“You’re a good mom.”
The thought echoed across my dry, exhausted and overwhelmed soul as I began cleaning up our messy kitchen in the center of our even messier house.
It was picture day at the elementary school and three of our four kids needed to look their best. Like a circus ringleader trying to keep the show moving in the right direction, I directed my crew. “Make sure you wash well,” “Brush your teeth,” “Let me dry and straighten your hair,”etc. I filled out three picture forms and three separate checks.
Our second child, Quinn, knew which background she wanted for her pictures—the barn door. After all, horse riding is her passion and country life feels like an integral part of who she is—regardless of the fact my husband and I never rode horses and we live in a regular old neighborhood. She deliberated over three different outfits and finally settled on one that would work best with her chosen background.
By the time everyone was brushed, washed and out the door, we were tiptoeing on the edge of being tardy. By a miraculous act of God, we made it to school on time! This was especially significant because I had neither a bra NOR shoes on! Can you imagine the embarrassment of rolling into the office and signing your kids in late under those conditions?! I could have NEVER. I might as well have “hot mess” stamped on my forehead—as if it wasn’t already evident by the state of my minivan, my messy bun or my kitchen.
Which brings me back to the words that were like a cool drink of water on that chaotic morning: You’re a good mom.
The thought rang out moments after I realized I dropped the ball on something: I forgot to mark which background Quinn wanted for her pictures. In a frantic effort to right my wrong, I messaged my friend who teaches at their school. I felt so bad for bugging her with another thankless task on her already-to-long teacher’s to-do list, but I knew how badly Quinn wanted that background. Before my teacher-friend messaged back, I reached out to another friend who volunteers at the school, thinking she might be there helping with picture day. I got her voicemail.
It was in the middle of this saga when the higher thought echoed: You’re a good mom.
The thought hit me on the forehead and stuck, replacing the “hot mess mom” label I had given myself. You’re a good mom, because regardless of how trivial it is, you care about what matters to your kids. You’re a good mom, because you savor those last extra moments in the car with them before school, no matter how chaotic the mornings get. You’re a good mom, because you packed your son’s tennis shoes in his book bag knowing he wouldn’t want to wear his dressier “picture day” shoes all day. You’re a good mom—not because you’re perfect—but because you try your hardest, no matter what it costs you. You’re a good mom, because, despite your shortcomings, you love your kids in the best way you know how.
The thought came from Heaven itself—from the mouth of Unconditional Love—in the most unlikely of moments. It hit me so hard I laughed and cried at the same time. With my two-day old messy bun dangling, braless and barefoot in the middle of my dirty kitchen, I cry-laughed at the truth that I am a GOOD MOM.
Truth to replace the story shame had told me; failure had told me; scarcity had told me; accusation had told me. Truth, whose soft whisper managed to drown out all the voices screaming at me to agree that I’m not enough.
Truth doesn’t need to scream when its whisper has the power to tear things open.
As I thanked God for tearing open the cloak of shame wrapped around my heart, my teacher-friend messaged me back. She made sure Quinn had her background marked on her picture form. I apologized for bothering her and giving her more to do. She shared with me that she had forgotten the form altogether for her own daughter and then text me a phrase that made me tear up. “I got you.” Just then, my other friend called back, explaining that she was about to call me in tears to vent about how terribly frustrating her morning had been as well. Before she got off the phone she said “I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! I’m glad to know we are on the same page!” I replied “Always!”
I got you. You’re not the only one. You’re a good mom.
Three phrases. Three different sources. All a gift from God Himself. All fuel for a parched soul and a hungry heart.
I GOT YOU. You don’t have to be self-sufficient. You don’t have to carry your burdens alone.
YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE. This is hard! And not because you don’t have what it takes, it’s hard for any and all of us in different ways. You aren’t on your own falling behind as the world seamlessly skips forward without you. People everywhere agree—they’re on the same page.
YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Because you love, you try, you care and you make all that extra effort that mostly goes unnoticed. I validate all the thankless things you do purely out of LOVE.
I never realized how much I needed to hear those three truths. I was operating under the guise that I was at a lack; a deficit; a negative. That everyone else seemed to manage just fine and, no matter how hard I tried, I—alone—couldn’t get it together. I worked at being a good mom like it was something I had to prove rather than a truth I could live from.
But here’s the thing: When you believe you’re a good mom, you don’t have to prove you’re not a bad one—no matter how messy your bun, your van or your kitchen looks. Also, we were never created to do life alone. That’s why—alone—it’s impossible to get it together. It’s such a gift when God sends us people who, in spite of their own busyness and problems, are willing to jump into the middle of ours and say “I got you.” We aren’t just dependent in relationships, we are interdependent and hearing words like “I’m with you,” “I feel you,” and “I get it,” brings us the stillness and peace of being understood, which is so crucial to our sense of well-being.
In a world where shame and lack try to define us, it’s easy to lose our focus on the voice of Unconditional Love. Today, I’m grateful for the people in my life who echo His whispers across my soul with their own meaningful messages and the platform to pass those messages on to you. Regardless of what you face today, may you find the belief deep down in your soul that you’re good at the role that matters to you most right now. Secondly, where you strive to prove your self-sufficiency, may someone in your world step in and lighten the load with a timely “I got you.” Lastly, when you feel isolated in a painful place, may you look around and find you’re not the only one. Together is how we’ll make it through the hard times.