When All Else Fails, Say A Prayer and Eat Some Chocolate

I stayed up way too late last night with certain child of mine obsessing about king snakes and crested geckos…again.

As he started to tell me all about the law in California that allows Field Herping.

Wait, what is field herping?” I asked, rubbing my temples and trying to focus. “Going into the wild and catching your own reptiles,” he said. (Clearly something I have been hoping for and dreaming about. Me and my son, traipsing through the wilderness, trying not to get any dirt in his crocs, catching wild snakes. Perfect.)

When All Else Fails, Say A Prayer and Eat Some Chocolate


As I tried to pay attention (for the love, it was almost 1:30 in the morning…sometimes his brain just will not shut down), I started to think about all the ways I had blown it throughout the day.

1. I am sitting on the couch way too much these days.

2. I left clothes in the washing machine, overnight, again.

3. I had to wash said clothes, again, clearly being a poor steward of our water (we are in a drought after all) and of our money (the water bill went up $14.00 last month – I wonder why..).

4. I did not have the energy to force him to take a shower last night and I am sure he smells.

5. I could not keep it together when his little brother couldn’t recognize the lowercase letter “i” and referred to it as “you know, this one” in our reading lesson.

6. I am way behind where I was this time last year in homeschool planning and prep, and now we might get behind.

7. My poor husband hasn’t seen me in anything other than raggedy jammies and some helpful but ugly face cream for the last 4 nights. Not that he would ever complain, but still, not sexy.

At 1:30 in the morning, I can really take myself out.

I woke up 4 short hours later, depressed and feeling already defeated. I fell back to sleep on the couch and then woke up 20 minutes later, upset that I didn’t get in my quiet time to pray and read the Bible (#8 to add to the list above).

I am a mess.

And, apparently, I am human.

I am not able to keep it all together and do all the things all the ways I think they should be done.

Tonight, rather than continuing to beat myself up, I have decided to try to speak to myself the way I would one of my friends. I have decided to try to encourage myself as I would any of the moms I know and see working so hard for their kids.

I have decided to extend grace to myself, as I try to do for anyone who is not me.

When All Else Fails…


Dear Me,

Of course you are tired and sitting on the couch too much and feeling defeated. You have had an average of 4 hours of nonconsecutive sleep each night for more than a week now. Sleep deprivation is real and you should not beat yourself up because you are not able to accomplish as much. Of course you can’t. Here is some chocolate.

Dear Me,

At least you did that laundry in the first place. You are working to take care of your family. It matters. If you wash it twice, so what. If you leave it in the basket on the dining room table for three days, it’s fine. Your kids are not going to remember and no one is calling CPS anytime soon. Here is some chocolate.

Dear Me,

Most 12 year old boys do not enjoy taking a shower. His resistance is partially because of all of his sensory issues and partially because he is completely normal. So are you. Yes he smells. But he is going to swim tomorrow. That will do. Here is some chocolate.

Dear Me,

Yes, it was frustrating when he couldn’t for the life of him recall the letter “i”. But you know what? Just 6 months ago, he didn’t know what it was at all, along with several other letters. And, he read the first two chapters of that book out loud to you this week. Dyslexia is just weird like that. He is making progress. Here is some chocolate.

Dear Me,

One of the reasons you homeschool is because it gives you the flexibility to adjust the schedule according to your family’s needs. Sleep is your top family priority right now. You know you will figure out the plan. You have for three years running. You will get to it when you get to it. Here’s some chocolate.

Dear Me,

You have been blessed with a sweet, loving, patient husband who tells you all the time he likes the way you look in any outfit. Just take him at his word, maybe skip the night cream tonight, and plan a fun time just for the two of you when the boys are gone at the end of the month. Here’s some chocolate.

Dear Me,

I know you wish you could keep all this together, but you can’t. And you know it. Only Jesus can. He loves you and he loves your family. He’s got this. So go take a bath, say a prayer, and eat some chocolate.

Love, You


This post originally appeared here on Not The Former Things in 2014.


Keep Reading…

For The Mom Who Feels Like She’s Lost Control Of Her Child



Sleep Deprivation and Mothering a Child with Special Needs

Hypervigilance and Mothering a Child with Autism


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  1. Awesome post and every bit of it true. Hang in there, mama. Maybe today calls for a double dose of chocolate and a nap! I might join you!

  2. Leigh-Anne vd Veen says:

    I really understand the challenges you are going through – I have been through many of them myself.

    However, may I make a suggestion – treat your sons as though they are “normal” – slowly teach them that your expectations of them is no different from what a normal boy would be. When my son was 13 years old, a very good friend of mine sat me down and said: “Leigh – he can do it – stop babying your boy”. She was right – he is in a mainstream school and is in his 2nd last year of school. It hasn’t been easy but so worth it.

  3. thank you SO MUCH! your honesty, your humble seeking for truth..grace…help….have been a blessing to me! I have 3 boys with “issues” that affect life every minute of every day…and a husband who’s “illness” has returned full force. I spent all last night in tears, I have been so angry inside and trying to hide it, but it is almost impossible now…and I feel like such a failure!!! yes, we mama’s of children on the spectrum and with medical conditions are EXHAUSTED! each day I look for, and find, some tender mercies from heaven, and I truly am greatful for them. I just still feel so lost, so tired..ya know?!

  4. You know what else? You did the laundry twice, but he didn’t take a shower. Way to conserve water!

  5. LOVE THIS!! Hang in there, Mama!

  6. I love it — it’s like you’re in my head — only my smelly boy is almost 9. I’m great with ideas, thoughts, words, but not so good with the tangible world of cutting nails, remembering wash, cleaning toilets, and the latter are the substance of my daily life now, so it’s easy to be hard on myself. Funny how it is so much easier to give grace to others — I’m nodding along with what you say and knowing you are a fabulous mother etc. But my default mode is “I’m failing God/my husband/my kids/myself” unless I’ve got it all together. And who has it ALL together when you wear as many hats as a homeschooling mom?! Thanks for reminding me to let myself be the flawed human being I am.

  7. Hi shawna,
    I have days like that, now this year I have started home schooling my
    child because I was drained last year. My son is on meds to sleep but sometimes It does not help.so hang it there
    I know what you are going thur. Prayers are with you.

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