Motherhood is a wonderful thing. It’s a blessing, a privilege, an opportunity to see what we’re made of. And we take it for granted far too often. When I struggled with infertility, I would find myself imagining a little boy with blonde hair, flipping the pages of story books as he snuggled against my chest. Now I have a little boy with blonde hair. And tonight he flipped through story books while he snuggled close against my chest. I’m blessed. (And I earnestly pray that those of you who are struggling with infertility would someday be so blessed too.)

But, every so often I find myself kicking the dirt and toeing the line at a fork in the road of motherhood. One path leads to ungratefulness, ingratitude, selfishness, and apathy. In the opposite direction are thankfulness, joy, intentional living, and generosity. I’d like to say that I choose the latter road every time. I don’t. But what I have learned is that motherhood is all about failing and trying again. I’ve adopted these mantras for times like these. When you’re disappointed in yourself and your family, when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed. These mantras are all about encouragement for moms.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

This is one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis. Joy is yours! But if you yield to the temptation to compare yourself, your kids, or your husband to others, you allow your joy to be stolen. Think of it this way: I dare you to set your most prized possession (let’s say your wedding ring) out on your lawn. Stick a sign beside it saying “Steal me, please.” Would you do it? Of course not. But when we compare our unique, individual, and God-given family to others and then let disappointment sink in, that’s just what we’re doing. Satan doesn’t need a whole host of warriors to steal your joy, he just needs your wishful thinking. Don’t give him the satisfaction!

Action step: What is special and unique about my family? Celebrate that!

Do hard things.

Anything worth having is difficult. Goals that are easily met usually aren’t as impactful as goals we struggle and fight for. In the words of Winston Churchill “Never give up, never give up, never give up.” Be it breastfeeding, being loving in a perpetually sleep deprived state, or simply finding strength to tackle your to do list, remember this mantra. It’s not about proving your strength, it’s about displaying His strength. Proverbs 31: 17 “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”

Action step: What one difficult goal will I decide to persevere toward this week?

When in doubt, show grace.

Where would you be if it wasn’t for grace? Grace is a hard thing to give sometimes, because we’re under the impression that it must be earned. Do I deserve grace? Absolutely not. Does God give me grace freely? Yes! Since we’re meant to walk in the Spirit, how about giving like He gives? Freely, without expectation of it being earned. Let me tell you, imperfect mamas are the only kind of mamas. Mercy and grace and compassion are the only answer. For you. For your family. James 2: 12-13 “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Action step: Who will you show grace to today?

This too shall pass.

This one is a two-sided coin. On one hand it’s encouraging for those trialing times. You know, like when your baby goes through a growth spurt and wants to eat every hour on the hour. Or when the only word your toddler repeats is “no!” This too shall pass. But on the other side, it’s an imperative reminder to savor the journey. Those visceral experiences where you realize that you’re impacting both the temporary and eternal lives of tiny human beings. The smallness of their hands, the roundness of their cheeks. The ridiculously adorable ways they mispronounce words. It’s all a phase. As Solomon said, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7: 14

Action step: Write down three specific things you want to remember from this stage in your family’s life.

Looking for more encouragement and intentional living tips? Check out why to implement these house rules I learned from my mom! They’ll change the way you parent forever.

Which path will you choose? I hope these mantras are a source of encouragement for you today.

What advice do you have for other moms that want to feel more grateful and inspired?