Let me tell it to you again.
You are stronger than you might think.
You. The mom. In the trenches. In the valleys. On the peaks. On the road of normal. In seasons of change.
You are strong.
Don’t listen to the doubts. To the voices telling you that you don’t measure up, that you don’t matter, that nothing will ever change, that what you’re doing day after day after day won’t make a difference. Those aren’t truth statements – they are subtle fallacies that keep you and me stuck and not seeing the amazing tenacity tucked within.
Let me tell you truth.
Pulling up the covers and kissing a little one goodnight after the hardest day of your life matters. Smiling when you have tears in your eyes matters. Pushing the swing in the hot sun when you have a list of things to complete matters. Opening the peanut butter jar that is almost empty and scraping out the last bit of peanut butter and spreading it on the bread and giving it to your three year old matters. Walking out the door and into an office so that you can buy that bread and peanut butter matters. Pumping gas and driving to soccer and cutting orange slices and baking bread and helping with math facts and taking temperatures and changing the laundry load and scrubbing the counters and listening to stories from the day and going to bed exhausted because you gave and gave all matters.
That is strong.
And for so many of you right now you are doing this in a world where life feels overwhelming and impossible. The money is tight. The marriage crumbling. The child is sick. The normal everyday seems to drive you crazy. You work long hours. You can’t find work. You miss work but don’t want to ever talk about that. You can’t seem to ever stay on top of laundry much less the pile of dishes or the mail or just every day life. To you, dear mother, I tell you that you are strong.
And for so many of you right now you are doing this in a world where life feels normal and comfortable and good and yet you wonder if what you are doing every single day is making a difference. You’re wondering about the monotony and the normal and the simplicity. To you, dear mother, I tell you that you are strong.
And for so many of you right now you are doing this in a world where you feel not very strong and you are sitting there wondering how in the world to get through the next five minutes much less the end of the day and the baby is crying or the phone ringing or you are alone and your heart hurts. To you, dear mother, I tell you that you are strong.
Maybe it’s hidden under years of stuff. Maybe it’s this baby bit of strong. But, I tell you, it’s there. It’s there waiting to be found and unearthed and put to work. Mothers are strong.
You are strong.
We could listen to ideas of what makes us strong and amazing and powerful. Ideas and images of perfect lives, bodies, homes, marriages, children, and front porches. That’s not amazing. That’s just stuff. External grades of failing and succeeding that in the trajectory of a life will someday get in the category of things that didn’t really matter. They aren’t the things that people will share about us at the end of our lives and say that we were amazing.
Amazing is in getting up again and again and again and trying.
You are stronger than you think.
So when you stand at the sink with the water tumbling out and the toddler pulling at your leg and the phone ringing and you’re not sure how to get to tomorrow much less today and yet you still get through it all you are, in fact, stronger than you think. When you look at your day and it seems daunting, overwhelming, and impossible, and yet you get up, get your coffee, and fight you are in fact igniting the strength, the raw amazing strength, within you.
Strength isn’t found in perfection.
It is found in the moments, the minutes, the seconds where you give and believe and try and laugh and cry and mother.
It’s found in laughter, tears, sighs, hugs, laments, I love you’s, and dreams shattered in the midst. It’s not in keeping it all together – it’s in being real and admitting that life isn’t perfect but that you aren’t quitting. You are fighting.
Strength is an amazing gift that you have even though sometimes you don’t see it. Or you’ve forgotten it. Or dismissed it. Or don’t remember.
Believe in you.
I do today.
Dear mom, you are strong.
You are so incredibly unbelievably amazingly strong.
My sweet friends – I wrote about strength in my new book, The Brave Art of Motherhood. And in fact, I wrote this post in the early days of my single mom journey. I’d be blessed to have you read it.
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All photographs used by permission and credited to Hannah Nicole.
Images and original content are sole property of Rachel Martin and may not be used, copied or transmitted without prior written consent.