The 3 Words That Can Revolutionize Motherhood

It was one of those early school mornings that started out with Cap’n Crunch cereal for breakfast. Just a regular Thursday, the same kind we have most every week. The details don’t matter, but a simple request quickly escalated into an argument between parent and child.

It was over nothing, really. But then why did it hurt so much? Small things can still temporarily turn a home into chaos.

And while I packed lunches and wiped up spilled milk and tried not to cry over it, I wondered for the 100th time in the last month if I’m doing this parenting thing right.

My husband and I are constantly learning on our kids and just when we get the hang of one phase, a new stage leaves us reeling, wondering what just happened.We try to look past our children’s behavior and see their heart. Why are they so angry right now? Why are they so defensive? What is really going on in their heart? 

Before my husband left for work, we talked about it for a minute.  ”We have amazing kids. Some days though, I wonder how we should handle things. Maybe we need help or something?” I could hear his frustration because I felt it, too.

And with each new parenting phase, I wonder Is this normal? Are we normal? Are we doing this wrong? Do other parents deal with this kind of thing? I wish I could ask someone who’s been here before.

I thought about digging into the parenting books on my shelves and googling for answers. I thought about the hard morning and whispered a prayer for help.

An hour later, my doorbell rang. It was a friend coming over to volunteer to send out packages for the Mercy Shop (in the building in our backyard). We started off just chatting and she said something about her four daughters, all but one grown and out of the house.

I sort of jokingly said that I could use a parenting mentor and then I did something I wasn’t planning on:  I poured out my heart standing right there in my kitchen.

And she let me.

I told her how inadequate I felt, how one day I was mom of the year and the next day I was mom getting kicked in the rear. I told her how I hurt for my kids and how some days we hurt each other. I told her that my children were going to change the world, but some days they rocked mine.

I cried.

And then my friend said three words that were better than anything I could read in a parenting book written by a PHD. and more relevant than a counselor’s couch or a magazine article.

“This is normal, Kristen,” I breathed in deeply.

This is Normal - 3 words that can revolutionize motherhood

“You are normal to feel this way. Your kids are growing up and this struggle is normal, too.  I’ve been through it with my kids and it will get better. Keep loving them. Keep being consistent,” she encouraged me. She told me her own crazy stories when her kids were at home and with each one, I felt more relieved. She told me how beautiful and strong her daughters were today and how they could laugh about the hard days. And with every word, I let my heart believe This is normal. We are normal. It’s going to be okay.

And maybe my normal isn’t really all that normal? What is normal anyway? But that’s not really the point.  She could have easily said I have no idea what you’re talking about or my kids never acted that way.

She could have made me feel worse by saying nothing at all.

Instead this older mom who was further down the road listened to my struggles and patted me on the arm and her simple response encouraged me not to give up. This is normal was another way of saying you’re not alone. This is normal is saying this too shall pass. 

Because it really will.

And you know what? What you are facing today –those sleepless nights, that baby that wakes up every hour, the flailing tantrums, the angry foot-stamping, the smelly socks, the lost homework, the food battles, the bad attitudes, the drama, the really awful family fight you had yesterday on the Lord’s Day (ahem) –that’s all normal, too.

Even your child who refuses to wear clothes and runs down the street naked, likely normal (and if not, doesn’t it make you feel better to think it might be just a phase? Or knowing that it will be okay and you’re not alone?)

These three words can revolutionize motherhood.

When we see another mom struggling with something we’ve already endured, conquered, survived, we can change their day by whispering these three words in their ear. I said it to a lady at Target the other day and I watched her sigh at her mismatched child lying in the middle of the school supply aisle.

Because it’s not a mother war we need to fight.

We don’t need more competition; we need collaboration.

We can encourage and empower our sisters with the gift of our words. Look for a mom behind you in this parenting journey and instead of quietly judging her misbehaving children running through the store or staring at her head-banging toddler, or saying nothing at all–smile with her and let her know it’s going to be okay.

Because this is normal.


Comments

  1. says

    amen. been thinking about this a lot lately. how frequently I go to the place, “we must be doing something wrong”. . . and yet when I talk to a friend or my husband, I’m encouraged by this fact. normal. yes!! thank you for writing it all out beautifully!

  2. says

    Such a great post! Just think week I admitted to my MOPS table that I was tired of being around my 17 month old son. And I was so thankful when they all said- this is normal! Sometimes we need to know someone else is in or has been in the same boat!

  3. Jenn says

    Just this morning in church I was telling another mom about the trouble we are having with transitioning to the Hubs working 3rd shift. Her Hubs has been working 3rd shift for a couple years and she said “Yes, we have these problems also. It’s normal.” It was like a ton of weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

      • Sarah says

        And I hope that came across in the spirit I intended it. My honey is also on (a very weird) third shift. It definitely is tough! But I’m thankful he has a good job, odd hours and all. :)

  4. Sarah says

    I’m always amazed to learn that I’m truly not the only one who has these struggles! It’s so encouraging to hear from someone else that they’ve been there too and come through it – or, heck, even that they’re still in the thick of it. And it’s also such a joy to be that voice of encouragement to another. This was a blessing, thank you!

  5. says

    Yes! I had a friend say that exact thing to me a couple weeks ago and I felt so much relief!!! To know that they had been there and the whole family made it was so freeing.

  6. Renee says

    So, I started this parenting journey at a month shy of 50 years old with my then 52 y/o husband with two girls we adopted, an 8 and a 5 year old. For many, many months we attributed bad behaviors, relational difficulties, temper flare-ups, disobedience, etc. to the major transition the four of us were going through. And more than likely it was just that. Then a couple of years into this parenting journey we started to wonder if the issues were due to us “doing it wrong.” Saying to ourselves and reminding each other, “God, you told us this was your plan for us, to adopt these two girls, but we are not equipped for it. Please equip us!” We still pray that prayer, but now a little over three years into our family immersion, we have realized, everything we are going through is normal. There’s not much of anything that’s new under the sun, or in our parenting angst. Someone either dealt with it, is dealing with it, or will be dealing with it. Bottom line – it is normal. Whatever that is.

  7. Kim says

    Kristen- You are a GREAT mom!! This morning, after the kids have all gone off to school, find your favorite spot in your house and sit there for a minute or two and SMILE- GIGGLE- take a deep breath- exhale – and say I DID IT! Repeat this after the kids go to bed tonight (insert smile)

    BIG hugs to you today!!

  8. says

    Amen to this post! We get so caught up in comparing ourselves to each other when we really would be so much happier if we realized everyone struggles! We are normal!!

  9. says

    I blinked back tears this morning as my son left for school. Something had gotten him frustrated and I just happened to be the one who got to experience his bad attitude. He’s a great kid and a strong Christian…”How can he act like that? At HOME? To ME? It’s not even 8 a.m.?”

    But he’s the youngest of our 4, so I should know better…and I do. I know there are better days ahead, and that not every day is frustrating. I know how life changes them…and changes us. I know it’s just a phase. I know I shouldn’t take it personally.

    I love how you said you were “constantly learning on your kids.” God uses my kids to teach me so much…to open my eyes to things in my OWN life that need attention. Because, how many times have I thought to myself, “I’m a Christian…how can I act like that?”

    Ouch.

    So, yes…it’s “normal,” but we strive to be better. This being a Mom stuff? Keeps me on my knees.

    Such a great post…thank you for sharing.

  10. emily says

    Thank you so so much for your honesty. Really struggling in loving my husband right now, who is really struggling in his faith and this reminded me its not forever, god will bring him back, just like he brings us all back. This is a normal season of both the christian life and marriage.

  11. Lori says

    I had a wonderful mentor during the hardest season of my life. Her consistent message to me was “you can do this…you’re doing fine…you can handle this”. At the time, I didn’t realize how valuable this encouragement was to me but looking back I know it was exactly what I needed to hear.

    Sometimes we think we need to have some huge insightful bit of wisdom when someone is struggling. But they really just need someone to come along side them and say YOU CAN DO THIS :)

  12. says

    Thank you for always listening to the Holy Spirit and writing what you’re led to write. “Real” is way too rare these days. It’s nice when we can be real with each other. God bless!!

  13. Shani says

    I love this post so much. My littles range from 3 to 13- they are all in a different “phase” and all remarkably amazing, yet challenging in their own ways. My mom (the mother of four, including twin boys) has always taught me that motherhood is this mix of unparalleled love for our children, mixed with the fear that we’re totally screwing it all up. I’m so glad that she has been there to teach me that THIS IS NORMAL! Thank you for the challenge to support other mothers in their journeys.

  14. Abbie says

    Thank you for sharing your heart! Sometimes, just hearing from another mom that they too struggle – even if it’s not with exactly the same things – makes the world feel a little more bearable. It is much too easy to become myopic and start believing I’m the only one that’s ever dealt with these particular issues or that I am the only one that has dealt this BADLY with them! Knowing the encouragement I receive from you makes me want to be more of an encouragement to someone else!

  15. Caroline O. says

    Thank you! Isn’t it amazing how three little words can lift such a heavy burden? I’ve poured out my heart to an amazing older mother that worships with us. She’s raised 4 Godly children who are all faithful, and on top of that, she is a preacher’s wife! I am so thankful to have her in my life, and I am extremely grateful to hear her say, “This is normal,” and I enjoy hearing her tell stories on her children that mirror my own. Titus 2:3-5.

  16. Jessica says

    Gah! I love this. We need more of this. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I love it. I love the authenticity because too often we paint a picture of “perfect.” How to be the perfect Christian (fill in the blank). I’ve loved my other mom friends who can listen to me as well and say “it’s normal and you will get through it. God knew what He was doing when he made them your children and you their mom”. Thanks for once again reminding us of this truth.

  17. says

    I was just thinking tonight how I was trying to talk to my 7 year old about not eating her lunch at school and she freaked out like I was mad at her. I was feeling horrible, like I can’t even communicate effectively with my child. I had some of those same feelings…”what am I doing wrong?” “how can I fix this?” “Maybe I need help.”
    This is spot on. Family is the ultimate growing experience. Thanks for sharing yours.

  18. kelly says

    THANK YOU!!! I REALLY needed this today…we are struggling BIG TIME with our oldest teenager..she is such a handful right now..and myself & my DH are at our wits end…we are also attending counseling sessions…and i am constantly praying to God..where did we go wrong…this is such a struggle right now especially since we have two more right behind this one…UGH!!!

  19. Kim says

    I loved this article! I’ve been feeling the same pressures and insecurities! Thank you for sharing!!! It is a struggle to make sure our kids are happy and healthy. My struggle is…are they happy? I hope so because I sure do work hard to make sure they are! Thank you again for such an eye awakening blog!

  20. says

    We have encountered issues that did need some outside help, but even then we know we are not alone. Even that can be “normal”. When a friend kept describing her daughter’s high anxiety over every day things, I worried with her, and encouraged her to seek professional help. She was recently venting about how her daughter will likely never be neurotypical, and she mostly got messages of “at least she hasn’t been sold into prostitution”. Even when you don’t understand, offer support, look for ways to help, and most importantly, listen with a noncritical, loving heart.

  21. penny says

    Wonderful post. I often try to give other parents encouragement and consolation with life’s struggles. However, I honestly feel that our family is dealing with a situation that is abnormal, certainly not unheard of, but certainly not normal. We have sought outside help, but without success. I feel so frustrated and helpless and concerned. This is a volatile situation that could lead to serious consequences, I wish it were normal!

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