Six Reasons to Never Give Up on Motherhood

One June morning in Sacramento, I boarded a Greyhound bus with my five-month-old daughter to visit my parents for a weekend.

We were with a rough-looking group of passengers. The drive was six hours. My baby needed a diaper change before we’d even gone 100 feet.  But I was falling apart as a new mother, and this was my chance to take a break.

Eric and I had moved to a lovely suburb in Northern California after we finished school, and the world was full of promise.  We had a new baby, a new job, and all kinds of fabulous ideas to make that new life sing.

But our baby cried a lot, our apartment complex was a ghost town during the day, my husband needed to take our only car to work, and our budget didn’t allow much wiggle room. Life felt lonely and frustrating, and I simply couldn’t figure out how to improve my circumstances–especially since I’d just gotten a bad haircut and still couldn’t fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

Eric could see I was sinking, so we spent $79 on a bus ticket, and off I went for a little vacation.

The trip rejuvenated me, and after all those hours in the sticky bus, my simple apartment felt like heaven, but the main thing I remember from that trip is a phrase a dear friend shared with me when I poured my heart out to her:

Never, never, never give up.

So simple, really.  But that phrase has come back to me time and again, and today, I feel impressed to share it.

All of us have challenging times in our lives, and there are varying ways we might choose to give up.

Sometimes mothers mentally check out–and just stop trying. Giving up might mean permanently walking out on the family–thinking that everyone would be better off if mom weren’t there. In some heartbreaking cases, “giving up” means suicide, and children are left to fend for themselves–or make do with a new guardian who tries to take mom’s place.  I know I don’t fully understand the feelings that would lead to such an extreme, but I can empathize with the perspective a friend shared: “Death is easier than what I am living right now.”

I’m not sure who is going to read this post, but if you have ever felt like giving up on motherhood, here are six reasons to stay strong:

#1: We are not alone.

Every mother (even if she looks totally put together) has discouraging times.

We might need to look deeper . . . and get past all the talk about room remodels, vacations, and parties, but if we look carefully (and encourage honesty), we’ll see that everyone else is just as human as we are.

Finding a trusted group of friends and reaching out to other moms has literally been a lifesaver for many, many women. (Have you heard of Learning Circles?) When we know that others are going through similar circumstances, it just makes life easier.

Allyson Reynolds and I met through email about three years ago.  In one of my messages, I told her about the story behind The Power of Moms.  This is what she sent in response:

Reading your story actually brought me to tears because I felt so much validation for my own experience up to this point.  (I feel like the main characters in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” who are compelled to make crazy mashed potato sculptures of that mountain even tho’ they don’t know why.  Once they meet they are instantly validated and know that their compulsion is real and for a purpose. Do you know what I am talking about?  I hope you are laughing.)

I was laughing. And now Allyson is one of my closest friends . . . one of those people who wants to know what’s in my heart.  Someone who would totally make potato sculptures with me, if I asked.


Sometimes we just need to open up and get talking in order to find the friends we need.

#2: Children would rather have an imperfect mom who is struggling to be better than no mom at all.

Deep down we all know this, but we need to remember it . . . and really believe it.

I heard a story about a young man who went to live with his extended family after his mother took her own life.  At his first back-to-school night, hundreds of miles away from his former life, he paused outside the doorway of his classroom and quietly said to his aunt, “Can you please just tell my teacher that you’re my mom?”

This story touches my heart every time I think about it.  I ache for each mother who will never get the chance to straighten her son’s tie before the prom or see how handsome he looks with his new haircut.

And I think about my children, who see me at my very worst, but love me anyway.  They are so quick to forgive.

I never want my little ones to have to explain to anyone why I gave up.  So I won’t.  I just won’t give up.

#3: There is beauty all around us.  We just need to train ourselves to see it.

I have the opportunity to speak with mothers all around the world, and I know this life doesn’t always feel beautiful.

What’s beautiful about being so exhausted that you can’t even get everyone out of the house? How is it beautiful when your bank account has $3.23, and it’s three days until the next paycheck? Where is the beauty in children arguing over who left the milk on the counter?

It’s beautiful because it’s yours.  Because it’s real.  And because it’s full of potential.

Think of a lump of clay, a blank canvas . . . that seed covered with dirt. What about the bare maple tree in winter? Or the darkest part of the night?

It’s about perspective . . . and potential.

The way we enable ourselves to see that beauty is by polishing the lenses through which we see the world. And that’s done by taking care of ourselves.

When we get away occasionally with friends, regularly make time to exercise well, eat food that fuels us, get enough rest, and remember we’re people, the world looks better.  (Click here for an article about how you can get an hour of time to yourself every day.)

Is it hard to do these things?  You bet. But we do it because it transforms our perspective on life.

#4: We have a purpose that’s uniquely ours.

This means a lot more to me now that I’m beginning to understand my purpose, but even while I was riding that Greyhound bus, I could sense my life had something more to offer.

When I was 18 months old, I was run over by a truck with a camper on top.

When I was about 18 months old, I was run over by a camper. Not a day goes by that I don’t acknowledge this second chance I have at life.

In a string of unpredictable events (that weren’t anyone’s fault), I had ridden my little wooden, wheeled giraffe across the street at the same time our neighbor was backing her camper out of the driveway.


When the camper and I met, I fell off the giraffe, and the camper’s back tire rolled over my lower back. Another neighbor weeding her garden screamed for the driver to stop, but it was too late. My mother ran out the front door in time to see me laying on the asphalt.

This story has many miraculous details that I need to record at another time, but the essence is that after being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and thoroughly examined by the doctors, I was sent home.  They couldn’t find anything wrong with me.

I found this website about children whose lives have been lost in back-over incidents, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about my second chance.

Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so purpose-driven . . . because I came so close to losing this opportunity to live a full life.

But here’s the thing, it is so easy to get confused about our purposes.  We start thinking we have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and have what everyone else has.  We read an amazing blog and yearn to replicate what we see. We get frustrated with our children for “getting in our way.”  I have to remind myself daily to cling to my purpose–not to get distracted by the siren call of all those “extras” that look so appealing.

#5: This life isn’t just about us.

I have this as a rotating image on my screen saver:


It’s there as a reminder to think more of others because the second I choose to get outside myself–even if it means just talking with a neighbor who is struggling, calling to check on my mom, or considering the needs of my spouse and children–I immediately feel stronger.

Some days are long and stressful, and we have to work frantically just to keep up, but during those times,we can remember that our work, whether appreciated or not, is sustaining the lives of our children.  That is noble.  That is beautiful.

#6: Today is not forever.

My friend told me the story of a mother who took a bath with her newborn baby one morning.  I won’t elaborate on the details, but the baby made an explosive mess, and the mother had to yell for her husband to bring a towel and help her get cleaned up.  We’ve all had those really gross moments.

But in the midst of the “yuck,” she heard a little voice in her head say, ‘Today is not forever.’

Fast-forward a couple of hours, and that same mom was sitting on the couch with her preschool son, who was climbing on her back and laughing while she tickled his legs.  His arms wrapped tight around her neck, and smiles covered their faces as they enjoyed the moment.

Then she heard that same voice, reminding her of the same truth, ‘Today is not forever.’

Whatever it is that we’re cherishing at the moment–or praying we can simply overcome–our lives won’t always be the way they are now.

We have choices and power to change in areas where we are weak.  And we have the fortitude to get through those days that feel impossible.

We, at The Power of Moms, believe in you.  And we hope that, if you don’t already, you will believe in yourself.

CHALLENGE: Somewhere in your sphere is most likely a mother who is wondering if she can go on for even another day.  Perhaps you could give her a call, text her some words of encouragement, or share this post. (You can use the icons at the top of this article to do this quickly and easily using email, Facebook or Twitter.)

It’s my hope that each of us can accept the simple challenge to never give up on this beautiful life.

QUESTION: What additional ideas have helped you to stay strong when motherhood feels too hard?

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Comments

  1. Melanie says

    So beautifully written, April!!! Thank you, for always lifting me and helping me to feel more like a deliberate mother:)

  2. Molly says

    I didn’t realize how much I needed to read this right now until I found myself with tears in my eyes after doing so. Thank you for these beautiful, important reminders.

  3. linda says

    we have had many struggles over the last 6mths and my daily chant has been one day they will all move out, during one of these moments i relished that i was not me and how sad that i was wishing my time away with my family, as i was so overwhelmed with life that i just wanted the day to be done. i have mild depression im on medication and im feeling much more like me again. im not alone, it wont be forever and there is beauty all around me. thank-you

  4. Letty says

    Thank you! As a first time, very new mom, I needed this today (heck, I need this most days). What keeps me going is my own mother, and her stories of imperfection, and how I love her and look up to her because of those imperfections.

  5. says

    Oh my goodness–this is so perfect and kind of broke my heart with your honesty. Thanks so much for sharing this. This is what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it…

  6. Sarah says

    This is what I needed today. (day after it was posted…should have checked yesterday, maybe I would have been more patient today). It brought me to tears, could be pregnancy hormones (I am due with baby #4 this week), but really this article touched me and I appreciated it. Thank you!

    • April Perry says

      Sarah, I hope you have had your baby by now! Congratulations! I’m sure you are doing wonderfully. Pregnancy is SO challenging, and you’ve made it! I can tell you love your children and want the best for them. That, right there, is success. Hoping this week is wonderful for you.

  7. Koni Smith says

    Love you, April! With my 6 kids in a very small space, I have been going a little crazy. I needed to hear this!!

  8. Daisy Phillips says

    I needed this. We’re in a new place and it’s so hard to make friends. Not just acquaintances or other moms from Church – but real say whatever you want and laugh at anything and talk for hours kind of friends. And on top of that, the work at home – albeit it part time – seems to be getting in the way of being with my son and doing all the millions of household things. Sometimes I just hate life at this moment. Not overall, not in the long run, but you know – right this second. SUCKSS… !! I know that’s negative but hearing someone else’s perspective and miracles is always uplifting and great! Thanks!

    • April Perry says

      I can completely relate, Daisy! It’s hard sometimes to find the group of friends you’ve described, but I’ve found when I really start investing in others, that kind of friendship develops–even in places I didn’t expect. You are wonderful!

  9. Donna says

    I can so relate…Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been just so overwhelmed that I was not even really present…always preoccupied with other things on my mind instead of my kids or hubsband. But you are so right, “Today is not forever”. I’m still learning how to balance being a mom with nurturing my own needs and time without feeling guilty. It’s a process. Thank you for this wonderful article.

  10. Mia says

    This is one of the nicest and best articles on motherhood I have ever read. It maded me cry, it made me smile – and most of all, it made me thankful. I am going to show this to my my husband and sister (who has a newborn). Thank you – your courageous and touching words are so important.

  11. Victorious says

    Exactly the words I needed today. I’m printing this to re-read each day to remind me what I need to hear and think. I’ll put it with my learning circle articles that help me too. I really love hearing the Power of Mom messages from moms who understand exactly what I’m going through. Thank you for sharing and for lifting me up when I needed it most!

    • April Perry says

      I’m so glad this was helpful to you! I think I need a Power of Moms binder to hold all the papers and print-outs. I learn so much from the moms on this site, and I’m glad we have a place to join together! Thanks for your kind words.

  12. shaina says

    Thank you for that. It is a great message that we all need to hear, and you really have a way with words.

  13. sisterfrabjous says

    Thank you so, so, so much for this beautiful article! You and your organization have been used over and over by God to lift me up and set me on the right path. God bless you!

    • April Perry says

      So glad to hear that! Thank you. We feel very blessed to be a part of this community. Glad to have you with us!

  14. annonymous says

    Thank you for the advice! I was wondering if Power of Moms will ever have articles/advice for dealing with teenagers? It seems everything is “geared” toward younger children.

    • April Perry says

      We’re working on this! Our children are all under 12, so we don’t have a lot of personal experience with teens yet, but as our author group grows, we’re getting more of a variety. Thanks for checking in with us!

  15. says

    Can I just say, THANK YOU!? A wonderful article, April. Thank you for being so willing to open up; I felt like you had taken the thoughts from my head and put them on the screen. I am still in that stage of trying to find just where my individual purpose is but I sure am doing my best to enjoy the journey and children. Thanks for the wonderful words.

  16. Amanda says

    This article touched my heart and brought me to tears. It is easy to get caught up in the messes and the constant demands from small children and to think at the end of the day that it is all so insignificant-and to feel insignificant yourself. I also almost died when I was young. At 14 months old I had a bad case of Meningitis and my parents where told to say their goodbyes because I only had a few hours left. As an amazing blessing, I am here today and I had forgotten that that meant I had purpose. I just got caught up in everything that seems bleak. All the financial struggles and day-to-day, exhausting, mundane work (I’m having my third baby under three in three weeks). I know my family is amazing and I am grateful for them so much, but I need to LOVE my life and myself more. I need to open up and realize that my usual attitude of “it’s just me” just doesn’t apply. I am worth it and my family loves and needs me. Other people would love to be my friend if I would only open up and let them. There is so much good I can do. I can do anything and my life is full of potential. Thank you, April-I will go and really LIVE and LOVE the life that I have created.

    • April Perry says

      Amanda, your words ring absolutely true. You are worth it, and your family does love and need you. It’s SO easy to lose focus when we’re tired–and especially when we’re pregnant. Those were long, hard days for me, but it is so worth it. And so beautiful. And there’s so much good that can be done. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  17. says

    WOW! I was touched! What more can I say! I feel filled and more as a mom! You said it perfectly! (coming from a mother of 6) :o)
    Thank you
    Ali

  18. jan says

    My children are 17 and 23 and I am running out of hope and joy and strength. Your article has encouraged me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and head for the end of the tunnel. It’s a very, very hard slog at the moment

    • April Perry says

      You’re doing exactly the right thing, Jan. One foot in front of the other . . . Some days (and months) can seem so hard, but making that decision to never give up is crucial. You can do this. Much love, April

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