Generation Cedar

For Mother's Day: Your How-To Parenting Manual

(And isn’t my sweet little Zane so precious?)

What I would love for Mother’s Day is a how-to manual. I know there’s the Bible, but I mean a practical “what on earth do I do and say right here right now” manual.

As my first born was growing up, I was the best parent ever. I had all the answers. This was easy. I mean, gold star me.

Then I had more children. Now my 5 year old sees me sit on the edge of my bed and says instinctively, “Mommy, are you going to cry again?”

Yeah, so much for gold stars.

But look, that doesn’t make me a bad mom. Because from talking to dozens of other moms, I found out that we all pretty much are the same. We want to be really good at this and sometimes we are. And other times we’re not. And so we all cry and wonder why we can’t be better.

But that’s the wrong posture. That’s the defeated posture Satan delights in. And we get there because we do think we are the only ones. Come here and listen to me: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS LIKE A BAD MOM SOMETIMES. Sorry for yelling, but you needed to hear that.

And also, your child’s success doesn’t  entirely depend on your mother-excellence. Oh it matters–it matters a great deal the investment we pour in, but their final outcome is utterly and completely up to the sovereign God. Let yourself find great freedom in that.

So what to do? Well I’ll tell you what NOT to do. Don’t despair.

Here’s your “how-to manual.”

When you feel like it, strengthen your resolve and let the tiger mama come out in you. I don’t have to remind you that we’re in a battle for the souls of our children and we can just go ahead and face that there will be blood, tears and pain.

Get up again. If your only prayer is “Help me”, pray it. (You have no idea how often these are the only words I can muster.)

Then, speak life into your children. That child that is giving you fits? The one you don’t really like right now? Love him enough to like him, then SPEAK TRUTH.

Because I have a child who requires a tremendous amount of correction, he starts to feel defeated. It’s a hard place for a parent. Do we stop correcting? We can’t. But his feelings of discouragement are real. I have wrestled through this and have decided that I just have to be more determined to encourage, praise and love him. I have begun texting him this everyday: THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU #1…

I also have a journal that we pass back and forth (I do that with my three oldest) and I’ve been astounded at the part of them that I get to see through writing that I wouldn’t see otherwise. I encourage you to try it.

And we blow it, don’t we? A lot. There are buttons I didn’t know I had. So then I apologize for the part I did wrong, stand by my intentions, and love on them some more. And keep going.

A friend wisely told me, “Look to your future…what do you hope for?”

So to you, Mom, the one who might be tired and disillusioned because you just thought it would be different? Take heart. This is life and there are trials. God changes us ONLY in those trials. Fight the urge to wish to be rid of them because your sanctification is at stake. He loves you boundlessly. And your children too. He is working all things for your good and His glory. Believe it! Be faithful. Press on. Don’t give up. Plug in to the Source of all wisdom and power. It’s a long story and this is just a glimpse, and you are just a small part. Do your part each day, then get up and do it again. Don’t look back with regrets. And last thing: raise them for HIS glory, not yours.


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15 Responses

  1. What a beautiful message. Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day from one mom of many to another. And Zane is precious. God bless him.

  2. Thank you so much Kelly!! You are always such an encouragement to me! Do you have an article about the details of the journal passing you do with your olders? Or could you tell me how it works? I’m a mother of 7 almost 8. Happy Mother’s Day!!

      1. I’m curious about the journals, too, but the link you gave is broken. Wrong URL, apparently, the page says.

  3. About the journals again:

    How old were your kids when you started the pass-back-and-forth thing with the journals? Did any of them resist initially?

    I’m trying to picture how this would work with my girl who turns 15 next week. She is so quiet about things — it’s hard to get into her world — and she likes going about things her own way. I wouldn’t say she’s rebellious, but she has her ideas and prefers to come up with the ideas herself and carry them out, and is more likely to dismiss others’ ideas (even parents’ ideas) if they’re of more of a “Hey, let’s try this!” nature rather than a “You must do this” kind of thing.

    Not sure if I’m making sense. She doesn’t reject doing necessary things, like chores, but optional things like written communication back and forth seems like one of those areas this very introverted daughter likely wouldn’t go for.

    Perhaps she is the one with whom the shared journaling is most needed?

    I’ll probably try suggesting it, but did you meet up with any resistance, and, if so, how did you press on beyond that with your oldest ones?

    Thanks, Kelly.

    1. My guess is that, as an introvert, she might enjoy this exercise more than you think, since introverts usually prefer to express themselves in writing. There wasn’t any obvious resistance. They thought it was pretty special that I made a journal just for that cause, with their names on it, and although they don’t write as often as I’d like, they seem to all appreciate the practice of exchanging our thoughts. Try it and see!

      1. That’s encouraging! Alright, I will try it instead of being all Eeyore-like — all gloom and doom before a thing has even come to pass. 😛

        Have a blessed Mother’s Day, Kelly, and yes, enjoy that precious little Zane and the rest of your darlings! 🙂

      2. I finally followed through on this and bought journals to share with my four youngest. Yesterday I wrote them each a note, and the 15-year-old introverted daughter I mentioned above had the most enthusiastic response of all of them!

        You were right 🙂 and I’m glad that we’ve started this now.

  4. Thank you for this! It touched me very much as I have a child like you described that gets discouraged often. I have 2 sons and the one gets into trouble far more than the other. It’s really difficult trying to balance praise and discipline when they are so unbalanced. I try to be as liberal in my praise as I am consistent in my discipline. I also try to express lots of loving words and deeds to him so that he always knows how wonderful he is to me. I think the journal thing might be a another way to communicate that. And, I like the idea of writing something special about him on his chore board everyday. Thanks, again! And Happy Mother’s Day (belated) to you, Kelly!

  5. Random question: how do you respond (have you addressed this before in a blog post) when people say…I’m just not (patient or whatever) enough to (homeschool, have that many children, etc)? Assuming you’ve been told this. .

    I am constantly told such things and it’s frustrating. I don’t want to paint a rosy picture (of which we are far from), but I also don’t want to put down my children in front of others. In addition, I want to encourage and perhaps educate. I’m not anything special. In fact, the Lord probably chose to give us more than the average number of children to grow me in areas of patience. And homeschooling, it’s a calling, which is not saying it’s easy. I say this and people just look at me blankly.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Kelly has addressed similar questions as yours in a number of previous blog posts. Look in the sidebar under “Popular” and click on the top post pictured there (7 Misconceptions About Moms Of Large Families) for one example. Other posts in the Large Families category, or Pregnancy, or Homeschooling (see “Categories” in the sidebar) likely would give you more examples of how you can respond when people say, “I’m just not [whatever] enough to [homeschool/parent many children]” etc.

      IMO, patience (or other good character qualities) grows the more opportunity we have to exercise it.

      My two cents — hope it helps some. 🙂

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