interrupts his thought process. The questions on the exam don’t have sensible answers. Nothing he does is ever enough to please his demanding teacher.
“This is the end!” he finally laments, covering his face and putting his head down on the desk. And the stage goes dark.
The day-to-day experience of motherhood sounds a little like “This is a Test”, doesn’t it? Or maybe a lot like it.
Each morning I stumble out of bed, in haste, many times on the “wrong side” from lack of sleep or interrupted sleep the night before. A chorus of small voices interrupts my thoughts, jumbling any fleeting moment of sensibility that I am able to muster as I walk bleary-eyed toward the coffee machine.
After we rush through the morning routine and my husband is gone, I make one mistake after another. No one is pleased by my efforts. Everyone balks at my requests to clean up, get along, take a nap or do their school work and it seems like I can’t ever accomplish anything that moves us along the path of success.
The sun goes down and I do my due diligence to see that my table is wiped clean (even though the dishes may still be piled in the sink the next morning), the laundry is semi-folded (with a large hamper of clean clothes leftover to fold the next day) and everyone is asleep (finally).
This is the END!, I lament, thankful that the day is over and I can collapse into bed once more.
I feel like a slacker mom.
My craft supplies aren’t organized. They’re shoved into a cupboard.
The children don’t remember the Scripture verses we’ve taught them. They’d rather call to mind their siblings’ every offense toward them since last September.
Instead of using a gentle voice to turn away wrath, my harsh words stir up anger.
I’ve failed the test.
Have you ever gone through a time like this in your journey as a mom? Where you feel like motherhood is a daily test that you’re miserably failing? That no matter what efforts you put forth, they are not enough?
Here are three truths we can cling to as moms when we feel this way. Generally speaking, any Christian can hold to these reminders, but I think that they are especially helpful for the mother who feels like a failure.
3 Truths to Remember When You Feel like a Failure as a Mom
Truth #1 – The world may be against you, but God is for you!
Let’s be honest: the devil hates your family. He wants to see you sink down into the mud and feel horrible about yourself as a mother. Society doesn’t support families like it once did. Current parenting advice tends to fall to either extreme: one side says we should do whatever we want in the way of mothering and our kids will be fine, while the other side insists that if we don’t (feed, dress, discipline or school) our kids their way, our offspring will turn into lackluster adults and most certainly disappoint their parents.
Where is the practical hope in all this? It can be found in Scripture:
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
I am so thankful that nothing can separate us from the love of God. When we get to the end of the day and our dishes aren’t done or we’ve raise our voices one too many times, God’s love gives us the courage and the grace to get up the next morning and try again. He brings us encouragement through Bible verses on stress and anxiety or Scriptures for when we need grace. His Word gives us powerful truths to pray over our children. And His mercies are new. Every. single. morning.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
Truth #2 – You don’t have to be a “Pinterest” mom to be the perfect mom for your kids.
Yes, I too have hundreds of pins on my DIY Pinterest board that I will never actually “do myself”. There are lots of fun printables, crafts and ideas for teaching our kids about God and their letters and why baking soda and vinegar fix when mixed together. And those are incredibly creative things, dreamed up and actually accomplished by amazing people!
But you know what? Even if you never, ever followed through any one of those things that you pinned, you’d still be the best mom that your kids could ever have.
We have all been given our children as a gift. Our moms and grandmas were given their children as a precious gift too. And though our grandmothers likely didn’t have a perfectly organized pantry (complete with chalkboard labels) or printable laminated mats for shaping numbers with playdoh, they had the same simple, time-tested opportunities we have:
To pray for our kids. To love on them. To show them the grace of God.
And maybe read them lots of books. No Pinterest account required :)
Truth #3 – When you’ve failed, there is always tomorrow.
There comes a point in our mothering when what we’re doing isn’t working. Seasons come and go in life and there will be different needs based on that particular season we find ourselves in. And sometimes our methods do need to change so that we don’t have to go to bed at night feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
Lots of practical advice exists to help us plan our meals, organize our rooms, teach our kids the Bible at home and encourage a healthy family environment. And it’s okay to seek out that information, as long as we don’t let ourselves become overwhelmed by it. When I have too much “brain clutter”, I tend to burn out and want to quit.
Do One Thing at a Time
If you feel the same way, try what I have been doing with success and act on one small goal at a time. If you want to find a fun way to teach your children Bible verses, pick one method or craft. After you’ve got that down, focus on menu planning if that is lacking. Take a piece of paper and write down 10-14 different meals your family likes for both dinner and supper and plan to make them over the course of the next two week. Then repeat them for the other two weeks of the month.
Simple steps and goals are where it’s at, especially if you have many little children. And give yourself grace, too, if those small goals take awhile to be accomplished. Read a Bible verse or two each morning, then pray for your family and give your day to the Lord. He will give you the strength you need to persevere and bless you in the process!
Our days don’t have to end like that one-act play, feeling frustrated, drained and relinquishing our soul to never-ending disappointment.
When you believe you’ve failed, be encouraged that there is hope. There is grace. God is with you.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.You hem me in behind and before,and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139
Recommended resources for moms (like me!) who need their hearts to be covered by grace:
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