Motherhood: Gavel or Grace


But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” ~James 4:6
My cell phone rings from the bedside table, morning still has not peeked in through the blinds yet. I reach  into the dark, pressing the phone to me ear.
“Yes?” I reply, knowing who is on the other end of the ring.
“I just wanted to let you know it’s icy, and to be careful. I don’t want you to fall when you take the dog out.”
I am almost 50 years old, she’s 71. Actually, today, at this writing is her 71st birthday. Yet, here we are connected by a phone call. One in a continuum of calls made that sound similar. Warnings. Advice. Newsworthy tidbits. Concerns. Outright worry.
When does one stop mothering?
We have shared a lifetime of bittersweet and beloved moments, yet here she is still mothering me. Because that’s what mothers do. We can’t help it.
 She’s never believed she was a good mom. She worked two jobs, a single mom. She did the best she could, and yet, somehow felt it was never enough. Because that’s what moms feel. Like it’s never enough. Never right. Somehow incomplete.
Who can measure the circumstances that God allows and determine the way perfectly? Who guarantees outcomes? 

Who holds the gavel to motherhood?
How moms want to extol their children, raise them high on pedestals, when they do well.
But, what when a mom has parented, loved, and done the best she could, the best she knows to do, and is met with pain, grief, heartache, betrayal or rebellion?
Do you, Mother, slam the gavel down on the bench and judge or take her into your arms and remind her that He is the only one who holds the gavel. 
Do you remind her that she is loved; beloved, despite her daily failings. 
Beyond the disappointments of her own childhood needs unmet, yet still she is upheld. 
 He alone promises to lead those with young. Do you remind her that whether her children are well behaved, good students or great athletes is really not all to her credit? Not that it is wrong to be proud of our children’s accomplishments, but perspective is needed. Clarity, sensitivity and discernment is needed in how we see and express ourselves with regard to these things. 
What then do you say to the mom, who is struggling with a special needs child or child who rebels? Do you analyze and compare? Do you assume you did a better job at your mothering because your children happen to fare well in the confines of society? Oh, you might not say it out loud, but is it implied? Do you think it?
What grace then, to the mother who is unavailable, negligent, unknown to herself and others, a victim of her own lack of nurturing in childhood? 
Will you choose the gavel or grace for your own imperfect mother, the imperfect mother you are and for all of the other moms who cross your path?
But he gives us more grace…
Lord, this journey of motherhood is beyond me. You show me again and again how much more I need to depend on your grace, instead of my own limited understanding. I need to do this for myself as a mom, and I need to be gracious with other moms, not assuming anything. Because, you alone know the  unique struggles within our souls. Lord, keep me from making snap judgments and conclusions based on what I see in others, in their mothering. Only you know the hidden and secret things- You alone will bring all to light in your time. Let me instead be a shoulder to a despairing mom, an encouraging word to a weary mom, and a present grace in a time of trouble for hopeless mom and a light shining you to a mom who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, right now. Remind me, I have no idea the hard battles that another might have overcome or currently be enduring. Let me be gracious, for you, Lord are gracious to me. Thank you that no matter who judges, or rejects me, You call me your own. That no matter how many times I mess up, you clean me up, and set me straight. Thank you that I am loved by You, and your desire is for me. I am your beloved. 
I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.Song of  Solomon 7:10

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

11 thoughts on “Motherhood: Gavel or Grace

  1. Dawn, thank you for sharing this post with Thought-Provoking Thursday last week. I have thought about the pendulum between gavel and grace a few times this week since I first read your words…. I want to choose grace. Lord, help me put down the gavel.


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