For the Mom Who Needs a Simpler Way

happy mother's day

Several weeks ago, a boy with dark brown hair sidled up to me as I was looking for something in the fridge. Because I was doing something very important like looking for soy sauce, he startled me a bit. “Um, hey buddy — what do you need?”

“I just wanted to give you a hug and tell you that I love you,” replied the brown-haired boy.


That’ll undo a preoccupied mom in about half a second.

The truth is, I was about the least deserving mom on the planet on that day. I can’t recall the details but I know there was fussing and stressing and harshness aplenty.

I told the brown-haired boy how much I appreciated his love, especially on that day. “Buddy, I’ve been such a crap mom lately.”

“I don’t think so,” he said with all sincerity. “I mean, you have your moments but I think you’re doing pretty good.”

As I’ve been thinking more than ever lately about the difficulty and cluelessness of motherhood in this season of my life, I’ve concluded that I make it way too hard. It’s a specialty of mine. I hold an honorary doctorate in overcomplicating things.

I realize that my kids’ expectations for me as a mom and my own expectations are not even in the same galaxy. They simply want to know they’re loved. And also that they’re liked.

They want to know that I enjoy being with them in simple, everyday ways — watching movies, getting slurpees, sitting in the driveway while they show me their trick shots and how many baskets they can make, going shopping for new sneakers when theirs have worn out, telling them I’m sorry when they’ve had a bad day instead of trying to solve the problem of the bad day.

Motherhood is simply relationship.

And while it’s also about teaching them to work hard and training them in the basics of responsible citizenship and passing on our faith, my motherhood resolution is to love them first in ways that matter. The teachable moments tend to work better if they’re built upon real relationship.

This is anything but natural for me. But I’m seeking to take small steps in a new direction, like slowing before I speak — if I speak at all.

I’m realizing that the most compelling, well-spoken truth in the world won’t plant itself in the soil of a heart that’s hardened by resentment. Lists and lectures fall on deaf ears if they’re not delivered with love.

single flower

Children, errant and wild and frustrating though they are, tend to love with the most grace-filled and forgiving hearts. They surprise you with hugs when your brow is furrowed and your jaw is clenched. And I get to experience what it’s like when real love melts the tension I didn’t even realize I was carrying, how it teaches me to take myself less seriously and kick complication to the curb.

Love is the fertile soil where everything else is planted.

Fourteen years into the journey of motherhood and I long for a simpler way. The way of love.


If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

I Corinthians 13:1-7 {The Message}

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  1. Mom says

    Our full-of-grace God is giving you wisdom in abundant portions. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

  2. Lynn says

    I really get an A+ in overcomplicating too, thanks for the post and reminder. I need to hear that more often.

  3. says

    Loved this post! I think we all do this. We live in a culture obsessed with being outstanding at whatever we do. And all the effort and paranoia make you forget to just be. I learned this with my now 12 year old, when she was 9. She was bossy and unpleasant and prone to become hysterical. I couldn’t stand to be with her, so naturally the answer was to spend lots and lots of time with her. Doing her things, doing my things, reading together, cuddling on the couch, bringing her on errands with me. I did anything I could think of, any time I actually remembered, to make her feel like she was my super special friend. And it has payed off in spades. Now she is delightful and confident in ways only The Lord would know were going to happen. And she and I have a deep, loving relationship, heading into her teens. And this one is gonna be fiery. But I feel like I have a head start.

    So thanks for reminding me about that. Because my baby turns 8 this summer…

    All the best,
    The Other Marian


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