Real Moms, Realistic Expectations for Gratitude & Grace

“Summer wonder expectations” get me down and out.  I really want my son to have a magical summer; I realize this is one of our limited eighteen together.  But, I cannot help but feel defeated when he sighs, “I’m so bored” almost directly after we have done something that took a lot of preparation and energy: boating, swimming, attending a party, or (even worse) going on an expensive outing or trip! Let’s be real: I just want him to be sweet and thankful, not whiny.  Is he falling short, or do I need to readjust my expectations? 

Am I doing something wrong?  How can I make sure I am growing gratitude in my son?  Anna’s wise words from this past post rang true in my heart, “But now, with my third child, I’ve realized that I’m not doing anything wrong. They have their good and bad moments, and they’re just kids being little. Keep doing what you ARE doing. The gratefulness will come in time with maturity, little by little. Keep talking to them about it (it’s not all going out the window, I promise), keep modeling it.”

They are just kids being kids.  My son has only been on the planet for five years, and he can only absorb so much.  I have been on the planet for thirty-five years, and I can only handle so much. I needed this reminder today, and I hope it encourages you too, mamas.  We are real moms who need to extend each other and our kids real grace.  And that grace often takes shape in the form of understanding, empathy, and slowing down enough to meet each other where we are instead of where we wished they (or we) were emotionally, spiritually, or even sometimes age-wise. Part of maturity, I am learning, is maintaining realistic expectations in each situation. 

My five-year-old exclaims his “boredom” out of a sheer lack of vocabulary.  He does not have the language to say, “Mommy, that was so fun, and now I am in this aftermath of ennui.  I don’t know how to calm my body down after that adrenaline rush, and I want to talk about it instead of numbing out on my device, so I am going to just repeat how I am so bored, okay?”

So in that moment, I tried to shift gears for him and help him reflect on the awesome time he just had.  I think our spirits need to bask in gratitude together. I am trying to slow down and process life together more than jump from one Instagram-worthy moment to the next.  Maybe these questions will help you too: 

  • What was your favorite part? 
  • Who did you have the most fun with? 
  • If we go again, what will you bring? 
  • What will you always remember? 
  • What are you most thankful for? 

Asking these questions helps us model gratitude.  I find myself trying to slow down enough to be specific with my reflection and grow in maturity myself.  In a world screaming “Go! More! Now!,” walking by the Holy Spirit requires rest, reflection, and genuine affection. 

Not that it’s all grace and kumbaya.  I feel it is important to hold ourselves and our kids to high standards.  You would not be reading our posts unless you wanted to reflect and grow as a mom. So how can we make sure we are not too lenient?  The balance of grace and truth is always tricky for me. Grace for my son yesterday meant letting him splash around and extend his time in the pool after swim lessons…to a point.  And then it led to drawing a line and discipline so we could get home and move onto the next agenda item. I steeled myself for the battle and pushed through after extending him a little grace. 

And then, on the flipside, have you ever been so overcome with gratitude it stops you in your tracks? Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with how my son is growing into his own little person as I saw him work so hard to do the backstroke at swim lessons.  I intentionally made sure we locked eyes when I exclaimed, “Way to go! I am so proud of you.”  

Mamas, growing grateful hearts confronts me with my selfishness and perfectionism. I have to stop myself and literally grab my son (or even my husband) by the cheeks and press my forehead to theirs and say, “I love you. You are incredible. I am so thankful for you.”  Eighteen summers will come and go before we know it. They won’t remember all the details and the plans, but the imprint of love and grace on their souls will be eternal, Mamas, and that is more than enough. Our hearts pouring out and into theirs? It is more than enough. 

Jo Perkins

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:25 NLT)
  • “Discipline your son while there is still hope— but don’t set your heart on his destruction.” (Proverbs 18:19 ISV) 
  • “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will bring delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17 ESV)
  • “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 BSB)
  • “That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts.’” (Joel 2:12 NLT)

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

Living Out the Truth 

Ideas to try:

  • What if you take time to find a book that relates to the experience you are having as a family?  On Amazon, you could order Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come! Or a book about Vacationing, Summer, Moving, or new siblings.  Having the book as a conversation starter can lead to those deeper heart connections with your kids and cultivate gratitude. 
  • If you haven’t already, subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you’ll receive updates about our latest posts directly to your email inbox. (Look for the “Stay Connected” box on the right hand side of the blog.) 

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms.
Sometimes our life situations need more. In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}