The Day My Fragile Identity As A Mom Melted

She had the most angelic sweetheart lips. And eyes blue as the most inviting of oceans. Blonde ringlet curls. Chubby cheeks begging to be kissed over and over and over.

Little hands that instinctively curled around my finger while simultaneously melting my heart.

Pure sweetness wrapped in a pink blanket.

And then came the day this little creature pursed those lips, gripped the toy in her hand, tilted her blonde ringlet pigtailed head and screamed, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

It was a small red toy my friend let her borrow. My friend who was much more organized than me. She had brought along toys and baggies of cheerios to keep the kids entertained during our coffee date. The plan to use this toy as temporary entertainment had worked beautifully. Until it was time to go.

I could feel a burning flush of embarrassment rush from my chest to my face.

Of course my friend’s child was shining her halo with one hand while happily handing over her yellow toy with the other.


“Mine! Mine!” My daughter screamed as every eye in the small java joint stared at me.

I pried the toy from her hand, thanked my friend, and hoisted my kicking and screaming daughter out of the wooden highchair. And then in slow motion I watched in horror as she knocked my paper coffee cup from my hand and sent it careening across the floor.

I felt my fragile identity as a mom melt into the puddle of spilled coffee. What happened to my angel? My beautiful, beautiful daughter was…. not so angelic.

It’s been many years since that day in the coffee shop.

But oh how I wish I could go back and sit with my little inexperienced mommy self on the drive home that day.

I would say, “Your daughter is a child in need of a parent. She needs to be taught. And some of your best teaching opportunities will come when she puts her sin nature on display. Don’t fear or fret or feel like this is some sort of failure on your part. Her outside demonstrations are an internal indication of her need for guidance. So guide her. Love her. And always remember to be the parent. Not her friend. Not her buddy. The parent.”

That daughter is 19 years old now. And is an absolute delight.

But growing her up wasn’t always easy. There were many more times when she put her sin nature on display. And each time I had to choose to be the parent.

It’s not easy to be the parent. It seems less and less popular to tell kids no.

As parents, we need to set boundaries. Teach our kids the difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations. Not cater to their every whim. Draw lines between what’s appropriate and inappropriate for language, entertainment, and the length of our hem line. Model manners. And what it looks like to seek a life of godliness, not just religious activity.

Glory knows I’ve been so imperfect with all this.

But holding the line on being the parent, even when done imperfectly, is good.

And will be worth it.

Even in those seasons where you feel as if they’re doing everything the opposite of what you’ve taught them. All that parenting is in them. And the fruit of that will emerge one day.
Even when you feel like your children are doing everything the opposite of what you taught them, all of your parenting is in them. It will be worth it! www.lysaterkeurst.com
Be the parent.

That’s what our kids need so desperately.

And be encouraged my sweet friend… you’re doing better than you think you are.


  1. Kelly says

    I would give this to my oldest daughter. She is 22 and such a hard working young woman.She will often have 3 jobs and will be graduating with her BA within a year. She is so wise with her money that she doesn’t have any left over for extras, which is a shame because she loves fashion, The Lord, and Starbucks! I would love to bless her with this gift. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Joanne says

    Hi Lysa and Hope,

    I came over from Encouragement for Today after reading your daughter Hope’s devotion. I read down farther on the page and realized that the April 8 devotion is meant for me today too. I have raised two grown children, ages 23 and 18. Long story, but we now have adopted two boys who are a sibling group who are now ages 2 and 3. All the lessons I learned with the first two, on some days, seem to fly right out the window. These two boys are like starting over again. So, all that you said in the story is what I need today. I’m reading Jesus Calling and today talked about thanking the Lord for everything so He is able to work, so I have been, with the temper tantrums, screaming, fighting. Then along comes your post. Thank you much! Your daughter’s post applies too for you in that you are ministering right where you are, and the Lord is letting me know I am ministering right where I am. We would not have undertaken the adoption unless the Lord had made this more than abundantly clear we were to go on this adventure. And I am not young at all. So thank you both! (I am not entering the giveaway, I just wanted to let you both know you spoke to me)



  3. Julie says

    I would love to give this gift package to my 13 year old daughter. She’s a beautiful, loving girl and loves God, yet doesn’t have a lot of confidence. I would like her to open herself up to all the possibilities there are if she would go full in & trust God with everything in her life. She has a great influence on her friends and I can’t wait to see what He accomplishes through her in the future.

  4. Ashley Buckland says

    Thank you for this encouragement! I found your website after reading a post you had on the MOPs webpage. It was the story of my 18 month old and how I feel everyday as her mom, that I am failing as a mom and failing her. But you have helped me see that I need to guide her “sin nature” and that I am the mom God made for her. Thank you.

  5. Jamie says

    I needed this today. Thank you. I have one of those sweet angels that has turned into a demon. He is 21 months and I don’t know where he came from! LOL! I just don’t know how to parent the anger and the fits. But I will be the parent. Thank you. I also really enjoyed no more unglued mamas. The 5 day thing. Very practical and I am trying to live it out in my parenting. My other boys are 3 and 4 so lots of toddlers…sigh…

  6. Deanna says

    Lysa~ I so enjoy your posts and your writing style. We just finished UNGLUED in our Bible Study, and it was a gift from God. I am really struggling with keeping it all together. What I wouldn’t do for a sit down with you! You are such a wise Godly woman, and I would really like your advice. There is so much going on in my life right now. So much hurt and anger. I am the SAHM of 4 children 5 and under. If that wasn’t stressful enough, I am also the wife of a spiritual, emotional, sexual, verbal, and mental abuser. I am losing hope. I am trying with all my might to save my marriage, and be the godly wife God wants me to be, but I am failing. I don’t know what to do, or pray anymore. I feel stuck. I love Jesus, and my husband, and my children, but I don’t know how to keep going in this marriage. I can’t lose my children. Can you offer me any words? and I would appreciate ALL of the PRAYERS I can get. I have been to emotional to pray lately, other than to say LORD, He’s Yours!

    • Theresa says

      Say “Lord, I’m yours”! I’m praying for you! I’m in a very similar situation. Don’t know hope…. our God is capable of miracles. Your Sister In Christ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amanda says

      Deanna, I saw your comment on Tuesday. I’ve been praying for you and your family. I understand the anguish and brokenness that abuse can cause. You’re doing the right thing by reaching out to other Christians for support and drawing closer to Him in Bible study. I will continue to pray for you.

  7. Jennifer says

    I would bless my childcare provider. I am so fortunate to have a woman who loves the Lord providing guidance to my daughter when I am not able to be with her.

  8. lindsey says

    Wow, so good and I needed this. As a mom of 2 boys, age 2 and 4, I have to reign them in a ton. They are strong willed and exert defiance all day. I battle it and stay consistent the majority of the time but it is so hard and exhausting. I know they are going to do something amazing for God though so I dig my feet in and continue the journey God has called me too. I love being a Boy Mom.

  9. says

    Hey Lysa,
    Just wanted to let you know how much I love all you have to share. I led a bible study the last 3 months using your book “Am I Messing Up My Kids?” It has been life changing for all of us.
    I started a blog this month called “Gone Like Rainbows,” which I named after a section in your chapter, “What Will My Kids Remember Most?”
    I post every Monday. I quote something from you almost every week ๐Ÿ™‚ and wondered if you ever have time to read one of my posts – and like it – if you might share it on your Facebook page or blog? ๐Ÿ™‚ Blessings to you, and thanks for being a blessing to all of us ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. says

    Thank you, Lysa!
    I always appreciate your honesty and openness about your experiences.
    I got a chuckle as I was in a similar situation (a few times!) today with my son, age 4. He’s my fourth child and I still struggle with these situations. Thankfully, the time I’m thinking it over isn’t as long as it used to be! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Lisa Pepper says

    I have a question for Lysa about adoption and I’m not quite sure where to ask it. Hopefully she’ll find it here. I also have biological and adopted at an older age children. How do you handle a family pictures when you have TONS of your bio children at infancy and love to look at those and NONE of your adoptive children as infants?

  12. Amy Marchiondo says

    Thank you Lysa for being a Godly women who gets it! I feel so done every night and wonder if I’m anywhere close to being the Mom/women God has called me to be. I need encouragement, wisdom and lots more patients, so keep the blogs coming! Thank you!