Dear tired young mama,
I see you.
How drained you are and yet how eager you are to do this thing called motherhood and to do it right.
I understand because I WAS you.
I know how important it is to you to achieve that ultimate goal: to be a good mother.
You work so hard to make it perfect. You want to give them the best childhood, to correct all the mistakes your own mother made and to improve on the things she did well. I know you don’t want to admit it, but you long to be a modern, health-conscious, iPhone carrying version of June Cleaver — feathers always unruffled, a hot meal on the table at 6:00, children smart and groomed and well-behaved, and a house that shines like a new mint penny.
You want it all, and you want to look good while doing it.
I understand and I get it.
Because there’s this pressure out there, and it drives you harder than it’s driven any generation of women before you. The world’s grown smaller and the expectations are higher.
There’s the pressure to do and to be, to teach and to model, to never raise your voice and to keep everything organized and tidy and organic and Pinterest-worthy, and you. Are. Trying. So. Hard.
I want you to know I see you.
You lie in bed at night and your heart races as you think of all the things you failed to do, how at the end of the day the laundry was still piled up, the dishes still stacked in the sink, and how you didn’t exercise and didn’t do that craft with your preschooler and you didn’t make it to the bank or the grocery store and maybe you didn’t even find time for a shower.
You go over and over and over it all in your head while your husband snores beside you. You wonder how you can fix it, how you can make it better tomorrow. You vow to improve.
But then somebody wakes up sick, and the car won’t start and you’re out of milk, and the baby spits up on your last clean shirt and there are cheerios and spilled applesauce under your feet. There’s a gigantic zit on your chin and you feel so fat and the three year old just drew on the wall with a Sharpie which meant you yelled at him, and then both of you cried.
Heaven forbid anyone ever find out.
- Because there’s this blog you read and the girl who writes it is thin and stylish, and she makes these gourmet meals and her kids actually eat them instead of throwing them on the floor. Her house looks like something out of a magazine and she makes time for all these fun projects with her kids and still manages to squeeze in date night with her handsome hubby once a week, with time left to write about it all.
- And there’s that friend of yours in moms group, you know the one. Her little girl has that long, thick hair with a giant bow in it and she’s always dressed to the nines in the latest matching ensemble from Gymboree. Meanwhile your daughter yanks out the bows and her hair looks like she’s been riding in the back of a pick-up truck. And no matter how hard you try or how much you threaten, your little angel always ends up with spaghetti sauce down the front of her clothes.
- Then there’s the young mom at your church, the one who knows all there is to know about God and the Bible and she’s got all the answers. She’s good and she’s sweet and you know beyond a doubt that she never says “%*#$!!!!” when she spills the orange juice. She tells you how she enforces the rules and the children obey the first time, always the first time, because she’s disciplined her children the right way, God’s way, and they know better than to interrupt her when she’s on the phone or throw a fit in the grocery store checkout lane.
You compare yourself to all of them and you come up short every time.
I see you.
I know that even as you read this, you’re trying to convince yourself that I’m not talking to you.Because you want so much to have it all together, you want to be like those girls you know or even the ones you just know about. You want to believe that you don’t really care.
But you do.
You want to be a good mother.
No, not just to be a good mother.
You want to be the perfect mom. And deep down inside you know that you aren’t.
Still, you’ve convinced yourself that such a creature exists. You’ve told yourself, “If she can do it, I can, too!”
Maybe you’ve even bought into the myth spewed loud and with righteous conviction that motherhood is your highest calling.
And if that’s true, if that’s really the case, then you better not dare mess it up.
But I see how you go to bed every night with the weight of it on your shoulders. Because you messed up.
Young, tired mama. . . . may I be frank with you?
I’ve been where you are. I know what it’s like and it wasn’t that long ago. And I know that you may not hear what I have to say, but I feel like I need to say it anyway, even if you choose not to believe me.
You are a good mother.
I know you don’t believe it most days, so I’ll say it again.
You are a good mother.
And you know what else?
This idea that there is even such a thing as a perfect mother? It’s a lie.
The perfect mother is a mythological creature who doesn’t exist. Never has, never will.
I don’t care what your friend from church says. And I don’t even care how perfect she appears to be. She isn’t.
Cause none of us is.
There are no perfect mamas, and you need to let it go. Let it just slip on through your fingers like sand, this ideal of perfection.
And this perception that motherhood is your highest calling? Baloney.
Your highest calling is to be the person God made you to be.
It might include being a mother, but being a mother is not the whole of it.
In fact, what if being a mother is just one component, one step on the journey God has planned for you? What if it’s just one of the many tools God is using to shape you and mold you into the person He is making you to be?
What you’re doing is hard work, life-changing work, not just for those little ones, but for you, too.
I know how exhausted it makes you, even if at the end of the day it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly it is that you accomplished. Some days are just about keeping everybody alive and making it to bedtime.
And you know what? That’s a pretty big deal.
You’ve talked yourself into believing that if you don’t do everything right, you’re going to mess them up. That the damage will be irreparable. That they’ll spend their entire adulthood in therapy.
Maybe they will. But it won’t be because you messed them up. It’ll be because they’re human.
You’re afraid of ruining their futures, but you’re missing out on the joy of right now with all this worrying.
Will you take a moment with me right now? Will you just stop? Will you stop kicking yourself in the rear end?
Say this to yourself, out loud, “I’m a good mother.”
Now keep saying it again and again, tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.
Keep saying it until you believe it, okay?
Because you are you know.