Last Updated on July 26, 2018 by Stacy Averette

“I can do it myself.”

When my kids were little, I heard those five little words a lot. Sometimes they were frustrating words because I was in a hurry and I could do it for them faster. Tie a shoe, button a shirt, zip a backpack.

Sometimes these words made me feel sad because I realized my babies were growing up and weren’t quite so dependent on me anymore.


beach 2001
Photo: 2001 Family Beach Trip

Now they’re all young adults and we’re reaping the harvest of the hard work of planting and sowing. Our kids have a strong, growing faith; they love each other and love to be together; and, they’re dependable hard workers.

The Messy Middle of Motherhood

But I still remember those days when it seemed they were always leaving something behind for me to clean up:

  • a mess in the kitchen.
  • wet clothes in the dryer for hours.
  • cleaning supplies or tools where they last used them.

I could go on.

My-husband-the-counselor would remind me that these are good things. “Successive approximations” he called them. “Snowballing forward”, he said.

“When they leave a mess in the kitchen it’s usually after they’ve planned and prepared their own meal.”

“When they leave wet clothes in the dryer it’s usually after they’ve done their own laundry.”

“When they leave cleaning supplies or tools where they last used them it’s usually after they were cleaning something or fixing something.”

“They’re doing what you’ve taught them to do,” he said.

He’s right about “successive approximations” and “snowballing forward” but it’s hard to see it when you’re in the middle of the mess.

Dear Mamma

Your babies are growing up, becoming independent, making some mistakes, and learning.  It’s part of the parenting process, too. Giving them the freedom to say and feel, “I can do it myself” at every age.

There may be days when you fear working yourself out of a job and days when it seems they’ll never grow up.

Don’t let the fear of either one of those rob you of the joy of motherhood.

As I write these words I’m in this house alone. The sound of the ticking clock on the wall behind me reminds me that life has seasons and rhythms.

I hear the front door slam and then, “Mom!”

“I’m downstairs,” I answer.

“What’s for lunch?”

Enjoy the successive approximations that come with every season of life and feel happy knowing they’ll always need you. Even if it’s just to make a sandwich.


4 thoughts on “Encouragement in the Messy Middle of Motherhood”

  1. I know it is encouragement for Moms, but I’m encouraged by this post and I’m a Dad. Thanks for being you!

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