Not Because I Was Perfect

Any perfect parents out there?

I’m definitely not, and frankly, as amazing and wonderful as my friends are, none of them are either.

We try so hard, don’t we?

Or at least we try hard for a long time, then we get tired or discouraged and our effort dwindles down to about a C+.

It’s stinking hard work, this parenting gig.

Therapeutic parenting takes it to another level altogether, as does parenting children with special needs of any kind.

There are rewards and lots of joy, but there are also times of sheer exhaustion, tears, and loneliness.

We grow weary.

The next day (or hour) our hearts are convicted, so we pick ourselves up and dig in once again.

Recently I stumbled upon something I wrote years ago from notes scribbled during a lecture by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact quote, or even the context of what she was saying.

What I have are the words that resonated with my heart in regard to connecting with my children and mothering them to the best of my ability.

When I reflect on relationships with my children, connection happened and attachment developed (and these are roughly Dr. Purvis’ words),

“…not because I was perfect, but because I was present.”

I find this comforting.

I’ve been “present” in this role as a mother for thirty years. The first four years were given to baby/toddler life, the next 23 years devoted to homeschooling + babies/toddlers, and the last three to being a work at home mom.

Could I be more “present” – yes, of course. But, this mom-life is not about being servants to our children.

It’s healthy to have interests, satisfying work (from home or not, depending on how your family functions best), and community.

At this stage, I find it easier to say “no” to just about everything because life feels full.  Right now, more than any other relationship, I want to spend time with Russ.

So being “present” will not look like “one-on-one” dates with my children. I admire all of you who make this a priority! You’re completely awesome.

I just can’t make it happen in my life, my marriage, and my family.

Present will look like taking that trip to New York with Beza last week to speak at an event and create special memories.

Present will look like a road trip to Minneapolis with the younger crew to celebrate Hannah completing five years of Otolaryngology residency.

Present will look like sitting in the stands at baseball games four nights a week cheering for Ebenezer and Wogauyu – with the boys in clean uniforms at each game (thank you very much).

Present will look like dinner cooked most nights, and sitting together at the table whenever possible in this busy season.

Present will look like helping Annarose pack and organize for her summer job as a camp counselor.

Present will look like having conversations with Zoe about her future and what is important to her.

At the end of the day, my children will clearly remember I was not perfect. Hopefully, by the grace of God, my worst moments will not be seared in their minds.

With all my heart, I hope they remember I was present.

And they were – and are – and always will be loved.


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Emily
    May 25, 2017

    Thank you for sharing these words; they are an answered prayer: God’s gift of encouragement to me today.

  2. Beth
    May 25, 2017

    Thank you for the reminder! Very timely reading after just responding to a teacher’s email concerning the actions of a trauma child who constantly lives in survival mode. Praying for the patience to be present when presence is a hard thing to do.

  3. Kathrin
    May 25, 2017

    That feels very good! Thank you for sharing,Lisa.

    I think about you and your family often but I haven’t been writing for a while.
    Love from Germany

    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 26, 2017

      So very nice to hear from you, Kathrin. Thank you.

  4. Jamie
    May 26, 2017

    I’m always encouraged by your posts, but this one felt especially timely. Sometimes the day to day feels so hard, but I’m hopeful that the simple moments of presence will be what last in their minds.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 26, 2017

      Yes, me too, I hope they remember the simple moments. I’m glad this post meets you today; thank you for letting me know.

  5. Juleeta Harvey
    June 1, 2017

    Thankful to have been referred here by my new friend, Sharon Hujik. Your words encourage me as we endeavor to enjoy summer. This is our first summer in 3 years to be out of foster care, and I’m thankful it has given me more time to be present.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 1, 2017

      I’m so glad you’re here, Juleeta. Enjoy your summer – it’s good to rest and be restored.

  6. laurie
    July 23, 2017

    I’ve desperately tired to have a baby with my husband for the last 13 years. I’m afraid I can’t adopt due to needing to be gainfully employed and can’t handle the minimum of 30k at minimum to adopt thus also foster to adopt to be a stay at home parent in order to reduce my household income less than 30k a year in order to possibly care for a child who may or may not come. Please pray as my heart aches for the right thing. Whoever knows what that might be…

  7. Anonymous
    August 8, 2017

    Thank you. As a foster mom to a beautiful one-year-old and a newly adoptive mom to an answered prayer who’d nearly four-months-old, I am often exhausted, overwhelmed and seriously questioning my own parenting skills. I am my own worst critic, and though I am reminded often how much these girls need and adore me, I never feel like I am doing anything right. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I say again — thank you. I needed a reminder that I am amazing just because I show up.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 10, 2017

      You are amazing! I’m so glad this reached your heart today.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy