Motherhood: Grace and Work

There is no dearth of articles on how difficult motherhood is. How we must not compare ourselves. How we need to accept God’s grace to cover our lack of perfection.

Motherhood is messy. It’s a lot of work. Oh, is it a lot of work. And there is no easy manual for how to do it.

But lately I have been noticing an increase in these articles that, if we are honest, is sometimes whining. Good, biblical websites and blogs have been posting these articles as well, and judging by the number of shares they are quite popular.

Because we moms are overwhelmed sometimes. We’re tired. We feel like ineffective mothers. We feel frazzled. So the message of “Don’t worry, no one expects perfection, and no one has it all together” is comforting. And it is.

Moms, there is a lot of whining in the blogosphere. I am the first to tell you that I think we should be honest and share our struggles. But I also believe that we shouldn’t be sitting in the mire constantly. If that is where we are day after day after day, we need to find a way to get out. And with God’s help we can.

Motherhood, like any other career, occupation, or life calling, has good days and bad days.

We sometimes have good days where the kids are sweet, the house is picked up at the end of the day, dinner is on the table, and in general life is good. And then there are days, well, do I even need to describe them? We are up in the night more times than we can keep track of, nothing seems to be working to help our children obey and do what is right, the house is spiraling into disaster zone, we’ve barely thought about getting dinner started let alone on the table, and, in general, it is anything but good.

I understand. I have those days too.

It is in those moments that we need to look at the day and cover it in grace.  We need to thank God that He will use us in our role as mom despite of ourselves. We need to claim Christ’s work on the cross.

And then.

We need to do something.

Look at your bad day, or week, or month, and think about why it has been so difficult. Seek out the reasons that life has been so hard. Is it lack of sleep (for both you or your children)? Is it a need to have some time away to think more clearly? Is it self-pity? Is it lack of discipline? Is it an overwhelmed feeling of not knowing what to do?

Then make sleep a priority. Have your husband watch the kids for a few hours so you can get away to spend time alone. Search your heart. Get accountability for an area that you need more discipline in. Ask another mom who has been there for some real, practical steps you can take to get out of your overwhelmed feeling. Whatever it is. Do something. 

God never calls us to be miserable. Ever. And that goes for motherhood. If He has called you to the role of motherhood, He will give you the grace to fulfill your responsibility.

Life means working. And whether we are working hard toiling a garden like Adam and Eve, or we are working hard raising children, it will be work.

God created man and woman to work. To labor. Only after the fall did we have the problem that our work did not always produce good. Our work is no longer always effective. By God’s grace it is sometimes, but not always. Our work does not guarantee one hundred percent success.

So we have bad days. We have cranky children. We have sleepless nights. We have ineffective parenting. We have impatient spirits. But work is still what we were meant and created to do, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s enjoy the good gift of an extraordinary occupation that motherhood brings. Let’s acknowledge that there are good days and there are days we wish we could forget. Let’s thank God that His grace covers us in both extremes. And let’s pursue a life of motherhood that works hard at what we do. That enjoys what we do. That thrives in what we do.

Because, yes, motherhood is incredibly hard work. But God esteems work. And if that work comes in the form of self-discipline needed to get yourself out of bed, or to wash a few dishes, or to gently correct a child it will be work. And God meant it to be that way.

Let God’s grace empower you to do the work of motherhood. Let it empower you to seek help where you need it. To find solutions where you need them. Or to cover your day in grace when the desired outcome isn’t there.

We bathe ourselves in God’s grace to cover us when our imperfections abound. And we bathe ourselves in God’s grace to enable us to do the work of motherhood.

Photo Credit


  1. Well said. Moms—parents—need to express their frustration, but to stay anchored in it is just not productive. Thanks for the reminder that work can be a blessing and not a burden.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Great thoughts to ponder.

  3. As usual, thank-you. I’ve also read those kind of articles of “oh well, we all have bad days, can’t do anything about it, can we?” Thanks for the specific “somethings” we CAN do to improve those bad days. For the wonderful study on motherhood as God-given work. And for helping see all of it through the lens of grace.

  4. Your passing comment about this other day has stuck with me, and Daniel and I were just talking about this last night, especially as it seems like even more articles have been passed around since our e-mail.

    Sometimes, I feel pressure that I’m “not mom enough” unless I am sharing how utterly hard motherhood is or that I “am at war with” my children. I do feel the hardness of the work sometimes, and being a mother is much harder than I ever imagined. But also much more happy and joyful and grace-filled than I imagined. There are seasons when I feel utterly overwhelmed, but others when I have to pinch myself to make sure this really is my life.

    I think there are a few things at play here, as to why there seems to be such emphasis on the hardness of motherhood lately:

    1. We don’t live in community anymore–motherhood (or parenthood, for that matter) wasn’t meant to be done alone, but we lack the community of living near family, being integrally connected with our geographical community in a way that once was more possible, and also the older women are also quite busy themselves, just to name a few ways in which we’ve deviated from this once nearly universal norm. Even within the immediate families, woman and men are expected to live separate lives with separate, intense stresses, so long as their individual responsibilities are taken care of. Family is a team effort; when it’s not, the extra strain is felt by everyone.

    2. We lack margin in our lives. In the regular seasons of life, we are filled to the brim with just slightly more than we can handle. Not to mention that lack of margin adds a cascade of stress and even physical illnesses, but when life does “tip over” with sickness, unexpected extras, etc…, the “recovery time” is much longer–or not really at all–before the next extra hits. And it takes much less to make life “tip over,” whereas if we had more margin, we could just absorb most of the hard times into our everyday flow of things. Instead, we’re usually not asking about this–we just wonder why it’s so hard.

    3. Our culture is one that idealizes and romanticizes “toughness.” So whether we really are having a tough time or we just feel like everyone else around us is, we feel that this is a necessary component–almost a martyr-like complex–to our mothering. Christians, especially, are susceptible to this outlook, I’m finding. The rugged frontiersman America is what we want in mothering, too. When this is spread on the internet, it’s the spirit that everyone feels they have to adapt. This is the influence of social networking at play!

    4. It is February. Moms of little ones in particular have a tendency to experience and live in “recency bias.” In February, more of us with little ones have spent and will continue to spend weeks to months experience sickness in our families. This can make it seem like we and our children have been sick all of our lives. :) (Spring is coming!!) And while it’s NOT normal for families to be sick all winter, many are in the cycle pretty much all winter.

    5. And there are a few who really, truly are in unique circumstances that make it extra hard almost all the time.

    (Oops! Was this just supposed to be a comment? :))

    • Yes to all the above. The one I hadn’t thought about was the February one. And yes to social networking at play. Totally think that is part of it. “When this is spread on the internet, it’s the spirit that everyone feels they have to adapt.”
      And, certainly, there are times when it is overwhelming and there are situations that are especially overwhelming that some families are in for an extended period of time.

  5. I recently read an article of a woman reviewing “Desperate” and she came right out and said, “I don’t feel Desperate, and that is good.” Sometimes misery loves company. Of course, motherhood has its good and bad days, but if every day seems like a crazy, hopeless, end of your rope kinda day, something is seriously wrong either with the moms outlook or her order in the home. That is the time to call in the Titus 2 mentors to figure out what is going wrong. Great thoughts, Jo.

Speak Your Mind