Another piece

Did you know that a person’s strengths are often also their weaknesses?

You can see it in marriage—a boyfriend is good at captivating his girl with a unique strength that later drives her insane. (Before marriage: “He’s such a music guy.” After marriage: “Does he ever think of anything else?” Before marriage: “Wow, check out the body-builder arms!” After marriage: “But good heavens! Does he have to work out All. The. Time?!”

It’s true in mothering as well. Did you know that the things you’re really good at as a mom will easily become your downfall? If you are spit-spot with schedules and deadlines and seamless systems, someday your children may complain that it’s all you cared about. If you are relaxed and casual, unscheduled and easy-going, you run the risk of your adult daughters coming back to say they wish to goodness you had taught them better…

But hang on, hang on. There’s a positive spin on this. Did you know that the weaknesses you fight every day of your mothering career are only the flip-sides of your greatest strengths? I’m going to put it into a little table for you so you can see.

You get angry when your children do wrong, and yell easily. You care passionately about your children’s choices, enough to get in their faces about it.
You are soft-spoken and slightly indulgent, letting too many disciplines slip by undealt-out. You are a person of mercy and grace, who loves second chances.
You have to force yourself to sing every Monday morning or you’ll spend your whole day sulky and sullen. Your children will remember a mother who sang over her laundry.
You are not good at schedules and hard lines. Your children love to be near their gentle, relaxed Mommy.
You are overdriven to keep a perfect house. You care about beauty and order, and are working hard to instill that love in your children.
You are bored to tears by playing House with your daughter and Trucks with your son. You will be the mom who invents novelty, who goes fun places, who plans celebrations.
You don’t like to spend money on toys. Your children will have some of the best-developed imaginations and “creative” repurposed toys in town.

Did you know it’s okay that we don’t all mother the same? Nowadays it’s harder to come to peace there, when technology has enabled us to peer into homes, policies, and styles all over the world. We save up Karen’s kid-friendly project for a rainy day, and admire Sarah’s positive spin on morning routines. We wish we were as creative a mother as Beth, with all her go-go ideas and fun events, while simultaneously longing to be as stable and content as Louann, who never goes anywhere and teaches her children to like it that way.

Gals. Let’s all take a large chill pill.

If we are in Christ and walking with Him, we are good moms. In fact I cannot imagine better moms for our children, and neither could God because He carefully placed them right here. Despite all of modern-communication-and-technology’s melting pot effect, we will parent differently. I will parent much like my mother did (or opposite, if I am reacting) but I will never parent just like Karen and Sarah and Beth and Louann. I can’t do it all.

It’s okay.

It’s okay to mother like a Zook or a Smith. It’s okay to mother like a Mennonite or an Old School or a Chic Young Thing. It’s okay to mother like it’s your first baby, or your twelfth. It’s okay to mother like {you}.

So what am I saying? Give up and wallow in our weaknesses? Yeah, that sounds good. And I’d like a large salted-caramel mocha to go with it. With whipped cream.

On second thought, perhaps it would be better to add another piece to the mix. A woman who’s not learning and maturing daily is not much fun to live with—just ask my husband.

So. I am a good mom.

I could also be a better mom.

I have not yet arrived in the Land of Milk and Honey, and until that day comes, every woman I meet has something to teach me (and a few of the men too, but I’m not sitting around banking on it).

These two truths are nearly impossible to hold in the hand at the same time, but that is the best place I can think of to live: I am a good mom. I could be a better mom. If we repeat just one of them over and over to ourselves like a mantra, we go really bad places: untouchable or desperate. But both together—ah. Now there’s a peaceful launch pad for world change.

Be grateful for the unique slant Jesus gave you. It keeps you real and humble and rooted. But grow from there… put out little starts and shoots and hopeful green leaves. You’re not perfect yet.

But you are greatly loved.


What do you think? Does this ring true for you?

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10 years ago

Thank you! I needed that! With two small boys that have serious digestive issues I don’t have much left over after all the non-negotiable are out of the way…….Ive wavered between letting it all slide and getting more uptight than a piano string and I’m finally settling into the lifestyle you describe, but I couldn’t have said it so well:) thanks again!!

10 years ago

Mmmm. This is such a great post. And yes, It rings true–loudly and clearly. Thank you!! for sharing the wisdom that flows from that pen…er…those fingers. Or is it that brain that God built into you? You are a good mom working at being a better mom. You are also a great writer. ~Love and thanks

10 years ago

Oh, yes. I am living the life that God has for me, being the woman He has made me, the good and the bad and the beautiful and the ugly. A part of it for me is accepting and enjoying who I am, and also who others are, recognizing we all are needed, as we are, in this Body…
No pride or self- hatred allowed, because that would really be casting a blight on the Name of Christ. So, I try not to compare myself with others, but relax in the knowledge that God knows what He is doing…

10 years ago

Beautiful, good, encouraging, and strengthening words, Shari!!

10 years ago

So much truth and life! Thank you for allowing God to speak through you on subject of mothering!

10 years ago

Thanks for this read this morning!! Hope you don’t mind if I share it. I Love the table you put it in… so many times I struggle w/ guilt feeling only the left side,where my weaknesses are so blatantly in front of me, I can’t feel anything but …guilty, AGAIN. When really the reasons for the weaknesses are the right side, because of my care and love for my family. Thank you so much for the encouraging words that help build life and give me motivation to continue to be a better mom w/ right motives and no guilt. Well, at least not as much 🙂 Because in Christ, I am NOT condemned. Thanks again!

10 years ago

Lovely, Shari. 🙂 You write life giving words. Thank you.

10 years ago

I really liked the thought that I am a good mom because my children were carefully and thoughtfully created and placed by my side. It was no accident that I am now surrounded by 5 of them.

I also really was blessed by your last paragraph.

Actually I should just stop trying to pick out my favorite sections of this post because I really love the entire article.

Jo Yoder
10 years ago

Wonderful words of grace and truth and life. Not just for moms, either—because I am learning that EVERY woman fights the battle of comparing herself to other women rather than to God, and His design for her.
God bless you for having the courage to tackle this subject.

10 years ago

I’m not a mom but this makes me cry because I always knew that my strengths become my weaknesses, but I never it knew it goes both ways. Thanks for these words!

10 years ago

Inspiring and hopeful thoughts for the wild world of mommying! I am SO thankful that there is NO condemnation for the believer walking in His light!

Jenn Barnhart
10 years ago

Thank you for your encouraging words. It was a hug from God to me!

10 years ago

I loved this. Great job, sister!

10 years ago

You are making me tear up. And I’m not often the crying sort.


10 years ago

This is beautiful and encouraging…thank you!

3 years ago

I didn’t know if we’d see another [first rate] Mother’s Day post by Shari, so I came back to read your posts of other years. This article is ringing true for me all over again this year; I thought you might like to know.

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