the real mantra of motherhood

I’m exhausted.

Most days. It’s become a fact that in my house if I sit down for more than seven minutes that the chances that I will fall asleep wherever I may be are exponentially high. If I was a betting person, other than playing the quarter slots and always losing, I’d make sure to bet that I’d fall asleep just like my son Samuel does in the hallway while I work. Yep, that’s him. Sleeping while I write. Just so you know, he was supposed to be in his room.


I give. I work. I love.

That’s kind of the mantra of motherhood.

Give. Work. Love.

It’s the mantra I try to tell myself as I stumble down the stairs in the morning waiting for my coffee to brew. Somedays it seems to brew so slowly that instead of waiting I challenge myself to try to get all the dishes unloaded before it’s done. It’s this race between me and the machine.

So silly, really. But so true an illustration about life.

It’s this race from the moment one wakes until one slumbers. Race to here to there on hyper speed. And sometimes the race doesn’t feel like one is racing. Sometimes it can feel slow and tedious and seem to draw out forever (any parent who has gone throw potty-training can raise their hands at this one. By far my least favorite weeks of parenting.) And yet, at the end of the day when slumber hits you’re exhausted.

And sleep? I’ve forgotten what it’s like to really sleep. Lately sleep is just this sort blip in time that I get if I’m really lucky. Most often it’s work, then sleep for a bit, then waking. And if you’re like me sleep is punctuated with these moments of wake ups – from little ones, thunder, and the anxiety that you’re forgetting something.

Which even if you were doesn’t help at three am. Especially if you’re awake with that cute 4.5 year old.


Sometimes I find myself short with the kids because I’m tired. I so want to be the good, patient, and the always loving mom, but alas the work wears me out. So I get tired and snappy and throw my hands in the air and exclaim I don’t care. have a popsicle and then just go to bed. And most times they’re unhappy because they wanted the grape. Or the kiwi – which, in case you are wondering, is what Samuel calls lime.

I so love them.

I know you love your kids too.

I know you love them on those short days when you’re temper flares a bit. I know you love them when you just want them to go to bed. I know you love them even when they exasperate you like crazy. I know you love them when they can’t find their shoes and you’ve told them 83 times to put them in the box by the door. I know you love them when they don’t really want to talk with you.  I know you love them when you work and give and love.

Don’t let you beat yourself up for those exhausted tired days. Don’t be hard on yourself because it seems like you’re not getting anything done (read 10 Tips for the To-do list). Don’t go to bed worrying that you’re enough when it seems like you’re doing the same thing. Don’t overlook you.

I really want you to know that you’re not alone. Like really know this. Like know that you’re not the only mom that looks at those little people and loves them but is also so tired.

Not one bit.

I know that sometimes motherhood is a lonely place. I know that it may seem like everyone else has it all together. Listen. We’re all in this together. Even if we don’t let on that we are in the same spot. We all deal with sick kids, relationship stuff, and that no no sleep. Here’s the truth: I don’t think anyone can get through motherhood without giving, working, and loving. And with that comes a great big dose of being tired and exhausted.  Tired and exhausted is such a normal part of motherhood. You can’t prep for it, you can’t stock up on extra sleep, you just kind of learn to deal with it.


And in it you become brave and awesome and the mother you were meant to be. You learn when to pick your battles and when to spend $3 on gum at the gas station just because. You learn that bedtime doesn’t always need to be on time and that shoes should most of the time be on the right feet. You learn that cooking macaroni and cheese from a box is normal and that sometimes the answer is to go through the drive thru at Starbucks – for you. You learn to not care so much what everyone else is doing but rather start to focus on you and what your kids need.

You’re probably not the mother that you thought you’d be back when you started the mom journey.  You’re not your own mother. You’re not like the mother next door. Or the mom at Target. Or on television. Or at church. Or at work. But you’re you. Listen, there is something really truly and profoundly beautiful about you. Even with the mistakes, tired, not feeling confident, or feeling like the best you.

There’s only one of you for your kids.

Don’t dismiss that beauty of that statement. Embrace it. Embrace how they love you even when you mess up. Embrace that even if they seem to hate you that deep down you know that you’re their mom and they love you. Embrace you. Embrace the funny things you do, the things that just you and your kids get, and how hard you try every single day.

The messy imperfect trying you.

Motherhood is an extra shot of espresso crazy giving of you.


The mantra of motherhood isn’t about do more, be more, and all of that. The mantra is really simple.

Be you. You give. You work. You love. 

That’s not small.

That’s a life changing helping babes turn into adults thing.

From one exhausted racing from the moment she wakes up mom to you.


14 Responses to “the real mantra of motherhood”

  1. July 22, 2014

    Jackie Reply

    I soooooo needed this. I gave been so tired and cranky. Not feeling good enough .

    • July 22, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      You are good enough. I’m so glad these words are the ones you needed to hear today.

      with joy.


  2. July 22, 2014

    Life Breath Present Reply

    Such a wonderful read for me this afternoon. Trying to nurse Baby Boy to sleep, relax, think of art, and catch up on blog reading…I’m racing trying to do it all and feeling the weight of tiredness creep in.

    We each will make it through and then we’ll get a brief period of sleep! 🙂

    • July 22, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Yes, yes, yes…someday we will get that sleep. So glad that you enjoyed the words today.

      With joy.


  3. July 22, 2014

    Shannon Reply

    Hi, Rachel – I’ve only commented once before (I ALWAYS AM HERE READING!!), but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. You said what I knew but can’t believe all the time. However, I think the more we hear it, the easier it is to start believing in ourselves. I especially liked the video at the end. You are the cutest and I feel this weird connection to all the “blog moms” I read. I agree with you – we’re all in this together. Thanks for your always-inspiring words! You are a cheerleader for the rest of us tired, cranky, not-feeling-good enough moms!

    Shannon in PA

  4. July 22, 2014

    Joy Reply

    Once again I feel like that post was written just for me. I’m starting to think you are inside my head and giving voice to what I think and feel almost everyday. Thank you for the encouragement yet again.

  5. July 23, 2014

    Vicky Reply

    Hi Rachel – this is my first time reading your blog and I’m hooked. 🙂 Keep up the good work. And thank you, especially for this post!


    • July 23, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      So glad you found my site – I appreciate your words and your encouragement. I really want this place in the online world to be super encouraging and real.

      With joy.


  6. July 23, 2014

    Aubrey Carey Reply

    I feel like you wrote this to me, for me. I’ve got a 3 month old, my fourth child and 3rd boy. The 2 year old is jealous and acting out, kids are fighting, baby crying cuz its time to eat but I’m trying to get lunch for everyone else, etc etc. Just today I tried to be the fun mom and let my 2 year old wear a backpack leash deal “walked” by my 9 year old,and pull his own grocery basket. About halfway through the store, he started pulling things off the shelves, flipping his basket over, and the baby started screaming. I ended up fumbling around, nursing the baby in a carrier on my front, while wrangling a screaming toddler into the buggy to push him. I yelled and told him to just shut up, and quit crying. As soon as I said it I felt terrible and wanted to cry.
    I cried myself to sleep last night, worried over childcare issues, piles of laundry, trouble at work. I just feel like I’m halfway doing everything, but not doing anything right. I know my expectations are likely too high and I am my own worst critic, so it is helpful to read things like this post.

    • July 23, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply


      Grace to you. Motherhood isn’t an adventure for the weak, that’s for sure. It’s in motherhood where we come face to face with our own weaknesses and learn to be brave and strong. You’re kids will love you – even if you make mistakes – you just learn.

      May today be awesome and wonderful. And may you see all the wonderful things that you do in the day to day.


  7. I’ve said this several times to you, but just when I’m having a tough day,this comes in my inbox. Motherhood really does suck sometimes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love those little stinkers. I have a lot of mommy guilt from raising my voice because I’ve lost my patience. My husband was working late today, my youngest missed his nap because his big brother started kindergarten today and his pickup time is right smack in the middle of naptime. The oldest took off on his bike (he’s only 5, and not allowed to ride out of sight) and I couldn’t find him for like 20 min. Come home, they are cranky because they are hungry. “when is dinner going to be ready” over and over. Bath time, inches of water are splashed out of the bath tub…..wash them up…constantly chasing the 2 year old as he is into everything. Husband still not home. Getting the older one’s teeth brushed…little one locks himself in my bathroom with the water running. Open the door….little one found a cup that he has filled to the brim and THROWS IT AT ME. Hit my breaking point. The screaming starts and then the mommy guilt sets in. I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired of not being able to get anything done because I’m following my 2 year old around to make sure he doesn’t get into the knives or flood the bathroom or climb in the refrigerator. It’s a never ending battle…but yet, when I put them to bed, I stare at them and my heart is full once again…until the drama ensues again tomorrow. And we CHOOSE to do this…..Thank you.

  8. January 19, 2017

    Kim Reply

    OMG!! You hit head the head on the hammer.. I say it all the time “I don’t care have another popsicle then go to bed” I thank you so much your words of wisdom help this single mother, every day. As my son who is laying right beside me (in my bed) playing the loudest racing game ever, I love him more than life itself but I’m EXHAUSTED! But thank you for your words of encouragement & understanding.
    Thanks again,

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