When You Second Guess Your Mothering

My mastery of second guessing myself didn’t end when I became a mom. If anything, it became worse.

I second guess what the kids ate for lunch. I wonder if blonde, hazel-eyed charmer should be further along in his reading ability. When the endless sibling rivalry turns physical I think, “Didn’t I teach them better than this? Will they ever get along?”

Sometimes the worst critics are the ones running on repeat in our heads.

We teach them to share, to love their neighbor and show respect. But when we don’t see the fruits of our labor we question whether anything we say is sinking in. We hear the familiar Proverb to “train up a child in the way he should go” but when we don’t see visible results, we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

Instead of living in the present, we second guess the past.

A couple of weeks ago, God gave me a push of encouragement along with a wake-up call. My husband and I were settled into our comfy spots in the family room after tucking the kids in for the night. With the soft glow from the table lamp we read our devotional app and talked about its subject, prayer.

The teaching gave a blueprint. Begin with thanks and repentance, then present your requests to God in Jesus’ name.

As we sat there talking my mind went to our kids. Were we teaching them enough about prayer? My husband, as if reading my inner thoughts, said,

“Do you know what our son did tonight?”

“No.” And I secretly wondered if I wanted to.

“He thanked God for a good day at school and time playing at home. Then he asked God to place his hand on Coco and heal her.”

Coco, our dog, had been struggling to walk for last couple of days. At fourteen years and counting, she wasn’t as limber as she used to be.

Listening to my husband describe our son’s prayer, eyes welled up with tears. My firstborn modeled the exact form of prayer Jesus used with his disciples. And he wasn’t thinking of himself. He wasn’t asking for a new Lego set or a video game.

He was petitioning on behalf of our dog.

Even through all my doubt and questioning, God was working in the heart of our son. We were doing what we could do, but God was moving this little seven-year-old’s heart in ways only he could.

When we second guess the past, we often miss what God is doing in the present.

I’m still learning day-by-day, and here are two things I’m seeing:

  • The time and love we pour into our kids glorifies God as much as the milestone victories.

No, we may not see fruit right away. We may have to repeat the same lesson a hundred times before it sinks in. But one day when we least expect it, they will recall something we spent hours trying to teach. And that moment will be worth every night of frustration and tears.

  • One of the best gifts I can give my kids is being present in their lives.

When they’re trying to talk to me and my mind is somewhere else, they notice. When I worry about tomorrow, my firstborn worries too. But when I’m fully engaged in the beautiful gift that is right now, they notice that too. And in the best possible way.

Parenting is a tough road. There are days when we wonder if anything we are saying or doing is making a difference. In moments of frustration it’s easy to play the past on repeat.

That night, God gave me an invitation to live in the now. To be present with my son as he prayed and grew and loved.

No matter what the future holds, I don’t want to miss it.


This article originally appeared at AbbyMcDonald.org.

Abby McDonald
Abby is a writing coach and the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Her mission is to empower women to seek God in the middle of life’s messes and to share their faith with courage. Abby writes regularly for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ daily devotions team, and her work has been featured in numerous publications. You can connect with Abby on her website where you can grab a free worship playlist to help you shift your focus toward God. You can also connect with Abby on Instagram.

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