Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
Sarah Mae:  I was determined to be the “good” mom, the straight arrow, responsible and loving, always mature and wise. I would be that woman on the cover of the 1950’s Good Housekeeping magazine. I thought I had a choice to be her, to be me, wrapped in her. Yes, that’s what my children needed, because that’s what I needed.

I thought I could wrap myself up in an image, but I couldn’t, because that picture wasn’t real. When it finally dawned on me that I couldn’t be my vision of what a “good mom” was, my little world of “perfect” came undone. It was like someone punched me in the gut when, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t be my ideal. I felt tired all the time. I didn’t get up early or even get dressed sometimes until the afternoon. I was a terrible housekeeper. Lipstick? Forget it. I was a woman lost, grasping for air, and with nothing to hold on to, I fell flat. Discouragement, depression, and hopelessness surrounded me.

The days became long and impossible. Taking care of my children was too hard. Being a good wife was too hard. Cleaning, creating life, living . . . was just too hard. . . . Many of my ideals were good, but the standard I set for myself to meet them was completely unrealistic. A good mom, in my mind, was up bright and early before her children woke up; she got dressed, did her hair, put on her makeup, had her quiet time, and had breakfast simmering in the pan as she went to wake up her babes. Of course in my fantasy she was always cheery, always smelled good, and never raised her voice. She was what God never asked us to be apart from Him: perfect.

What was I thinking? And why didn’t someone set me straight?

Sally: Becoming a mother is a role that most women are ill-prepared for or ill-trained to understand, yet it has such vast consequences in the course and direction of history. I have even come to believe that a mother’s role might be the most determining factor as to how history will unfold.

Understanding that the best and most lasting “work” I would ever do was wrapped up in my call as a mother gave me a grand scope for my life such as I had never known before. I began to see that the nurturing of my children was my great stewardship in every part of their little lives: accepting them into my arms and bearing the responsibility of their very health from feeding at my breasts; developing their emotional well-being by encouraging them to attach deeply to me as infants; stimulating their brains by talking with them, touching them, snuggling with them; and predisposing them to know the love of God by building pathways in their brains. I was just beginning to grasp how profound God had created the role of a mother to be.

However, when I look back now on the grand scheme of things, I can see clearly that motherhood is a process, a journey. It was fraught with so many moments and days of failure, anger, stress, and exhaustion. Little by little, I have learned grace, joy, patience, and hope, and slowly my soul is being shaped into His image. I wouldn’t trade the journey or my ideals for any other life.

But I couldn’t have known any of this starting out.

From Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe© 2013 by Sarah Mae Hoover and Sally Clarkson. Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Desperate              Order a Copy of Desperate          Q&A with the Authors      Watch the Trailer

Book of the Month: Desperate

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe“I just can’t be a mother today.” If you’ve ever whispered those words to God in quiet desperation, you are not alone. A recent Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 U.S. women interviewed during 2012 showed that stay-at-home moms experienced elevated frequency in negative emotions. A Pew Research survey revealed that 40% of working mother always feel rushed, compared with 24% of the general public and 26% of stay-at-home moms. Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson know those feelings first-hand and their new book, Desperate, they offer help to stressed moms.

“Our book tells the true story of two friends encouraging each other in the midst of a journey of motherhood—a young mom needed input, encouragement, love, and grace, and an older mom who has been through all of the seasons to speak into her life from a perspective of wisdom. Any moms who need encouragement, help, and grace will find inspiration, ideas, stories, and hope in their journey as a woman and in her role as a mother.” Sally Clarkson, co-author of Desperate

Desperate is for those who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help. It’s for those who have ever wondered what happened to all their ideals for what having children would be like. For those who have ever felt like all the “experts” have clearly never had a child like theirs. For those who have prayed for a mentor. For those who ever felt lost and alone in motherhood.

“Sally and I want to encourage you to keep going even when it feels like you can’t, and we want to help you. We won’t offer you formulas, but we will offer ideas, perspectives, transparency, and wisdom. We have some ideas for you in getting help, and we are making a plea for older women to remember the tired years and come alongside young mothers, so that our children and our children’s children will know how to serve and to receive help. Thank you for giving us your precious, little time. We pray our offerings will not just comfort you but will refresh your soul and spur you on in hope!” Sarah Mae, co-author of Desperate.

What You Will Find in Desperate

  • The perspectives of a younger women going through the little years, and an older woman who has raised her children well
  • QR codes and links at the end of each chapter that lead to videos with Sarah Mae and Sally talking about the chapter
  • A friend who so understands those “hide me in closet” moments
  • Practical steps to take during the desperate times
  • Bible study and journal exercises in each chapter that will lead you to identify ways in which you can grow as a mom
  • Mentoring advice for real-life situations
  • Q & A section with Sally where she answers readers’ questions

Buy Desperate  

Q&A with the Authors of Desperate

Q: The role of a mother is not an easy one, despite its rewards. But women often feel alone and are worried of being judged as they try to be the best mom that they can be and navigate all that motherhood throws at them. Why do you think mothers feel this way, and how have you personally dealt with this same crazy cycle?

Sarah Mae: I think they feel this way because there is a lack of older women mentoring/coming alongside the younger women to teach them, encourage them, and help them. Sally coming into my life was like much needed rain on dry soil. She chose to invest in my life, lift me up, speak wisdom to me, truth, and just love me. I think if women felt loved, they would at least have more resolve to keep going in hope. I have dealt with these feelings, and it’s dark and discouraging. But in community, we find light and understanding. We need people.

Sally: We live in an isolationist culture where few know their next door neighbor, most live far away from their families and mega churches create anonymity in life. Consequently, mothers are more alone than ever before in history, raising their children without the benefit of the loving community of family and friends. Add to that the myriad of voices and the prolific information that flows every day on the internet, which women are using as substitute friends, and women feel confused, don’t know which philosophy to follow and end up feeling like a failure.

Q: What made you decide to write this book together?

Sarah Mae:  I knew I couldn’t write this book alone, it would only be a half offering. I wanted to relate with women, say, “I get you, I am you!” but Sally is the wisdom and experience. Plus, we want to encourage real-life mentoring relationships, and we hope to do that by allowing people into Sally and I’s relationship.

Sally: The story of our friendship was mutually gratifying, fun, and fulfilling. Our friendship grew out of real life and I loved being able to use our friendship as a means of helping and encouraging my younger friend in ways that I was never encouraged as a young mom. We thought together we might have a unique message of hope, share the need for friendship and mentoring, and the ability to give confidence and a model for others to build such a relationship. We also just wanted moms to feel that someone understood the loneliness and desperation that often fill the days of moms all over the world.

Q: As your book reveals, mentoring can have a huge impact on both the receiving and giving parties. What would you say to someone who was considering this?

Sarah Mae: Yes, mentoring is a must, and it’s biblical (Titus 2: 3-5, and what Jesus did with His 12 disciples)! We need each other, we were made for relationships and soul investing. Mentoring/friendship/having an advocate can change your life.

Sally: God pre-wired us as women to be relational. A friendship built on mutual ideals and encouragement is not only an overwhelming blessing to both, but is a Biblical accountability to help women hold fast to their faith and their ideals as mothers.

Q: Why do you think it’s so important for older and younger moms together to care for and lift up one another?

Sarah Mae: Well, it’s God’s idea, and it’s a beautiful one. Younger moms need the wisdom and experience of older women, and older women need to know they are still valuable and have something good to pass on. We can love each other so well in a mentoring relationship – a give and take of grace, love, and understanding.

Sally: Titus 2:2 tells us that mentoring between women is a Biblical admonition for older moms to encourage younger moms, and so it is a pattern to follow. However, I also promised myself that if I made it through my own mothering, that I would give my life to other young moms to encourage them so that they would not have to feel alone as I had felt. “Two are better than one and have a good return for their labor, but woe to the one who has no one to lift up his hands,” reflects the heart-felt need that I had for a close friend and someone who would pour wisdom into my own life. We all long for help and love.

Q: What tips would you have for someone seeking a mentor?

Sarah Mae: Pray! Pray for God to bring you someone, and don’t give up, even if it takes years. I prayed for a mentor for a long time before Sally pursued a relationship with me.

Sally: Pray that God would bring a mentor into your life. Then, begin looking around your circle of life for older women whose life you admire and ask them out for coffee or to meet with you. Share your desire for a mentor and see what happens. Sometimes you have to try this with several different people, but hopefully someone will make that time for you, as God put it on my heart to do with Sarah Mae.

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  1. 2 years ago
    Deb Diasparra says

    This was the same ideal I held myself to. I can remember feeling like such a failure. So much so that I didn’t want to go on llving. Now my kids are grown. When they were teenagers I felt like I had completely failed them. They drifted away from church, didn’t seem to have much sense of direction for life. Thanks to God, though they never really got into any serious trouble or got involved with the wrong people. Now at 23 and 20, they are moving forward with their lives and I see them little by little returning to faith in God as their cornerstone. So, I keep praying for them, offering advice and counsel with God at the forefront (as much as I can) when asked and let them go. I guess I must have and must be doing something right by them. It’s ok not to be perfect. Establish priorities and let the rest, rest!

  2. 2 years ago
    lecrecia says

    i need this book so badly. i am a mother of three boys that our 10 ,4,and 5. there wild so full of energy thet could just keep going but not for mom. ive said it before can i not be a mom for just one day. us as a family have stuggled being without but the boys have so much. cleaning up the house can be a nightmare for me. the homework w/ the boys. i have three boys that are behind in learning i dont know where it came from but they have it. it can be so hard being a mom wishing my husband and i had more help. my mother wont take them i guess she has her own life. i cant count on my other sister shes a drug add ict they have no grandpa because hes a dead beat the only grandpa the kids has ever really had is my grandpa. but hes getting up in his years but would take me to the store and do anything for me which i am grateful for. my husband side of the family live cear across the united states. were so busy all the time our boys are defently a hand ful. it would be nice just for us to out alone toghther without the children. we never even had a hoony moon. i denfently need prayer. and i need to be able to just breathe. i feel the need of more hope that it will get better. but it never seems to. i have some health problems.i need god so much into our lives. and to be there for us as a family . lecrecia

    • Praying for you, Lecrecia. We all need the help and support of friends, but in today’s culture, that is so hard to find. I will pray that someone will give you and your husband a break. God sees you and hears your heart.

  3. 2 years ago
    kristina says

    God is good! I have been desiring a relationship with a mentor…and not quite sure how to pursue on. I have prayed about it, but it feels good to know I am not the only “young” mom out there looking, and it is also a good reminder that if I continue to faithfully pray, he will answer!!

  4. 2 years ago
    Krista says

    I love my role as mom and love that I can work part-time as well. As a mom of 3 I see the value of what I do, the eternal, spiritual value of mothering. However, I think that much of my incorrect vision of domestic perfection was created by other women in the church. Christ calls us to love GOD with our whole hearts, souls, and minds. Not once in the Bible did it say your kids birthday cupcakes for school had to be homemade. In fact, Paul urges us to remain single so that we could focus only on serving Christ. For me, getting my heart back to seeking Jesus was the cure for my despair, and the freedom from the bondage that living up to an idealistic role creates. Seek first the Kingdom and all these other things will be added as well…

  5. 2 years ago
    Tiffany Rose says

    My Aunt forwarded this to me knowing that I’m feeling a collapse of my world at the moment. To know that I’m not the only one is reassuring I just need help getting started. My faith is not gone but it sure is feeling tested. I suppose that’s what we all need to know He is with us always. My children are my world and all I want is to keep them in The Faith and to ensure that I have provided the role model they need to venture into this cruel world strong and willing to overcome.

  6. 2 years ago
    Cece says

    Well, don’t get me wrong I have always been a christian, not always following or doing but always belief and faith. In as much as my children have put me through I still would not change how I did things. My son is 34 and my daughter is 37. I was Blessed with a wonderful daughter in law who has raised and maintained a loving home for my 2 grandchildren that she Blessed me with as my son is in prison for the 4th time, my daughter, who has Blessed me with 3 grandchildren has her issues and is in a halfway house and for the 3rd time I have custody of 2 of her children the third is with his father.
    Now to my point, learning to be a mother again at 58 is not an easy task, however, since my husband passed 4 years ago I have found a new faith in God and with this faith I find God giving me strength with patience and for the most part understanding. I do alot of praying and thanking the lord for his help to continue on. FOSTER CARE IS NOT AN OPTION!!!! What I would like to ask of all who reads this is to pray that my daughter finds the way to finish her treatment and remain on the path of truth and faith that her life is good no matter what it throws at her. Please pray that she learns to know that with God she can overcome any trial.
    Thank you for your time. Just needed to get it out. I am not complaining as I know Gods plan is a good one.

  7. 2 years ago
    Brandi says

    I’m thankful for my children and not afraid to say at 40 with a 16 and 8 year old ; I am still learning.
    I used to want to be perfect. It took a long time for me to let go of that
    Unrealistic idea

  8. 2 years ago
    Veronica says

    I just celebrated my 52 birthday and had the opportunity to spend the day with my 24 yr/old daughter who is 39.5 weeks pregnant and while I have usually made my life about putting my children first — and living by the motto of “treating others the way you want to be treated” — I was crushed when neither my daughter nor my 20 year old son took time to even celebrate my birthday in any fashion — not even with a homemade card as was done years ago — Any thoughts on how to feel better and move on with this and be ready to celebrate the birth of our very first grandchild??

  9. I just started this book and it is AH-MAZING! All moms need to read this especially if you have ANY younger kids. My kiddos are a bit older but I have learned so much. ;)
    The How to Guru

  10. 2 years ago
    Ponda says

    I am praying for a mentor right now and am hoping for that answer soon. I feel exactly as you were sharing. Always wanting to be that perfect mom. Feel I have a great relationship with my kids now almost 18 and 15. These past 2 weeks have turned the feeling of greatness to a world filled with despair. I got a call that my 15 year old son had been arrested at school. He was working with ROTC and excelling, but there was a group of kids who have been stealing. My son was stealing from the school on about 10 occasions. Was master minding some of them trying to find the vault in the school. He took hundreds from fund raisers. Fund raisers! I have always worked so hard to help with them. What happened. How do I fix this. Keep looking up and trying not to lean on my own understanding. I felt he was in a safe place, working with his group to better the school. Very broken moments. If you have any advice what I do now. =(

    • So sorry about your son, Ponda. He probably needs for you to love him and reach out to him more than ever before. I think the teen years are so hard–wanting to please other friends and dealing with peer pressure. But a mom like you can truly have an impact in his life. Pray for him, talk to him and stay with him and lead him through this difficult time. He needs hope to hear that you still believe in him. I will pray for you and for your son.

  11. I raised my girls by myself when their father died and they were just babies, ages 2,4 and 6…. And now that they are grown.. I can say it was my favorite Job in the whole world…. Hard at times, of course,,, but glorious, each stage of the way….My advice for the ladies,, Is just BREATHE,,,, when you are having it rough, ask the holy spirit into your soul and he will guide you. And of course never be to hard on yourself when you mess up… Grace and forgiveness abounds, you just have to ask for it…….Many blessings.. kathy

    • THank you, Kathy! I sure hope you’re mentoring a young woman, you have a lot of wisdom to share! :)

  12. I sometimes feel like a Sarah, but sometimes a Sally too. I have 3 girls, 12, 4, 1; I work full time and try and be the best housewife too. Its a lot to handle, especially since my husband travels a lot for work. I hve an awesome mentor, an older woman from my church who had 2 children herself. Its truly a blessing to have her and I thank God for bringing her into my life. Even though sometimes its just a “hey girl, how you doing” that puts me back together. :-)

    • The “hey girl’s” are really important! We need people who care, and ask how we’re doing, and are willing to listen. So glad you are here, saying a prayer for you tonight!

  13. Thanks, Alisha, for asking a great question. I must admit that I learned early that wise women copy wise women. I would look for women who had qualities of life that I admired. When being with a friend made me want to love God more, live up to the ideals in my heart, I would seek her out and ask her to spend time with me. I would definitely look for someone who has raised children to give you advice. A great book about disciplining children is Heartfelt Discipline which gives moms an understanding of how to reach the heart of her children.

  14. 2 years ago
    alisha says

    what advice do you have when your in a situation where someone is giving you advice on discipline when they themselves do not have children and their advice seems to lean towards harshness? for Sally and Sarah

  15. 2 years ago
    kim says

    I understand how you felt about not having someone to mentor you. I am a mother of four children. 18,16,14,12 and wow..I do feel overwhelmed many times and I would like to begin to pray that God will bring me a mentor , someone who could walk beside me and encourage me and I thank you for the encouragement that you all have given to us mothers who need it. May our Savior Richly Bless you wtih Love for reaching out and helping other moms who truly need it. In HIS love
    My mother has never been around and it sure would be so nice to have some love and support and wisdom to help me and encourage me …Thank you

    • Kim, we are trying! It’s about a movement…we want to see moms helping and encouraging each other. Women need community, and moms need help. We’re trying to start a fire, but you all have to fan the flames. We can do it together.

      Love to you!

  16. 2 years ago
    Amy says

    This came to me at the perfect time…I am a single mom raising two little girls-10 and 6 who can be a handful…I lost it this morning on the 6 year old for not being ready to walk out the door-she was too busy looking for a favorite sneaker, and often we run late because of the last minute stuff these two think of. The morning was horrible, and as I sit here at my computer at work, I feel awful…I just want to go and grab her and hug her and tell her that I’m sorry I made her cry and broke her spirit. I opened my email my to this message and although I still feel bad, and I have to get my ‘yelling’ under control, I will be ordering the book my next payday; we always want to be better at what we do, and being a better parent should be paramount for me-not just worrying that I’ll be late for my job…I have the most important job-raising these two little gifts that were entrusted to me. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Amy, you know, being a parent is just hard. Hang in there, okay? You are not alone, and the Spirit is working in you, my friend. Grace to you today.