Motherhood Means Teaching Them All Day Long

Motherhood Means Teaching Them All Day Long // jessconnell.com

Earlier today, my sweet 5-year-old Moses asked me:

  • “Remember when we goed to the store?”
  • Me: “When we WENT to the store?”
  • “Went!”
  • “Yes I remember…”

Then this just happened:

  • “I writed my name….”
  • Me: “I WROTE my name.”
  • “Wrote my name.”

and I realized– when I started out, I didn’t know how constant this mothering job would be. I didn’t realize, going into it, how much it would take up my whole life.

Once your child begins to scoot around on the ground, and blow out food on his spoon, and reach up to touch outlets, it doesn’t ever stop. Correcting, teaching, and shaping our kids becomes the all-encompassing task of all day everyday.

Motherhood means giving constant explanations— what? why? how do I? when will we? why don’t we? how does that work?

  • “Why do we buy the store brand for some things but not others?”
  • “Are you planning to homeschool me all the way through high school? Will we homeschool for college, too?”
  • “I just counted my money. What Christmas presents can I get for ________ with three dollars and 87 cents?”
  • “Why does my bike seat keep getting loose?”
  • “Why does that family do X but we do Y?”
  • “Can I go Nil with this hand? Why not?”

For the young woman contemplating motherhood or homeschooling, consider this a friendly heads-up.

You will be pouring out all day long.

It’s a wonderful pouring out, but don’t discount it as easy.

Don’t make the mistake I did, of not rightly anticipating just how much it would take from you. When I was babysitting, it was all fun and games. I could wrestle for an hour, get them to eat their vegetables, play hide and seek, snuggle and tell made-up stories, even wipe down the kitchen mess, and go home with energy to spare.

But babysitting for a few hours, and then going home, is not the same as mothering for a few hours in your own home in a string of days in a string of years.

Set accurate expectations for yourself: It is a LOVELY, eternal thing to be able to shape young hearts and minds– there is no influence in the world like that of a mother who is daily, moment by moment, discussion by discussion, shaping the minds of her young ones.

But make no mistake: there is a cost for all that influence.

  • It takes all you’ve got.
  • It keeps taking even when you’re tired, even when you’re “talked out,” even when you’re “touched out,” even when you’d rather just go get a nap or enjoy a few hours of silence, PLEASE!
  • It costs your conversation.
  • It requires your time.
  • You’ve gotta have a willingness to take time for thinking, weighing things out, considering, reconsidering.
  • It means a continual fight against selfishness, self-indulgence, and laziness.
  • It takes a willingness to keep discussing why and how, answering the same questions posed in different ways with subsequent children.

Being an interactive mother means things like sharing the reasons behind why you buy generic in some things, but why you’re willing to pay full price for other things. It means getting up to discipline your child for the 86th time, when you’d rather just sit and enjoy some peace and quiet. It means taking advantage of little moments to teach big lessons… in an ongoing way, in a string of days, in a string of years.

Mothering through the “whys” and “hows” will undoubtedly bring exhaustion, but it is a good and worthy exhaustion.

For those of you who are already moms, let this be a confirmation: this is why you’re so tired at the end of a day, even if your house looks like you accomplished nothing.

And for those of you who are not yet moms, let this be a heads up to help you arm yourself with accurate expectations: motherhood means teaching them all day long. 

IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: Did you have accurate expectations about this aspect of motherhood before you became a mom? 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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4 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    Yes, I agree. I’m coming out of a very difficult PMS week. It was brutal. I sometimes feel like a completely different person that week and the noise, chaos, endless everything can really take a toll on me mentally/emotionally. My tolerance for everything is just so much lower. I end up crying myself silly by the end of the day. I have health/hormonal issues that compound the issue but I really am seeking God for grace and praying but still end up very cranky to my kids most of the time that week. I hate it. Because I love my kids and I do NOT want to be cranky and short. It’s so hard. I have cried a lot about this. I do repent, I pray, I seek, I read….anyways. I need to re-read your series on anger and yelling. It’s something that I do not want in my life at all but pms week seems to be the kicker.

  2. Kami Crawford says:

    This is a good reminder, Jess. Our culture doesn’t value mothering so it’s easy to think it’s no big deal or it shouldn’t feel so costly. Thank you for reminding me that this is not the truth.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Yes! I have been struggling with the amount of correction I need to do in a day. It’s so overwhelming at times for me to feel constantly needed and by the end of the day I just don’t want anyone to talk to me, not a good feeling. I need to figure out a way to work in at least a short quiet time each day, but just haven’t had the time, need to figure it out.

  4. Excellent, Jess. I’m very (VERY) thankful that I had a hands-on mother who taught me the ropes on a daily basis while I was growing up. We did everything from canning vegetables to making clothes from scratch and all the little bits of life that fall in between. I remember when I was about 8 years old, we were at the grocery store, and I had been pestering Mom with questions: “Mom, why can’t I ride in the cart any more?” “Mom, where’s the peanut butter?” “Mom, why does that boy not have shoes on?” … ad nauseum. Finally, my mother turned to me and said, “Mom, Mom, Mom! Sometimes I wish I had another name!” My 8-year-old self thought this was hilarious and promptly told her I’d call her “Mary Poppins” from then on. The stress went out of her face immediately, and she laughed. I’ve never forgotten that moment, but I didn’t really understand what was going on in my mother’s head until years later when I had my own little people pestering me with questions. 😉

    I think we do girls a huge disservice if we keep them from chores or babysitting or more advanced housework. I get emails from young moms who never grew up cooking, cleaning, or taking care of children. They feel totally overwhelmed just trying to do laundry and nurse a newborn at the same time. No one took the time to teach them how to make tasks simpler (or how to choose which ones to let go for a bit). Ditto meal prep from scratch. If you’ve been doing it since you could stand on a stool, it’s like breathing and requires no huge effort. But if you jump into marriage and motherhood without that constant practice, it is like drowning…all day.

    This is a Titus 2 job, obviously — older women need to come alongside younger women and show them the ropes. But I hear all the time that the older ladies simply aren’t available. They either work or volunteer elsewhere or are busy enjoying retirement with the husband…or they are sitting silently in nursing homes, which is tragic. Then the other side of the coin is that our culture devalues all the work that goes into the home and treats it as unworthy of a woman’s brains and effort. It’s definitely an uphill battle, and I don’t have an easy answer. I’m busy homeschooling and training my own girls (and boys!) to cook, clean, mend, watch littles, etc. And I will be for a long time yet. Hard to know how to fit in any mentoring with all that’s on my plate. Yet so many newly married gals need the encouragement and the teaching and the hug when the day goes all wrong.

    Keep saying it. And let’s hope more of the older generation hears they are needed and step up to the plate.

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