How to remember who we are in the midst of mothering mayhem

The other night, my husband and I were trying to replace the net on our trampoline (the previous one had been ripped to shreds), and our children were playing at a nearby park that had been freshly mowed.  Frustrated because the new net hadn’t come with instructions and looked nothing like our old one, we decided to call it quits for the night and gathered our children back into the house.

Then the chaos started.

Four children came walking through the back door with muddy, grassy shoes, and then with the intention of being helpful, my 6-year-old stuck his one and only pair of school shoes in the kitchen sink and filled them with water.  I lunged at the faucet and turned it off quickly — trying to minimize the inevitable sogginess that would greet us in the morning, but then as I moved into clean-up mode, problem after problem kept coming my way:

  • The floor was sticky — from something unidentifiable
  • My husband’s computer software wasn’t installing right, and he was doubly frustrated because of our trampoline net incident
  • My daughter was begging for me to drive her to Goodwill to see if they had the red shoes she needed to wear the next day
  • My other daughter was doing cartwheels and banging into the Legos that were perched on the edge of the train table
  • The trash bag in the kitchen was ripping because the wooden skewers from our kebab-dinner kept piercing it


I later shared parts of that story at a gathering of mothers, and I asked if anyone else had ever experienced something like that. The whole room nodded.

“Every day?” I asked.

More nods.

“Every hour?

Quiet laughter … still nodding.

Clearly, these are the “little” problems we face.  But whether our current challenges fall in the “little” or “big” categories, everyone has something hard going on.  And hard is good … when we know how to think about our lives and when we remember who we really are.

Because, you see, we are deliberate mothers — and with that comes the power to face anything.

So today I’m going to share four ways to remember that fact.

(1) Deliberate mothers read, watch, and listen to uplifting things that can reach the “real” person inside.

Too much of the wrong kind of media will destroy us with its negativity, filth, superficiality, and cynicism. So we don’t even dabble in it.

We seek out the very best books, podcasts, television programs, online courses, magazines, videos, and radio programs. These fill us. They educate us. They prepare our minds to greet the craziness of family life with steadiness and optimism.

(2) Deliberate mothers tell the best part of their stories.

One afternoon, my daughter Alia, who was 2 at the time, threw an enormous tantrum that got my blood boiling.  Not knowing what else to do, I got out our video camera to record her horrible display, and then I showed it to my husband when he got home from work.  (You know, so I could prove to him how bad my life was.)

He watched the video quietly and then said, “Honey, I’m sorry you had a hard day, but I don’t videotape the worst parts of my day and show them to you.”

Not the response I was looking for, but he was right.

Thinking back now to that muddy-grassy-shoe-chaos story I told up above, guess what elsehappened that exact same day.

  • I got a ton of work done while my children were at school for six hours.
  • I went on a three-mile jog without a stroller.
  • My husband and I enjoyed afternoon smoothies with our four children.  We do that every day at 2:30 … six people who love each other gathered around the counter, sipping a delicious homemade blend of juice, berries, and yogurt.
  • My husband gave me some awesome kisses in the kitchen.  We’re in love — more than ever before, and even though our children say, “Ewww,” we know they like seeing us together.
  • I tucked my 5-year-old in bed — my last time doing that before he turned 6.  We gave each other butterfly kisses with our eyelashes, and I held him tight.  It was precious.

We obviously need to balance our happy stories with authenticity, but when we focus on the good, that is exactly what we will remember.

(3) Deliberate mothers remind themselves of what is important every single day.

I often get unraveled and distracted. I forget who I am–almost daily — but I’ve learned that that is a very common thing for deliberate mothers.  So what do we do?  We come up with ways to remind ourselves about the things that really matter.

One way to do this is with Evernote.  Have you heard of it?  It’s an app for smart phones that incorporates photos, audio files, and text into a searchable database, but it also has a companion website where everything is backed up.


I created a “Daily Reminders” file within Evernote that is filled with my most powerful ideas, photos of goals I’ve written down, and all those little bits of inspiration I need to remember on a daily basis.


Starting the morning with this prevents me from getting unraveled (most of the time).

(4) Deliberate mothers surround themselves with like-minded mothers.May 2011 Retreat1

I love how women naturally gravitate to other women because we need each other.  I need my friends to remind me that I’m doing important work, whether or not that work is being noticed.

I need more experienced mothers to say, “You’ll get through this. I know it’s hard, but I promise you can do this.”

Society doesn’t tell deliberate mothers how important they are.  That’s why we’re here to tell each other.

You, deliberate mothers, have been given a gift.  You know how to take care of your families.  You know how to keep trying, even when it seems impossible. And guess what — other mothers are watching you. They’re looking to your example to show them what the media in general and society as a whole never will.

When I think about what deliberate mothers are doing within their homes and families, I feel nothing but hope.

– There are some people in this world who kill.

Deliberate mothers nurture life.

– Some people tear down the morality of society.

Deliberate mothers protect it.

– Some people lie and steal and cheat.

Deliberate mothers instill values in their children and teach with power.

– Some people simply give up on family life because they’re convinced it’s too hard.

Deliberate mothers keep going — even on the difficult days because they know that this beautiful, challenging, heart-wrenching, incredible work is absolutely worth it.

Deliberate mothers, you know who you are.  Now it’s time for each of us to remember it.

QUESTION: What helps you remember who you really are?

CHALLENGE: Think about the suggestions made in this post and pick just one thing that you can do to strengthen yourself as a deliberate mother.

(Click here to listen to this post being read by the author.)

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