10 Truths About Motherhood I Learned at the Grocery Store


This isn’t the post I planned to share today. I meant to publish a post about my One Word for 2014, the word Inheritance. I’ve been doing lots of studying and I really do want to share what I’m learning. But not today. Today something’s fresh on my heart.

I ran in to Publix to pick up a few things today around noon, (I swear if you blindfolded me I could tell immediately if I were in Publix or Kroger, Winn-Dixie or Whole Foods. They ALL have there own particular smell. Am I right??)

I got in the checkout line and there was a mom in front of me struggling to get her groceries out of the cart and paid for and get her 2 little kids under control. She was failing miserably. Did I mention she had a baby in a stroller too? She was harried and impatient and clearly inches away from losing it.

Her kids, around 4 and 6 I think, were breaking down and wearing her down with whines and requests and tears and using every other tool in their drive-mom-crazy-while-her-hands-are-more-than-full arsenal. Mom, clearly embarrassed, was doing what she could to hold it together as the checkout lady scanned her coupons and bagged her groceries. The kids were whining and poor mom turned and looked at those of us in line all embarrassed and apologetic and all I could do was reach out and touch her arm, look her squarely in the eyes and say:

 “You’re doing a good job. It’s hard to be a mom!”

She asked us if we wanted to take her kids (she was kidding but in that moment probably seriously considering it!) and shook her head looking completely overwhelmed. It was midday, the kids were tired, maybe hungry and super cranky. And she was by herself. With a baby in the stroller. I longed to hug her and tell her it was going to be okay. But the bagger got her bags in the cart and as soon as she finished paying she quickly bolted and disappeared into the vast Publix parking lot.

I teared up as she left because I just wanted to hug her and take her for coffee and a big piece of cake.

I wanted to remind her how valuable she is.

I longed to look in her eyes and tell her she’s changing the world and she doesn’t even know it. All she knows is she’s tired and overwhelmed, a whole lot worn out and ticked off at her kiddos and nearly out of patience.

Mama, I need you to know something. It rang in my spirit clear as a bell today at the grocery store. I need you to know this:

You’re doing a good job!

I know how hard it is to be a mom.  I’ve been where you are. I’ve walked through  seasons convinced it would never change, convinced I was the worst mother on the planet and convinced I was ruining my child’s life.

I’ve lived through the drudgery of the thousand and one daily tasks, the soul crushing weariness at the end of the day, the ‘am I doing enough’ and ‘am I totally messing my child up’ questions and struggles. I always say, motherhood will tax you to the moon and back, often in one day and sometimes in one moment!

I too have experienced the hint of depression seeping in at the edges of my thoughts and hiding it’s ugly lie deep in my spirit, so deep I can’t find where it ends. I’ve had days  I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and ignore everything and everyone. And I’ve known the desperate search for sleep that won’t come because the heartache and sorrow are simply too much.

I know what it’s like to defer your own dream, to lay aside your deepest desires, to give and give and give till the memory of your dream fades into nothing more than a vague mist. To lay down the thing you deeply valued in order to take up what He says is valuable.

Because being mama is one of the most valuable jobs in the world. 

Here’s what I want to tell that sweet, overwhelmed mama I met at Publix today:

  1. Raising children is messy.

  2. You’re doing an amazing job. In fact, you’re perfect for the job.

  3. Raising children is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

  4. Being a mom is difficult. And relentless. And never-ending. And rewarding. And fulfilling. And life-giving.

  5. What you’re doing is changing the world.

  6. You’re in the building business. You’re building lives one day, one diaper, one grocery-shopping trip at a time.

  7. You’re doing a much better job than you think.

  8. Some days are just plain ugly.

  9. You’re not alone. Not for one second.

  10. God handpicked you for your children and He handpicked your children for you.

You can do this and I want you to know I’m cheering you on as one who’s already walked the path.

I’m here to tell you, you will survive! And it will be good. Raising a child is the best self-improvement course out there. You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Neither are your kids! But they are perfectly loved and you are doing a perfectly good job. I just know it.

So hang in there mama. Hang in there on the good days and the bad. Know the Lord is well aware how hard it is to be human.

“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (The Message)

So let’s walk right up to Him and get the mercy and the help we need to do this miraculous job of mothering. Let’s remember we are NOT alone in this. And most of all, remember this mama, because, trust me-I know it’s true:

You’re doing a good job!

It would be my honor to pray for you. :)


  1. BJ says

    My six children are spread out over a bit more than a decade, but I’m in an easier stage now. Even though I still have a preschooler – and wow is she moody lately – I also have some biggers that are turning into amazing people! They are helpful, and thoughtful, and when I felt like that mom you saw, how I could have used encouragement, that one day I would be sitting here amazed at my kids, at this different stage, at the fact that I SURVIVED!

    And that I didn’t totally mess them up.

    I need to remember to encourage other moms who are newer to this road. It is worth it all. Thanks for a great post.

    • Kate says

      Thank you so much BJ! Wow, 6 children-how blessed you are! It really does get a little easier as they get older doesn’t it? I’m sure you’re an encouragement and a great example to the younger moms in your life. And proof you really will survive motherhood! Blessings:)

  2. says

    beautiful reminder, Kate. thank you so much for sharing this even when it wasn’t “planned.” i have been in both situations at the grocery store- the frazzled overwhelmed mama and the one in line behind the frazzled overwhelmed mama. funny how the grocery store can become such a place of powerful prayers. i had to share this on facebook with my former MOPS group (Mama Chiks) and on the MamaHall FB page as well. thank you again for these encouraging words.

    • Kate says

      Eryn-Thank you for sharing this! There are so many overwhelmed mamas out there and they need all the encouragement they can get and the reminder they’re doing an amazing job! Can’t wait to meet you at Declare:) Blessings!

  3. says

    Oh I remember those days I had four girls all under the age of five and a husband who worked all the hours to provide for us. I was tired I was grumpy. Now I look back and think I survived and although raising teenagers is a complete different exhaustion I know i am so blessed to be a mother.

    When I laid my daughter to rest five years ago I wasn’t sure I would survive but her sisters have been my life blood my inspiration.

    I so wish someone had read these words to me back then. Yet even now they bless my heart. I didn’t really have the best example of motherhood addiction plaqued my childhood but what I have really learned is that time is the greatest gift we can give our children.

    • Kate says

      Oh sweet Sara, bless you mama. Yes, time is the one thing we can give our children. The day in and day out building and training, loving and guiding is what moms do. There are difficult days, yes, but such sweet reward watching little lives transform into world changers.
      Thanks for stopping by! Blessings:)

  4. Linda Maratas says

    Kate, I love this post…I remember those days…decades ago now. I love the beauty and reality of your heart, the Father’s heart, in your words. I can share the gift of His love and understanding with others…and myself…as God just wants to remind me, us, of how valuable we are.

    Thank you for writing and sharing…


  5. says

    Thanks. I didn’t brave the store today but I did brave church and the night ended with my little man on the floor screaming and me trying to mop him off the floor and march him out to the car. so thanks Kate. This was a breath of fresh air.

    • Kate says

      You’re so welcome Aprille! With a 3 year old grandson, I know this scene all too well. It’s hard to be a mom and some days it’s hard being a kid! Bless you mama, even when it doesn’t feel like it, you’re raising a world changer!

  6. Kristin Bailey says

    Amazing! My husband and I have 7 kids (plus 2 dogs. That makes another kid, right?!) Some days I question “What have I done to myself” .. God apparently knew I needed all of these blessings. Life is certainly crazy but well picked for us. #10 says it all. Thank you for sharing. We have 2 boys that are 5&6 (9months, 3weeks, & 4days apart) – they drive me way beyond crazy from day to day but the love they do show makes up for all the unnecessary fights they seem to break out in. Being a mother is definitely not easy but its simply amazing!!

  7. says

    You may not have hugged the mom in the grocery store, but you’ve hugged every mom with your words here! It’s always such a blessing to receive encouragement from someone who has successfully navigated the path before me. I treasure your words up in my heart and determine to relax and embrace motherhood for all that it is. Words like yours are a good reminder that this too will pass and someday too soon I’ll be missing the chaos that my littles bring.

    • Kate says

      Oh,you bless my heart Jennifer! Thank you for your sweet encouragement. It really is hard when they’re little but so full of joy at the same time. It’s amazing seeing the world through their innocent eyes. Bless you and I hope you enjoy every moment! Hugs :)

  8. Galina says

    Kate, this was PERFECT! Just what my heart needed to hear. I almost want to print those ten points and read them daily. Thanks for sharing your heart and helping me take a fresh look at motherhood today- mama to two beautiful russian children:)

    • Kate says

      Galina! I’m so glad to hear it and 2 babies??? How wonderful! I assume you’re still living in Russia. Bless you sweet mama, praying for you today!

  9. says

    Kate- love this! I definitely felt there was a dark cloud hanging over me when I had 3 little ones at home. It is a sweet time, but so very hard. And it’s still hard! It’s just a different kind of hard. Thank you so much for your encouragement.

    • Kate says

      You’re so welcome Angie:) it was so great to meet you and minister with you last night. I hope we get to do it again sometime! Hugs :)

  10. Katie Waters says

    I just clicked on this from my friend’s FB share. I read this and I weep, because I’m in the impossible position of being step-mom to children whose mother doesn’t stay awake at night wondering if she’s screwing them up. In fact, she thinks her infidelity to their father and the ensuing divorce has zero effect on them. Meanwhile, I don’t have children of my own and do my best to take of these two precious children. I wonder if I’m screwing them up. I wonder if they’ll ever love me instead of calling for their mama. And then, I get to your #10 and simultaneously, I am relieved and heartbroken because I DO believe that God handpicked me to help their father love them and raise them, but they are not my biological children. sigh. Don’t know how to feel.

    • Kate says

      Oh Katie, I know this must be so hard. But, ask any foster or adoptive parent and they’ll tell you, being a mother is more about heart and time than blood and biology. There are lots of biological parents out there who are a far cry from ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ to their kids. It sounds like your two are fairly young so you have the unique opportunity to influence them for good. It sounds like you are the one raising them so you’re doing the day by day building of their character, instilling passions and training in Godliness. God has handpicked you! As the years go by and they see you always being there and continuing to love and serve them they’ll grow to love you and appreciate you deeply. It’s hard because if their mom is still in their lives, she’s still having an impact. Meanwhile, be faithful, pray for them and for the situation and even for her. God has it all in His hands but meanwhile, you have an assignment from Him: to love and serve and be the best example of motherhood you can be. You absolutely will affect their future!
      I wrote a post for Mother’s Day called Just a Mom? I Think You’re a World Changer and here’s the link: http://wp.me/p3YKuj-235 I think it will help you figure out what an awesome thing He’s called you to. Praying God gives you grace and strength dear Katie. Blessings!

  11. says

    Thank you for this, Kate. I could easily be that mom in the grocery story with my 5, 4, and 2 year old any day of the week. Blessed beyond measure by my adorable, healthy boy crew, but stressed and pressed and stretched from all sides and some days barely making it through. And even though I KNOW being a mama is valuable, and even though I’m continually reminded by friends online and in real life that I’m doing a better job than I think, I STILL need to hear it, over and over again. So thank you .

    • Kate says

      You’re so welcome Becky! You ARE an awesome mom! Remember, you’re raising world-changers and that takes time and consistency. Also, the enemy doesn’t like what you’re doing one bit so he will come against you whenever he can. Hang in there! You’re raising men of God! Hugs :)

  12. Carol Walker says

    Thanks so much Kate! Passing this to my daughtet-in-law! She is an amazing Mom to three beautiful grand children with #4 due Monday!


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