If I could go back

The little five year old girl was flopping and flipping all over the floor during story time and oh-so-tired momma threatened if she didn’t settle, she’d get a place next to mom’s bed for the night instead of sleeping near newly arrived, beloved big sisters.  Little girl quieted.  But newly arrived 9 year old sister, big-eyed, said, “I be bad, I sleep with you?”

And oh-so-tired momma envisions TWO little girls flopping and flipping on the floor near her bed all night, everyone sleeping only winks all the blessed night.  And the momma,  coveting sleep miser-like, says to that newly-home precious child, voice slow and soft from the weight of guilt, “No…..you get to sleep with your big sister.”

And that little 9 year old looks disappointed and in spite of that look, in spite of her guilt, the momma feels relief. She’s staked her claim to sleep this night at least.

But long years later she remembers that night and wishes she could have spoken generous, hugged that child tight, and welcomed her into a snug little space next to her bed.  Oh, if she could go back and tell herself to choose to love big despite her exhaustion, she would.

But it’s done and she can’t, and besides, none of those children remember that night anyway.  So finally the momma realizes she needs to show love to someone else in memory of that night:  her (tired, over-stretched very human) self.

Let it go. Forgive that tired momma for not doing everything perfectly. She did the best she could that night.  And by the grace and power of our multiplying-loaves-and-fishes God, her tiny offering will become enough.

Grace.  I need it every hour.

Do you need to offer some to yourself too?




  1. *tears* – Will you move next door and mentor me, please?

  2. I so identify with this!! So hard to look back with regret and receive Grace for those times. Praying that God will take both of our fishes and loaves and multiply them as only HE can do 🙂

  3. Oh my goodness. YES! I need to offer a little…LOT of grace to my tired mama self! Oh to go back though, with just a 10th of what I know now. Healing would have taken place so much sooner. As always, I love that you allow us a glimpse into your lives. Helps so much:) Have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas!

  4. Just what I needed to read today! Thank You!

  5. Oh, we all have these, don’t we? Thank you for sharing yours as it inspires me to have a little more patience and be content with the sleep I get. Entering week 31 of my 3rd pregnancy and I am having some trouble with sleep now myself. Besides that though, these precious babes I already have just want mom sometimes…

  6. Love this post. Makes us all think about what is truly important.

  7. Beautiful!! I look at parenting my younger kiddos differently than my older ones. I’m so thankful for the chance to learn from my mistakes. Thankful too for the grace to cover the ones I’ve made!

  8. Dear Mary,
    Thanks for being an encouragement and inspiration for me, and so many others. You’re a blessing!

  9. I remember these girls! I think they may have been at Layla house with my daughter!

  10. I’ve been asked by a hurting child if they can sleep with me, and sharing my personal space with someone I didn’t like/love yet felt impossible. I STILL feel guilty about it, but I haven’t overcome the revulsion in sharing my bed, my space. Everyone talks about how great co-sleeping is, but I ask “what if the idea makes you sick and then they never will leave? what then? what if you open the door to that being OK and you’re not OK with it?”

    Knowing a child needs it, and be not being capable of saying yes = the worst feeling in the world.

  11. I remember those times and could hurt myself thinking over too many of them too often.

    Back during those times I prayed for the Lord to bless my efforts. It seemed like I was too often tired or misdirected. I consoled myself that, like the front of a beautiful embroidered piece of art, the back always looks messy and told myself that what effort I put into my raising our children, the Lord would multiply and make beautiful. We can’t live without Grace.

  12. Wow! So true. This blog made me cry. Every day there is little things as a mom I wish I’d done differently. Your offer of grace for those times was just what I needed to hear. Not that I won’t strive to overcome my selfishness, but remembering that there is grace for the failures is balm to my soul! Thank you!

  13. Oh, how very precious is that grace, when we accept it. I feel such a need to let go of the pain of the past 2 years with an angry, sneaky, manipulative, yet still tender teen , and start over. Oh for the grace to just do it!!!
    Thanks for being a blessing

  14. Definitely the right post for me to read tonight. Rain and wind kept me up most of the night, only got 3 hours of sleep. Worked a full 9 hours with only one 20-minute lunch-and bathroom break. Unplanned supermarket venture when beloved little one insisted on “healthy snacks like apples.” And over two hours of same beloved tossing and turning until she succumbed to sleep. I’m feeling guilty for not snuggling with her, but I also know neither of us will be any good tomorrow if I don’t get 15 minutes of alone time!

  15. Good words, my friend. If I were to count up all of my mothering regrets, they would be so numerous that their weight would pull me under. Forgiving ourselves, recognizing our weakness, and lowering our expectations seem to be essential to this calling. Thanks for writing this.


  16. What a simple reminder that we can’t be perfect. I do have adopted children and made so many mistakes amid RAD and PTSD and every other initial you can think of. I was exhausted for years with no end in sight. But now I realize God can take their messes and my messes and make us whole, but only through His grace and forgiveness. Thanks for sharing.