When Your Mom Day Feels Like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 CORINTHIANS 4:17

There are days when my life seems to be narrated like “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” My daughter is an only child but she manages to make quite an adventure of our day as she moves from room to room creating new scenarios wherever she goes. Especially during summer break or sick days when she is home all day, this can undo any feeling of control I might have about how we organize our day. Have you ever experienced this?

In the morning I may find her digging into the craft drawers to pull out every conceivable material, from markers, to buttons and glue, felt and yarn. Don’t forget the scissors and construction paper and all those tiny colored dots that litter the floor from the hole puncher. Our kitchen table sometimes looks like we never eat there; it’s most often devoted to spontaneous craft projects.

Then comes lunch, when I attempt to clean up the kitchen to prepare our food. Little one runs outside to the backyard for a few minutes before we eat, only to barge in through the back door screaming, “Mommy, mommy! I found a rolly polly! It’s gonna be my pet so I need a container. And here,” she hands me a fist full of yellow dandelions, “These are for you.” *smile*

I search for a vase to fill it with water for the, um, flowers. And so it goes throughout the day, chasing one proverbial white rabbit after another. By the end of the day, I’m looking at my to-do list and that mounting pile of laundry in the hall, and I want to crumble in a heap of shame for not having anything productive to show for the time.

Next, I worry about what we’re going to eat for dinner, and getting the clothes cleaned for my husband to wear to work tomorrow…and on it goes. If anyone walked in on the scene it might not appear that much had happened at all today, and yet, everything happened.

Do you ever feel like this? At the end of this post I’ve included a checklist of 5 tips to help the mom who is feeling somewhat un-productive. It is full of grace–for you, for your child, and all the good things you are producing.

I want to encourage you not to despise the quiet days at home and small beginnings. Don’t forget that you are already productive—you are raising a tiny human for whom you are producing life every single day. You may have been blessed to produce this child from your womb. Or maybe you have made a home for your adopted child, and together you’re producing one extraordinary family.

Mine is a story of secondary infertility. Our daughter is a singular miracle, we’ve come to understand. This means, however, that I sometimes put an unbalanced amount of pressure upon myself to be the perfect mom. Somehow I have believed that I get this one chance to get it right. In the early days, I did everything in my own strength to do just this. All the while forgetting that this calling of motherhood is a gift of grace.

Maybe this is part of your story as well. Maybe, like me, you struggled to get pregnant and experienced miscarriage before your first child was born. Or you were able to conceive once only to be told you have a health issue and you’ll never conceive again. Or there was nothing conclusive except that your only chance at having kids would be if you adopted. You might have been blessed to birth three kids, but you never told anyone the story of why your first born is seven years older than her siblings because of the miscarriages in between. If you’re a mom, you have a story about how you produced your family.

No seemingly unproductive day will erase the glory of the life you are already producing.

You are productive in a million invisible ways that no one will ever see except your heavenly Father. You produce good things everyday. You may not be reproductive if you have suffered with infertility, but the fruit you bear in the kingdom of God has eternal rewards in heaven.

The good works God assigned for you to do in this life are producing a value far beyond what can be measured in this life. You are producing elements of faith that the Spirit has produced in you through the trials and storms, in the waiting, the suffering and loss. These produce a weight of glory far beyond what you can imagine.

When you take your pain and give it over to Jesus, he transforms your story to produce your purpose.

This is what it means to be restored by grace.

When you give away the love Christ first showed you by his grace you become re-productive. You reproduce the purposes of the Holy Spirit in your life as he fills you with all fullness in Christ Jesus. He makes you full of his glory so that you become joyfully expectant with the fruit of new purpose.

2 Corinthians 4:17-19 gives us these promises…

  1. Our present troubles are small compared to heaven, and they won’t last very long.
  2. They produce a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
  3. We don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Instead, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. The things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

What lasting things do you want to see in “forever”? What are you producing now that will bear fruit forever?

For we live by believing, not by seeing. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7 NLT

Today I wanted to assure myself of the little things I was able to do. Some of them will quickly be undone and need to be done again tomorrow; these are the temporary things. A few of them hold greater weight as they are even now producing eternal value that never fades.

I am choosing to fix my eyes on the unseen glory.

Here is my list of the things in which I felt productive:

  • I read my Bible.
  • I ate breakfast and even served some to my husband before work.
  • I packed my daughter’s lunch and remembered to put it in her back pack.
  • I prayed with my child on the way to school
  • I got her to school on time!
  • I put in a load of laundry.
  • I did the dishes.
  • I paid two bills.
  • I arranged a coffee date with a friend.
  • I sowed seeds of peace in my family.

Feeling unproductive? Your current struggle is not the end of the story… Just for you, I have created a simple checklist of 5 tips to help the un-productive mom. It is full of grace–for you, for your child, and all the good things you are producing.

Download the Unproductive Mom’s checklist

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This article originally appeared at JanetteMcLaughlin.com.


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Janette McLaughlin
Janette grew up in a small town, where she and her husband, John, met in high school and dated each other through the college years. As soon as they had diplomas in hand, they were exchanging rings at the alter. Janette's career as an educator began as a teacher in an urban school district, while earning her credentials and MA in Education. She taught middle school English for seven years, and prayed earnestly to start a family. Motherhood seemed like an impossibility as she waited for God to move through her story. Until miraculously, she and her husband were blessed with the birth of their daughter. She now writes from a heart that invites God to author the story of her life. As a wife and mother of an only child, Janette feels called to serve other women who are in the waiting-middle part of their stories. She currently leads a small group in Bible study, teaches from God's word, and writes on the internet. In her spare time she nurtures her love of the arts and enjoys outdoor adventures with her family. She blogs at janettemclaughlin.com.