I think you’re the best, mommy.
I didn’t believe him.
I sat in my living room, on the worn plaid couch that for years I’ve wished to replace, and I heard those words tumble from my six year old Elijah’s mouth directed for me. That sweet boy, the one who loves Angry Birds and has the energy of four kids tucked into his little body, was standing there.
Staring at me – the weary mom.
And simply telling me he thinks I am the best.
I wanted to debate with him.
I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t.
I wanted to remind him that I was short tempered and lost my patience when we couldn’t find the missing shoe and that the living room was messy and that the dishes from breakfast were mixing with the dishes from lunch waiting to be done and that I’m sorry that we still hadn’t read the book that he had brought down before breakfast and that I shouldn’t have been distracted.
I saw all the things that I didn’t do right.
I saw the Halloween costume scraped from things that were tucked in the dress up box that’s normally shoved in the corner in the laundry room with the unfolded basket of socks resting on top. It’s the box that they beg to take out and so often I tell them not right now simply because I don’t want to deal with the mess.
He didn’t see that.
He saw that I pulled out the box and that I helped him figure out a costume. He didn’t care that it was last minute or that it wasn’t super creative or that it wasn’t the coolest latest trend. He didn’t care that the hat was from the airport in Chicago and that it was purchased on the way home from one of my speaking engagements.
He saw that I helped him find that pilot hat and that I helped him stick on a $5 felt beard that itched him like terrible but he wanted so bad to keep it on his chin. He saw the $1 glowsticks that I grabbed in the deals section of Target that we threw in his plastic grocery bag making it glow.
He remembered that I let him help make chips and cheese for lunch.
He remembered that when he worked on his homework that I was so proud of how he made his lowercase e.
He didn’t see all the stuff that I remembered.
We’re hard on ourselves moms.
Let me repeat that.
We are hard on ourselves.
That’s the truth. We are plain and simple really terribly hard on ourselves. If you were to come into my home and describe my mothering you would probably describe it with a great deal more grace then often I’m willing to give myself. Yet we live in a world and a culture that is constantly trying to put parameters around what makes a good mom and what kids need. There are blog posts, pinterest pins, cute pictures and quotes on facebook, adorable instagrams, and clever tweets all about mothers. More and more and more.
Our kids don’t see those things. They’re not scouring facebook or pinterest making sure that we’re doing all the things that often time we think we should be doing.
They’re just being kids.
Who need their mom.
A mom that is there for them when they fall and need a bandage. A mom that’s willing to listen to their tales from the day. A mom who makes them spaghetti with just enough sauce and extra parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top. A mom who loves them. Even when she’s tired or worried or thinks she’s not doing enough.
Being a mom isn’t about doing all that stuff that we think we should always be doing.
It’s about being there in the thick of things, in the trenches, and doing your best.
And sometimes your best looks one way and other times it looks totally different. It doesn’t need to match what your friends are doing or what you see on pinterest or facebook or on television. It’s the best for you and your family. Your kids simply need you.
They see you for what you really are. Even if sometimes they don’t admit it. Or don’t say it. Or slam doors in your face. Or are obstinate. Or don’t want to eat dinner. Or won’t go to bed. Or don’t clean their room. Or when it feels like they don’t see all the stuff that you really do. Like laundry.
Being a mom isn’t easy.
It’s giving constantly. It’s being creative, confident, inventive, proactive, energetic, pondering, nurturing, patient, loving, joyful, rule keeping, rule setting, teaching, caring, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, not comparing, always learning – it’s all the things that you already do that are often so easy to dismiss.
So to you, right now, the mom in the midst of the journey, to you I just want you to remember that today, right now, what you are doing really matters. It may seem small or inconsequential or that you’ve said no candy right now a million times (at least that’s what it feels like in my home) or that you’re just being a mom.
Just being a mom is exactly what those silly energetic feisty drive you crazy at times kids of ours need.
You are being the one that nurtures little humans. Teaches them to survive and thrive in this world. You teach them confidence and that wearing blue crocs on Halloween are cool. You teach them what it means to be brave and to keep going. And you teach them about selfless love and giving of self.
And it’s not in the big perfect things. It’s the little things. The hugs. I love you’s. And being the one that smiles at them no matter what.
Start seeing that.
So sweet mother who may feel weary in this motherhood journey. Who may feel like she’s doing the same thing over and over. Who may feel like she’s working, working, working, and racing home and just getting minutes of time. Who sees everything where she thinks she messes up. You know what? Do you know what do kids need?
They need you.
The imperfect real perfect for your kids mom.
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.
Thank you for being so real! I have been very discouraged lately, especially when my children make little comments like “This house is a mess and it needs to be cleaned.” I think I let it get under my skin because I know it’s the truth, but I hate hearing it from them. I’m only one person and I can’t do it all, especially when they refuse to help, or just make a bigger mess. I’m working through those feelings. Trying not to take it personal!!! Thanks again for your encouraging words!!!!
If we can somehow get them to help on a regular basis they will see how much work it actually is to keep a clean house.
It’s those sincere “I love you, Mom” moments and the out-of-the blue “Thank you for doing this for me” moments that make everything worth it, even when there have been so many frustrating hours and days since the last bit of spoken love or appreciation. Thank you for putting it into words and reminding moms of our value.
These letters- this blog- have blessed me so much. Encouraged me and kept me afloat. Thank you for writing what so many of us need to hear.
I have recently discovered your blog and have only read two posts so far but they have both been exactly what I’ve needed to hear in the moment. Thank you so much for sharing your blog and helping mothers- like me- see the good of what they are doing. I look forward to reading more.
Thanks everyone.I love just writing “my heart” and sharing it. I figure that if I feel this way that there are many others out there with similar thoughts. It really does help to know that one isn’t alone in this motherhood journey.
With blessings and joy.
I am hard on myself. When people tell me what a great mom I am, I wonder if they know me at all. Do they know that I am short tempered and lose my patience over “little” things (um, pretty much everything you listed plus some) or that I too don’t want them playing with something because I don’t feel like dealing with the mess I am sure that *they* won’t clean up? Do they know that I dread having to play tag or hide-and-seek with my kids because I wear out quickly and one round is enough for me? I guess not. I guess they only see how much my kids love me and how much my kids tell me they love me. I wish I could love myself the way my kids love me and see myself as a great mom the way others do. Then maybe I won’t feel so guilty for the things that I know I do wrong.
Thank you for being so real. So many of your thoughts mirror mine exactly! Even your description of your son “the energy of four kids tucked into his little body” is exactly like my four year old daughter! I’d never thought to describe it that way, but it’s so true! So often I just look at the mess, my massive to do list, the times I haven’t responded the way I should and get discouraged instead of looking at the beautiful children who tell me I’m the best mommy ever. It’s all about perspective – which I often lack.
Thank you for sharing this. My three year old son often says things similar to this. I seem to always think why? I get after him all of the time, hurry him up with walking out the door, tell him no. But, he still tells me, “Mommy, I love you.” It is the sweetest moments and I try to grab them and keep them in my memory. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
I don’t know one mother who doesn’t at least occasionally doubt herself or beat up on herself. In this day and age there is so much pressure to be so many things (most of them unimportant)in the name of motherhood. This is just perfect! Thank you.
Thank you for sharing this!
The world can have their parameters…I see the smiles on those kids faces and that’s all that matters!
Know that I’m here praying!
Psalms 40:16-17 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
I read this right when I needed a little extra, “everything’s ok, no big deal”. Hun and I just found Baby has a rash along his bum line. I treated it but went to reluctantly put on a new diaper because he wanted to nurse and nap. Hun stopped and said just put some towels down. In that moment I saw the extra laundry, the potential mess, and the glaring fact that I singlehandedly caused the rash and just noticed – I saw my perceived failings as his mom. Hun saw what needed to be done, the fact that Baby doesn’t seem to notice, and that I’d already started treating the trash. He also gave me “permission” to keep doing what’s best because it’s not totally my fault, these things happen and it’s ok.
So, as I lie here and nurse him to sleep, once again I was affirmed as a mother and given “permission” to make mistakes. 🙂
Know that I’m here lifting up thoughts and prayers.
Psalms 107:28-31 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
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Oh, I just love this so. And that picture of your dear boy in the policeman getup…there just are no words for how sweet that is.Your words are priceless and bless me daily. Thank you for sharing again and again what so many of us moms need to hear. I’m learning to give myself more and more grace on a day to day basis and look for the joy in the little things, and it’s been such a freeing journey. Thank you so much.
Oops. Sorry…I meant pilot getup. It’s been one of those days. 🙂