15 Years of Mothering {and why it’s harder than I ever thought!}

Fifteen years ago our daughter was born. I had all kinds of hopes and dreams about what life with a girl was going to be. I envisioned tea parties and dance classes. I looked forward to pedicures and movie dates. I anticipated shopping trips and girls only getaway weekends. I was sure I’d be the kind of mom who knew when to listen and how to point her daughter back to Scripture. I just knew we’d share a love for Bible study and maybe even one day do conferences together for moms and daughters.

And now, after 15 years of mothering, some of those dreams came true {like pedicures and watching my girl dance} and some of them did not. Or maybe just haven’t yet.

15 years of motherhood and why it's harder than I ever thought it would be

A weather delay meant we weren’t rushed this morning to get to school. Scott fixed pancakes and bacon for our girl and we all three sat down to eat breakfast together. As she did her hair and got ready for school, Scott and I posted the obligatory “we love you, birthday girl” posts on Facebook. I gathered up some of my favorite photos of her and shared how much I know Scott’s dad would have loved to see the young lady she has become.

Fifteen years of mothering

But somehow in between the “Happy birthday” greetings on Facebook and getting out the door for school, the wheels came off the wagon.

I forgot the sage advice my friend gave me several years ago, “Don’t take it personally!” and Casiday forgot the admonition she hears regularly, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”  The coffee spilled on her jeans and the breakfast that made her rushed were clearly my fault.

In one of the most glorious displays of grace-based parenting you can find, I said, “You win! I give up.” And then proceeded to explain to this child of mine how we had spent all morning doing nice things for her and giving her gifts and reminding her how precious she was to us … and what I was getting in return was attitude and meanness. And, because I’m never one to stop while I’m ahead, I kept this tirade going right up until the moment she got out of the car. I drove off fuming at how selfish this child of mine is and how much I don’t deserve to be treated this way.

So I sat down, leaving the laundry in the basket. On the top of the pile of books I’m reading sat Hope for the Weary Mom. Brooke and Stacey are the real deal. They are girls I can Vox or text and say, “I can’t go another step.” They get it … they are living it with me. Stacey has a daughter the same age as mine. We’re walking this mine field of teenage girls together.

I opened to the chapter Stacey wrote about Redeeming Mommy Guilt and I read these words:

Mommy guilt can cause a weariness a nap won’t fix. It weighs on us and wears us out. It turns perfectly normal moms into women who are convinced they could win the prize for Worst Mom of the Year. I have spent years reading about and trying to understand grace, and I’m convinced it is the antidote for guilt. The two can’t live together. One displaces the other. Ideally, grace lives and breathes in our life, and guilt leaves. But, more often than not the opposite is true. How do we give grace more space to rest in our lives? (74)

Yesterday, I wrote about grace. In a whole different context, yes, but the same concept. Grace isn’t what we deserve. It’s what we are given. And it’s what we need. It’s what I need.

Those dreams I had weren’t bad. But they had taken the place of the truth. My girl isn’t wired like me. She isn’t excited about study of any sort. She doesn’t like the spotlight. But she is a faithful and loyal friend. She helpful and kind with James. She is not what I had dreamed about in a daughter. But she is truly a gift from the Lord {Psalm 127:3}.

The dreams we have about parenting aren't bad. But they can't take the place of truth. http://wp.me/p3aJPA-1Up #choosehope Click To Tweet

It has to be okay to acknowledge that sometimes we don’t know how to deal with the difference between what we expected and what we have. Sometimes the words our children speak and the way they act hurt us. Sometimes we are selfish as moms and we miss the mark.

Because we’re sinners, all of us. We’re desperately hopeless on our own. She is and so am I. The only answer, the only way to change the picture, is grace — giving it and receiving it.

This morning, long before the pancakes and pouting, I wrote a prayer in my journal:

A Mother's Prayer on her Daughter's 15th Birthday

Today hasn’t been all roses and sunshine. It has been ugly and hard. And maybe that’s the point. When I ask God to make me into the mom He created me to be, it means He has to show me what isn’t like Him, what needs to be pruned.

I’m thankful for this girl of mine. This daughter who God is always using to show me more of Him {and more of my need for Him}. And today she turns fifteen. Fifteen years of being a mom hasn’t always been fun or easy — but it has always been good because loving this girl is a gift. And I’m thankful for her … and for the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn about grace through her.

What have you learned in your years of parenting?

Some of the books on parenting I am finding most encouraging during this season of having a teenager in my home.  Click on the images below to get more information about each of these books. {affiliate links}

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!


  1. Oh girl. The Mommy Guilt just likes to hang around like a thick black cloud. I understand. Let’s just breathe grace today. I’ll do it for you and you do it for me. Because sometimes we just need another mom to tell us we are doing the best job we know how to do. And Jesus, he fills in all sorts of gaps and his grace covers us both.

    Love you.

    • Oh Stacey! I love you so … and can I just admit in my dreams you live on my street and we get to wave at each other in the morning before the crazy begins and maybe sneak a cup of coffee in the afternoons while the crazy is happening at dance or cheer or wherever else?

      I love walking through this journey with you … it’s a gift I never take for granted.
      Love you back,

  2. Oh, Teri Lynne, I know about days like you’ve just had. Sadly, after 23 years, I’m still learning to extend grace. And if you ever think you’ve concurred it in one season of parenting, just wait a month or two and a new season will appear, catch you off guard, and you will be back to square one trying to figure out what grace based parenting looks like. Seriously, I thought I’d pretty much arrived with daughter #1…until she fell in love and got engaged. I’m learning a whole ways to extend grace to the bride-to-be when she and I don’t think or look at planning the same way. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone in my failures or in this parenting journey.

    And yes…that “Don’t take it personally” is a great reminder!!!

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