Because Even On My Best Days, I Am Not Enough As A Mother

Today as I crawled into bed, I found myself feeling a down on my role as a mother. I had lost my patience with my son and found myself harboring a worse tantrum in my heart than he could throw on the floor. I was ready to be done with the day. Ready for my husband to come home and pick up the pieces of my failed efforts. Ready to not have to deal with the repetitious whinings of my son in my ears and the repetitious whinings of my woes in my heart.

But my husband wouldn't be home for another few hours, so I turned to a friend. Venting and lamenting about how how bad I felt for struggling to make it through another day alone while my husband worked long hours, I looked to her to validate me.

To tell me that I was a good mother. That I was enough. That because I met all my son's needs that day in addition to crashing his trucks together at least 84 times, kissing his stuffed animals 32 times and flying him on my knees like an airplane six times - I was the world's best mother. That I did well, simply because I survived another day.

No matter that I got annoyed when he splattered milk all over my face at breakfast, frustrated when he peed on the rug right before his bath, irked when he shoved our new meat thermometer down the garbage disposal and to top it all off, I spent more time on my phone with the excuse of teaching him "independent play" than I cared to admit.
And my friend said all the right things that a friend should say. That I'm an incredible mother. That because I give, give, give of myself all day, I'm amazing. That I am brave and inspiring for acting as a single mother during this season when my husband works long hours, even on weekends. That I'm enough. That I'm worthy. That I am all these things, simply because I love my son and am his mother. 

And I'll be honest and say this would likely be my first response to any mother who was seeking validation from me for a day gone awry as well. To tick of all the ways she's loved on her children, providing evidence for her value and worth. To encourage her by telling her all the ways she was wonderful. For all the ways she's sacrificed. That no matter how weary, tired, defiant, impatient or unkind her heart was amid the chaos of the day, if she tried her best, then she can still pat herself on the back, simply because she holds the title of "mother." 

It's the comforting thing to hear. The comfortable thing to say. 

And it's a powerful message. It's an empowering message. It's relatable and encouraging. But is it true?

The fact is, that day, I did not do a good job. I was not a wonderful, incredible, amazing mother. That day, I did not do well. And there are so many days where I've thrown more tantrums in my heart than my toddler has in a week, and I can't honestly look back over the day and tell myself that, "I was a great mom, simply because I was a mom."

And truly, as a mother, even on my best days, I am not enough as a mom. I am not worthy of praise just because I'm a mom. I am not significant because I'm a mom. I am not wonderful, incredible, or brave simply because I am a mom.

I fear this will not be a popular message among the mothers of the internet. But the fact is we mothers, we are not, and never will be, enough. If anything, thinking we are enough as long as we continue to "show up and do our best" each day, is putting motherhood up as a false idol. It will only lead to greater discouragement in the end - because our best will always fall short. 

One thing I've found to be true over and over in motherhood is that I will fail, every. single. time. That even my finest work is not enough. That I have limits. That I am human. That even on my most excellent mothering days, my works and actions are still a pitiful offering. 

It is only God's grace that covers my days, both good and bad, and turns my sorrowful, paltry offerings in to "good enough." I am only found worthy, significant, valued because Christ died on the cross to make me so. I can take no pride in my work as a mother because any good I do is not of me. 

And the thing I know deep in my heart but have such trouble remembering, is that's right where God wants me to be. Not in a place that seeks affirmation from friends, books or the internet telling me I have everything to offer and I am enough. But in the place that admits I have nothing to offer, that I am not enough and recognizes how deep my need runs for one who is. 

Recognizing our limits forces us to recognize our need for a Savior. Because it is when we are at our end, that we can truly find a life-giving, new beginning. 

So instead of turning to others for validation for our efforts, methods and offerings, we must turn to God's grace. Instead of clinging to ourselves, we must cling to the cross. Instead of living for ourselves, we must live for Christ. 

It is God's grace that covers our failures. It is is his grace that gives us energy to keep going on even our most weary days. It is his grace that turns our impatience and frustrations into love and self-control. It is his grace that turns the grumblings in our heart into songs of joy. 

It is God's grace that covers our feelings of inadequacy and deficiency as a mother and remind us why we are treasured, loved and delighted in. 

And it is God's grace that covers our failings and meager efforts. And because he is enough - he actually, in fact, makes us enough.


  1. This is exactly what I needed to hear and remember today. Thanks Laura!