Putting on the Happy Face

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him”
· Lamentations 3:22-24 ·

It was one of those mornings in the Pierce house. Did I say it was a Sunday morning?

It was a Sunday morning.

In typical pastor’s family fashion, I was practically a single mother of four on Sunday mornings.

I followed all the be-ready rules for people like me: My purse, complete with car keys, waited on the kitchen counter, and I went to bed the night before with clean clothes laid out and little shoes lined up in a row with socks that matched.

But the morning was a blur of “Don’t hit your sister,” “Yes, you’re wearing that dress,” and “Please stop crying.” Of course, I can’t forget to mention the baby’s contribution. You know, the only one who couldn’t run away, pinch a sibling, or talk back? You guessed it, the diaper malfunction.

I was near tears by the time I pulled into the church parking lot. Just as I put the car in park, I heard a wee voice from the back seat.

“Well, Mom. Time to put on your happy face.”

Wait, what?

Is that what I taught my children? Does a messy, real-life family morning magically become some sort of ideal when we walk through the front door of the church?

Worse yet, beyond what the people at church think of me or my family, what do my children think?

I wished I could rewind the morning.

Now that I am a grandmother and my perspective has changed, I have some advice from the other side of crazy.

  • Every family with kids struggles to get in the car without someone yelling “I’ve got shotgun!”
  • Milk is going to spill.
  • Socks will be mismatched.
  • “He’s looking at me!” is real.
  • Diaper malfunctions are a fact of life.

Young Moms everywhere—breathe! When you have children it’s okay to wear the tired face, the frustrated face, and even the hungry face. Your kids know you aren’t perfect. So don’t pretend.

Having a rough day?

  • Tell your kids you’re sorry if you blew it.
  • Give yourself a brief timeout to pray.
  • Change gears: Get out the playdough, take the kids outside, send everyone to their beds with a book, sing.
  • Get the crew in the kitchen for a healthy snack.
  • Forgive yourself.

The bad news is there is no do-over for today.

The good news is tomorrow is a brand new day.

The best news is the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases! Put your hope for a better day in Him alone. His mercies never end.

Shelley Pierce is a pastor’s wife, mom, grandma and the Director of Preschool and Children’s Ministries at Towering Oaks Baptist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee. The best part of living in the beautiful mountains of eastern Tennessee is getting to spend time with her husband, Tommy, and their amazing children and grandchildren.

Shelley worked for ten years as a contracted writer for LifeWay Childhood Ministries and is published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She is the author of The Wish I Wished Last Night, exciting new middle-grade fiction from Elk Lake Publishing. She also writes a monthly column in The Christian Online Magazine as well as a personal blog, shelleypaperbackwriter.blogspot.com.

Connect with Shelley on Twitter and Facebook.


cover photo by Tim Green courtesy of Flickr

3 thoughts on “Putting on the Happy Face

  1. Yup. Been there, bought a ticket, and did that. I mourn the loss of the moments spent clinching my jaw, fighting tears, and missing the words that could have consoled. The hymns I couldn’t sing because my voice was too weak. May moms of young ones guard their moments better than I did.


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