Perfectly Undone: A Short Story

Samantha Rich is a wife and mother of 6 children, who she calls her “Sweet Six,” and a blogger focusing on Motherhood. When her morning fails to reflect the words she writes, can she own up to her imperfections and trust in the plans of a perfect God?

I wrote this story back in 2019 and decided to freshen it up a little and repost it now. It’s longer than my typical posts, but hopefully, it will be worth it.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” Three-year-old Hannah stood beside her mom in the kitchen, desperately trying to get her attention. She held tight to her dolly, the one that had been specially made to look just like her with the same sweet chocolate curls and green eyes. Both Hannah and her dolly were wearing their matching blue and white striped pajamas – Hanna’s favorite color was blue – and fuzzy white bunny slippers.

“Mommy, give Addie a kiss. She wants a kiss.” She smiled, revealing a dimple in her right cheek.

Samantha Rich looked away from the bacon cooking on the stove just in time to see her daughter’s doll come a little too close to the lit gas burner. “Hannah! Addie will catch fire if you do that. I can’t kiss her now, I have to finish making breakfast, and then William needs to be fed.” She held her 5-month-old son in one arm as she carefully guided her daughter’s doll away from the stove with the other, out of harm’s way, then returned to the bacon.

“But, Mommy, Addie’s sad. She got a boo-boo and wants a kiss!” Hannah wailed.

Samantha took a deep breath before replying. It was only eight o’clock in the morning, and already she was feeling herself start to come undone. “Hannah,” she said with the utmost care not to throw her daughter into more of a tizzy, “I will be happy to kiss Addie’s boo-boo as soon as I am done here. For now, can you and Addie please go play in the family room?”

“Fine! I’ll go. But I’m not happy about it!” Her little girl gave her the death stare and then stomped off to play in the other room. Sam didn’t even have to take a guess as to where she learned that from.

“Mom! I can’t find my sneakers. What did you do with them?” And here she was. Her 10-year-old daughter, Rachel, entered the kitchen almost on cue.

“Let’s see,” Sam said as she transferred the bacon to a large plate. The last time I wore them was—

“Hey Mom, can Josh sleep over tonight? He just got a new game for the Switch, and we want to play it.” Charlie, Jr. The oldest of the Rich kids, the firstborn of Samantha and Charles Rich, Sr.

Sam looked lovingly at her son, his dark hair and brown eyes made him look just like his father. Charlie was fifteen-years-old and happy to help with anything. She handed him the plate of bacon to place on the table where the eggs and pancakes were already starting to get cold.

“You’ll have to ask Dad when he gets out here. I know he wanted to talk to you about your grade on the last geometry test. He wasn’t very happy.”

“I’m going to make it up. I swear. I’ve already talked to Mr. Hilbert about it.”

“Don’t swear.” She looked at him pointedly. She believed in the Biblical teaching of letting your yes be yes and your no, no, and she tried to raise her children with this same principle.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “So can he?”

“I told you to talk to your—

“Stop it! Mom!” A shriek from the family room. That could only mean one thing.

“Here, feed William. I need to see what that’s all about.” She handed the already fussing baby to Charlie and started to make her way, half knowing, half dreading what she was going to find.

Charlie held the baby close and placed a bottle in his mouth. William began to happily suck down the formula that would fill his belly. “She’s lucky I’m home this morning,” Charlie explained to his baby brother.

“You’re only home because it didn’t make any sense to send you to school when you have a doctor’s appointment this morning.” Sam responded to Charlie’s oldest-child-to-youngest-child discussion over the incessant yelling between her three-year-old and her other ten-year-old, Jesse. It was exactly as she had thought. Even though Jesse was 7 years older than Hannah and should know better, he always picked on her. He had grabbed Hannah’s doll and was swinging her around by her hair, much to his little sister’s horror.

“Stop it, Jesse. Mommy! Make him stop, he’s hurting Addie! Mommy!” She started to cry.

Sam took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She was getting close to the edge but didn’t want to fall. Lord, she prayed, please give me the strength I need to get through this morning without any real mishaps. Amen. Another deep breath and then she calmly took the doll from her son’s hand. “Everybody to the table. Breakfast is ready, and your bus will be here in,” she looked at her watch, “15 minutes!”

Mass chaos ensued. Every child ran to the table to eat breakfast that would have been warm if they had eaten it five minutes earlier. In a rush to eat, Jesse knocked over Rachel’s orange juice. Rachel screamed at him, telling him he had done it on purpose.

“I did not!”

“Yes, you did. Mom!”

“Just eat your breakfast. You all need to be outside in five minutes.”

“Oh, Mom, I need you to sign my permission slip for my field trip.” Seven-year-old Tommy looked at his mother without a care in the world.

“Okay,” Sam replied hurriedly, “just put it on the counter and I’ll make sure to sign it for you. When is your field trip?”

“Today. Mrs. Reiss said I could still hand in the slip. Oh, and I need to bring a bagged lunch.”

“Today? Are you kidding me? When did you know about this?” Tommy shrugged. Samantha groaned. “I didn’t have time to make lunch today. Everyone was going to buy.” Sam was losing it. Oh, she didn’t know how much longer she could last. She was grateful that God had been holding her back up until now, but she wondered if even He had enough power not to blow up in this situation.

“What’s going on here?” Charles finally emerged from the bedroom and kissed Sam on the cheek. He and Sam had met in college and knew they were supposed to be together. After a short courtship, they were engaged and then married. This year they would be celebrating seventeen years. It seemed like only yesterday they said, “I do.” Charles and Sam had been each other’s helpmates since the beginning, and Charles was amazing in taking on the position of Spiritual Head of the family. There had been plenty of times when Sam was in complete awe of him. He had a way of calming her down without saying much of anything.

Even now, Sam felt the tension in her neck and shoulders wane.

“Hey, Dad, can Josh sleep over tonight?”

“We’ll talk about that in the car on the way to the doctor’s office. Are you almost ready to go?” He looked at the now sleeping baby still in Charlie’s arms.

Charlie laughed. “Mom needed a little help this morning. But yeah, I’m all set.”

“The bus is coming!” Hannah yelled loudly, trying to help the best way a three-year-old could.

Rachel, Jesse, and Tommy jumped up from the table, grabbed their backpacks, and raced to the front door. Sam was able to throw something together quickly for Tommy’s lunch, sending up a prayer of thanks that she’d had everything she needed for it, and handed it to him before he and his siblings dashed out the door and onto the bus.

“Well, I guess we should get going, too,” Charles said to Charlie who handed William to his mom. The fact that the baby was able to sleep through all of that noise was a miracle. Charles kissed William on the forehead and then gave Hannah a hug and an Eskimo kiss, her favorite.

Sam reached her unoccupied arm around her husband’s neck, and he placed his arms around her waist. Charlie told them he would be in the car, quickly making his way out of the house before he had to be stuck watching his parents kiss. “I love you,” Sam told Charles.

“And I love you. I’ll see you tonight.” He kissed her once more. “Have a great day.”

They both smiled at each other for a moment before Charles rolled his eyes and made his way outside at the sound of the car horn.

Sam watched as Charles drove his blue Chevy Malibu down the road and then out of sight, Charlie in tow. The fact that Charles was always willing to help out in ways that other fathers, including her own, would scoff at never ceased to amaze her. The thought made her heart swell as it often did. She had never imagined just how much love she could feel for another human being until she met him.

Sighing softly, she closed the door, taking great care not to wake the sleeping child in her arms. The silence at the moment was almost deafening, but it was a daily routine she was used to as it quickly changed from rock band to convent.

She made her way up the stairs and into the nursery where she was greeted by the calming effects of the blue walls. Before William was born, Sam and Charles had moved Hannah into Rachel’s room and got to work changing the pink ballet theme to a blue ocean theme complete with whales and ships. A plaque over the crib read, “Jesus is the anchor of my soul, Hebrews 6:19.”

Sam gently laid William down in his crib atop a white sheet with little blue and red sailboats. She looked down at him lovingly, fighting the urge to touch him one last time before leaving the room, fearing she would wake him.

Back downstairs she made her way into the kitchen, but not before first checking on Hannah who was sitting in front of the television watching PJ Masks on Netflix. She smiled and shook her head. Though she herself was not altogether useless when it came to technology, she still wondered if her three-year-old could teach her a few things.

She did, however, feel pretty useless when it came to finding her coffee cup in the kitchen until she realized that she had placed it in the microwave. When was that, exactly? After typing in the numbers again and hitting ‘Start,’ she gathered up her laptop, cell phone, and Bible, and made her way back into the family room, taking her place at the far end of their gray couch, feet up on the coffee table.

Placing her computer on her lap and bringing it out of suspend, she brought up the back end of her website,, a blog she wrote to celebrate life with her “Sweet Six,” as she called her children, and to give encouragement, tips, and how-tos for other moms. The quote bubble at the top of the screen read 10, indicating how many comments she had to look through and possibly approve. She clicked on the bubble which brought up a list of the comments received. The majority of them were on yesterday’s post about how to get children to do chores at any age, using her own children as an example of how easy it could be.

Chores, right. “Hannah,” she called over to her little girl, “did you make your bed today?”

Hannah’s eyes remained glued to the screen in front of her. “No. I busy.”

“Hannah, you need to make your bed. Let’s go upstairs and we can make it together.”

“No, I busy,” she insisted, then pointed to the screen. “I watching PJ mass.”

“Your show will be here when you’re done. Come on, let’s go.” Sam placed her computer on the couch, stood up, and made her way over to Hannah.

“No! I don’t want to!” she yelled.

“Hannah,” Sam scolded, “It is time to do your chores. Let’s go.” She picked up Hannah and started walking toward the stairs.

“No!” she cried.

“Shh…sweetheart, don’t wake up William. It won’t take long, and Mommy will help you.”

“I don’t want to!” Hannah wiggled in her mother’s arms making it almost impossible for Sam to carry her up the stairs.

“Shh…come on, Hannah. Don’t give me a hard time. And please don’t wake up your brother,” she pleaded.

But it was too late. She could hear Wiliam’s wail as she reached the top of the staircase.

Sam was about to lose it. Maybe she should have just let it go. Typically she would have, but this morning she was propelled by her own post. The comments that had come in praised her for her ability to get all of her kids to do their chores without complaint, including her teen. Some women, like Sheila, expressed how envious they were of her:

I have to admit, I’m jealous. How do you make it sound so easy? I can’t wait to try your tips. Here’s hoping!

There were also some questions that she would need to answer such as Amy’s comment:

I also have a three-year-old, and he loves to do chores with me. Sometimes, though, he wants nothing to do with it, or he only wants to do chores that don’t belong to him. How do I get him to stay on task, or the right task? I love how your little girl is always so good. Gah! How do you do it?

Samantha wondered the same thing at that moment. How could she get Hannah to take care of her chores? They really weren’t difficult, and Sam would help her out. There were days when Hannah would have everything done before Sam could even have a chance to remind her. On other days, like today, she fought it. Hard.

And now William was awake. Sam groaned as another cry came through his bedroom door into the hallway. She put Hannah down, giving up on the previous task. “See? You woke up your brother. I told you not to. Why couldn’t you just do what you were told?”

Hannah’s lower lip quivered and she started to cry.

Lord, please help me. She knelt down in front of her daughter and tried to comfort her. “It’s okay, don’t cry.” She gave her a hug and wiped her tears. “Why don’t you go on back downstairs and watch your show? I need to take care of William.”

At that suggestion, Hannah perked up, smiled, and rubbed her eyes. “Okay, Mommy!” She turned and made her way back down the stairs. Sam sighed.

With one potential meltdown diffused, Samantha turned her attention to her five-month-old, making her way into his room and over to his crib. “Hey, baby boy, what’s up? Are you all done with your nap?” She picked him up, brought him to her chest, and kissed his head. She changed his diaper and got him dressed, then headed down the stairs, a now happy baby in her arms.

Sam walked into the kitchen and remembered, yet again, that her coffee was in the microwave. Forget it, she thought, deciding it was best just to drink it as is and hoping that it was lukewarm at worst. She grabbed her cup and took a sip. Cold. Well, at least it was caffeinated.

Sam made her way into the family room and placed William on a blanket on the floor, surrounding him with toys, then sat back down on the couch to reply to the comments.

She stared at the screen and read each comment more times than she cared to count. Why couldn’t she decide which comment to reply to first? Why was she making this so hard on herself? Any other day she would just respond to each comment in order as they appeared on her screen, making her way from the top to the bottom, giving sufficient time to each one; she wanted each woman who shared their words with her to feel just how much she valued them.

But today seemed different for some reason. Today she felt…stuck. No response was coming to her that didn’t feel, well, fake. Closing her eyes, she prayed, Lord, I’m at a loss. Why can’t I answer these women? Help me, please.

She kept her eyes closed and pushed out the sounds of her children and the television; she pushed out any thoughts clogging her mind, waiting for some sort of answer until she heard a gentle whisper. The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.

Sam’s eyes popped open. “What?” She had to think about this. Did she really hear it? She knew those words. They was from Proverbs, chapter twelve, verse twenty-two. She knew it well because it was one she had used to teach her kids about lying. Was God using it on her? Why? Tell the truth, she heard again. Was it really that obvious?

She prayed again. Lord, was that You? What do I need to tell the truth about? When have I been deceitful? She waited for a response.

Nothing. Why was He not answering? She had to think. Why would God say this to her? She opened her eyes again, and her computer screen glared back at her. The comments. Why couldn’t she answer them? Truth. That’s what God had spoken. She needed to tell the truth. But the truth is hard. And she couldn’t let her readers down. Since Sam had started her blog just over a year ago, her readers had come to expect perfect answers. They wanted to see someone with a perfect life, and she wanted to be the one to satisfy them.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Another Scripture verse? This sounded like it belonged in Psalms, but she Googled it just to be sure. She was right. It was Psalms. Psalm 90:14 to be exact. She opened her Bible to view the entire passage and found that it had been written by Moses. And Moses most definitely was not asking for satisfaction from anyone but God.

Maybe that was the point God was trying to make to her. All this time she was trying to satisfy her readers with perfection she really didn’t have. Only God is perfect, and only He can satisfy. So now what?

What do I do with this, Lord?


Samantha laughed. “Really?” But this time she knew exactly what God meant.

Instead of responding to any comment, Sam clicked on ‘New Post’ and began to type, formatting this particular post as though she were writing a letter to a close friend whom she had hurt. Dear Friend, she began.

Over the past year, you have been with me, following me as I wrote about my family, my “Sweet Six.” You’ve expressed gratitude for the lists and how-tos I’ve posted and shared your amazement with me over how perfect my family is, how helpful and loving. I have loved corresponding with each and every one of you; you have always given me such a wonderful high each morning as I read your comments.

But this morning I need to apologize to you. I read your comments, but I was unable to reply. I didn’t know why such a simple task was proving so very difficult for me today. But then I got it. God was stopping me. He made me realize that I have been deceiving you all. Even though this was never my intent, I now realize that it was true. I made it sound as though we had it all together. We don’t. I wanted to believe that I had the perfect family. I don’t. And you know what? It’s okay.

Only God is perfect, and only He can satisfy. I am not and cannot.

I am so very sorry.

With your permission, I would love to continue writing, but from now on I want to show the imperfections (of which there are many). My prayer is that you will continue to follow me on this journey of motherhood, through all of its ups and downs.

Thank you for your willingness in this. You are all very special to me.


Sam pressed ‘Publish’ and sent up one more prayer. “Lord, it’s in Your hands, now.”

Before she was able to get off of the couch, her phone chimed. She looked at it and found email after email indicating that she had a new comment to moderate.

“Already? That was fast.”

She took a deep breath and made her way into the comments section of her blog. The page was inundated with comments thanking her for her honesty. Each comment was encouraging, and they all promised to continue to follow her. Some even told her they were more willing to share her blog with others now.

A tear rolled down her cheek. Wiping it away, Sam smiled. Thank You, Lord.

She felt a small hand on top of hers. “Mommy, why are you crying?”

“Oh, sweetie, Mommy is just very happy right now.” She swept Hannah up and twirled her around. Hannah let out a squeal of delight. Today was going to be a good day.

The End

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