Before my oldest was born I read all the books. They didn’t prepare me for this:
There are days when my eyes start closing before my head hits the pillow.
My laundry always feels behind and socks unsorted and towels on the floor.
The pantry vacillates between being messy with half opened bags and empty with kids asking what can I eat? (even thought they just ate) and there’s nothing that they love or want. I feel my bank account needs a ledger just for food consumption.
My van, just so you know, often has remnants of said chips which are always seen by the side door opening at the school pick up line time.
There are pictures on my wall of my oldest kids young and none of my youngest kids old.
Oh yes, and I’ve read everything I think there’s too read about motherhood.
How to be a good mom. How to make meals they all love. How to not lose my cool. How to organize better. How to listen. How to set boundaries. How to capture moments.
How how how.
Sometimes all those hows in life make me feel, as I sit among all of that laundry, that I’m just a step behind. Trying so much, but never ever catching up. And then mixed in those hows are the lists of don’t do this and you should do this and why haven’t you done that yet? And it’s so much that I would like to just melt in a puddle of mom goo and surrender but I don’t want to clean up one more mess.
But parenting books don’t teach the love.
How I know just what to say to my middle schooler when he has a bad day. And that sometimes I should say nothing at all. They don’t teach the songs my newborns loved me to hum. Or what drink to get my daughter at Starbucks. Or how to clean my kitchen super fast in a way that makes me happy.
They teach the systems and talk about grace.
But it’s you and me that figures all this out.
It’s in toddlers telling you you’re the best and middle schoolers slamming doors. It’s in dinners that are loved and dishes with food left drying on. It’s in trying to decide when to wash the dishes and when to play the game. It’s in going to bed tired and getting up tired. It’s in looking around and not knowing what to do. It’s in glitter rainbows and messes on the floor. It’s in great marriages and messy divorces and just trying.
It’s in saying “yes” to unicorn sugar laden drinks at Starbucks sometimes and ignoring the pressures (and yes my sixteen year old had one).
It’s in learning to TRUST yourself and not everything being told.
It’s in being okay with wishing for a break.
It’s in being the mean mom and hating those nights but knowing that saying no matters just as much.
It’s so so so so easy to look and feel the pressure to measure up. It’s easy to grade. To let the tears fall.
It’s easy to miss us if we look at the externals as the guide.
It’s in knowing childhood lasts once.
It’s easy to miss what matters.
It’s easy to let those eyelids close and to go to bed feeling like you weren’t enough. But then, then there are these moments that snap perspective right back into one’s weary heart. Like this:
I love you mom. You’re epic.
That’s what my nine year old told me after I spent thirteen dollars to get his hair cut after school.
Over a hair cut.
He didn’t see all the things and places where I felt like I was failing.
So this is my promise to you – that sometimes all the written words forget:
You are making a difference whether you feel like it or not.
You must trust me. You must exhale a bit of expectations and doubts and worries and trust me when I tell you just how profound and beautiful you are. Please, trust me. I know. I know how it’s so easy to feel the failing stuff. To doubt self. But sweet sweet mom.
You make a difference.
Not in the big amazing profound things.
But in little ordinary ways.
In haircuts. In sitting in the school pick up line. In tucking covers just so. In kisses behind ears. In texts sent to high schoolers. In getting treats. In not getting treats. In making them do homework. In rocking babies. In IT all. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about having the laundry always done. It’s not about having all the answers. It’s not about not making mistakes.
It is about you.
Showing up. Loving. Trying again.
That’s what real motherhood is. Not perfection. Not in the answers. Not in books.
You don’t win with the hows, you win with the doing.
So hold your head high. Do not miss YOU.
And carry on bravely.
That’s the truth.