I’ve been a mom for over twenty years. People think because of that magical double decade number that I’ve discovered the secret of being a good mom. Or a creative mom. Or the cool mom. Or a patient mom.
It’s pretty much at that asking moment when I will lose my patience in Starbucks or Target or Kroger, so they change the request from patience or creativity, and simply wonder about the secret to being a successful good kids turn out okay and I’m happy mom. They can see that patience might not be mastered.
When they ask, I laugh. Or chuckle. Or get teary.
Because truthfully, there is no secret.
I know because I searched for it for so many of my mom years. I looked and hoped and always felt like I fell just a bit short. I hate that feeling. Don’t you? That feeling like everyone else has is it together and if I’m just a little bit better than maybe I, too, can figure this whole mom thing out and win. Because to be honest, so much of my motherhood journey has felt like I’ve been failing. I’ve cried so many times, wondered why it was hard, and hoped and prayed that maybe just one day I’ll cross that finish line successfully.
But truthfully, there isn’t a handbook of forty-two ways to make dinner something loved by everyone. There’s no way to defeat the crazy teenager rebellion years with a smile and a latte. What works for bedtime for one kid WILL NOT WORK for the next. Potty training is just and always torture no matter what anyone says. Don’t listen to them. Middle school is where I lost my patience. There was a reprieve when they were seven, eight and nine, but then as soon as you think I’ve figured it out! they get to preteen stuff. Humbling. It’s like a giant do-over moment. Sitting in a car when they are leaning to drive is pure and simple terrifying. It’s like payback in a way, like God is laughing at us when we would mutter won’t it be nice when they grow up and drive themselves places because there we are hitting the non-existent brake on the passenger side while we say our prayers.
Honestly, sweet sister who wants to be a good mom, that is what I have wanted my WHOLE motherhood journey. All of it. But there is only one thing:
So much trying that it makes the quote fall seven times stand up eight something you mutter just during the morning rush or bedtime or during homework. To be fully transparent, there are nights where I go to bed ticked off at my kids. Other nights where I go to bed ticked off at myself because I felt I should have could have done something different. There are some days that I wish would last forever and some days that I wish would be over when it’s only seven am.
It’s really not about doing anything better. Trust me.
Especially if you’re looking for a thirteen step program to finishing laundry. It’s about showing up every single day. It’s about figuring out dinner when the pantry is empty and every single person in your house says they are absolutely starving. It’s about showing up for events when your ex is there and you are uncomfortable and you don’t know what to do but smile and cheer. It’s about walking into doctor’s offices and principal’s offices.
It’s in emailing teachers talking about grades and sitting up helping with projects that cost you thirty dollars and seem pointless but need to get done.
You want the best good mom secret? It’s what you do every single day.
When you stop, when you throw in the towel, those are the moments when you quit. And quitting? That’s the one thing you don’t do. You know why I know?
Right now, reading these words, wanting to know the secret. Why would you even care about the secret if you didn’t care? But you do care. You love those kids that make you feel you’re the worst mom in the world at times. You love those kids you give up sleep for. You love them even when they drive you absolutely crazy. Oh sweet mom, listen, even if you are tired worn out overwhelmed exhausted worried fearful joyful content you need to know one thing: you are the good mom secret.
You are the one your kids love even if they say they hate you.
You are the one who makes your house their home.
You are the one they search for in the crowd and smile.
You are the one they need when they are sick or afraid or need to come home.
You are the one they text asking for advice.
You are the one that matters to the people that matter the most.
So carry on. Don’t waste time worrying that you’re not enough. Don’t chase for the secret. Just keep showing up, trying, loving, giving, hoping. Day after day, night after night.
That’s the good mom secret.