Moms Dealing with Meltdowns & Strife

On my knees to be level with my four-year-old daughter, I put my hands on her shoulders. Looking in her round, hazel eyes, I say as calmly as I can manage, “Vera, I know you don’t want to go. But there are some things we have to do when we don’t feel like it, and this is one of them.”

She would rather stay home than go to church, and she is fighting hard. Her distress is concerning my two-year-old son, Barrett, who decides he ought to join the chorus. He whines in harmony with his sister and they both flop on the floor. But church is a priority for our family. So I have no choice but to barrel through this unilateral meltdown. I close my eyes and sigh a prayer, “God, help me do this. Uphold me.”

I open my eyes and brace myself. “Guys, I hear your voices. I hear that you are sad. It’s time to listen to my voice saying we are going. You can keep being sad in the van.” Vera immediately bolts toward the stairs to retreat to her room. So this is how it’s going to be, I think. Fine. We’ll do it the hard way.

I pick up Vera’s coat and shoes from the floor and stop her on the landing, hook my arm around her torso, and draw her gently back to sit in my lap. I manage an impressive pretzel move with my legs and firmly trap her.

I wrestle her shoes and coat onto her resisting body with sweat beads on my back, warm from my sweater and jeans that rarely get to see the light of day.

I scoop up Barrett and walk him to the van, buckling him into his car seat. Vera has wandered out after me and is now sitting on the freezing garage floor, getting her nice outfit dirty. I scoop her up and buckle her in decisively. I hit the button to close her door. It slowly slides shut, cutting off her yells of, “THIS ISN’T FAIR! I DON’T LIKE THIS!”

I clamber in myself. Breathing hard, I put the car in reverse. Then I feel the Holy Spirit prompt me. I put the van back in park and look at my children in the rearview mirror.

“We need to pray.” I take a deep breath and close my eyes. “God, we are having a hard time right now. We know you care about our feelings, but you are bigger than how we feel. Vera and Barrett don’t want to go to church, but we know you will meet us there with good things. Thank you for hearing us when we pray. Amen.”

The tears and whining continue as I back out of our driveway and begin our drive through town. We pass the familiar landmarks and the challenges of the last few months queue in my mind.

Our family moved into a new house in the fall. It was an upgrade for our us, an enormous blessing. Yet the growing has had its pains.

In preparing to move, I did what I always do—I researched and executed a plan. I wanted to make the move as smooth as possible for the kids, so I poured every effort into the transition.

  • We made sure the kids visited the new house multiple times before we moved.
  • At night, I rocked each one and talked about the feelings they might have while moving.
  • We said goodbye to the old house—a gesture that made my husband chuckle—and I hoped would give them (and me) closure.
  • After the move, I spent days on end painting & decorating their new bedrooms without rest.
  • I hung family photos within the first week, wanting them to know this was where they belonged.

And yet my efforts were not enough to keep anxieties at bay. Barrett suddenly clung to me like a barnacle, afraid to be separated. Vera struggled to go to sleep in her new room for months on end, fighting sleep and yelling for us for hours.

“What are we going to do about this?” I huffed to my husband one evening. Vera was still crying. “How are we going to get her to push past this fear? I worked so hard to make her new room nice, but she still wants her old one. And Barrett is driving me nuts, not willing to play without me there. What should we do?”

My husband considered for a moment and said between bites of ice cream, “Well, it’s up to God. We did what we could do. This is just a phase.” I knew he was right, and suddenly saw the gaping hole in my moving plan. Of course my efforts were not enough. I was trying to bring peace and security into our home without relying on the only one who could deliver these things.

I was striving to have the benefits of the kingdom of God without first inviting the King.

My thoughts come back to the present drive to church as we veer onto the interstate. The yelling has stopped, replaced with occasional whines and sniffles. I notice Vera looking at me in the mirror.

“Honey, I love you. You are going to be safe at church.” I pause and catch her eye in the mirror. I smile, “You are God’s child, and he is always with you. You know that, right?” She nods and shyly returns my smile. Her voice finally quiets and she takes a few deep breaths. Vera has heard these words many times before. I remind her of the same affirmations at bedtime before we pray: You are loved. You are safe. You are important. You are brave, smart, and kind. You are a child of God and he is always with you.

As we drive into the parking lot of church, I realize the work of affirming my daughter and praying for her each night is here, present in this moment of struggle. While her heart is worried, her mind still knows the truth—God is taking care of her.

Vera was doing what I had failed to do, viewing her fears in the light of God’s enormous love for her. After all that fighting, she accepted my words with the easy, beautiful faith of a child.

I can learn from her. It took me striving, toiling, and failing in my own strength before I turned to the Lord for help during our move.

When I finally confessed and asked him for help, he opened my fists—clenched tightly around my own efforts—and gently laid his peace in my hands.

I took to praying the armor of God over each of my family members before I went to sleep. I memorized and clung to 1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Over time, Barrett regained his independence and Vera went to sleep peacefully again. The phase faded without fanfare. The kids probably don’t even remember the challenges of moving, but it made them more flexible and resilient. And I was left refined, sanctified by relearning to put my trust in Christ alone.

I hold Vera’s hand and walk toward the front doors of our church with Barrett on my hip. His little knee presses into my belly, just beginning to swell with the lemon-sized baby growing inside. We are on the edge of yet another big transition.

I would like to say I am confident I will handle this one better, relying on Christ every step of the way. But I know I will still get it wrong. The growing pains will return. I will probably pick up my strife again, relying too heavily on earthly resources and my own hands. I may have a tantrum or two of my own. But I pray I will be a little more like my daughter this time, quick to remember the truth and accept God’s all-sufficient grace and love.

Lord, bless those reading these words. We tend to rely on ourselves in the trenches of motherhood, depending first on our own hands. Would you help us to be quick to confess our true need for you? Allow us to hear your truth loudly during times of strife. Calm our hearts in the chaos. Thank you for loving our children so completely and perfectly. You have provided for their every need and will continue to do so. Oh God, you are good to us! Help us to remember who we are in your light and to rest our weight fully upon you. Amen.

As a mother, how have you realized that prayer comes first before your own efforts? Comment below.

Free Resource! 10 Powerful Prayers for Little Ones

Lindsey Norine’s goal is to remind women that they are seen, known, and deeply loved. She is married to her crush from church camp and together they have two hilarious kids—and another on the way. Her tribe resides in central Iowa, where she holds down a day job as a voice teacher and adjudicator. When not singing or playing make believe, Lindsey sneaks away to write in coffee shops. For more unvarnished stories on motherhood, follow her on Instagram @lindsnorine and visit

Comments 6

  1. I am holding onto the image of God placing his peace in my hands this week. What a beautiful reminder to open my hands to receive his peace instead of relying on myself.

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      Hello Krista, Thank you for your comment. So glad this blog encouraged you with a visual reminder to receive God’s peace each day. Did you download the free resource, 10 Powerful Prayers for Little Ones? These are prayers for your child from God’s Word. That is also what we do in our Moms in Prayer groups. You can find out more here: God bless you Krista.

  2. This was such a relatable and encouraging post—my family recently moved and have felt all those chaotic and big feelings! I have found myself praying what feels like ridiculous prayers in light of what is happening around me lol but I have to believe that it is shifting the atmosphere and pointing my kids to God’s very available and very wonderful heart. I look forward to reading more from you 🙂

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      Hello Kelsi, Thank you for your comment. We’re so glad this was encouraging for you. I will forward this to Lindsey and pray for you and your family today as you settle in to a new place. When my daughter was younger and we had just moved out of state, it was overwhelming. I started praying for her in a Moms in Prayer group and the Lord was teaching me to be still through praying His attributes and scriptures for our kids. You can find out more here: God bless you Kelsi.

  3. I need to stand in the Gap with mother’s in pray I am a grandma and I want to pray for my grandkids star is 10 and ocean is 6 I am date caretaker my name is iraina martin please pray for them Mahalo nui

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