The other day my energetic and exuberant nine year old Caleb climbed into the car after school and within seconds starting sobbing.
I’m no good at school.
Those were the words out of his, super smart and wonderful and creative and always reading and giving and awesome kid, mouth to me. I knew he had been struggling – organization and all (the massive piles of papers crumbled in his backpack was a giveaway) – and I knew he was in that place where his mama had been struggling as well – overwhelm. And I knew as his mom he needed me right there loving him, figuring this out, and moving forward with him believing in him and helping him remember that he could do this and that he really was good at this school thing but he just forgot in the moment.
So we sat at the table at night and worked side by side checking things off and making a plan. I could see that he was calming down and regaining a bit of that confidence that had slipped to the side. The circumstances that had made him doubt his own self and spiral into that place of angst and overwhelm and feeling no good were being replaced with the confidence and trust in himself that he had forgotten. He was so mired in the situation that he couldn’t see himself with the eyes that I saw him in.
Thank you, mom.
That’s what he told me this morning as he checked his backpack with the folder in it with homework that was now ultra organized with pink stars that I carefully placed on the top and a note for him inside. He didn’t need to say anything else beyond those two words because I knew. He just needed love and to be reminded that he can do this even when he stumbles and gets overwhelmed.
It’s like us as moms.
How many times are you like me and have moments where you feel like you’re simply not good at this whole mothering thing?
Sometimes those overwhelming moments or days or weeks or months can chip away at our trust in ourselves. Yes, that. And then when we start to forget our own strength or that we’re doing our best and making the wisest decisions for our families the no good doubts can creep in. And, in fact, oftentimes it results in those days where the tears just fall. Like I had this week (the mom days when the tears fall). Those are the times when life puts so much in our path that we start running through our day before our tired feet hit the ground and the coffee is even brewed and we’re looking at everyone else racing by and are simply feeling like we’re no good when we just want to know that we’ll be okay.
That’s what Caleb needed to remember, honestly.
That he would be okay and would get through.
You see, he forgot to see where he was working hard and really only saw everything that he had messed up. And don’t get me wrong, he was a bit overwhelmed, but once I emailed his wonderful teacher she replied with a story with much more grace for Caleb then he was giving himself. She told me about all the things that he was caught up on and that she could see him struggling but trying trying trying.
He didn’t remember that when the tears fell from his eyes yesterday. He only remembered where he fell.
It was up to me to hold out my hand, to pull him up, and to show him truth.
Imagine that. He was just like me. Like you. Seeing all the stumbles and the not the awesomes. Sometimes you and I will go to bed and will remember that very long to-do list of things that we didn’t do. We’ll remember where we were short with our kids but will forgot that we exercised the patience of a saint while we dealt with our middle schooler. We’ll discount the ordinary and forget that it was the extraordinary.
So today, right now, this is what I want you to remember when you feel you’re no good:
Your mothering instincts are a gift – listen to them.
You will mess up, fall, stumble, but when you do you never stay there.
You deserve the grace that you give others.
You make the best decisions you can in the moment.
You do not have to be perfect, you just need to be you.
You will have moments of tiredness, overwhelm, sadness, angst but you will also have moments of joy, peace, happiness, and feeling like you are supermom.
You are never “just” a mom.
You will get through today.
You are strong.
You make a difference.
This morning as I pulled away and watched my nine year old, with his bright orange jacket, walk into school my heart felt good. Not because I could guarantee that he would have the perfect day, but rather because I felt like yesterday I really listened to him and simply wanted him to know that he is not alone and he can do this.
That’s what I want you to remember.
You can do this.
Part of mothering is trusting ourselves even when we feel like we’re just not good at it. Part of mothering is brushing ourselves off and trying again. Part of mothering is letting our guard down a bit and letting ourselves laugh again. Part of mothering is knowing that we’re not alone. Part of mothering is releasing perfectionism and learning to love us for who we are and all of wonderfulness.
You’ve got it, Caleb.
And do you know what?
You do too.