There’s Only One Perfect Mother

As I sat in Church today [Monday, December 8, 2008], honoring Mary’s Immaculate Conception, I was reminded how her perfection isn’t something any of us will be able to achieve but, rather, is something that is meant to inspire us.  And it’s a good thing, too, because perfection in motherhood is not something I’ve attained but something I’ve always admired. 

A friend recently sent me a link to the blog of someone who seems to have perfected both her time and her talents in the “mother” department.  Every entry was a detailed description of life with her brood (all captured in their coordinating outfits) and all the ways in which said brood behaved so well in a variety of circumstances. 

“Hmm” I thought to myself.  “It’s a good thing I didn’t have to read that blog when my boys were younger.”  I could see why my young friend felt intimidated by the entries and saw herself as a “failure” in the motherhood department.  I quickly reminded her that the only mother who truly could be portrayed as perfection was the Blessed Mother.  I continued to soothe my friend with reminders that one woman’s inspiration wasn’t meant to be another’s desperation and she shouldn’t take it as such.

My friend, however, found little consolation in my words.  “But…” she kept sputtering, “she was able to take them all on a picnic and they all found beautiful treasures in nature and they all wrote about it in their journals upon returning home and then pressed their leaves into scrapbooks…”

Now I know that there are many mothers whose lives are filled with graces in such a way as this woman was sharing, but I also know a great many mothers whose lives seem to fall short when compared to that blog entry.  This, then, is for those moms whose lives aren’t picture perfect but are stilled filled with God’s graces.   

This would have been my blog entry about 18 years ago when my oldest son (now 21) was 3.  True Story:

Today Pam (my best friend) and I took the kids to the park.  It was a beautiful, sunny day with the birds chirping and the winds mildly rustling the leaves on the trees.  After finishing lunch and clearing the table, Pam had a wonderful idea!  She suggested we grab a few bags of old bread and head to the park to feed the ducks.  Between us we have 7 children which we piled into the station wagon.  Each was eager to feed the ducks and enjoy the park [Insert picture of smiling kids in station wagon]. Upon our arrival at the park we unbuckled and gathered the children.  After a quick head count and instructing the older ones to take hold of the hands of the younger ones, Pam and I each carried a baby and off we went.  The grass was warm underfoot and our souls sang as the children romped through the playground.  Soon we were at the water’s edge.  Each child was given his or her share of bread and began to hold it enticingly for the ducks to draw near.  The sounds of the children’s laughter mingled with the quacks of the ducks.  Pam and I were smiling, knowing that we were creating a memory of a lifetime, when we heard a splash.  Within seconds pandemonium struck as kids began shrieking and Pam and I ran the few feet to the children.  Jared, my oldest, had fallen into the stream. A young man, on lunch break from work, immediately jumped in to get Jared and planted him firmly on the shore, a safe distance from the water.  Tears gushed from my eyes as I sobbed my thanks to this man whose suit pants were now covered in mud.   Shaking but incredibly grateful for this kind Samaritan, we all headed back to the car.  Jared was crying because he didn’t get to feed the ducks and I was crying because God’s grace for all mothers knows no bounds.

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at

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  • redwallabbey13

    I can appreciate both the young mother’s concern over seeking a perfection she will never have (and I have 11 kids) and Cheryl’s own story. I can often forget that I should compare myself to no one but the Blessed mother and I had a similar experience at a picnic when I had only 4 kids. The story was almost identical, I had brought along the heels of many loaves of bread (which my children would never eat and I would never set aside to make to my own bread crumbs or croutons). We exited our van w/ tumbles, shouts to “get out of my way” and began to feed the ducks. As I sat down to calmly nurse the youngest, pandemonium let loose as the ducks began to – I kid you not – attack the kids!! It was a mixture of small children w/ free food against hungry, almost-as-tall-as-them geese! The kids were screaming, I was yelling at the ducks, nursing child in arms, in other words, chaos!! We managed to make to the van, we dove back in, heaved the rest of the bread crusts out of a window and drove off in a flurry of dirt and feathers. So much for communing w/ nature!!! We eventually calmed down, no grave injuries were visible and a beautiful memory was created. To this day, if we pass a pond w/ waterfowl one or more of my older ones might ask if they are attack ducks!

  • Cheryl Dickow


    You are a riot! I laughed out loud at your story. If you want to submit little treasures such as this for our upcoming woman’s channel, please let me know!

  • mrteachersir

    Although not a mother, I was present (taking the dog for a walk) when my 15 month-old son was attacked by an attack-goose (actually a whole squadron of ducks and geese mobbed him). He laughed, my wife freaked, and that was the end of the duck feeding (that day)…but not my son’s fascination with ducks and geese.

  • Cooky642

    Is there anyone, anywhere, who has children and does NOT have a duck/goose story? I don’t think so.

    Rather than adding mine to the list, let me give you a word of advice. After a couple of “attacks” that definitely defused my daughters’ enthusiasm for feeding wildlife, I learned a lesson. We used to take cheap soda crackers for the fowl, and they would swarm us, demanding their share. While the males aggressively charged us, the females (and one little deformed duck of undetermined gender) hung back. Big-hearted and “fair” to a fault, I began tossing crackers to the females and the little deformed one. The one “bully” was quite offended and went after my bare knee….which, by coincidence, was just lifting so I could step over one of their “little gifts” on the grass. I don’t know if he “saw stars”, but he did see that the girls were getting the goodies! I made sure he got one cracker for every 3 others, and he seemed satisfied. We never had another problem with him in all the years we lived there.