The Beautiful Ugly: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This is a guest post from the wonderfully wise Dana Matas of Confessions of a Busy Mama. (Reposted with permission)

The phrase “beautiful ugly” is a term used to describe a fashion model whose striking features could be considered either beautiful or ugly, depending upon the eye of the beholder. An apparent contradiction, it prompts one to reconsider their natural inclination to separate two extremes that are inherently related. It is a saying that in many ways describes characteristics of another highly esteemed occupation. Motherhood.

As a child, I grew up watching shows like The Brady Bunch, Little House on the Prairie, and Leave It To Beaver. The mothers depicted in these shows always had the perfect response to their children’s disappointing situations. Whether they lived in the suburbs or on the prairie, they were not only well dressed; but, at a perfect size 2, they had enough time to shower, put on makeup, clean the house and serve a home cooked meal. These mothers never scolded their children or lost their cool. They were the standard-bearers for what it meant to be a mom; and we as a society put them on a pedestal for all to emulate.

While wholesome entertainment, I eventually found that these shows offered a warped sense of reality, raising up a generation of mothers who fault themselves for not living up to a standard that isn’t possible outside of a television studio. I tried my hardest to mirror these examples once I became a mom, bending over backwards to make certain every childhood milestone was a flawlessly captured for the family scrapbook. I managed to snap plenty of photos worthy of a Pinterest pinup, but behind the scenes our life was less like Leave It To Beaver and more like Teen Mom 2—or at least somewhere in the middle.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Mom 2, it is a reality show that chronicles the lives of several teen moms, handicapped by immaturity, lack of a higher education and a broken home. The show offers an honest portrayal of the highs-and-lows of motherhood under less than ideal circumstances. Such reality shows often get a bad wrap for being a “train wreck,” particularly when participants display their less than stellar moments for public consumption. But isn’t that what motherhood is at times—our own personal train wrecks, bloopers and retakes?

We might not broadcast our mommy-meltdowns for the rest of the world to see, but those who count (our kiddos) witness them all the same. And yet, our children love us despite the scenes from our life we’d prefer left on the cutting room floor. They’d never call us as a “train wreck.” Instead, they affectionately refer to us as “mom.”

After 13 years, four kids, and many mishaps along the way, I’m learning that the unconditional love of my children is much more visible from the battlefield than way up on a pedestal. Certainly there are plenty of days when I seem to have this motherhood thing all figured out. The kids are happy. The hubby is happy. Everyone’s needs are met and then some. Loving me is easy. But it is during life’s struggles that our children come to understand the depth of our love for them and have the opportunity to reflect that love back at us.

In 1 Corinthians 13:7, God tells us that love “[…endures through every circumstance]”—good and bad. Through sleep depravation. Through raging hormones. Through financial woes. Through sickness. Through misunderstandings, mistakes and frustrations. When our children love us through those moments that most of society considers ugly, we must not beat up on ourselves, assuming that our children are victims of having a less than perfect mother. Rather we should rejoice upon witnessing the evidence that our children are becoming the person our perfect God desires us to be—and that is beautiful.

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.

Dana Matas is a wife, mother of four children, and Bible teacher for Community Bible Study in Carlsbad, California. To learn more about Dana and her life as a busy mama, visit her blog at  

Learning to Trust: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This post first appeared on Missional Motherhood, eloquently written by Caroline Saunders. (Reposted with permission)

At one time in my life, the middle of the night wasn’t anything to dread.
But I’m a new mom, and I’ve discovered that there’s a loneliness that belongs to the middle of the night. At first my baby needed me over and over again, her cries startling against the stillness, shaking me, the only one who can give her what she needs, the one who must navigate the stormy waters alone. Too alone.
She’s been sleeping through the night for a while, but now I’m the one who needs to learn to sleep. Too many thoughts, and tonight they sit heavy upon my chest and keep me awake. Today was like any other day. She’s a good baby, I am told. And I know it. But good babies are still babies, and today, like many other days, she had a spell of crying that I couldn’t diagnose. Sometimes the crying is deep and desperate, and its effect on me is like a punch in the gut. “What’s wrong, baby girl?” She doesn’t have the words to tell me, and my mother’s intuition fails, but eventually we make it through. We always do, of course, but it makes me uneasy. I hope she’s okay. I hope I’m doing okay.
Because what if she’s not? Or what if I’m not? I cannot even formulate these questions without my chest tightening and my hands shaking. I want to throw up. On nights like this I have to get out of bed and shake the words out of my mind and onto a blank page where they can’t haunt me.
This being a mom thing is the scariest thing I have ever done. It has revealed a dark piece of information I was not prepared to deal with: I do not know how to trust God.

Click here to read more on Missional Motherhood...

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.

Whispers: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This post first appeared on Bronwyn Lea’s blog. (Reposted with permission)
Photo credit: Georgie PauwelsFlickr Creative Commons
I went to bed too late. Bleary eyed and grumpy, I made all the mistakes: there was a screen in my bed, I ate sugar too late, I did not look at my husband eye-to-eye before clicking off the light. 
Sleep came hurriedly but, like taking a turnoff on a highway only to discover yourself going too fast on a suddenly-gravel road, I bumped in and out of consciousness. A fly buzzing, a light on and off, a memory of something undone, and then – within an hour – the thump thump thump of little feet making their way to my bed. Whoever spoke of the pitter patter of little feet wasn’t describing how pitter patters echo in the pumpkin hour.
I grizzled and leaned into the little face enquiring. Something about scary. Something about not being able to sleep. Something about wanting to sleep with us. I opened up the covers and felt his warmth clamber over me into the Parental Valley of Bliss. Asleep within minutes, he flung his arm out in slumbering joy, and whacked me in the eye.
Clearly, this was not working.
And, for what was surely the thousandth time in these years of mothering, walking the thousandth weary step in a path tread bare between our bed and theirs, I gathered him up and sighed a martyrs sigh to relocate his tangle of limbs to his own bed. 
The bathroom light flashed across his face as we walked, and his eyelashes made a dramatic shadowed sweep across his cheek’s contour. He stirred, and I spoke a hybrid of comfort-warning close to his ear: “shhhh. sleep.”
His breathed his reply: a whisper, a benediction of night time love: “I love you, Mommy.”
Oh, my baby. Mommy loves you too. 

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.
This post first appeared on Bronwyn Lea’s blog where she writes about motherhood, life and faith: the things that make her laugh and the things that make her think. Bronwyn is a South-African born writer-mama raising three littles in Northern California. You can find more of her words at, and follow along on Facebook and Pinterest

Severe Food Allergies & Counting Cars: Middle of the Night Motherood

This is a guest post from my sister-mama, Jackie Card of One Redeemed Mom.

It was over 10 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday …


Alyssa was so big when she was born. Over 10 pounds. But then the rashes started. And the crying. And the weight loss - hers, not mine unfortunately.  And the neverending spit-up and vomit. During the day, I was strong for my baby and my 3 year old. I just kept going. But at night.
Oh those long nights. That was a whole different story.

At night, we would sit by the windows in the wooden rocking chair. It was winter so we wrapped up in blankets and cuddled together. 

Alyssa would cry and cry until I nursed her. 

Then she would cry while she was nursing. 

Then she would cry until she spit up everything she just drank. 

Then we would sit there, rocking in the chair. She would fuss and cry and try with all her newborn might to itch the scratchy rashes. The cycle would start over again. She was hungry and I was trying to feed her and she would nurse and I would beg the Lord to just let enough stay in her little belly to calm her.

Eventually she would fall into a fitful sleep and I would just hold her, rocking, staring out the window and counting the cars that drove by. It kept me awake to force myself to remember what number I was on by the time another car went by. I would pray for my little, struggling baby. 

I would wonder what the final diagnosis would be. I would think about all the things her doctors were telling me at each visit. Asthma. Eczema. Failure to thrive? Cystic Fibrosis? Lord! What is happening?! My big, beautiful 10 pound baby was wasting away, vomiting up all the nourishment my body was trying to provide for her.  

The questions choked me in the middle of the night. 

I wish I could just vomit them all up, like Alyssa vomited out my milk. 

I need to know, Lord. I need to know what is wrong with my baby. I know You know already. Please, Lord.

We rocked, sometimes all night long, for 5 months. 

Finally a diagnosis. Severe, anaphylactic food allergies. 

Milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. 

Her allergies were so severe that when I ate the food she was allergic to, I was poisoning her. Now we knew and now we could work on fixing it. She should outgrow it by age 5, they said. She and I fought together, militantly eliminating every trace of those allergens from my diet and eventually hers. 

Slowly, the nights improved. She started sleeping in her bassinet, then her crib. On the days that I accidentally ate something she was allergic to, we would spend the night rocking again. 

On the nights Alyssa slept in her bed, I would stand next to her before I went to sleep. Listening to her breathing. Sometimes I would wave a nebulizer treatment in front of her tiny face, willing the asthma medication into her lungs. Sometimes I would just look at her. Are her lips swollen? Did she eat something without me noticing? Sometimes the questions still choked me.


Over 10 years later, I can’t say that the questions haven’t stopped. Age 5 came and went with no changes to her diagnosis. I’ve sent her to sleepovers with coolers full of food and birthday parties with her own cupcakes. I’ve slept with two phones by my bed, just in case something happens. I still question the Lord sometimes and wonder if she’s easygoing because of all the doctors visits, pokes and prods have made her that way. Or is she easy going because the Lord knew she would need a gentle spirit to walk through all He had for her.  I don’t know and will never know, this side of Heaven.

The only thing I do know, and the only thing I can say with confidence to you, is that the Lord hears and knows and is with us through the sleepless nights of spit up and choking questions. I don’t remember now how many cars drove past our house on those sleepless nights of rocking my baby but I do remember that the Lord was with us and still is.  

If you are struggling with a sick baby in the middle of the night, remember this one thing. The Lord knows and will gently lead you through this season. Trust Him and His will for your baby. I can’t tell you what your baby’s days will look like, but I can promise you that during your sleepless nights, The Lord hears you.

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.
hi. i'm jackie. follower of Jesus, even on the hard days. wife to the hubster, mom to four girls. homeschooler. organizer of stuff. wannabe farmer. i'm just one redeemed mom, trusting that God's not done with me yet. you can find me at, sharing about life, books and being a girlmom.

The Sleep Takers: Middle of the Night Motherhood

The Sleep Takers 
by Dana Robinson

At first it was an elbow, a foot, a hand or knee
Then it was an open mouth tiny, fierce and hungry

Once there was the virus with doctors, charts and fear
Followed by the illness whose mission very clear

Sometimes it’s a pat from a hand held high in air
And always is the need for more and constant prayer

Today it was the monster that suddenly came to fright
Tomorrow will be the question “did I do everything right?”

Yesterday had no cares and slumber always deep
But those were the days before, when all I had was sleep.

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.

Humble Housewife by day, Writing Ninja by night. Armed only with a 13’’ notebook and an appreciation for proper form, she helps rid the world of composition crimes, one semi-colon at a time.  When she’s not dangling from a participle or wading through non-linear narrative, she can be found one of these places: University of Houston - Downtown (where she is a professional writing student), Her son’s school (where she volunteers as much as she can), and (where you can join in the conversation about life and hope and what makes all of this worth it).