When Mothering Feels Smothering

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   April 12, 2023 

The topic this month was about sharing your current struggles. While I debated and pondered about what to share, I kept quietly struggling with this one issue. It has become such a part of my everyday life that I hadn't even realised I was struggling with it. But every night, I invariably find myself praying desperately, 'Lord, something has to change!'

So what am I prattling on about?

Loving my children.

I have three amazing children and as much as I love them, I find that I struggle to love them well. I feel like a terrible mom for even feeling like this but there are days when I feel exhausted and have zero emotional space for them - to listen to them, to spend time with them or to play with them. My interactions with them feel very functional. I make sure they are fed, bathed, and dressed. I drop and pick them up from school. I provide them with entertainment. I take care of their needs.

But I don't make time to just be with them. During the time I spend with them, I feel like I'm either barking orders ('Clean up that mess!' 'Don't spill that on the floor!' 'Have you done your homework?' You get the picture) or scolding them for disobedience and wanton destruction (my 4-year-old son being the main culprit).  I'm so exhausted from these interactions that I'd rather have a few moments of blessed peace without them rather than with them! That sounds terrible and I struggle with this almost every day.

I feel bad because I always seem to be such an angry and stern parent. I wish I could loosen up and laugh a little more with them. I wish I could enjoy their company more!

On one side I'm terrified that I'm going to scar them for life. And the other, I find myself unable to change my response to the situation.

I know what I need to do. I know Who alone can help me. Yet I've been struggling to go to Him and ask for help.


Because I know He will change me.

I've been like Jonah. I'd rather do life on my terms. I can rationalise my behaviour after all: I'm an introvert. I need solitude and silence to thrive. I need my space. All valid arguments of course, but is it the life I've been called to live? 

I know that God has the power to transform. I've seen Him do it countless times. Yet I've been dithering because I don't really want to die to myself. I don't want to change. 

I finally can understand Jonah now. He liked things the way they were. He didn't want God to intervene and transform, because then the status quo would change. He was happy to die with his self-righteous piety rather than obey and free the Ninevites from damnation. Similarly, I'm also happy to continue on like this - unhappy and unsatisfied rather than buckling down and doing the work. 

Thank God for storms and big fishes though, right?

So this is my prayer from the "belly-of-the-fish",

Lord, I come to you empty-handed.

I've tried to be a better mom

A more likeable mom.

A kinder mom

But, it's not working. I'm tired of struggling, Lord. 

This is me, acknowledging defeat.


Lord, you alone can change my hardened heart.

You can break the coldness that keeps me rigid.

You can help me laugh a little more, hug more often, and slow down to the pace of little feet.

I ask you humbly, Lord, to change me.


Show me how to die to myself.

Teach me how to love more gently.

Help me to sacrifice without counting the cost.

Forgive me for not coming to You sooner.

In Jesus' name, 




Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance editor, writer, and recently, an artist. She has lived in several cities across India and currently calls Chennai home, where she lives with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy. She blogs at https://inkhorn.home.blog/ and paints @quaintstains on Instagram.

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11 comments on “When Mothering Feels Smothering”

  1. Well said. It seems so silly of God to place brand new parents in charge of raising brand new children. Every generation. But perhaps there is something in the community of family that moulds both parent and child. Praise God you are realizing this while you still have a 4-year old.

  2. Thank you genuinely capturing your emotions and also leading us toward the solution, through that brilliant prayer.
    I’m going to share with few of my Sunday school kids who are right now grappling with these emotions.
    Thank you Ruth!

  3. Well written Ruth. Being a mother of a 6 months twins I can very well relate with your words and yes agree that it is only God who can make us more to be what He wants us to be to these little growing champions. For sure a day is coming where we definitely will be happy and satisfied in playing the major role in raising these wonderful children and leading them closer to the God destined destiny.

  4. Even though my kids are older now, as I read your prayer out loud tears began to form. I can still sometimes miss the precious moments with my kids, and that joy that comes from letting Him mold me in my angry or overwhelmed moments. Thank you for your words!

  5. Ruth, I feel like someone has taken every feeling I have been going through past few weeks/months and put it down in words! The struggle is real. Dying to one’s self is no joke! I’m going to make this my prayer too. Thank you for giving me a nudge towards the right direction.

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