Things have turned out differently than expected and I know that’s hard. You envisioned what kind of mom you would be, how your children would behave, and how much joy would fill your home. And yes, there's joy, but there’s also a lot of hard work, heartache, and recognizing your expectations may not be realistic.
Instead of throwing in the dirty kitchen towel, instead of hiding out behind closed doors (although it’s perfectly acceptable to retreat to the closet every now and then), instead of fighting a losing battle for control…I invite you to change your perspective—to exchange lofty expectations for a new outlook.
Mom, the difficulties you face are the training ground for both you and your children to arise victorious.
Now the victory might look different than you think. It might not mean that everything and everyone turns out like you envisioned, but it might mean that you find grace in unexpected places, determination not to give up, and a fierce love that you didn’t know existed.
The battles you have with your daughter are bonding your hearts in a way that easy street never could. Give it time, try to stay tender, and remember that “most battles are won on your knees.” Pray on.
Let the anger issues you see in your son and yourself—that feel like a sucker punch to the gut—strengthen your resolve to train him and fight for him as he prepares to get in the ring with the world. Remember that you are on the same team, and a unified team can conquer opponents that outsize them.
The stubbornness you see in her can drive you crazy or it can reassure you that her innate determination will help her scale mountains, speak up for others, and propel her through hard times.
The recklessness you worry about in your child may morph into the bravery he needs to do what he is made to do. Teach him to be wise in his bravery through your example…as you get up each day and mother, even when you’d rather hide out under the covers.
You are a mom. And you are a warrior.
You may be in the throes of toddlerhood or in the trenches of teen-dom, but you are not a prisoner of war. You can be victorious even when motherhood looks different from what you expected.
Victory might look like the three-year-old finally going potty on the toilet.
Victory might look like the tween doing the dishes with a happy heart (it’s possible, I’ve witnessed it).
Victory might mean he yelled less today than yesterday, and you did too.
Victory might mean she finally looked both ways before crossing the street.
Celebrate these victories—however small—because they will propel you forward into joy, peace, and hope.
Find joy, not in the A+, but in belly laughs, spontaneous dance parties, and “I love you’s” that come at just the right time.
Find peace, not in fleeting circumstances, but in the realization that you don’t have to have it all together.
Find hope, not in the absence of turmoil, but in the fact that you are all growing and learning to love amidst the messiness of life.
Celebrate the small victories of today—they lead to the big victories of tomorrow.
You are a mom and you’re doing a better job that you think.
A version of this post appeared on Katie's blog.