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.
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
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.