What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Well, honestly, sometimes when this mama takes a step back (literally), I fall over (actually). I’m just not as spry or coordinated as I used to be, and also sometimes the reason I’m falling is because I have tripped over the groceries my kids didn’t put away after I asked them twice.

Which leads me to a big point of this post.

It is rare that my kids will do exactly as I ask, immediately after I ask. I often have to say things twice or twelve times. They hardly ever come right when I call. Sometimes I say, “Put all your shoes away before you head up for the night” but then I find all the shoes exactly where they shouldn’t be in the morning. We can be sure that if I didn’t tell them to pick up their sweatshirts, all of the hoodies in the world would stay on the floor forever.

One of my kids always forgets to rinse his dishes even though that’s been our practice after every single meal for every single day of his entire life. Getting my kids out of bed in the mornings requires much more than a cute wake-up song, and I often hear about all the parts of life that aren’t fair.

This is what I do all day. I am Mom. I am blessed to be with my kids all day, but the thing is that I AM WITH MY KIDS ALL DAY.

It is my responsibility to educate and train them in everything ranging from geography to kindness to algebra to selflessness. I’m intentional about preparing them to be godly husbands, leaders, servants, employees, people. So every time one of their weaknesses flares or their response to an assignment, chore, brother, friend, or parent is less than ideal – I am on it! I instruct, reprimand, encourage, cry, offer suggestions, pray, and yep, sometimes even yell.

I see their weaknesses; no doubt they see mine.

What I sometimes fail to see is their strengths. Their gifts, talents, leadership abilities, Christ-like hearts, tenderness, humor, care, compassion – those are all there in my kids too, in abundance. But I all too often forget to notice the greatness through all the crusty socks that never made it upstairs to the basket.

It’s when I take a step back that I see the good that’s been there all along. It’s there in spite of me and even a little bit because of me. Mostly it’s there because God is at work in my kids and He wants their good even more than I.

When I step back I see…

  • My oldest, almost 20 now, being loved by so many on the college campus, taking a lead he doesn’t even know he’s taking, just because people are drawn to him. He rocks at videography, already utilizing his skills professionally. When he talks about his special girl, his voice is gentle and sweet. He loves the Lord and continues to learn what it means to live for Him.


Photo cred goes to the man himself

When I step back I see…

  • My 17-year old being a leader on the basketball court, encouraging his younger teammates, motivating his youth group peers to join him in a service project, teaching younger kids how to play soccer, talking sweetly to an elderly lady. I hear the music he creates and I am blown away that my kid has ability like this. I hear his poetry, the words of which tell me of his talent and of his heart for God.


When I step back I see…

  • My 15-year old coming out of his shell, making people laugh, talking to me about the sweet girl he likes, getting the door for people coming in behind him, and spoon feeding our disabled friend. I see him cheerfully making trips back and forth from apartment to truck as he helps another disabled friend load heavy furniture. I hear him confidently singing a solo on stage for the first time, fulfilling roles we never could have dreamed he’d be willing to step into. I hear him pray at night, amazed at his growing relationship with God.


When I step back I see…

  • My 12-year old being the “big kid” that the little kids at church flock to. I see him confidently teasing adults and making them laugh. I see him hugging the man whose wife is dying, making the gentleman smile through his tears. I watch him on stage, acting as if he was born to be in character. I see him excited to finally have a chance to go on a mission trip this summer with his older brothers, and I see him with tears in his eyes as he says, “Mom and Dad, I am ready to be baptized.”


When I take a step back, I see all of this, and I don’t even have to look hard. This is all there because at their very core, this is who my children are.

In the thick of parenting, instructing, teaching, planning, dreaming, longing, and probably not sleeping quite enough – too often parents are only able see to the tip of the arguments and to the end of the unmade bed. Stepping back, we see the entire picture – the one that is beautifully painted with caring children, strengths that shine through the weaknesses, and a God who is at work to bring out His purposes for these darlings who are dearest to us.

To all who are in very middle of this parenting adventure: Take a step back. What are your children doing well? Where do they shine? In what ways have they grown? Bring it all to mind. Sit there for a while, and bask in the sweetness. It’s peaceful there and it is very real.

It is in this place, the place of stepping back, that we can remember our purpose and joy as parents. We remember that good shines brighter than bad, and that God is powerfully at work in both our children and in us.

Then hopefully, next time we trip over the backpack that got dropped right in the middle of the floor, we can recall to mind the heart of the child that left it there, even as we holler once again for said child to come put the backpack where it goes before we throw it into the fireplace.

What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Please take a turn! I got to share about each of my sons. Will you please take a minute, step back to see the good in each of your kids, and leave a comment to share that good with us?


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  1. MS says

    Thank you for this sweet post. As a mama of little ones, I needed the encouragement that my job is about more than just taming the toddler tantrums. Sometimes when I hear people talk about the wonderful people their children have become, I’m tempted to look forward, with rose-colored glasses, to the day when my own kids can wipe themselves and cook a meal and do things I’m proud of. But you’re right that whatever the stage, when you step back there is so much good to see!
    When I take a step back, I see how sweetly my toddler behaves towards her baby brother. I see a little girl who adores playing with her daddy and loves sharing her pretend food with everyone. She really works hard to make the dish just right! I see a child who loves praying, even if she doesn’t fully understand it yet.
    And I see a little baby that enjoys cuddles, loves to make eye contact, and is healthy and chubby.


  2. Deb says

    I love this post so much! I pray my girls will marry godly men like yours one day (sadly, they’re a little young at 3 and 4.5 for your boys, otherwise we’d be on our way to Nebraska! :D).

    Along the lines of your post, for Valentine’s Day, I did the “heart attack” idea from Happy Home Fairy and taped hearts with words of affirmation for my daughters’ character to their doors. My three-year old has a bad habit of calling me at night (usually shortly after bedtime, but sometimes in the middle of the night, too), and as I begrudgingly stumble to her door feeling very put upon for having to interrupt my sleep or my only kid-free time to go deal with her, I see this list of qualities on her door: “you are a worshipper” “you are loving” “you have a heart for the lost” “you are determined” “you are focused.” I am probably at my most unloving when she calls me from bed, but those doggone hearts keep catching my attention, and I remember: that’s who my girl really is. This is a season that will end (I think….please, Lord), and I can’t lose sight of the beautiful spirits that the Lord has placed in both of my children.

    Thank you for the reminder and for your wonderful blog that is the only one I manage to read faithfully. God bless you and your family!


    Jill Reply:

    You are not alone! My sweet, adorable 2 year old son turns into an absolute pistol when he wakes in the middle of the night. Would he like to rock with Mama or be tucked back in.? Answer: NOTHINGGGG!!! Awful.

    I like the idea of hanging a reminder of who he really is – when he’s not discombobulated from waking in the middle of the night – as a reminder to myself not to get too mad at him even though he’ll make me a zombie at work the next day.


  3. Rachel Dawson says

    When I step back, I see a 5 year old who is so much more than I anticipated. He is kind, gentle, sensitive. He loves his little sisters. He speaks of wanting to be a daddy and have lots of kids one day. He is obedient (mostly) and receives instruction. He loves to be a dinosaur and roar at the dog (because I don’t let dinosaurs in the house!). He is a wonderful child and he’s got so much life ahead…I can’t wait to see what he will be!
    When I step back, I see a 2 year old who is going on 17 and has the determination to get there! She is rough and tumble and not gonna be pushed around by anyone. She is daring and not afraid to step out and try the hard thing. But she is also dainty and doesn’t like getting her hands dirty. She loves anything that sparkles and all things accessory. She has a vocabulary that you wouldn’t believe and loves to engage in as much grown up conversation as possible. She is tender and caring and hates to see anyone get in trouble or be hurt. She takes good care of her little sister and loves to help cook and wash dishes. She loves to “read” her Bible and sing songs about Jesus.
    When I step back, I see a 2 month old who is the best baby I’ve had so far. Easy to eat, easy to sleep, sleeping through the night already. She and I went through a lot to get her here; enduring vision loss (mine – right eye only), brain tumor (mine – causing the vision loss), brain surgery (mine – obviously to remove the tumor), recover from surgery while finishing my last trimester (harder than you could ever imagine), labor, natural childbirth (while still technically recovering from brain surgery and she was nearly 10 lbs!). I can’t imagine what lies in store for her with such a triumphant entrance into life! She has been covered in so much prayer by so many people that I’ll not be surprised if God has something special in mind for her.


  4. Jennifer says

    Thank you so much for this sweet reminder! I see my 6 year old tenderly loving his baby sister, my 4 year old always being willing to forgive and show grace, my 2 year old overflowing with enthusiasm and joy for life, and my newborn bringing so much joy to older moms whose children are grown.


  5. Jill says

    I had a teacher once who made a practice of “catching” us students doing something good. Where most teachers would find reasons to scold, she’d keep her eye out for reasons to praise or thank. I try very hard to do this with mine.

    This post is so sweet – but also a bit depressing. Mine are 2 and 3, so easily distracted, often disobedient, and still needing a lot of supervision. But it sounds like that won’t stop even when they become young men. Sob!!!


    Laura Reply:

    Aww, don’t let it give you fear for the future. Teenage distraction and forgetfulness is a LOT different than 2 and 3 year old stuff you’re dealing with now. Teens can be reasoned with! There’s a lot of beauty in the ability to have an actual conversation instead of just trying to get your little ones to obey already. :)


    Laura S Reply:

    And then there is all those great years in the middle when they have learned to take care of themselves and are eager to help out. I really enjoyed those years. But teens are great too. Talking with them, watching their gifts take hold and seeing the world through their eyes is thrilling.


  6. Cathy says

    Oh I so needed this today.

    I see an 8 year old boy so full of energy yet now able to sit through a 2.5 hour play to support his cousin’s. Who fights with his sister, yet is willing to share have his Easter eggs when he realizes she was too timid to participate in the community egg hunt. And who I find snuggling his little brother just because.

    I see a little girl who has made huge strides overcoming a severe speech disorder. Who was once known for hitting and biting but no longer is the one getting in trouble at play dates. Who loves babies and is so gentle with them. Who just desperation wants to be a helper.

    And I see a sweet 3 year old boy who has always been a source of joy. He can calm himself in the midst of a tantrum if he’s just calmly spoken too.

    Oh, did I mention I needed this reminder today?


  7. KA says

    I often step back and marvel at how the Lord is working in my 16 & 15 year old sons. Two years ago we moved to a new city for ministry, and they left behind all their friends and church family of nearly 10 years. They were in a small private Christian school, now they’re in a huge boys only government school. But they seek to shine Christ’s light in the darkness there, they’re serving in our church and we have the most awesome chats about Jesus. It’s hard to see our kids hurting through the tough times but awesome to see them grow and trust our Lord! And I step back and am so grateful for my cuddly 5 year old little girl who brings our family so much joy :)


  8. Amy says

    Thank you Laura! This post made me cry…but in a good way. I really needed to hear your words today. Sometimes I forget that life is a blessing and my two boys don’t mean to drive me crazy…. ;-)


  9. Jessica says

    Thank you for posting this! I definitely needed to hear it. Sometimes I get so caught up in the daily bickering, fighting, disciplining, etc. that I forget how wonderful and talented my children are. I am going to print this post out and read it daily until I get it through my head to remind myself of who my babies really are and that they are created as talented, wonderful, loved beings by God and given/loaned to us for only a time. So SO hard to remember some days. I need a constant reminder. I really like the idea of writing on hearts the many wonderful qualities that my children possess. I think I am going to try that and post them in a central place to remind myself and them that they are cherished for who they are and what is special about them as individuals. Such a wonderful idea! Thank you again, Laura, for your constant encouragement and help! God Bless you and your wonderful family!


  10. says

    What a beautiful post! Absolutely love it. I’m a mom of 3; a 7 year old and twins that are almost 4. I needed this encouragement today in a big way. Thank you! Sometimes we get so caught up in survival mode…barely treading water in the deep end of mothering toddlers, potty training, and figuring out how on earth to homeschool…the concept of taking a step back like this never occurs to me. I really hope I remember to do this once in awhile. :)


  11. AR Brown says

    Thanks for the reminder. My almost 21 yo son drives me crazy but is such a level headed kid. My middle son, who will be 17 in July, makes me crazy with his absent-mindedness but is an artist, My youngest daughter at 15 has such a servant’s heart is mind boggling.


  12. Laura says

    I see my six year old daughter being a leader to others… sometimes graciously and sometimes bossy, but I can see the Lord shaping her into a powerful witness for Him. She is always including children that may be shy, and loves people so fully. She is quick to help when I ask and so generous with all she has. I see my 3 1/2 year old always offering to help and quick to comfort anyone who is upset. She is so sensitive to others needs. She looks for ways to help me and loves to sing and hum the hymns she learns at Bible study, bringing me joy as I go about my days!


  13. Margie says

    Yes, yes , yes!! This is the one message I would have liked to hear when my children were small – take delight in your children. In the midst of all the dailiness and the hard work of training, make a point to allow your heart to be delighted in the wonders of your children. God’s grace is overarching, and when our hearts are committed to Him, He takes our efforts and our mistakes and brings about adults who amaze us.


  14. Mrs.p says

    My daughter has,a,serving heart. Always find the good in people. Doesn’t say anything bad about anyone and doesn’t gossip. Always talk to everyone.


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