How Does She Do It?

Salisbury Post- May 10, 2020

Another trip to the grocery store. I should be awarded a prize as Food Lion’s best customer.

As always, I was dressed appropriately for swift and effective shopping — stretchy pants, comfy shirt, sneakers.

While loading my groceries into the car, I saw her. The perfectly dressed young mom — perfect makeup, perfect hair, and wearing heels.

There she was — the inspiration for my column.

As she stopped to look both ways prior to crossing the street to the parking lot, her four neatly dressed young children, stopped obediently. Two were on one side of her. Two were on the other side. Each was carrying two grocery bags — one in each hand. They looked both ways and then toward mom before crossing. Once reaching the car, they lined up to put their grocery bags in the trunk.

As I was loading my groceries in my car, I said aloud to myself, “She is perfect. How does she do it?”

I shook my head, thinking about my years as a mom of young children, my years as a mom of older children, my years as a mom of grown children. My years of juggling a work schedule and motherhood. As I watched Perfect Mom, that ugly voice in my head — the one I need to ignore — said to me, “Failure.”

It stung.

As I was pushing my shopping cart a little more forcefully than usual to its proper location, I heard a real voice — not the one in my head — call out my name, “Mrs. Farabee!”

It was her — Perfect Mom — calling out my name. She told me who she was, and then turned to her children and said, “This was my favorite teacher!”

It was one of the nicest introductions I could ever have received.

I confessed to her that I had seen her crossing the street with her children, had not recognized her, and wondered aloud, “How does she do it?”

Perfect Mom smiled and responded perfectly, “Your children were young when you were my teacher. How did you do it?”

I started to remember: School. Church. Baseball. Basketball. Football. Gymnastics. Dance. Homework. Grocery store trips. Taxi service. Well, not officially a taxi service, but it often felt like it.

Some days if everyone got dressed, had food, and brushed their teeth — that was enough.

Some days if our efforts to parent allowed us to see God breaking through to their hearts — it was way better than enough.

Hmm… now that I think about it, I guess I did do it.


Mother of the Year material — I think not.


My weaknesses made strong through Christ? Definitely so.


I did my best — and trusted God to do the rest.


There is no way to be a perfect mom — but a million ways to be a good one.

As I headed back to my car, Perfect Mom called out, “Thank you for everything. You’re the best!” I smiled and thought, “Not failure. Just the opposite. Success.”

Disclaimer: I still have no explanation for the night I took one of my children home after a basketball game and left the other behind. Hey — I said I wasn’t perfect.

But…this has been comforting to know: According to Luke 2:43, Mary and Joseph returned home from the festival, and did not even notice they had left Jesus behind.

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