When It Feels As Though We’ve Lost Our Way As Mothers

I love moms.

I have a profound respect for the fact that motherhood is one of the hardest gigs in the world, when we choose to invest in it. The day in and day out of taking care of little ones can be especially intense, exhausting, lonely, confusing, stressful, and mind-numbing. There are days when mothers just need a bed to curl up in and hide under the covers to regain some semblance of composure. Or to just get a break.

To engage in motherhood, one must constantly be putting her own needs aside in order to take care of her children. It is very, very difficult to put the needs of your children above your own. I’m not talking theory here. Of course we moms want to put our children’s needs above our own, and we mostly do, but the reality is, it’s dang hard. You mamas know what I’m talking about.

And many of us struggle with the fear that we’re not doing enough. We worry that other moms are doing “it” better, and we think of all the times we are impatient, or could teach scripture more, or could…

You know.

The fact that most of us think this way tells me that we are good mothers. We do care for our babies, and we want the best for them. We give them over to God and we pray that He fills the gaps where we mess up. We keep on going; we persevere because we love our children.

But the truth is, some of us have lost our way.

We are have lost our way in the area of investing, intentionally, in our children.

I’m talking the mamas who are spending too much time online or in other ventures.

It all started out so innocent. Just a little bit here and a little bit there. And time moved a little faster, and the days weren’t so long…weren’t so hard. We found community and acknowledgement, and maybe some money or fame. And it felt good…it still does.

Part escape, part investing in our own need to do something other than what filled our mundane days.

But eventually we felt it, somewhere in our soul. We felt that maybe were spending a little to much time online or in outside projects. Maybe we started filling our plates with more than what was good for us. A different kind of gluttony.

It seemed so good, and maybe God was opening doors and giving gifts. Maybe He was. But there was that small ache in our bellies. Something was off.

Something is off.

Do you feel it? Do you feel the ache? Are you really living the life you want? Are you really living intentionally and investing in your children intentionally, or are your days passing in a blur?

Are you living fully alive? 

Do you even know what it means to live fully?

There are areas in my life that I’ve been failing in, failing my children in.

I haven’t been as intentional with them as is best for their souls, their minds, their persons. I’ve been too busy. Too burdened, too excited about opportunities. How easy to get sidetracked, to say “yes”.

But these little chicks in my care, I’m their only mama, and I’ve only got one shot at motherhood.

I have one shot at instilling in them the things I think are good and important and worthwhile. I have to be intentional. I have to be here, with them.

Day in and day out.

This isn’t about working moms or stay-at-home moms, this is about being faithful to investing in the souls in our care. Really investing.

Doing the hard work.

Doing the fun work.

And letting other things go for a season.

The season of the little years, the season of the tween years, the season of the teen years.

Yes, the season of our children being in our home. It’s a long one, for sure, but it’s also a short one.

We must be very careful with what we give our time to. Don’t believe the lie that the woman who looks like she is doing it “all” actually is. I promise you, something somewhere is failing.

God is good and kind and patient, and His grace is given so lavishly. So often He covers. But the truth remains that we reap what we sow. This is a wisdom principle. It it what it is.

What’s distracting you from giving yourself fully to intentionally, faithfully, daily investing in your children?

Is it worth it? Will it be worth it in 15 years when you look back? What is worth sacrificing this time with your children?

One shot.

What are you going to do with it?

Love, SM

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  • http://www.trinaholden.com/ Trina Holden

    Preach it, sistah.
    I confess to the failing, and am asking for grace to repent, and turn, turn, turn back to my children. They are only young once. I am remembering the kind of mom I wanted to be before the internet. And it is good. My children love when mommy is engaged. They thrive when I am *here*, we just get by when I am not.
    Please, keep confessing truth. It hurts so good.

  • www.daddystractor.com

    ” It’s a long one, for sure, but it’s also a short one.” <3
    So true. How can the days be long but the years so short?

  • Sara Louise

    Thank you for this post. Today was an especially difficult day with my kiddos, and God knew I needed to see this to help me to keep doing what He wants me to do with these precious ones in my care. May God bless you.

  • http://twitter.com/graceformoms Jessica Wolstenholm

    So good Sarah Mae. Often succeeding in one thing means failing in others. The only area in which I want to overachieve is in my relationships…with God, my husband, my children… Being intentional is so hard some days, but it must be the goal. Thank you for the encouragement to work at it!

  • http://twitter.com/MandyScarr Mandy Scarr

    So beautiful, as always. A good lesson to me as I dive into blogging and soon into motherhood. Hugs, M

  • Jarm Del Boccio

    Life gets in the way. Since I am a type A, I must complete everything on my list. I get frustrated when they slow my progress…not something I am proud of, but something difficult to shake. I’ve realized my “agenda” is my God! Lord, help me to focus more on my children, and put aside my plans for yours…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=625858376 Carla Schmeing Bruns

    It was not worth it. I invested myself in a high paying job and told myself it was so I could give my kids more. I finally left but it was too late to get back what I lost. Time is what kids care about. Nothing else.

    Beautiful post.

  • Allison Redd

    Oh, snap. This one got me! Too much time on the computer…too much time on “outside” projects (but it’s for CHURCH. It’s GOOD, right?!) Mine are 5, 3, and 1 and they need ME, Mommy, every day to be present for them. I needed this reminder to set more boundaries for myself. Not turning on the computer or device until after lunch, if not later. They need my full attention.

  • Jennifer Sikora

    Oh Sara Mae—I feel this way so many times. I find myself wishing and praying that I can fit in as much time as I can with my teenagers.

    Just today, I took a few hours offline and spent time cooking with her – one of her favorite things to do. To her, this was THE BEST DAY EVER.

    What does that say for me as a mom?

    Thank you for posting this today and reminding me where my priorities are.

    Jen
    Jen’s Journey
    http://www.jennifersikora.com

  • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

    This is absolutely fantastic. Bless you, girl. You’re speaking the truth. It’s a constant battle here, and one I will not lose!

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Thanks, Sarah. This was right on. This doesn’t just go for moms. I feel this way, too. It’s even harder when you see zero reward or attention for all of your online endeavors.

    Part of me wants to keep trying, to not accept failure. The other part of me struggles with the things you talk about here. I’m not sure I really care about all of this enough to be distracted from giving 100% to my kids.

    Should I get up at 5am and not cut into “family time”? Sure. But as you well know, life with a 4 1/2 and 2 year old is controlled chaos, and sometimes, if you want to have an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, midnight is the only chance you’ll get. Then, you only have a few hours before they storm your bedroom at sunrise like the beaches of Normandy.

    Also, when you’re 2 year old walks up to you and says “Daddy, put the iPad away.”, it makes you realize that your priorities are off.

  • http://www.joyfilleddays.com/ Sarah Beals

    You are SO right. One shot. I am always reminding myself of that. In fact, I wrote my one question here: http://joyfilleddays.com/%20/a-one-sentence-question-for-mothers-at-home/

  • http://twitter.com/mommajlee Jimmie Lee

    Thank you Sarah. Mommyhood is hard. Sometimes I get so scared that i won’t have time for me, that i forget my kids need me now. There will be plenty of time for me later :)

  • Angi

    “It’s a long one, for sure, but it’s also a short one.”
    As a mama who just took her oldest son to college 8 hours away I can say that the time really does fly.
    There are many things I want to do for me, but they will be waiting for me when my children are grown.

  • Sarah Hawbaker

    I know for a fact that I am failing in being intentional…day in and day out. I know it, yet many days I don’t have the energy, the motivation, sometimes even the desire to change. I just feel stuck. I am tired and do want to curl up under the covers and just rest. But my heart for them, for these three blessings God has entrusted me with…they have my heart. Figuring out how to show them that, to be intentional in that…well that’s difficult and it’s tricky. Going back and forth between allowing to build independence while also spending the quality time with them that truly matters. It’s dizzying. Figuring out how to be “mom” well is a daily challenge. There is self-doubt and comparison to others. They act up, don’t follow direction, fight etc. and I feel like my efforts are pointless. Being intentional. Where do you start?
    -Sarah

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      I think we start by giving into motherhood. What I mean is, letting other things go. Then we just do the small things, slowly, consistently. The point is to be faithful in doing our best, not at getting it all right. I’m just figuring it out myself, to be honest. Here’s to trying. :)

  • http://www.redemptionsbeauty.com/ Shelly Miller

    I have one ready to fly the nest in just two years, another in five and since I think I’ve recently come full circle on getting my priorities straight when it comes to intentional time. Writing takes so much time, not to mention social media updates. Thanks for the encouragement about this, it seems to be a sacred echo for me.

  • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ Crystal

    Beautiful and so true! It’s a constant battle.

  • jennasjourney

    This is fantastic and SO true. Thank you for sharing!

  • Cherie Werner

    Incredible insight and such a needed message for this generation. I am bewildered by all today’s young mamma’s are trying to do with young toddlers under foot (blogging daily, home schooling, being moms, wives, Christ follower, ministry leaders, etc…).

    One can’t do everything and do everything well as something will suffer. I hope many will heed your message and take time to examine what distracting them from precious time with their gifts from God. Blessings.

  • http://twitter.com/sarahhall1218 Sarah Hall

    I want to daily strive to become an intentional parent and wife. It’s my human nature to be selfish and put myself first, but that’s not what my kids or husband need.

  • Kelley_WithEagerHands

    I needed to hear this, and God knew it. I knew it. I am so trying to fight these things, and I’ve fought the time thing for years, and I’ve stepped down from lots, but now I’m struggling with other things, keeping my emotions in check has been difficult lately and I silently wonder if my children will hate me, because I sound like my mother did when I was young. I cry myself to sleep hoping I can make up for it the next day and that I will have more patience. I am trying to get healthy, because I know my hormones being imbalanced is playing a role, but honestly, the fact that it’s also easier to not have a filter, and not have patience, and not use kind gently word sometimes is also a factor. Alas, I am merely broken flesh, so I will trudge on, praying, and hoping that each day I can be more like Christ and less like me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077086050 Amanda Corvello

    I feel so sad reading this because I know it’s the truth. We’re just finding solutions to my youngest’s difficult behavior and recovering from what his medication did to him during these years. While I can see a light at the end of the tunnel I’m wading through guilt, depression, and being overwhelmed. I’ve spend a lot of time numbing myself because the days were too hard. I know God is moving in our lives and my heart desires to be his servant in this house. Thank you for posting this.

  • Sharon

    Thank you for speaking frankly to where I’m at right now. Thank you for the conviction and the desire to change welling up in me.

  • Amanda Friddle

    Thank you for this (super tough) word. Can I be honest and say I so struggle with this? I keep finding myself wrestling with God, struggling to be content–happy here and now with the smallness (and simple wonderfulness) of my life. And it’s not really small though, as a former children’s pastor who worked so hard to bring the word alive to kids before I had kids of my own, I know that what I did mattered very little compared to what a child’s own parents could do (for better or worse).

    I am starting a series on waiting (or should I say on living FULLY when you FEEL like you are waiting)… really just me getting desperate for answers with God and writing down the conversation, because I don’t want to squander this time with things that really don’t matter in comparison to the intentional parenting I should be doing. I do want to write, but I am feeling that pull to do less and less. I NEED to stop striving. Thanks Sarah! Timely word for me!

    Amanda at http://www.the-cadence.com

  • Jedidja

    I love this blog! Thank you.

  • deborahbeddoe

    It is as though you read my angst this morning. Reflecting on where I’ve gone wrong. It is Intentionality. We’re not just surviving motherhood, we are molding lives. I did fairly well at this for years, sacrificing for them. Partly because it took my focus away from my husband’s issues (migraines & then addiction). But when the kids became “self-sufficient” and my husband recovered, I gave myself way too much freedom. Like it was payback time for mommy. And then I became a pendulum swinging from selfishness to indulgence. As I sit here with my oldest a senior in high school, it is those years, 13-16, I regret the decisions I made. God has been gracious in my failure, but it is indeed a battle every day to not be distracted from the calling to nurture my children. I could not lead women anymore in good conscience before God, volunteer for consuming projects, if it meant giving my kids leftovers of me. It has been a hard 8 months of withdrawal from ministry on the frontlines, but I am learning so much about serving on another level and I know God has called me to truly be a present and purposeful mom to my four kids. Thank you, Sara for this post. It’s a keeper.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charlotte.miller.313 Charlotte Miller

      Deborah, you and Sarah have both been used of God to bring conviction in an area that God has been dealing with me on. I have tried to balance a home business that is increasingly taking more and more of my time with being a good mommy and wife and it seems i am at a place where neither is successful and yet the question remains…how and what do i let go??? My kids are also at the age where they don’t need diapers changed or even one on one help with school….. but there is a whole new set of needs that are much easier to just push off in the corner because they don’t seem as urgent as a dirty diaper or crying babies. Suddenly your kids are grown and ready to leave the nest and you realize the needs you are seeing in their lives are a result of me investing too much time elsewhere. I will be thinking about this post for a long time.. and praying..

  • Amie

    I love your blog! Thank you for giving me something to work on this week. You always inspire me. God Bless You

  • sandra dee

    This is so convicting and I am so glad to hear someone else feeling this way. Thanks for allowing God to speak through you right to my heart.

    • SHanna

      I agree!

  • Bethany Hudson

    This was so gracefully written. I know this is a balance I have struggled with in my five years as a mom (now with 3 and counting). I am a writer (novelist), as well, so it’s hard to remember that while I can work from home, I shouldn’t always. I do work in the mornings before my children get up and in the evenings. In between, I am Mama. That is my day job–my ALL day job! It takes me 3x as long as my colleagues to finish a book, but you know what? It’s worth it. I’m happy, and my family is thriving. That matters more than writing another novel

  • Patsy

    Sarah, as a mother of four grown children, I can testify to the fleeing of the years. What often seems like the slow, never-ending drip of time as we go the daily rounds of laundry, meals, baths, schoolwork, bedtime routines, etc., is, in reality, a thunderous waterfall, rapidly plunging all our moments over the ledge of our lives, right under our unsuspecting noses. We wake up one day to find all those moments gone; and, when we know we didn’t live them intentionally, remorse and regret set in. I especially like your pointing out that, while God does give grace and help to us when we “mess up”, the hard-edged fact remains: we do reap what we sow. I often tell young moms to think of children like homemade cakes: decide what kind of cake you want, and then put in the right ingredients. If you want a coconut cake, you aren’t going to get that by substituting chocolate chips for coconut. What I’ve found is that we often can’t decide just what kind of children we do want to end up with. I, for one, wanted more than to raise good citizens who didn’t beat their wives. Taking stock of what godly adulthood looks like, from a biblical perspective, can give us a lot of information on what kinds of “ingredients” we need, if our sons are to be “like plants grown up in their youth”, and our daughters are to be “like cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” (Psalms 144:12) I so appreciate the kind of challenge you have presented here. The clock continues to tick for us grandmothers, too, who also have limited time to invest in those precious lives. We all need to use the time we have more wisely, more intentionally, no matter what the season of our lives. Thanks for this great post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/krymsen Krymsen Suelzle

    I just found your blog and I am already inspired! Thank you very much dear sister.

  • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ Crystal

    Great post, and so true! God bless you and your family! PS–I’m planning to attend allume for the first time in October, and I couldn’t be more excited!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PammyKay77 Pamela Henry

    Sarah, you spoke right to my heart. My husband asked me why I didn’t have a blog yet. He always says you got so much wisdom and experience to share. I really don’t have time for one. I have five children, my oldest is 8 and my youngest just turned 1. I do not know if God will bless us with more children, that is all in his timing.
    Sometimes, I feel like I am not doing a good job at all. I feel like I am failing my children. I think I don’t keep the cleanest house, I don’t cook the perfect meals, I don’t have it all together, juggling isn’t always fun, and I need to do better.
    I want to thank you for being so real. You are an encouragement to us all.

  • Anna

    Ahh, love this. I have a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old. Since the 10 month old was born I have almost completely eliminated computer time while they’re awake. I don’t have Internet on my phone either, so aside from the occasional text message, I am electronics-free during the day. This is God’s grace since I still collapse on the couch with the Internet during naptime more than is good for me. :( But I’m so glad that I haven’t wasted this crazy wonderful time with my little ones staring at a screen. I had the privilege of growing up before the Internet and texting. My parents weren’t constantly distracted by those things. I don’t want to be either.

    • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ Crystal

      So true, Anna! This is one of the goals I’m still working on as well–limiting screen time while my kiddos are awake. I think it’s a great system, even if my only screen time is in the early AM and late PM. It’s actually a great way for me to limit the time I spend doing blog related and online things, because I could quickly let my internet time get out of hand otherwise.

  • Karen Luciak

    Interesting thought you have given me to think on!

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    “I have one shot at instilling in them the things I think are good and important and worthwhile. I have to be intentional. I have to be here, with them.”

    THIS.

  • Valerie

    Wow, lots to think about here. Yeah, very little screen time around here until little ones are asleep, but still…distraction. Distraction. Ouch. Thanks for being transparent and writing this!

  • http://kcbutlersatimetolaugh.blogspot.com/ Dana Butler

    Awesome. Thank you for writing this. I am starting to achieve balance in this these days… Praise GOD. The thing is… there is so much GOOD stuff out there on the internet… to read…to engage in… and it is so easy to let the good become the enemy of the best. Oh Father…. make us acutely aware of when that’s happening…. Let us encounter you in laying down our lives for the BEST.

  • http://kcbutlersatimetolaugh.blogspot.com/ Dana Butler

    Awesome. Thank you for writing this. I am starting to achieve balance in this these days… Praise GOD. The thing is… there is so much GOOD stuff out there on the internet… to read…to engage in… and it is so easy to let the good become the enemy of the best. Oh Father…. make us acutely aware of when that’s happening…. Let us encounter you in laying down our lives for the BEST.

  • katherinecollins2000

    I have been thinking on your post for several days and I have to say something. Your post is hypocritical to a degree that is outrageous. According to you, apparently a mom yourself, we are supposed to not do ANYTHING other than parent our children from the moment they are born to the day they leave to go to college. No hobbies, no exercise, no job, no church activities, nothing other than feed, diaper, rock, read aloud, cook, clean,drive, and listen. Well, you are blogging so obviously you do not heed your own advice. But if that is okay for some moms then who gets to decide where the line is? You? How about each mom decide for herself if she is involved enough in her community, in her own education and development, in her children’s lives.

    Each person’s personality and situation is completely unique. A homeschooling mom of 7 needs to have some away time to recharge her batteries and stay in shape so her husband won’t leave her for a thin 20-something in his office. A recently widowed mom needs to find a job or start a business so she can feed her kids. A mom of 1 who sends her kid to school has hours with little to do and might benefit from a part time job so she has something to contribute to the conversation at dinner. Get the point?

    I know that if I did nothing but parent my kids I would have spent 28 years of my life with no involvement in my church, community, or business. I think your thoughts on perhaps spending less time on-line is a noble one, but your extreme position expressed by this post is irresponsible and attempting to micro-manage other people’s lives.

    • sandra dee

      I think if you read the blog in context you will realize she is in no way encouraging moms to rid themselves of their identity in order to raise children and be the live-in maid. Part of what I took from this post is that there is a huge epidemic out there called ‘present absence’…the idea that your may be physically present with your children but that doesn’t mean your energy and attention are focused on them. And your kids know the difference. I know that convicted me.

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      I completely disagree with your assessment that I don’t think you should do anything other than parent (and I don’t even say that). I fully believe that you can do other things, and quite frankly, it’s good for us to do other things! Each person’s personality and situation is completely unique, amen! So please don’t read into something that isn’t there. I’m talking about intention and time, but I’m not talking about what you assume, my friend.