The Real Secret of Motherhood

Originally published Tuesday, 05 May 2015.



 There are times.  There are times when you are raising small children and nothing is quite as “together” as you always dreamed it would be.   You had some major plans for your nest to resemble those homes in magazines and for your children to be walking GAP models. Disappointment creeps into your heart…you just can’t seem to live up to your own expectations.  Those “together and tidy” people?  What is their secret?  For real, now.  They seem to be doing a better job at this motherhood gig and somehow…you missed the mother-in-training session of their secret “Together and Tidy” society.  What’s the deal?!  Why no invite for the motherhood crash course that they clearly held while you endured the pointless hours of “childbirth classes” with the woman who was evidently paid by the hospital to instill fear in the hearts of young, innocent, first-timers.  That lady was scary…am I right?  Wowzers!  Yep.  You missed the meeting that must have been held in the room across the way.  This is the only logical explanation.

There are times when you are heading up one too many events, committees, and projects…so the laundry pile climbs on because the people keep wearing clothes.  Why?  Why must the people under your roof wear so many clothes?  The dishes keep stacking because you keep feeding the people but are left without another free minute for four days straight to scrub a pan.  Your calendar is full.  The minutes are all used up by other responsibilities.  You run and run, only to make a new mess in your home before dashing out the door again.  Productive as you may be, your house seriously looks like you’ve been watching reruns of The Golden Girls while eating a pack of Twinkies.  Ugh…your house lies about your real life of ministry events and meetings.  Your routine couldn’t be further from that of a Twinkie-eater…but the housekeeping shows little evidence of your go-getter personality.  It feels a bit like treading water without an end in sight.  Deep within, your honest fear is that you just might sink at any moment.  You sing it like your mantra, remembering Dori from Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  Just keep swimming.”  Your husband will be busy with a grand calling this week and your own calendar and list of responsibilities is a tad lengthy…just slightly consuming…basically, you can’t breathe.  You pray for God to be near and you know He will find a way to hold you up, to keep your head above water and then some.  He is faithful.

Then God sends someone.  Someone comes to say, “I’ve done this before.  I’ve stood where you stand.  I remember life when my kids were this little.”  The voice of that person (those two friends) quiets the condemning glances of those {those that have forgotten the little years} that seemingly ask you with their eyes, “Just what do you do all day?”  Suddenly, it is all okay because someone…SOMEONE understands that your life gets messy because you’re raising small people who really know how to live…and they live large with very real messes.  

The small folks you are raising spill a box of something from the kitchen pantry while you dust the living room.  They color on the walls when you change the load of laundry.  (Just the one time, but it was traumatic.)  You spend every minute of nap time  folding that basket of laundry, but then you leave the room for one minute (just one fast, necessary task) to find that they have unfolded the load.  You answer a ding at the doorbell with a cheerful (and slightly weary), “Come on in!  Don’t mind the laundry in the floor.  The baby unfolded it.”  You laugh because you have learned that laughter faithfully chases tired tears away.   

When they are that small and precious, and life is just busy?  Well, sometimes you have to leave the desperate need for housekeeping inside because they need supervision and quality time outside.  Children need their mommies to leave the housework inside so that they can run and play and be free in the back yard for a few minutes.  It is quite alright, but it is different than the mother you expected to be.  You always intended to play, “Red Light, Green Light” outside with your little ones.  You never intended to leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink to do so.

You expected to be the mother with clean floors.  Some days…some moments of some days, your floors are so clean and shiny.  The shiny floors sparkle in the radiant sunlight from the kitchen window until the children wake up and need an afternoon snack.  Littles must be fed and well…snack time comes with an army of crumbs when you are training small living creatures to use table manners.  You keep the broom handy.  The broom is basically your BFF as of late.  The bathrooms get cleaned too…but little children are learning to use the bathroom and gracious!  This skill apparently takes some practice and bathrooms get messy again.  It’s just gross, really.  You were once a girly-girl with some major OCD (a real diagnosis) and germaphobia that could have bought stock in hand-sanitizer.  Your saying about the germaphobia days and such things has necessarily become, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  It’s going to be okay.  Bathrooms of little boys aren’t consistently tidy.  You buy lavender-scented bleach and you deal. That is quite alright, as well.

You’re overcoming perfectionism and the memories of the meticulous housekeeper you once were…prior to the frat house that you now joyfully manage.  You DO manage somewhat joyfully and that is better than being a grump all of the time, so you pat yourself on the back because at the very least, you are overcoming the perfectionism of meticulous housekeeping one patient smile and gentle correction at a time.  You are mostly gentle…except when you aren’t so calm, because THAT happens too when you are training children in the way they should go.  The littles keep it real.  Alas, you have been freed of every pretentious bone in your body, courtesy of the littles and you will never be the same perfectionistic woman again.  So, there is that.  Humility for the win!  You can be thankful that you will forever be more down-to-earth by the grace of God and the authenticity of the joyful frat house in which you currently reside.  The silver lining can indeed be found in the messiness of child-rearing.


The experienced mothers visit. Their littles are growing into teens.  Again, they come alongside you to do dishes.    They do your dishes with you.  Again.  They laugh and jokingly say, “Hey!  Maybe this will inspire a blog post again.”  You laugh because it most DEFINITELY will inspire another post on motherhood and on carrying one another’s burdens.  You all know, in the depths of your hearts that your friendships have truly committed themselves to just that: carrying the others’ burdens, taking turns at being strong, and big doses of laughter.  You clean together while the beautician friends joke that they will put your hair in a “Haiti hair-do bun” (the one hairstyle that was only meant to last for a week’s mission trip but stuck around for a full year instead) if you should go before they do.  You make them promise that they will straighten your hair.  You demand “Christmas card hair,” and forbid that anyone allows your hair to be down and curly like the curly mullet of a 1990s recording artist whose name shall remain untyped out of the compassion in your typing heart.  The laughter makes the swimming along of motherhood a bit easier to tread on this Monday that would have otherwise felt as though you were drowning in the busyness.  They tell you the funny stories of their years of raising littles and they know the schedule you keep. Their loving responses heal the deep, internal wounds caused by laying down the dreams of a constant shine.  In the presence of these veteran mothers, you wonder if maybe your life is (sort of) normal…if this is simply motherhood.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  ~Galatians 6:2

 The precious teen girl from church assists you one evening because even mommies have events to organize and  to oversee.  At the end of the night, when the last event guest has gone home, the teen girl confesses her exhaustion saying, “Whew!  I don’t know how you do this all of the time.  Those little guys make me tired!”  Aaaaaah, there it is: the justification that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t a failure at life.  If this young girl is tired after one evening of corralling your three littles, perhaps it is okay for you to feel painfully tired by bedtime every night.  You smile knowing you aren’t alone.  That’s it!  You really might not be messing up life!  Maybe you are just a human who gets tired.  This is very good news, my friends. Thank you, Jesus!  God, You sent a messenger to say that I can be tired and that I’m not alone in my struggle.  This epic exhaustion is legit!  Good news, I tell you!

When the friends finish the morning coffee and leave your kitchen table to take care of their own homes and families, you ponder the words of one veteran mother.  She had smiled and said, “We don’t have to achieve perfection.  I’m finally learning that even the smallest task can bless my family.”  

Her words resonate in your heart.  Maybe the floors don’t have to shine a consistent shine, but then again, you are reminded of the women that seem to have it all together and you begin to ponder your own inadequacy again.  That is when you begin to really grasp what your friend was saying.

Even the smallest task can bless my family.”


You think of those ladies, the members of the “Together and Tidy” secret society.  They are wonderful, beautiful, lovely women in their own unique ways…but perhaps they keep a different schedule than you keep.  They sweep more, but they host less.  Their dishes are put away, but their calendars lend more time to housekeeping and are less filled with the organization and leadership of ministry events and discipleship.  And that is quite alright as well!  They are radiant in their way!  You are thriving in your own way, because the ways of motherhood aren’t all patterned to be the same.  We all have our own style of motherhood because of precisely what the friend had said.  

“I don’t have to achieve perfection.  I just have to do what blesses my family.” 

YES!  She speaks the truth.  Perhaps that is the real secret of motherhood!!!  As mothers, we have to live in a way that blesses our own families.  We do not have to mimic the way another woman blesses her own family.  My family needs me to be a different woman than the others because I belong to a family with a unique goal and purpose…and friend?  So do you.  Your family needs your life to bless them, one task at a time, in a way that meets their unique needs and your family’s specific purpose.  We cannot live to keep up with one another because we aren’t called to the same purpose.  We aren’t called to the same people.  Your people need you.

My people need me.  Perfect or not, (and the answer to that is: not perfect), my littles and my husband need me to live the life that God has called me to lead.  They desire for me to bless them in the ways that support their own idea of “together.”  And do you know what?  I’m willing to bet that your family is rather blessed by your style of motherhood and your unique gifts, as well.

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.  ~Galatians  6:4


Be your one kind of “together,” and that will be a beautiful blessing to your people.  I guarantee this!

From my blessed mess to yours!  Shine on!

Love always,                              ~Courtney


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.       ~Galatians 6:9