Discontent with Discontent

Jul 9, 2012

While I was sitting on the toilet, he barged in announcing he just went poop. Since we are potty training I was happy, then horrified. Happy he confidently  “went”. Horrified when I remembered we only have one downstairs bathroom…and I’m using it!

“Where did you go poo-poo?”.

“In the playroom.” I soon discovered, like a dog, my son had left his mark in the backyard of the Little People play house.

Moments later my almost 7-year-old son started crying because his size 4/5 underwear was cutting into his side. Unfortunately, my oldest doesn’t have “hand-me-downs” to put on. I’m the mom and in charge of buying him new ones. But he is on the “skinny” side and the underwear was from Gap so they appeared to fit well. And it’s been a busy season of life, meaning we all have had to make sacrifices, right?

His tantrum lead to my tantrum

Given the justified tears over too-small underwear I announced we were going to Kohls. I asked everyone to get their shoes on. My simple request launched my 2-year-old into Croc-coveting (his brother has new Avenger Crocs) and a full-on tantrum.

I asked him to join me in the bathroom (our family “discussion” room). I attempted to reason with him… explained how he had his own Crocs…those were his brother’s shoes…one day they would be his…the shoes are too big now…

He persisted.

I cried.


Why would a grown 35-year-old woman cry when her son threw a tantrum over Crocs?

I’ll tell you why. In my head I pictured “them”. The two sweet girls. The ones who obediently get their shoes on. The ones who compliment their mom’s fingernail polish. The ones who quietly put together 300 piece puzzles (true story).

I want them. Not my tantruming, poop-on-the-floor boy who wants his brother’s crocs. Not my almost 7-year-old who complains about too small underwear (although I understand he was uncomfortable).

I began to lecture my boys about their discontent. Can’t he be happy with the shoes he has? Shouldn’t he be grateful he even has underwear?

And I stop myself.

Who’s really being the ungrateful one? I’m the adult crying because I want different children. The greatest gifts God has given me and I’m upset at His choice. 

I apologize…


The rational side of me knows I’m being unfair. I’m comparing the worst versions of my boys to the best versions of girls. In glorifying a fantasy of perfect girls, I’m missing the wonder and joy of my boys. 

Later in the afternoon, while encouraging a group of new moms, I’m the one who left encouraged. One of the mentor moms shared how when she would allow fear, guilt, discontent to discourage her, a close friend would remind her to “Look Up!”.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

In the busyness of a new baby I’ve neglected my gifts list. When I stopped counting, I stopped enjoying and I started comparing.

I grabbed a large piece of white paper. With a red sharpie wrote “1,000 gifts” across the top and hung it on our living room wall. Now the list is clearly visible, and not ignored. And the boys can join me in counting His gifts of grace instead of grumbling.

We’ll attempt to look up more than we look around. When we do look around it will be to count our gifts.

Do you struggle with looking around instead of looking up? How do you combat discontent in your home?

**You will be happy to know, we “successfully” survived a trip to Kohls and purchased Hanes underwear (comfort guaranteed) in size 6-7. Of course, there were multiple requests for stuffed animals, mickey mouse pjs, a book. Then a tantrum while in the check out line. While holding my 2-year-old as he hit me repeatedly, the cashier commented, “You have four boys? Wow. How do you do it?”. I tilted my head sideways (to avoid another punch), questioningly squinted my eyes and said, “Does it look Iike I’m ‘doing it’?”. Just another day. Thankfully (counting my gifts) I walked out only having purchased underwear and with all 4 boys healthy and somewhat happy.


  1. Krystal

    Thank you so much for the reminder to stop looking around and start looking up! I needed this reminder when dealing with my two boys. Today I am going to look for the blessings even while the tantrums are going on 😉

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Hope you had eyes to see the blessings. I had a moment today when my baby was spitting up on me as I was cleaning up a “pee-pee” accident and realized we were out of paper towels…and I had to stop and breathe. Trying to see the blessings in the mess.

  2. kate clarke

    bear in mind you were that age once and probably caused your parents grief too. My dad has a phrase he used “When you have kids you’ll get your commuppence” (i.e. you’ll get your punishment in due course). How true. God pays out in mysterious ways. You just have to put up with it.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      oh kate, I wish I could say it was because I was such a hard kid. Growing up I was the: “sweet girl, who played quietly with her Barbies, obeyed and read her Bible”. I don’t believe God “pays out in mysterious ways”…if we think that way then I have to believe my friend who’s husband died in a fire deserved it somehow. Or my cousin who’s son drowned, had it coming. It’s that line of thinking that Job’s friends claimed when Job of the Bible was experiencing hardship. “He must have done something wrong to deserve it”. I think for me, I have been blessed greatly with my boys. It’s not just seeing the events that are inconvenient or messy as the problem. Instead seeing all the good God is doing in my day. For Job it was recognizing God is God and He is knows what He is doing.

  3. Holland Saltsman

    Love, love, love your blog. Just shared it with my sister who has 2 boys of her own. Add to your 1000 gifts list the gift HE gave YOU of giving hope and renewed faith to those of us that walk with you through this crazy calling of parenthood.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      So thankful you were encouraged and hopefully your sister will find His gifts of grace in her life as a mother of boys. Thankful for your sweet words of encouragement!

  4. Jenn

    (sigh) “OK, Lord. I take back my prayer earlier this morning for more money so I can send them all to a Swiss boarding school. Your grace is sufficient, if I let it be.” ♥ Thanks, Heather.

  5. Meredith

    I just adore you. Seriously.
    I have those moments too — when they are rough-housing in the living room, tearing every cushion off the couch so they can jump on them, and screaming in the process, I think of the girls that I had dreamed of, sitting quietly, reading a book, braiding each others hair…

    This reminder is timely. You are so used– thank you for being so transparent, because the lessons you learn, help us, and teach us… Every day.


    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement meredith! I’m also thankful I’m not alone in my desire for “different”. We have to remind each other in the midst of the chaos, this is what God has chosen for us and he must think pretty highly of us to have given us such an opportunity to share his grace. wink wink. 😉

  6. joyceandnorm

    My friend had just posted something on FB the other day about her 1yo holding poop, and then the 3yo stepping through the poop after it was dropped. And later in the day before the 5yo flushed her poop down the toilet, 1yo dropped his bottle into the toilet. I tried to see if that better or worse than the puke from my 3yo that I got all over my clothes (seeped through! if you know what I mean, barely missing my hair), her bedsheets and the rug right before bedtime!…and after showering her off, getting nice and clean, she puked again! Oy! Well, neither of those scenarios are good, and neither was yours, but if we think about how tiny this moment is in time compared to our lifetime or eternity, we really do need to do like you said and look at our gifts, because there are a whole lot more gifts than anything else. I think that was a run-on sentence, and I should probably not comment a whole post in your comments. :p Well, hope it is a better day. Speaking of underwear, I should search for bigger ones for the 3yo because she does have hand-me-downs and they are somewhere in this house!…

  7. Heather

    So true, thank you! I have 2 assertive boys and an 8 week old baby boy! I just love your blog! Thanks for the chuckle at the end, I have so been there! Blessings to you and all boys mamas for raising future Godly men!

  8. Lisa @ Making It In Vermont

    As a mom of 5 boys 10 and under, I feel your pain 🙂 What helps me is to remember how God is forming me through my relationship with them. So much of my dead/unfruitful branches are pruned being mommy to them. I CANNOT do this without God’s help that is for sure! And yes there are times when I am crying right along with them too. Thank you for being so open. I too realize how very blessed I am to be entrusted with these lives and try hard to focus on the blessings and just LOVE them, through all of the challenges they and I bring. ~Lisa

  9. Mary F

    I am new to this site, and this article really encouraged me (my sister told me about this blog, after I told her I lost my temper tonight at my oldest)…I have the 2 girls- and no, they don’t have perfect manners and put together 300 piece puzzles! Why? because one is 5 months and the other is VERY strong willed – yes, I have been brought to tears like you were- and yes, those tears were selfish, comparing tears…Lord, forgive me and help me- and thank you Jen for the encouragement that I am not alone!

    • Mary F

      I mean Heather 🙂

  10. Janel

    Heather, you had me crying, I was laughing so hard! I love your humor in all of these crazy moments! We do have blessings, and I have compared at times as well (and I have the “two girls”), but God doesn’t give us necessarily what is “easy” for us. Otherwise I don’t think we would be challenged to grow so much.

  11. Michele-Lyn

    I think this is the most honest mommy post I have ever read 🙂 I love it! Poop and all! And, oh, how I now those days, and even had a couple this week. I love that you share a 1000 gifts list. I may have to do that, as keeping up with the kids keeping their own seems like one more thing to remember. By the way — I have 3 girls and 1 boy, and tantrums all around 🙂

    Hopping over from Life Unmasked.

  12. Sisterlisa

    I would be crying because they don’t make Avenger Crocs for women. Those are cute!!!

    So brutally honest to admit that you wanted different children…. been there myself. Now that they are growing up, I can see how their tantrums created a more patient and loving mom in me. 🙂

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