a mom that shows up

Last night my son lost his white phone in the yard covered with three inches of snow.


He realized it as we trekked to the middle school for a concert that my other son’s 4th grade class was doing. I sat in the car trying to mull over what to do – risk going back on snowy slippery roads or hoping we’d find it in an hour. We stayed.

The inches of snow made that phone impossible to find when we returned.

But let me tell you – I tried.

I was the mom outside with a rusty green metal rake raking her snow covered yard. I was the mom kicking every inch of snow with my feet. I was the mom out there for twenty minutes more while everyone else went inside to warm up.

That’s just what we do as moms.

We show up.

We put ourselves out there.

We do crazy things like attempting to find white Samsung phones in thick wet last day of November snow.

We make countdown chains and sprinkle glitter and attempt to bake cookies thinking this year we’ll stay happy throughout the process and when the flour gets everywhere we lose it just a bit and wish for the clean kitchen.

We fold shirts knowing that they will be pulled from the drawers, thrown on the ground and we’ll hear words of I have nothing to wear.

We stop our kids from fighting over the silliest things that drive us crazy.


The other day, while the kids were in school, I climbed a tree to put white twinkling lights in it. I did it for them. The other week I drove my six year old to Children’s Hospital Minnesota for lab work. I did it for him. The other night I stayed awake with my eight year old when he had a bad dream. I did it because I love him.

Chances are you have these little things that you do too.

Chances are you could write your own list of all these simple things that got lost in the fabric of the busy that you do everyday for your family. And you do it without looking for gold stars or that’s awesome or any of it. Chances are most of it simply fades into the timeline of your life.

Chances are you are probably sitting in a house thinking that you haven’t done enough. Or that you’re messing up your kids. Or you’re worrying that you should have done that. Or you’re kicking yourself for responding too short. Or you’re just feeling overwhelmed. Or stuck. Or like you’re failing.

But, chances are that you, just like me have done some pretty profound motherhood things.

Ordinary things.

And sometimes those ordinary things take so much work. They take us counting to ten one hundred times. They take us trying to not get super frustrated over geography projects that just feel like a waste of time and we just want them to be done. They take us picking up toys again and again and again. They are times of us getting so frustrated about picking up toys that we throw them all in a bag to throw away and then find ourselves picking out favorites because we love them.

Chances are you have a whole bunch of ordinary things that add up to life things that you could share.

If only you wouldn’t dismiss them. If only you wouldn’t attach “just” to them. If only you wouldn’t think that it’s no big deal. If only you would let the tears fall when they need to. If only you would start to see again just how beautiful and extraordinary and wonderful a person that you are. In the midst of so often the most messy and un-beautiful life there can be.

Because life – life has a tendency to throw us curve balls. It can suck the wind from us and make us weep at night. It can makes us feel like we’ll never measure up. It just can hide us from seeing how powerful and brave it is when we do those simple things.

Like lights.

Like snowmen made mid-day just because.


Like notes in the lunch boxes. Sitting in the school pick up line. Making a favorite dinner. Drying the winter gear when they come in. Again and again. Rolling snowballs. Laughing when they laugh. Rocking babies. Taking temperatures. Reading books and skipping parts. Teaching how to put snow pants over boots. Brushing hair. Wiping tables. Going to bed exhausted. Waking tired. Loving when we don’t even know how.

We’re all flawed. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect and our kids aren’t perfect.

But we’re all trying. Giving. Loving.

So tonight, today or whenever you’re reading this – you deserve to see you the way the rest of us see you.

As an extraordinary person.

A mom that shows up. 

Day after day. Night after night. Good day after good day. Hard day after hard day. Ordinary day, normal day, just a day. Loving your kids.

That, my friends, is what matters.

So before you close this browser and move on with your life I want you to take a breath, to look at the hands in front of you and when you see them to be overwhelmed with wonder for all that you do. Those hands love. They button coats. They give. They wipe away tears. They write notes. They type responses. They hold hands in them until those hands grow. They mother.

Carry on. You are brave even when you feel small.

Thank you for showing up.


ps. We never did find the phone. But, I showed up. And that’s what mattered. If you’d love to join a great community of brave and real moms that’s below.

40 Responses to “a mom that shows up”

  1. December 1, 2015

    Jean Reply

    Why is it so hard to remember our own mothers; gratitude when you realize with kids of your own, that she’s lived through that too, mostly unrecognized and unr hanker. A card and flowers on Mother’s Day enough for all this?

  2. December 2, 2015

    Carrie Liapis Reply


  3. December 2, 2015

    Carey Brannon Reply

    Thanks so much sometimes we just need to hear this .
    I try so hard to be the best mom every day for all four of my blessings , I fall short a lot more then I ever want too . My babies always come first when they do come to me and tell me they love me I get the best mom Award every time. I wouldn’t change my life for nothing everything I have had to sacrifice and everything I’ve had to learn and love and grow with them I would do it all over again.

  4. December 2, 2015

    Debbie Reply

    Sometimes I don’t want to show up. Sometimes I’d rather sit on the couch eating Lucky Charms for dinner instead of worrying about whether they’re eating too many carbs and not enough protein as I put together another dinner on the fly.

    Sometimes I don’t want to show up when they’re dad — the person I call “Father of the Year” — calls at 6:30 on a Sunday night, the first time in three weeks, because he thought about needing to call his kids near the end of his day off. He’s not the one that’s home trying to get the kids to finish their homework, shower, practice their music, and be in bed at a decent hour.

    Sometimes I don’t want to show up when I think that postpartum depression still can be around when the kids are 14 and 15 years old, and I’m exhausted, and fat, and broke, and trying to manage ev-er-y-thing, and not wanting to come up with yet another answer for “Mom I have a question.”

    Sometimes I don’t want to show up in front of the mirror when I think that I did not get out of bed when my daughter threw up the other night; just asking her if she’s OK as she tells me she did it in the sink instead of the toilet. Yep. That was waiting for me in the morning. Oh … she had swallowed gum like I’ve told her not to. I cleaned it up with no complaints, except at myself for not getting up.

    And sometimes I don’t want to show up at their concert when I know that at the end I’ll have red, puffy eyes because I’ll be that mother who embarrassed herself in front of others by getting teary-eyed at their performance. But I WILL show up because I earned those tears, every single one of them. And they’re magically delicious!

  5. December 2, 2015

    Mary Davidson Reply

    Wow! I never thought about it this way. I have four beautiful and amazing children that range from 7 to 17 (well, he will be 18 in just 5 more days). Before having kids I always helped with nieces and nephews (having 6 siblings I have a few). I have felt on the occasion of being overwhelmed and felt like I was messing my kids up and at times sure I was the worst mom ever. Thank you for this because I really needed to read it.

  6. December 2, 2015

    Lisa Reply

    Inspiration in a lost iphone — that is admirable as hell. I’m sorry about the phone but I’m so glad you wrote this and shared it. It made my whole day and I’m sharing as well.

  7. December 2, 2015

    Nichole Reply

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Thank you for writing it!

  8. December 2, 2015

    Carla Reply

    SO “on point”! Although my girls are older now, I was a single mom for almost 8 years and I’ve been there…struggling some days just to put one foot in front of the other. And the whole “it’s not fair that I am doing it all” thing. But speaking from the other side of motherhood (my oldest recently married and will receive her Master’s in Ed. Counseling in May, 2016, and my youngest will receive her Bachelor’s in Ele. Ed. in May also), I can tell you they DO notice that you show up! My girls have begun to share things with me that let me know how much they appreciated me being there, even though they may not have voiced it at the time. Keep showing up, Mom! :)

  9. December 2, 2015

    Sandy Reply

    The most important thing you can give to a child is to show up. It is easy to forget, I did. Thanks to my three lovely children.

  10. December 2, 2015

    Tina Reply

    Am I the only one wondering why no one else, including the child who lost it, wasn’t outside helping look for the phone?

    • December 3, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      He was out there for almost 45 minutes with me. I sent him in after it got too cold.

    • December 3, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      And, Tina, I believe that question was answered in the line, “I was the mom out there for twenty minutes longer while everyone else went in to warm up.” I chose to stay out. They were all there.

    • December 3, 2015

      Susan Reply

      I assumed others had been helping at first & it was too cold for them to stay. Isn’t this article about respecting other Moms that are showing up, perhaps imperfectly, perhaps to their own weariness? More respect please. This was a beautiful on point article. The more respect we give to each other, the better off we all are. Build each other up. Thank you Rachel, for this beautiful, building, supportive writing.

    • December 4, 2015

      Amber Reply

      Yes, I think you are.

  11. December 3, 2015

    Kathryn Reply

    Got here from a friend’s share. This post was beautiful and affirming, Rachel. Just what I needed to read today.

  12. December 4, 2015

    Amber Reply

    This made me cry. Thank you for writing it. I often feel like I don’t do enough etc etc, and I often feel that what I do do is over looked and unappreciated. It’s hard sometimes when you get caught in negative thoughts and feelings
    But I know I am very loved and appreciated. My fiance tells me sometimes he doesn’t know what he’d do without me, lol.

  13. December 4, 2015

    The Parenting Piece Reply

    Honestly, the times kids remember most are the times we are there. They don’t remember the cookies they made, or what the snowman looked like – they remember that we were there to do it with them. Great reminders! Thanks!

  14. December 4, 2015

    Cathrine Reply

    Wow – literally have tears in my eyes reading this. I never knew all the things I could do while being exhausted, until I became a mother. That’s when I realized exhausted was no longer an option. I wake almost every morning with the best intentions of being that ‘amazing’ mom I want so badly to be. Yet most nights I go to bed exhausted, feeling like I failed at something. Right there and then I vow to do better tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be more patient. Tomorrow I will pay better attention. Tomorrow I will get the kids to bed on time. Tomorrow I will not worry about tomorrow. That is where I often live. Tomorrow. Thank you for reminding me that showing up and doing your best can be enough.

  15. December 5, 2015

    Natalia Reply

    I love your words. thank you for writing this. It really moved me.

  16. December 5, 2015

    Theresa Jolliff Reply

    I showed up for 5 daughters over 35 years and 2 of them, age 31 and 35, choose to focus on times they were unhappy and didn’t think I was fair to them. Neither of them are parents so they can’t possibly understand how difficult it is to raise children, esp in an unhappy marriage, but they harshly judge me anyway. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt me to my core but at least the other three, age 33, 27, and 16, choose to remember all the loving things I’ve done over the years. I even juggled college while I raised 4 of them during elementary school, so I could become an RN and leave my Ex, giving us a more peaceful home. Sometimes, showing up isn’t enough…especially if your children have unrealistic expectations and have unforgiving hearts.

  17. December 6, 2015

    Jen Reply

    Being a full time working mom, my greatest joy is to be with my 2 daughters (ages 10 and 7). Many many times I have beaten myself up over not being able to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I have essentially reversed roles. I am the breadwinner in our home. It kills me at times. I can’t show up at the school when they have an event. I can’t show up when I’m on call at the hospital and they want me to go ice skating with them. I can’t show up a lot of times for a lot of things. But when I do show up, I am 100% present. When they ask me 15 questions, I answer 15 questions. If I don’t know the answer, we Google it together. I snuggle with them at night and give them each time to ask/talk about anything they want. I am present.

    I needed this article like many other mom’s out there. Everyday I try harder to be better than the day before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always try.

  18. December 6, 2015

    Lee Reply

    This was meant for me tonight. I am feeling guilty for being upset at my now 4 year old. His birthday is today. Ive spent every night this week painting a new bed for him, planning a birthday party, cleaning the house for company. We set his new bed up tonight and he seemed uninterested and asked if that was his big surprise with a tone of disappointment. Needless to say he is lying in bed with me as we speak. im exhausted mentally and physically but this really made me feel better. Hes only 4 and he will love it someday and if i had it to do over, i still wouldve been up til 2 with a paint brush and my old sweats.

  19. December 9, 2015

    ejm Reply

    Maybe someone already said this…when we lose a phone, we try calling it…sometimes over and over…the ringing, or the light lighting up, or the buzzing can get someone’s attention and we find it. : -)

    tip for future phone losses.

    God bless Moms!

  20. December 9, 2015

    Mattie Reply

    I so needed this today! Your words and beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with all of us!

  21. […] it’s the little things, the things that we don’t think make a difference. It’s A Mom That Shows Up that is important. It’s the time spent doing homework with my son. It’s the video […]

  22. December 11, 2015

    Gabriela Reply

    Thank you!! XO

  23. December 12, 2015

    Elaine Reply

    No truer words were ever spoken. Though my oldest daughter is 29 and engaged to be married next year, my middle child is 26 and married with two of her own children (one a child with special needs) and three step-children, and my son is 21 and in his final year of college, I drop everything when they need me to help with something. It’s just what you do. I would move heaven and earth to make sure they are happy. And because it’s an unconditional love, I will continue to do it. Thank you for your honest appreciation of what most of us mothers feel.

  24. December 13, 2015

    Geri L. Reply

    Oh I’m not just teary-eyed …..I’m sobbing! I find it so interesting that so many moms, in different stages of life, needed to hear these words tonight. (Although I didn’t know I needed to hear them.) My son is 28, living in a big city over 3 hours away. He is totally self sufficient and I always think he doesn’t need me anymore, until I get a phone call about something exciting that he is proud to tell me. I hang on every word. My daughter is 27, lives over an hour away and depends on me emotionally. Her life is difficult and it’s so hard to let her be, but she is doing it on her own. My favorite times are when she comes to spend the night and we lay in my bed together, eating popcorn and watching a movie. She lets me hold her in my arms and stroke her hair. My devoted husband, who I’ve probably neglected horribly these last 28 years, doesn’t want me to “take care” of him, but he dotes on me and makes sure I know I am loved everyday. I am lucky that way. With no grandchildren anywhere on the near horizon, I am lucky enough to have two little boys, 4 and 5, that I have been babysitting since they were infants. I could not love them anymore if they were my own grandbabies. They give me so much joy. Their parents know how much they mean to me and include me in their family activities. I am truly blessed with so much love in my life, I’m not sure why this article affected me so deeply, but thank you, Rachel, for providing strength in the solidarity of moms who show up. I never had to look for a lost phone in the snow, but I did drive by the location where my son, on the eve of his 11th birthday, spent the night buried in a snow bank, to earn his “something” below zero boy scout badge. All I could see was a bunch of lumps covered in snow. While I wanted more than anything to scoop him up and bring him home, I kept on driving and I was very proud.

  25. December 13, 2015

    Jean Reply

    So so true. I have been there, done that, and I know my two daughters are currently doing the same with their two children and have lost several phones. Their children mean the world to them and they would hold their hands all the time.

  26. December 14, 2015

    Karen Reply

    Is this my dance mom friend Rachel? A friend of mine shared this post with me and I recognized you! I didn’t realize you had a blog. What a great discovery! We have since moved to Idaho and our kids are growing up and leaving home! Harriet will be the only child home next year. I guess your kids have grown too — I hope all is well. Sending love your way. Karen Parkinson :)

  27. December 14, 2015

    Rebecca Buchanan Reply

    Oh my that photo of all those tangled lights would so make a cute christmas card!

  28. December 17, 2015

    Katie c Reply

    I’m sitting here crying on my couch because that was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  29. December 18, 2015

    Francis Reply

    Please do all parents a favor and replace the words mom and mother with “parent”. Moms are the best and the do so much for kids. But lets not forget fathers. There are a lot of great fathers out there that do the exact same things and care just as much for their children. Parenting is not a one person job.

    • December 18, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      I don’t ever mean to intentionally exclude dads – I just write from the posture of being a mom. There are many many great sites dedicated to dads – especially Life of Dad (started by a friend of mine). I think dads are awesome and do amazing things. I don’t ever want to assume what it would be like to be a dad and to make global assumptions with regards to that as well.

      With joy.


  30. December 23, 2015

    Dawn Reply

    My daughter dropped her bottle of life giving insulin on our 5 acres of cleared property 2 years ago. And she wasn’t sure if she dropped it in the yard or on the 4 mile bike ride she’s just taken.
    THIS MAMA walked the whole thing, forward down one side and back down the other. We searched and searched and all the while, I cried out to God aloud.
    Our country neighbor saw us and he joined in the hunt. He kept us company, kept us laughing, and kept his eagle eyes searching for that precious tiny bottle that my girls life depends on.

    My son was sent home to search the yard thoroughly. And he found it.
    And you never saw such a praise party in the smack dab middle of a country road as we had that day.

    Loved this post. I show up every day. And I overlook it. Thank you.

  31. December 31, 2015

    Christine Reply

    Thank you, Rachel. Your posts are beautifully written, and confirm for me that I’m not alone–that I’m not a failure as a mom for feeling overwhelmed and still not getting it all done.

    Sometimes I miss the me I used to be, and I don’t know how to find her again. I used to be fun-loving, and have interesting things to talk about. I used to smile a lot more and stress a lot less. I’d like my kids to know that person. There must be a way that I can be mom and still be me. Maybe other moms out there feel the same, and maybe in 2016 we can figure out how.

  32. […] We’re all flawed. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect and our kids aren’t perfect. I always feel the mommy guilt and this was a good […]

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