To Know the Difference

She doesn’t fall asleep until 10:27, this spritely little girl of mine. She finally stills, her hand resting on my arm, her head on my legs, her hair spread out like a dandelion in bloom.

I’m captivated by her. I sit in her bed, in the darkened room, and I listen to lullabies and I read about other mothers drinking in their little girls and my heart almost breaks with the beauty.

But – I’ll be honest – I’m also irritated because it is 10:30 and it took her almost 90 minutes to fall asleep – and this after book reading and water drinking and rub-my-back-one-more-time-Momma requests. Ninety minutes I’ve sat here in the dark, praying not to chafe against the silken reins on my back and the tender bit in my mouth.

And now it is 10:30 and the lights are out in the house and my husband is getting ready for bed and this? This is the first minute I’ve had to myself all day.

“This is gift,” I whisper gentle stern to my soul (which always leans toward the melancholy at nightfall). “This is gift.”

And I know this season, it chips and wears away at the layers of selfishness which I use to clothe my soul. At this point in my child-rearing, I feel practically worn through. Yet there are still pockets of me-focus to discover.

I beg for wisdom to know the difference between being a martyr and being a mother.

I ask even more for the ability to love well.


  1. og God how it rings true I got only 2 kids and sometimes like today I feel worn and sad cause no matter how much i prayed and tried i shouted and screamed for them to sleep......

  2. I love how motherhood demands that I keep stripping away my self-focus. I'm at my best when I'm not stomping around, but rather, just enjoying these constant acts of service. But I'm also human and sometimes I don't allow myself the negative feelings, at least not with a whole lot of shame. It's hard. Impossibly hard. The exhaustion and constant needs to be met. And yet, I expect perfection from myself. For me to feel always serene and in control. Why do I do that? It makes no sense. It just leaves me failing and focusing on THAT. I guess I'm just trying so hard to learn to be more gentle with myself in these days, too. That way, my soul is not too tired and beat up and guilty to be gentle to them.

  3. You always speak straight to what I'm feeling/going through. I stay up much too late because I need that quiet time to myself, but then I'm tired and grouchy in the morning when little ones need me. This is a hard season. Thanks for the reminder to focus on the gift though, as much as possible.

  4. So true. I feel like motherhood is so much about God refining us. I just posted a similar poem on my blog along the same lines:

  5. You captured it perfectly for those of us who need (constant) reminders that it's a Gift. I hope she zoomed off to sleep early tonight for you.

  6. This was so beautifully put. There is nothing like motherhood to reveal our selfishness and the fallenness of our souls. I've never learned so much about myself in all my life. I've been reminding myself lately of things that can wait until tomorrow (dishes, chores, errands) and then the things we can never get back--like sitting with my 2yr old at 9:30pm because she doesn't want to sleep. These posts lift us up as mothers. Thank you.

  7. i came over from Allison's blog to give you an e-hug. :) so, hugs all around.
    i was that kiddo you're talking about...the one who couldn't sleep and would write little notes to my parents and such. it's a phase, trust me.

  8. beautiful post. I'm a new follower from Allison's blog. I've had the same feelings as I'm holding my son at 9:30pm, knowing my free time went out the window. At the same time, I crave those cuddles because they are few and far between.

  9. Dropped by from Allison's to give ya a hug :-D

    My oldest was just like your lil' one when she was littler. Up until she was 3 or so, she was up until 10 or 11 every night. It was so frustrating. She's almost 8 now and is in bed at 8pm every night. She's sometimes still up at 9:30, but she's in her room and she's quiet and at least trying to sleep.

    Our youngest is asleep by 7:30 every night. But she wears me out way more than our oldest ever did lol

    {{{{{ big hugs to you }}}}}