Why the Prize for Great Motherhood ISN’T Great Kids…

By October 15, 2012General

Why People Do Hard Things

Marathons are hard. Boot camp is hard. Graduate school is hard. So why do people do them?

They do them because they want a new name: Marathoner, Marine, Doctor.

Motherhood is Hard

Motherhood is hard. (You can say that again!)

Motherhood is hard…and we make it harder because we do it for the wrong reason.

For so long, I thought motherhood was about my children. I thought that the goal of a great mother was to churn out great kids.

But I am realizing that incorrect perspective is one of the greatest sources of my impatience and frustration with my children.

I get frustrated when they act up in public. I get impatient when they don’t obey quickly. We get into power struggles when they exert their own will. I raise my voice when they don’t listen.

My attitude, responses and contentment are largely based on the responses of children who cry when they get the peanut card in Candyland.

That is absurd.

A New Perspective

Like an upside-down book, I was looking at motherhood all wrong…and making it so much harder.

Motherhood isn’t about making my kids make right choices. Motherhood is about me making right choices. Day in and day out. When I feel like it and when I don’t. When it’s hard and when it’s easy.

Motherhood is about changing me…not my children.

The best I can do is to show them what following God looks like, what good choices look like, what love looks like. My job is to invite them to journey alongside me, teach them as much as I can and pray for them constantly.

Ultimately, though, their responses and decisions I must entrust to the grace of God. Unlike a marathon, boot camp or grad school, following all the rules doesn’t mean I get the prize of perfect kids.

What Is the “Prize” for Great Mothers then…?

Our prize then, is Grace. To fully live it, fully embrace it, fully know it, and fully give it.

In every challenging moment, grace is both our sustenance and our reward.

People do hard things to challenge and change themselves; to come out the otherside with a new identity. Marathoner, Marine, Doctor.

May we emerge from the trenches of motherhood with a new identity…Graceful.

Can You Relate?

Do you ever find yourself, like me, allowing your kids actions to shape your attitude? Do you find it hard to focus on your own responses instead of trying to adjust your children’s actions? Click here to make me feel better join the discussion.

p.s. Bonus points if you can tell me why the second picture in the post is completely absurd. This is at a place in my town and it cracks me up every time I see it.

Leave a Comment



  • Hope says:

    Oh my goodness thank you. Just this morning I was pondering everything about my life and truly why was I doing any of it. Feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed and well you know….I have been starting to sense this same answer to my question – that I am not looking at it correctly. More and more I am seeing that my thoughts and motives are not in the right order. If I am looking to my kids first then I am out of God’s order. It is only through the overflow of my heart that I will be able to love them like I am being asked to by God. So I need to focus on my heart. What would happen if Christ shaped my attitudes and my heart. This reminds me of the verse I read this morning – “…But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. “(I Peter 3:15)

    • Kat Lee says:

      “If I am looking to my kids first then I am out of God’s order.”
      It’s hard isn’t it? Because it “seems” right to look to our kids first. It almost feels selfish to think otherwise. I have to remind myself often that just like those oxygen masks on planes, I have to be connected to God and learning from Him before I can truly lead my children.

  • Heather says:

    Yes! After a conversation with an “older” mom last week, I’ve been pondering this concept as well. Her parting words were, “You never know where your kids are going to take you. I never would have mountain climbed if it hadn’t been for my two boys.” So often I think of the “end product” with my boys. What I’m going to teach them. Have fresh perspective. Excited to see what amazing things God will grow in me through them.

  • Zeljka says:

    O, dear Cat!
    I needed that! Such wonderful thinking. Yes, it is not about pleasing ourselves, or kids, or society. It is about pleasing God, and let God take part in our motherhood, to bless it.
    Oh, now I go cooking, and meditating on this!
    Thanks for lovely site, and encouraging posts!
    Love you,

  • Ha, yesterday my daughter cried because I closed the dishwasher door instead of letting her do it. Thanks for the reminder that it’s not about raising a perfect kid. 🙂

    (As for the pic: are those locking doors right next to a big open area?)

    • Kat Lee says:

      Yep. Locking doors AND an exit sign. As if running through the locked glass doors is the ideal option in case of a fire. Ha!

  • a million times YES, YES, YES!!!

  • Aimee says:

    Love this! Great blog post, Kat! Thanks for sharing.

    Here’s my take on raising great kids! 🙂

  • maddalena70 says:

    Oh I constantly make your same wrong choice of perspective with the girls…. but I am teaching by you and other wonderful mothers that we need to changr our perspective and truly understand that the fruit of motherhood are our change in order to become a model for them and to make them to understand what is wrong and what is right, and how it is importsnt to act and feel as a God son.
    So thank so much to reminme about the right path to follow.



  • Mel says:

    Wow- God’s timing is perfect. This has been on my mind and in my face all week. I had to smile when I read your post as it is yet another way I am reminded how God is using my children to refine me. I’m not finished yet; how can I expect them to be?

    • Kat Lee says:

      “I’m not finished yet; how can I expect them to be?”

      Wow, Mel. I think I need to tattoo that on my arm. Very well said!

    • Katrina says:

      “God is using my children to refine me. I’m not finished yet; how can I expect them to be?”

      I’m sticking that on my fridge for the week. Thanks!

      • Yes I love this phrase of not being finished yet.

        Thanks for sharing this post. I have a 5.5 month old daughter,my first child, and I can already see how easy it is to get worn down as a mom when our perspective is out of place. God needs my full attention first, then I will have plenty to give to my sweet baby.

    • Yes! I realized some time ago that when my children are all grown up – they aren’t the only ones who will have changed!

  • J S says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing these words!! You summed up what I’ve been feeling but just couldn’t express so eloquently and can’t seem to remember in the heat of the moment. I need to tattoo “grace” on the inside of my eyelids and put a constant “grace. grace. grace.” recording in my ear to help me remember when it’s most needed!!

  • SarahH says:

    This morning, I was pondering how we must do something about the negative attitudes we see coming out of our 10 and 7-year-olds. Tonight, there will be some consequences based on this morning’s pre-leaving for school situation. Thank you for the reminder as I prepare to talk to my boys that parenting is about US changing into more of His image more than it is about us making THEM change. Good stuff, Kat….really good.

  • Thank you. This is fantastic. Exactly right. As though it’s in OUR power to turn out perfect kids anyway. (Anyone who acts in Walmart like they’re *surprised* their, or someone else’s, child is acting up is a big fat liar.)

  • Nice.
    I kinda like this “self-centered” view, just because I’m the only (or at least closest) thing I can actually control.

    I have this (flowery, fairy tale-ish) character who says, “You must assume you will not be able to control anything but yourself…But you may still have power indeed if you can prove mastery over all in your authority. Few kings and strong men can prove that they control all they own—you are at an advantage with your smaller holdings.”

  • Amanda Cross says:

    I have been reading in 1 & 2 Corinthians chapter by chapter. Paul says similar things about the church. They are his heart. He said he toils so hard for them because he wants to see them mature in their faith. He suffered horrible things partly for their sakes. I think that is why we push them so hard and why we push ourselves so hard. We don’t want all of this to have been in vain. We don’t want our labor to have been in vain. My son is 2 1/2 and I spent 12 hours in labor with him. It was work. The last two years has been work. I don’t want it to go in vain. I want to be able to parent with contentment though. I think that is what you are talking about. In my mind this is the way it would look for me: I wouldn’t have to say no 100 times in a row, I wouldn’t have to put in him time out 20 times in a row, I wouldn’t let out a big arrggh!, and I wouldn’t have to do a count down after he purposely throws his dinner plate full of food sending chicken and pasta flying across the kitchen floor (what he did last night). How do I rest in my spirit when my son is screaming at the top of his lungs and I want to be called by a different name than mother? Honestly, I would like to know the answer to that myself.

  • Meg says:

    The reward for motherhood is completion. The goal is to nurture children into adulthood and work ourselves into the role of “sage” where we are primarily a sounding board and can sometimes offer advice. I have the upmost respect for mothers of children who, for a variety of developmental reasons won’t ever become completely independent and self-sufficient. If we could fledge our healthy, un-handicapped children as successfully as the mom who puts her 30-something son on the bus to the sheltered workshop every morning; society would be in better condition. There isn’t much romantic about being a mom. It isn’t a job for sissies.
    I surrendered our children to God when they were small and I realized that their successes or failures were more than I could be responsible for. And I didn’t give up, though it was tempting. I felt like I was the only parent that required my child to do anything he didn’t want to do. “Hello!”
    Hang in there, ladies! The Lord is faithful yesterday, today and tomorrow!

  • Ellen says:

    Love this, wish I had realized this when my children were young! I am keeping my grandchild 4 days a week and a lot of weekends, I guess I kind of have a 2nd chance!!!!!!!!!!!! This has hit me between the eyes today!

  • heather says:

    I am stopped. I am falling out of this false identity I have of what I am as a mother. a teacher? a care taker? a maid? a friend? a protector? It is seeming to me more and more to be no. no. no. I have an identity that does not change throughout my years nor circumstances. I am HIS servant. I serve Him, not my ego, my desire to be entertained and challenged and increased is diminishing me. WHEN I pour my life out like so much costly perfume then I am me. I am His servant. Serving.

  • bobbee says:

    the picture…….hilarious…….!

  • kirstin says:

    That made me laugh and cry at the same time! So beautiful, and exactly what I needed to hear!!!

  • Domoina M. RATSIZAFY says:

    Motherhood is hard, the price is grace? wahoo, what a good encouragment for me, thanks a lot. I feel so tired in this battle it is so long not like to get Doctorat or marathon. Thanks, it is all my life as mom

  • Melissa says:

    You were a beacon of light to this weary momma today! Thank you!!

    So, the pic– I’m guessing that door right next to the wide-open world is the absurdity?

  • Becoming more Graceful says:

    I love the photo…how ironically-hysterical! I can tell you which part I would exit out of if there was a fire…and it’s not the one with the exit sign, hehehe! The photo is a good depiction at missing the obvious at times, which as a mom of 5 one can get burried under so many kids daily needs that it is all too easy to miss the obvious. Thank you for your post to help put us back “on coarse” and remind us of what the obvious is, so we don’t get bogged down scrambling for the locking exit doors when God has made a wide open place for us to run freely through. Graceful, graceful, may we each be more graceful!!

  • Cat B says:

    Too true. I just sent it to my husband because I think it equally applies (if not more importantly in our day) to the men. Most have lost their purpose and reason as to why to stay committed.
    Also, at the end instead of Graceful (which makes me think of moving smoothly), which could fit, I think Grace-filled is more accurate. 🙂 But maybe it’s just my own mind limiting definitions. 🙂

  • Taryn says:

    ah – this is a truth that I stumbled across some years ago and had that “ah ha” moment. Yet, irony of ironies, I still often fall into the trap of attempting to make my parenting about their behaviour. It helps enormously to remind myself through prayer and thought that my role in life is to be more like Christ. Parenting my kids, therefore, is more about *my* sanctification than it is *theirs*. How incredibly liberating it is to remember and realise in the moment of discipline (for example) that all I have to do is ensure that I bringing God glory in how I deal with it. And that every time that *same* issue pops up, it’s another opportunity for me to practise being godly. It’s not about me changing their behaviour, but about me living for Christ. The struggle remains in how utterly simple and yet totally difficult that is – and that it’ll take a lifetime of learning. 🙂

  • Jacquie Brook says:

    The sentence “motherhood is hard” caught my eye. My girls are out of home and at uni now but when they were little one of them asked me: ‘What’s it like being a mum?’. My response was, “Being a Mum is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” My little girl smiled shyly. She understood the love for her in what I said.

    Yep mothering is hard work and unending. My girls stil call me up for advice…usually about cooking or relationships.

    I so agree with parenting being a huge catalyst in God’s work of changing us into the image of his son. “Grace”…well I’ve never considered myself as gracious yet I’ve been amazed at the patience I’ve displayed and the self-control I’ve learned over the years when annoyed or hurt by something.

    I’m an introvert and I remember having the girls around all day would sometimes drive me crazy. So, I tried sending myself to my room…because really they weren’t doing anything wrong. I just needed some space… so sometimes I took it. My daughters understood mummy needed some time in her room…with the door open in case they needed me. Even as young as 4 and 7 they learned to respect my need, rarely taken, but taken rather than become unreasonable towards them.
    My daughters are wonderful gifts of God’s grace to me. Even as teens they both started thanking us for the way they were brought up…strict but fun. This came as they noticed things about their friends or their friend’s families…thanking us for not letting them have everything they asked for…thanking us for being involved in their worlds…thanking us for family times together. So I was/am a receiver of grace in many ways too.
    I still am as I marvel at how God is changing each of them and as I enjoy the closeness we still have with our daughters as they spread their wings. What a precious gift from God.

    Something I used to say to my girls as I kissed them goodnight was, “Mummy loves you, Daddy loves you but God loves you most of all.” These days that reminds me that he loves them more than I do so i can trust them into his hands, now that they are out of mine. When they visit now, I don’t send myself to my room anymore.

  • Deana says:

    What is your number one recommended book on parenting – especially in regards to discipline. I have recently changed my view on how I was disciplining, but now feel a little lost at times as to what to do. I know there isn’t a perfect formula, but I just need some perspective and direction. This post was defintiely part of the perspective needed!!!

    • Llsa Boonaysith says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this… So much truth that is so easy to forget day in a day out. Perfect timing for a God-sent reminder!! It brings me again to my knees to complete surrender, able to exhale myself and the world patterned “should be’s” and inhale His Grace.. Thank you again~

    • Kat Lee says:

      I really liked Love and Logic for practical tips, but Give them Grace and Grace Based Parenting are two of my current favorites.

  • Dawn says:

    This was SO good. I love your writing ‘voice.’ You share truth in a gracious, yet “in your face” kind of way, while also sharing personal stories and/or making comments that the rest of us are thinking. 😉 Thanks for sharing – and for letting God use you to encourage the rest of us!

  • Allison says:

    This is my first time reading your blog, and the Lord certainly sent me here for a reason! This is my number one struggle with my kids. I take their behavior personally…like they are acting out just to make me upset, then I can’t get myself out of that rut once I’m in it. I’ve been working so hard on not yelling, giving them grace, reminding myself that they are just kids and that I am here to learn from them and become a better person and mom! I’ve read this post three times already and will continue to come back to it when I’m getting in that rut again! Thank you!!

  • Jessica says:

    I love this, and I really needed this reminder again. How easy it is to fall into the trap of our culture that our kids need to be perfect. I had an a-ha moment a year ago and had a complete new perspective on my discipline approach when I really felt the Lord lay on my heart that I was expecting my children to be perfect at their young age of 2 and 5 when not even God in all his perfectness doesn’t have even close to perfect children. Young children are such new creatures to this earth and just learning about everything including how to act and yet I expect them to act in a way that a 30 something (my age) would know to act. Unrealistic!!! I really needed this reminder because unrealistic expectations were creeping in again and a whole lot of grace needs to be dealt out to my children. A lot of things in this post just made it to my cupboards to remind me daily! Thank-you!

  • caren says:

    Hi there, Ive been a subscriber since your beginnings and I love your stuff. I’m much older and have older children and i’m entering emply nest but i’m still learning. I believe my mothering will end only when i’m not here to do it. it definitely changes and hopefully gets better by the grace of God. This concept you have shared today is spot on and i’m so glad you have realized this while your children are young and that you have passed it on. I truly believe that believing we are responsible for all our children’s choices and how they turn out is actually a strong hold of satan that i finally got free of. It’s great trusting God and letting go of control that was never mine.

    I’ve been married for 26 years, i’ve raised 4 chldren 2 girls and 2 boys ages 25, 23, 20 and 16. I’ve homeschooled them all and now i have one left at home with a grandbaby on the way. God continually shows me that my ministry is at home whether that is my hubby, my kids and their significant others and soon my grandkids. I’ve just started a blog after many have asked me to. I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think. It’s http://ahappymama.com.

    Blessings on your family my dear!

  • Jennie says:

    This was just what I needed to hear. Thank you God and thank you Kat! You just seem to put into words the things I didn’t know I needed to hear. xxoo

  • Grace in London, UK says:

    Kat, thank you for your site. It does what it says on the can and since stumpling across it, I have been loving it.
    Kat, I think you are right… almost. I read your post yesterday and been sleeping on it. The prize we have as mother can’t be GRACE. For that is freely given in Christ and by Christ. So if Grace is not the prize of motherhood, what is? Grace is the currency by which we obtain the prize, which is that we become like Christ. That we are made more godly. Surely, that is the transformative process (‘the prize’ as you call it in your article) as we live out and demonstrate to our children the unconditional love of Christ. How amazing is that!

  • Alicia says:

    I am so thankful that you shared this. Most of today was a good day but toward the end some chaos came into play and immediately I started thinking, “This is a horrible day, and I am just so done with this day!” I started thinking about how the circumstances changed my perspective of the day and my reaction to my daughter was not Christ-like. I so needed to read this and reset my eyes on the real goal. Thank you so much.

  • Angela Smith says:

    I just have to say that this post CHANGED MY LIFE!! As a mom that is always fighting the “I can’t turn into my mom” thing, I way over-analyze my mommy tactics! Since I know that I am not the only one, I literally read this during part of my message at our women’s ministry event last night! THEY ALMOST CRIED!! TRUTH HAS SET US FREE!!! THanks so very much!!

  • […] Why the Prize for Motherhood isn’t Great Kids by Kat at Inspired to Action. This one is fridge-worthy. Really. […]

  • Stacey says:

    Thank for this post. I have been struggling with our twins lately and now I know why – my focus has been on fixing their behavior instead of focusing on my choices/obedience to God.