When Mothering Has You Feeling Uprooted and Threadbare

This year I planted a veggie garden.

I’d been dreaming of one of my own since I was little girl sneaking sweet peas and green beans off the vines in my daddy’s garden. I was the pickiest eater alive and cringed and fussed and gagged over everything green on my dinner plate. But during clean-up, when all the food I’d protested was swept off my plate, I’d head out into the backyard with my dad. He’d water, and I’d snack on raw vegetables. Cool evenings and conversations with my dad sprinkled some kind of magic over green healthy stuff: they were the secret ingredients to a delicious memory.

So, this year, when my dad made me a raised planter for my birthday, I dreamed big green dreams. I planned out the layout, picked the veggies, mixed the soil, and brought my kids into all of it—just as my daddy had with me. I showed them how to gently extract a plant from its container and where and how to place it. We spent hours working in the sun.

When it was all done, I stood back and admired the labor. The raw potential held within my backyard. Wouldn’t life look more romantic with veggies carried inside in a basket? The way the light would filter through feathery dill leaves onto shiny waxy pepper skins. There would be poky cucumbers and smooth tomatoes and little hands sneaking strawberries away.

The next morning, I went out to water and discovered my entire garden unearthed.

Chives were buried, an almost-onion uprooted, a pea plant was lying haphazardly, every single one of the borage I’d planted to keep the tomato bugs away was out of the soil and on their side, and my pepper plant had been practically plucked naked.

All courtesy of one lightning-fast almost-two year old.

I cried.

And, guys, while I worked to salvage my garden, Sam went straight to the food storage drawer, pulled out a new roll of foil, and unraveled it all over the house.

I was frustrated. I was disappointed. Maybe it was a silly dream—who dreams of baskets of vegetables anyways?  Maybe I was just a failure—a terrible gardener and a mom who stops to blink? My work felt futile, all of it. Messes on top of messes and why couldn’t I be good enough to protect my garden and my foil rolls? It all whispered of failure.

Messy. Uprooted. And buried. Like my plants.

I can’t help but think that maybe mothering little ones feels a bit like this. Like you are constantly being pulled out and apart at your very core: the tension between the pull of your great love against all your shortcomings and selfish longings. The way you feel buried, suffocating even, under the mundane tasks and the weight of the little souls you are nurturing: the string of errands that govern your day, the endless stacks of dishes and laundry, and the ever evolving needs of your kids that always seem to leave you stumped. The way your dreams look laid aside. The way your work feels useless. The yelling you thought you’d never do. The way you never seem to be able to do it all or do it as well as you think you should.

Motherhood touches right up against the cracks in our own souls.


It’s been a few weeks now since I (re)planted that garden. My plants limped for a few days in the recovery, but the water did its work and righted their posture. The practically-naked pepper plant grew a few more limbs so it’s looking a little less pathetic now—there’s even the bulbous swelling of future buds.

I’m struck by it. The resilience of plants. The way they were made to bear fruit. The way even in the uprooting and replanting, growth has still happened somehow. Sure, it's required extra care, and I certainly couldn't leave it all uprooted. But it's growing. I don't quite understand it. Maybe it's all a little less fragile than it seems.

The same is true for Sam and I.

We are still growing.

We were made to bear fruit.

And maybe we are a little more resilient and far less fragile than we feel.


I think of that often quoted verse in James:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

The Greek word for patience here is hypomone. It’s more than a content waiting though. It means steadfast, constant, and full of endurance. It’s an active, immovable, clinging-to-the-Lord stance. Jesus gives a picture of that word, hypomone, when he teaches the parable of the sower and his seeds. If you remember in the parable, a man went out to plant, and his seeds fell on different types of soil, each with different results. Here’s what Jesus says about the seed on the good soil: “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, NKJV). Bear fruit with patience. With steadfastness. With endurance. With hypomone.

It’s the slow patient enduring that keeps us rooted in good soil and leads to that perfect and complete work.

And I’m just saying, dear heart, no matter how you feel—how exhausted or inadequate or overwhelmed or even uprooted and laid bare—God is doing a work in your soul. He is suring you up, growing you in steadfastness. Maybe you’d like some kind of magic formula to get you through these small years. Like maybe there would be this one technique to parenting that once implemented would cause your child to immediately know how to behave. But it’s in the quiet enduring—the small faithfulness of daily watering, replanting if necessary, and a faith set deep in your heart that God loves you and His grace is sufficient for you. It’s the cleaning and recleaning, the never ending laundry cycle, and all the things for which it seems there is no end in sight. It’s the slow work, the steady work, the do-my-best-and-hope-it-all-works-out work. It’s failing and trying again. It’s knowing your need for a Savior and binding {and rebinding} your ever-wandering heart to Him.

It’s recognizing that while you do the tending and the watering, it is God who does the growing and the producing.

He made you to bear fruit. And you shall.


What sort of messy parenting moment have you stumbled through this week? How is parenting through these summer months going? Share in the comments? I’d love to hear from you.


By Grace,

Amanda Conquers