The Self-Recrimination of a Mother

My daughters often give me tokens of their love and appreciation. As I write this article I have a lovingly-made, hand-crafted piece of art hanging on my refrigerator that says, “Mom, you are the best mother in the whole world!” My two-year-old son has a multi-sensory approach to sharing his love—smiles, giggles and kisses.

Not only do I have devoted admirers in my children, but my husband has told me that I am the best wife and mother in the world. Being the honest soul that he is, he did qualify his statement. He said that it is theoretically possible that there could be a better wife and mother somewhere in the world, but he certainly did not know who it would be. And if there were someone, or even a few women who might be better, I would certainly be in a very select group.

Imperfect and Inadequate

One would expect that with such affection from my loving family (who clearly wear rose-colored glasses), I would be quite confident of my abilities to be a successful wife and mother. But often I find myself painfully aware of my inadequacies and defects.

Likely, not a day goes by that I do not wish I were better able to fulfill my duties as a wife and mother. My thoughts run along the lines of: “If only I could better organize our home. If only I had more time for Bible study. If only I were more patient. If only I could be a better example for my children. If only I would bring a more cheerful atmosphere into the home. If only I were more efficient. If only. Yes, if only I could be a better wife and mother.”

There are days I do not experience feelings of accomplishment or success. Survival seems to be the sought-after achievement of these “if only” days. Endeavoring to train my children for the service of God; trying to keep up with feeding, clothing, bathing, educating, and loving my children; as well as managing our money, trying to be a good wife, helping at church, trying to be a good neighbor and witnessing in the community sometimes feels like plugging the leaks in a breaking dam! Why is it that I cannot seem to do it all and do it well? Is this really what Christian motherhood is supposed to be like? Why do I never feel good enough no matter what my children and husband say?

The Cause of Self-recrimination

Recently, I read from a chapter about teachers out of the treasured volume, Education. I thought I should read it, due to the fact that I homeschool our children; because I am not only their mother, but also their teacher. After reading about the qualities and characteristics of the ideal teacher, my heart sank. It presented such a high ideal, one that I do not come close to reaching. At the end of the chapter, however, I read an insight that helped me understand why I struggle with self-recrimination. It is written for teachers, but it is just as applicable to mothers, who, after all, are a child’s first teacher.

“The deeper the sense of responsibility, and the more earnest the effort for self-improvement, the more clearly will the teacher perceive and the more keenly regret the defects that hinder his usefulness. As he beholds the magnitude of his work, its difficulties and possibilities, often will his heart cry out, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ ” Education, 281, 282.

Why are we, as mothers, so acutely sensitive of our faults and imperfections? The answer is that we feel so keenly because we care so deeply. We crave to be the best for our children.

My fellow mother, if you are intensely aware of your shortcomings, if you struggle with self-recrimination, take heart. God knows the desires of your heart. He knows how much you want to please Him. He knows how you long to do better work and how you want to lead your children into a saving relationship with Him.

The Cure for Self-recrimination

I continued reading in Education and found that God not only understands the cause of my feelings of inadequacy, but He also longs to give me His power to look past those feelings. He wants me to continue my earnest endeavor for self-improvement, but He wants me to look outside of myself, beyond my faultiness, to Him and the power in His promises.

“… As you consider your need of strength and guidance,—need that no human source can supply … consider the promises of Him who is the wonderful Counselor.” Education, 282.

I have found the most valuable and practical instruction regarding motherhood in the Spirit of Prophecy. I believe in studying Bible prophecy and Bible doctrines. I enjoy reading from devotionals. But as mothers, we should regularly be studying what the inspired writings teach about motherhood. God knows the challenges of mothers. The role of mothers is the most important in the world. And because it is so important, God has left specific counsel just for mothers. From that counsel, we should glean the precious promises. They will cheer our hearts and give us courage.

There is power in God’s promises. It is real power. It is physical power to accomplish a day’s work. It is mental power to think and work efficiently. It is spiritual power to overcome our character defects. It is transferable power that works through us to mold and shape the hearts and minds of our children. In short, it is power to reflect the character of Jesus.

Results of Using the Cure

The chapter in Education that gave me insight into the cause of self-recrimination, as well as the cure, closes with a wonderful promise of secret power to those who implement the sure remedy.

“… As the highest preparation for your work, I point you to the words, the life, the methods, of the Prince of teachers. I bid you consider Him. Here is your true ideal. Behold it, dwell upon it, until the Spirit of the divine Teacher shall take possession of your heart and life.

“ ‘Reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord,’ you will be ‘transformed into the same image.’ II Corinthians 3:18, R.V.

“This is the secret of power over your pupils [children]. Reflect Him. …” Education, 282.

Mothers, I challenge you to implement the cure for self-recrimination. In the daily struggle of motherhood, take time to focus on the promises of God and less on your defects and unworthiness. Claim God’s promises as your own. Trust Him with all your shortcomings. Dwell on Jesus’ perfect character. As you trust Him, as you dwell on His character, your children will see Jesus’ power working through you. A secret power will come over them—a power that will work to fulfill your greatest desire—the salvation of your children.

Teresa Grosboll writes from her home in Camas, Washington, where she lives with her supportive husband, their two loving daughters and energetic two-year-old son. She may be contacted via e-mail at