Kimberly entered the world, took one look around and let the rest of us know she was not impressed. She cried, fussed and acted as if sleep was a complete waste of time. Everyone said she would calm down once she turned 1.
Everyone was wrong.
On her first birthday, Kimberly threw a fit because I wouldn't let her play with the knife I was using to cut up fruit for her party. Maybe fit is not the right word — more like a blind rage that would drive an experienced hostage negotiator to his knees.
I felt like a failure as a mom. It seemed as if everyone else got the secret handbook on how to raise their kids well, and apparently, I skipped class that day.
Feeling like you're the only mom who thinks she's a failure is all too common. You take a brief look at social media and see fresh-scrubbed kids in perfect outfits, enjoying Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. What you don't see are the meltdowns and car seats coated with Goldfish cracker dust.
Most of the moms I know have been discouraged at some point in their mothering. It's not just you. I promise. Here's the good news: There are practical ways we moms can regain a sense of hope.
Build your team
Isolation is one of the biggest contributors to discouragement. When we feel alone, our minds play tricks on us. Strange thoughts invade. Thoughts like, You know, I bet that woman down the street never lets her kids eat chips from between the van seat cushions because she forgot to pack snacks.
One of the most discouragement-busting things I have done as a mom was to join a mom's group at my church. Not only did my kids have a safe place to play and make new buddies, but I also had a safe place to socialize with other moms who struggled like I did.
Limit the lip
I've had to watch my conversations with other moms. It's easy for mom talk to turn into complaining or venting sessions. Remember the apostle Paul's admonition: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).
You may need to seek out some like-minded women who can encourage you to focus on the positive. A few times, I had to "break up" with someone who was constantly dwelling on the negative. Hard days will come, but keeping a good attitude and having godly friends who speak encouragement will help you overcome the struggles faster.
Take a break
I used to think I couldn't afford a day off each week, but I found that once I started taking a "Sabbath" (we rest from Saturday evening to Sunday evening), I actually became more productive. Rest requires preparation and planning, but it's possible to have a restful day if you precook meals, use paper plates and schedule household tasks for another day. Take time to enjoy playing with your kids and savor the slower pace.
Finally, remember that this season isn't forever. (Sometimes it will feel like it, but it isn't. I promise.) You're in a demanding time of parenting. But God is not just shaping your child; He's also shaping you — helping you become the parent your child needs.Kathi Lipp is the author of 101 Simple Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him.