hen I was in the second grade, my
parents enteredme in a beauty contest.
Mother gathered layers of baby blue tulle
She curled my hair with skinny rubber curlers.
While we girls waited in a school classroom,
someone snapped my picture. The black-and-
white photo shows my curly hair, long gown,
and big smile with two front teeth missing.
I don’t remember what it was like to walk
across the stage or how I felt when I didn’t win,
but I do remember comparing myself with
another girl. Her dress was pink and fancy and
came from one of the big department stores in
Nashville. Mine was simpler, homemade, and
blue. I felt second best.
My feelings about my homemade dress have
changed since 1959. I’m not ashamed of it
anymore; it is a sentimental keepsake. My blue
gown, made by my sweet mother, is in a closet,
waiting for my granddaughters to wear it for
Comparing myself with other women is still a
challenge. As much as I want to be like Mary
Poppins, “practically perfect in every way,” I am
much more like Jo in LittleWomen,“hopelessly
flawed.” I have a desperate need for grace.
Do you feel inadequate, imperfect, hopelessly
flawed? I’ll tell you a secret: You are, I am, and
so are those mothers to whom we compare
ourselves. That’s why Jesus died. Do you think
you have to be perfect to do a good job with
your children? God doesn’t think so. Stop and
think about the woman God chose to be your
children’s mother. Out of all the women in the
world, out of all the women in the history of
the world, He chose you.
Cherish your role as a mother. Don’t let your
feelings of imperfection keep you from being
what your children need. Those feelings can
rob your children of something they need very
much: you. Pray. Trust. This is God’s work you
are doing. Remember that He understands all,
He is able to help, and He loves you. You don’t
have to carry the whole load. Give yourself grace.
Do you compare your children to other children?
Your children need grace too. God made each one
children learn calculus with ease; others are good
with their hands. Some learn to read when
they are four, others when they are eleven.
Some grow up to be skilled engineers; others
become compassionate caregivers. Trust God’s
wisdom in making each child the way He did.
One of the beauties of home schooling is that
you can tailor a child’s learning to help him
become the person God intended. Teach him.
Be patient with her. Wait when he needs you
to wait, push when she needs you to push,
but never try to press your child into someone
else’s mold. Accept each individual that God
has created and put in your care. Give your
If we play this comparing game long enough,
we might actually find people who make us feel
not inferior, but superior. Do you sometimes
look at other mothers, shake your head, and
wonder why they do this or don’t do that? Do
you wonder why their children act the way
they do? Do you judge some mothers because
of how they home school and others because
they don’t home school?
Remember that we don’t all have the same
story. We don’t have the same challenges.
Perhaps the women we are judging are doing
the best they can. They might be learning
every day what “normal” is because they grew
up in troubled families. They might barely be
holding on in their marriages. They might
be struggling to rear hurting children whom
someone else has abandoned. We only see
part of the picture. Only God knows the whole
truth. He is the perfect judge. Give grace to
God began giving grace in the Garden of Eden.
Thousands of years later He inspired the last
words of the Bible:“The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with all. Amen.” Look at that tiny word all.
God offers grace to everyone who seeks Him:
you, me, and all those other mothers. Let’s
be mothers of grace—mothers who seek God
with all our hearts, mothers who raise children
to be the people He created them to be, and
mothers who have the grace to let others do
Charlene Notgrass and her husband Ray home
schooled for twenty years. She is the head of
curriculum development for Notgrass Company
by Charlene Notgrass