Mom, you’ve got this

Dear Fellow Momma,

How are you today? If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what that brown smudge on the back of your jeans is, and how long it’s been there. You’re counting the hours until bedtime…and feeling a little guilty about it. You’re wondering why your toddler is so quiet, but you secretly don’t care as long as you can have two minutes more of peace right now. You have a million things on your to do list and not enough time to do even half of them.

I know. Motherhood is exhausting, overwhelming, and all-consuming. You give and give and give some more. You know why you’re doing this—you love these crazy little people more than anything—but you sometimes you worry that your best won’t be enough for them.

Can I tell you something though?

You are enough. You are everything your child needs.

You don’t have to live up to some Pinterest-perfect, June Cleaver fantasy of parenting. In fact, a recent study shows that you probably spend more time with your kids than June spent with Beaver anyway.

Several months ago, I had one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mornings with my kids. They fought, I lost my temper, we were late getting out the door, and by the time we got where we were going (which happened to be church), I was feeling like an angry, frustrated failure.

But as I sat for a moment and watched my kids play quietly next to me, a clear thought came into my head:

You don’t have to be a perfect mom. Just be a loving one.

Call it inspiration, call it intuition, call it desperation if you want. But in that moment, those words rang true to me, and they’ve come back to me over and over again in the months since. It has become one of my mothering mantras to help me remember where to focus my very limited time and energy.

Don’t believe the myth that you have to be able to do it all. Nobody does it all. We all pick and choose what matters most and we let the rest slide.

In the words of one of my favorite mothers, “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.” (Marjorie Hinckley)

So give yourself a break.

It doesn’t matter if your two-year-old still has yogurt on his face four hours after breakfast. It doesn’t matter if your four-year-old insists on wearing plaid shorts with a striped sweatshirt. It doesn’t matter if your house is perfectly clean, or if you decorated for the holidays, or if you did any of the other lovely things you saw on Pinterest yesterday.

All that matters is that you feed and clothe your children, teach them as best you can, and make sure that they know that their mama loves them.

And when you fail at even doing that for a moment (because we all do), forgive yourself, ask forgiveness of your child, and tell yourself, “Let’s try again tomorrow.”

There will be hard days—long nights snuggling a feverish baby, and endless days with a tantruming toddler who is determined to do everything for himself.

There will be good days—mornings filled with building blanket forts in the family room, afternoons of having picnics in the sunshine at the park, and moments when you find yourself just watching those amazing little people you created and smiling to yourself.

Most days will be a big mish-mash of both.

If you find yourself at the end of the day wondering if you can possible do it all again tomorrow, take the challenge my mother gave me. Sneak in your kids rooms after they are asleep and look at them. Really look. Allow yourself, in those quiet moments, to see them as they really are, and to see yourself as the amazing woman that created them.

Yes, that little angel may have thrown a plastic hammer at your head an hour ago, and there’s a good chance he’ll push you to your limits again tomorrow. But there’s an equally good chance that he’ll melt your heart at some point during the day and tell you that you’re the best mom in the world.

Remember to smile at the good moments and laugh at the bad ones. And if you can’t find humor in it now, hold on until bedtime and tell yourself that it really will be funny in ten years.

I’m there with you, in the thick of these physically and emotionally exhausting years of parenting little ones. That’s one of the beauties of mothering. You’re not the first mom to have dark circles under her eyes, you won’t be the last mom to wish she had someone else to make dinner, and you’re not alone.

Together, we’ll make it. You’re doing better than you think you are.

Mom, you’ve got this.

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