The REAL prize of motherhood

I’ll just pretend it hasn’t been a million weeks since I’ve written.  Because, all of you are friends.  And, everyone knows good friends can always just pick up where they left off?  I recommence.


I drove to a stop in my driveway last week and noticed something blue plastered to the front of my door.  Made me think back to the days of presidential fitness tests, and piano recitals.  It shimmered and swayed with every stirring of the fall air and my curiosity soared.  What is that blue shiny addition to my custom greasy-fingered glass door?  Leaving the children to their own distractions, I curiously wonder over and see gold lettering – 1 – s – t  P – l – a – c – e…..?

1st Place Mommy?

1st Place Mommy!!!!!!!

Wait, who would honor me in such a way?  Wrong house?  I never entered a best mommy contest.  My laundry is NEVER caught up.  4 nights ago, they ate cereal for dinner.  Cereal and rationed milk because this mommy missed that section of the grocery store.  I say no to soda at every party.  We skip library when I’m feeling stressed.  I kill caterpillars in jar habitats.  And on and on and on.  A blue ribbon, really?  I look at all the other doors on houses surrounding this little one.  Houses with the best mamas around.  Wondering if they received this recognition, this gift of a lifetime too?

Seems it’s really for me.  But there’s no crowd?  No applause!  My children are rolling down the ditch and have no idea why I’m spellbound over this blue piece of fabric.  There’s no one to hug me and shake my tired hand and say well done and oooh and aaaah over my well-behaved, mommy-honoring, manner-abiding, always agreeable kids.  And what do I do with it now?  Hang it and look at like some memorial to myself? First place mommy. 


Or not.

Just breathe because, here’s what really happened.

We pull in from a morning of errands and three little passengers bust out of 5-point harnesses, one shoeless, and two with saturated laps from water spills.  A library book falls out onto my toe.  And the youngest pokes a short stick in a fire ant hill two feet behind me.  Hundreds scatter and one finds his ankle and I kissed it while holding a bag full of library books, my coffee cup, purse, and 2 coats.  Amazingly, he’s healed. The only thing blowing on my door is a 6-year old grapevine wreath with a dry-rotted ribbon.  And the fingerprints welcome us in every time.  I like em.

We enter a room where toys inhabit.  And papers from little crafts.  A hairbow and Peter Rabbit book jacket.  Markers (without caps) and letter tiles from school time.  Pictures hang crooked on walls, and the lampshades follow suit because everyone knows tent making always means mess-making.  We LIVE here.  Big people, little people, happy people.  I may fuss shortly over calling them too many times to lunch, but we’ll laugh tonight when they launch out of a homemade fort to scare daddy.  And we’ll eat around the little table.  We’ll thank our Lord for the food He’s provided and for each one who fills a seat. And then, while water is splashing everywhere in the bathroom, I’ll step on a mushy green bean and it will stick between my toes like seaweed.  I’ll sweep and know, rest is coming.  Renewal will sweep in and my tank will put out, yet again. And I’ll not want for another place. 


When a friend stops in to chat or drop off hand-me-downs for the little one’s this week, I’ll smile and fight back the misconception “she must think my home so unkempt.” Because it isn’t the house that speaks of the home, but the joy of the inhabitant’s there.

Tonight, I’ll lose count of how many kisses, hugs, and “can’t wait to hear all about sleepy town tomorrow.”  I’ll crave the cushiony couch and almost fall in when one says, “we didn’t brush our teeth.” Or, “something’s moving in my closet.”  But, I’ll get lost in the up and down motion of my fingers on bare baby backs.  I’ll whisper prayers and sing prayers, and I’ll not want to be anywhere else.

Tomorrow, someone will spill something.  It will smell bad.  And it will probably stain something.  The day after that, the youngest WILL have an accident and a piano student will be waiting at the door.  And then, when they wake from their napping, as sure as the sun will set, they’ll hug me and pause long and ask if they can have a snack.  I’ll nod and provide for their tummies, and I’ll not want to be anywhere else.

I’ll find evidence of candy stolen quick from high in the pantry.  And more evidence of imaginations running wild.

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When we look at our days as a story we’re writing, and not a saddle we’re wearing-it all changes.  Every decision.  Every reaction.  The expressions we sport, the routines we set, the mood we choose.  Everything.

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When we decide to be real, to be at peace with where we are, we show our children the grace of God. 

I chase contentment, and that’s my prize.  My blue ribbon.

To put down the phone and give my gaze when they want to tell me how high they jumped in the trampoline today, yesterday, and last week.  Or to ask you how has God always been? And where does “IT” go when we flush?.  To have closure on a conversation–with a hug, a pat on the head, a kiss, a tickle, a wink, a simple smile that shows “I like you.”  I think it’s contentment in motion.  And it’s perpetual.

A blue ribbon I’ll never have to deck the walls of my little house, but the contentment I uncover every morning is the grand prize of my soul. I run after it, hard!  And there are days of chasing, and sweating.  When the world around me seems to be doing it all better.  And I’m a mess.  And Christ, He says, Come to me…I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28).  

Elisabeth Elliot shared these words in one of her special broadcast radio shows:

Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back.

My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.

(From the hymn, “In Heavenly Love Abiding”)

Those words!  To give thanks, always and for everything, (Ephesians 5:20) she hints, is a key to finding everlasting, everyday, through-it-ALL contentment.

We celebrate Thanksgiving this week.  The retail CEO’s might would rather us shop till we drop on a day families have long cherished as a day for lull, as Black Friday seems to be a thing of the past.  The ads boast “6:00pm Thanksgiving Day, Earliest Opening Ever!” And doesn’t that just make it all hard?

Can we just not let it slip from our grasp this year?  The serenity that can be robbed in the midst of big holidays.  Our children, they watch us race and run and shop for more and more and more.   They connect the dots and they learn from watching.  Passing on the prize of a contented soul, mama to child, sharing it with them, it’s a GIFT.  A treasure trove!

Mamas, we don’t need accolades lettered in gold, just wholly contented souls.




  1. You always deliver!! You always deliver the words our hearts are thirsting for but cant request. You are a blue-ribbon momma, and we are all your biggest fans. Thank you for this perfectly timed post. And yes, a million weeks it seemed, but I know you were busy writing a love story that we are always eager to read.

  2. Amanda Dalton says:

    Kristin, thank you so much for sharing! I certainly needed this reminder this morning! Wishing you & your precious family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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