Control and Motherhood

Is there such a thing as being in control when you’re a mother?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

She shot off the starting block, dove shallow and surfaced into her freestyle race. The bright sunlight bouncing off the azure water stung my eyes, but I wasn’t taking my sight off her progress. At 9, my daughter was a summer-league swim star, and high expectations hung over her effort.

Bam! The 25 yards were over, and she hoisted her body out of the water. I wasn’t exactly sure of her place in the heat, but it looked good. Maybe not first, but close?


When the results were posted, Eva had taken sixth place. What? I couldn’t believe it! Sure, the top eight places went to finals, but sixth? I thought she had been second or third.

And I told her so.

Shrugging, Eva responded with, “Why does it matter, Mom? I’m still in the finals.”

How like her. How like me. As Mom — Controller Of All Things — I always thought I knew exactly what was best for my daughter. As a 9-month-old: Sleep through the night, please! As a 9-year-old: Sixth place — really? And later as a 19-year-old: Don’t date him!

Mom to James and John

I’m reminded of the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who asked Jesus if her sons could sit next to Him in His kingdom. And Jesus’ response: “You do not know what you are asking. . . .

To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:22-23).

We don’t get to control our kids. Their choices. Their consequences. Their place in the race of life.

It’s tempting to believe that moms know best because we’ve known our children longer and better than anyone else. Debunking such mythology requires that we accept the real responsibilities divinely entrusted to us as moms: to feed, clothe, nurture, teach, discipline, love — and release our children to God.

Their direction, not mine

During a very trying time when my children were headed in directions I’d never imagined, a respected Christian leader told me, “Elisa, we are not responsible for our children’s choices. We are responsible for our responses to their choices.”

We can’t control what we can’t control. The weather. The traffic. How our kids choose to live. And whether our child gets first or sixth place.

So I stand back. I raise my hands. I choose what I can control today: My attitude and my reaction. And I clap for my sixth-place winner.

Elisa Morgan served as CEO of MOPS International for 20 years. She is now publisher of FullFill magazine and author of The Beauty of Broken: My story and likely yours too. You can learn more about Elisa on her blog


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