Becoming a Joyful Mother of Children

While we were in Chicago, we stayed at a hotel that was a considerable distance from downtown, and took the train in every day. This was (usually) fun for the children, and it saved us lots of money so that we could actually do more exciting things on vacation. The only downside was that we often found ourselves on a late train back to our hotel when traveling for another hour was the last thing we wanted to do with three wiped out little girls and two exhausted parents.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Me and my popsicle-faced girls: Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

One night on the train, another family got on and sat across from us. They were clearly just as tired out as we were, and it looked like they had had a really great time since they were all wearing paper hats with insults written on them from that one restaurant (Dick’s Last Resort) and the kids were happily chatting with each other. 

Now, I don’t presume to know what the mom was feeling or how her day went, but she was one grumpy lady. I couldn’t help but notice that she was snappy with her kids for no apparent reason, that she acted annoyed if they wanted to tell her something, and that when she did talk to them she only told them not to do whatever it was they were doing.  (Hey, the train isn’t big, and they were sitting directly across from me so it was hard not to notice!)

I was kind of appalled at her behavior, but then I started to realize that I am that kind of mom way too often. Tired. Annoyed. Unengaged. Preoccupied. Critical. It was like getting hit over the head with a two-by-four for me to realize how that might affect my children, and I am determined not to be that mom. 

I want to be the mom who always has a smile ready for her child, no matter how tired I am. I want to be the mom who always listens and responds no matter how annoying my child is. I want to be the mom who is involved with my children and cares about the things they are telling me.  I want to be the mom who is willing to drop whatever I am doing becaue my child needs me. I want to be the mom who gives more positive reinforcement than negative, the mom who says yes more than she says no.

I’ve thought a lot about the Time Out For Women that I attended this past April.  I have had a really hard time coming up with something to become this year. I was leaning towards working more on my health, on becoming an exerciser, but I am already feeling good about that particular goal and felt I needed to focus on something else. I just wasn’t sure what it was.

Until I observed that mom on the train. I realized that the thing I need to become is a “joyful mother of children.” Sure, I am a joyful mother sometimes. Perhaps this website even leads people to believe that I am a joyful mother all the time. However, I can assure you that I am not. 

But I want to be.

And so, I am resurrecting my Project Walking Into a Hug (I based it on this bookby Janene Ustach). In typical Lara fashion, I started something that I never finished. I hit a wall and I gave up. I am going to try to finish it this time, even though I might have a hard time staying on track. Each week I will post the goal for the week and if you would like to join me, you are welcome. I could definitely use the support and the cameraderie. 

I’ll start next week (I’m on yet another vacation right now). In the meanwhile, I’ll review the four goals I actually completed last time.

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Mailbox Moments

Your picture tells a thousand words: a great Mom that loves her girls.

I love the idea of working on being a joyful Mom. I think I'll work on that as well 🙂

Great thoughts today, Lara.



love this post

Annette Lyon

I've had similar experiences–seeing a mom and being horrified twice, first by her behavior, and then by the realization that I might have been like that a few times.


I love this post and I really needed to read it today. Thank you.

Sometimes it takes a bad example to show us how NOT to be. I've had very similar experiences with other mothers.

I would love to be a more joyful mother:)


I must say that I'm excited that my kids get out a good 2 hours apart from each other. This is going to allow me to give each one some attention when they get home.

We set the tone, how annoying is that?

The Ginter Family

Thank you for sharing. It gave me the boost I needed today. Keep being a great mom!

That Girl

Love it.

"A Joyful Mother of Children" is my favorite book by Linda Eyre!

Mendel Markel,

Great post. My Rabbi told me years ago "I bless you that you should enjoy your children, because if you enjoy them you will find that they too will enjoy you". I still find the truth in that and I'm glad to say we do enjoy our children and they in turn enjoy us as well. But still, sometimes we have our days, them as well as us. But I think ultimately kids will remember the overall feeling and won't hold it against us for being sometimes human 🙂


It is difficult to always be "on" as a good mother. I have a lot of patience, but I don't engage with my children as often as I would like to. This is a good reminder to me to work on that.


Oh sheesh, Lara. I read this and thought, "but wait, I wasn't on a train in Chicago lately…" Seriously. I KNOW I'm like this a lot. I read it thinking, "that time of the month, kids who misbehaved all day, migraine etc." Any of those factors (and others) could cause me to be almost nothing but annoyed with my kids. I hate that. I'm going to join you on your journey.


How I wish I could have embraced being a joyful mother more when I was raising the boys. The bad news – there are no do-overs
THe good news – they still turn out okay and love you.

I'll be anxious to see the goals, I could use something to focus on right now other than running my guts out


Sort of makes you wonder what people think when they are watching you, hu? I am going to be a little paranoid now. 🙂 But really, that was probably a tiny bit of a tender mercy for you. An eye opener. And reading about it was for me to. It is so easy to be that mom. And so hard to be the engaged mother who enjoys being a mother all the time. I am going to work on that more too. Thanks for they eye opener!

Mendel Markel,

I can see the paranoia setting in now. Every time I have to discipline my kids in a public place I'll start snapping at random passers by "What are YOU looking at! What you think you're a better father?" lol