Today a friend and I met at a coffee shop in the rain, and let our three kids run around in the outside dining area. We drank our coffee as they splashed in puddles, fell all over the place, and interrupted our conversation every two minutes or so. I remember little of what we discussed, and little of what my coffee or the crumbs of my kids pastries tasted like, but I do remember walking away feeling lighter, better.
I am better even though my daughter threw a tantrum because it was raining (even though she’s the one that asked to go out in the rain). I am better even though my son ate a crumb off the ground, and I’m not even sure if it was from his muffin. I am better because fellowship with mothers in the same place as I am is the lifeline to sanity and peace. I am better because I drank coffee that I didn’t make, and pastries that tasted better than the ones I make at home. I am better because my friend understood when my daughter threw her tantrum to ignore it, and let it be because that’s just where my daughter is right now. I am better because an older woman came out in the rain just to tell us that we were great mothers for doing this.
If I didn’t go to a coffee shop this morning, I may have never heard that I am a great mother. It is not that I don’t know that I am doing the best I can, or that my kids are pretty great, but sometimes I just need to hear it. Sometimes I need to be noticed for all the hours I put in with these tiny irrational human beings. Someone just needs to say to me, yes, you’re doing it. You are creating experiences and community for your babies, and they seem to be enjoying the heck out of it.
And I need to hear it so that in the depths of illness, tantrums, messy rooms, dirty counters, and laundry that never ends, I can hear those words “You guys are great moms!” So that in the middle of the night when baby won’t sleep unless I’m holding them, and bedtime with my older two ended in a screaming match, and I feel like a failure, I can hear that voice saying “You guys are great moms!” So that when I’m half asleep on the couch and my kids are watching TV, and my toddler won’t take a nap, I can know in my heart that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m doing the Mom thing, and it’s not perfect, it’s incredibly messy, but my kids are loved, and fed, and clean (enough).
And I can’t say enough how time with other Moms trudging through the same monotony that is motherhood is so vital to survival. And it’s even more important if you would like to thrive in motherhood. And I don’t mean thrive as in your house is always clean, your babies are polite and perfectly dressed, and everyone sleeps twelve hours a night. I mean thriving as in at the end of the day you know that our lives are lived with an eternal goal in mind. No matter what happens during our days we can look back and know that we did our best to glorify Christ in the little things. We walked with our kids through their toughest toddler times, and did our best to form their little hearts into hearts aligned with Christ. And when we made mistakes we accepted the grace that God freely gives, and therefore we can thrive. We can live the next day because we know Christ is walking alongside us and within us. And who better to remind us of this than our mama friends?
And if you’re on the other side of this journey, praise the Lord for showing all of us that it’s possible! And please, please be like the woman at the coffee shop who poked her head out the door just to tell us we were doing a good job. She didn’t have to do that. You never know what a mom of young children is going through, and we are almost always not having our best day. If you feel a prompting in your heart to say something to a mom of toddlers, do it. It’s not just a prompting, it is the Lord giving you an opportunity to be an encouragement to someone. And we can never hear it enough. We can never hear it enough from women who have been there. We always need it, and you can always be encouraging. Take the thirty seconds to tell us because we will never tire of hearing it. And we will be blessed.
But if you didn’t get out of the house to hear those words, if you’re nursing a tiny baby, if you’re listening to your toddler scream in the next room, or you’re escaping your dirty dishes to browse social media for the millionth time today: You are a great mom. No matter what, no matter how many times you’ve yelled today, or rolled your eyes at a five year old, or fed the kid fruit snacks because they just wouldn’t stop asking: you’re a great mom. And if you’re at work, and your kids are in daycare and you feel more guilty than you’ve ever felt in your life, no, stop: you’re a great mom. And if you’re struggling, and your kids are watching TV cause you just can’t listen to them fight for one more second, stop, take a deep breath. Hear me, and every other mom that is walking the same path you are: you are a great mom.
And say it, friends, say it to the moms you walk through life with. Say it to those you spent the morning with at the coffee shop, or the afternoon at the pool. Say it to the mamas who couldn’t make the play date, or didn’t sleep last night. Say it to the mamas at Target with the toddlers, or the mamas who are baby-wearing at the grocery store. We’re always able to encourage, always able to say it, so don’t miss an opportunity. We all need to hear it, and we all need to believe it. And we all need the camaraderie of fellow moms, so create it for yourself by saying what you’d want to hear in the midst of it all.
You are a great mom.
Past, present, future. Believe these words. You are a great mom.