Today I drove back from Northern Minnesota with four boys buckled in my van.
There were wrappers on the floor and a dvd playing above and chatter about summer camp as the Minnesota countryside rolled by outside my window. The sky was cloudy, my van rusty, the cruise on and me sitting in there in my a bit disheveled hair and boring khaki shorts and a blue teeshirt.
And I was okay.
I was an okay mom. Here’s why.
I was okay with being the mom that sent only two letters to the boys at camp because you know what? Those two letters mattered. They read them. They repeated back to me the silly rap song that I tried to make for each of them and they told me they wanted to save them.
The letters were on a piece of paper in a plain envelope with a stamp.
Nothing fancy. Nothing from Pinterest. Nothing with treats or stickers or extras.
Kind of okay mom stuff, really.
Their clothes were a mix of crazy hand me down and Target finds and shorts that I knew would get crumpled into a ball and thrown in the mix. Some old suitcases. And fishing poles where the line was tangled before they started.
The back to school stuff that I bought my kids is just okay stuff. No new backpacks, no fancy folders, just a bunch of pencils and red pens and folders without prongs and paper. I’ll send them a note. But not every day. I’ll pack their lunches and sometimes cut them in triangles and sometimes squares but probably not anything super creative that I see online. I just don’t have time. And truthfully, they probably won’t miss it just like they didn’t see the self-addressed stamped envelope in their suitcases where they were supposed to write me while at camp.
And dinners, well dinners are sometimes just normal. Okay stuff. Macaroni and cheese or chicken on the grill or spaghetti. Sometimes I do that fancy fun stuff that I love but my kids seem to tell me this is the best meal ever when it’s just the okay stuff.
I think my kids don’t care that much about the outside stuff.
They care about being. Living. Exploring. Being kids. Having opportunities.
They care about who is on the computer too long or if there are any popsicles left in the freezer or if they can stay up fifteen minutes late or that their brother is looking at them wrong.
They liked the letters that I sent them because I gave time to them.
That’s what motherhood is about.
It gets so mixed up sometimes in our minds. We see all the things that we think we should do and think that motherhood is defined by having thirty freezer meals prepared and always ready and glittered letters and kids that are always in line and we miss that so much of motherhood is in being okay with fighting hard for our kids and them being unhappy even though we still know that we are doing what is best.
My kids need an okay mom.
Your kids need an okay mom.
A mom that looks in the mirror and is happy to be a mom and that is happy to be her too. All that other pressure strips and squishes all of that happiness right out of my life. And then instead of walking into a camp to find my boys I’m spending all my time thinking about all the things I should have done versus seeing everything that I did.
We do amazing things.
Awesome okay mom things that are tucked in our days that sometimes we miss in the busy.
All those things.
All the time prepping those suitcases with camp supplies and writing names on items in permanent marker. Of navigating Target buying back to school supplies so that they are ready to go. Of sitting in a kindergarten principal’s office talking to the principal and the nurse about sending my little one with Celiac Disease and asthma to school and letting go of the worry knowing that he will be okay. All the time we make those sandwiches counts way more than the creativity that we think means we’re good moms.
Kids need us.
Kids don’t need the other stuff. Oh, do not ever get me wrong here – do not stop doing the little things you love to do to bless your kids. This isn’t a rant against Pinterest or the creativity that we as moms have – I say if it makes you happy and blesses you then do it. That stuff is wonderful. It’s really about realizing that deep down we are okay moms because we mother.
We give and love and fight for our kids. We push hair out of our eyes and watch boiling pots of water and tuck covers just right. We hear words that camp was awesome when just days before we had to force them out the door to go. We work and work and budget and cry tears when we feel like we’re losing them. It means that sometimes, if you’re like me, when you see their hearts hurting that you are strong and you fight for them and love them even though it just aches.
The okay stuff, the normal stuff, is the beautiful stuff.
I know there’s this trend to be cynical about motherhood or to over glamorize it with cotton candy and unicorns and glitter but I just want us to be real. I want you to know that it’s okay to have those bad days and to feel like you’re the worst mom and then to have the realization that you will get through. It’s okay to have great days. It’s okay to have a whole bunch of normal okay days.
I just want you to thrive in motherhood.
You are an okay mom.
An okay beautiful wonderful giving stay up late and never get sleep fighting celebrating carpool driving homework helping tears wiping cooking cleaning folding rocking awesome mom.
Don’t ever doubt that.
From one okay mom to you.
Read Why Being a Mom is Enough for even more mom truth.
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