Some of us slip on dress shoes and head to the office; others of us slip on our yoga pants and stay at home. From the laid-back to the perfectionist, I am convinced, we moms work very hard.
And we’re sooo tired. Sure, some of us have the ability to hide it better than others, but I’m starting to believe, deep down, we’re all pretty exhausted.
Because nearly every mom I’ve talked to, in casual conversation or in heart-to-hearts over coffee, has told me so. Or if she hasn’t said it, it’s somehow evident in her eyes… or in that sigh after every sentence.
It’s true that motherhood is a miraculous, beautiful gift – a privilege. But it’s also true that it can feel like the trenches, like a rat race at times, like an unwelcomed game of comparison.
And this makes an already gloriously hard job… harder.
I remember when my kids were 8, 6 and 2, and I became sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was not only tired, but I could barely function, let alone think straight. I admit, it was easy to fall into self-pity when I watched my healthier, energetic counterparts take their kids to the beach, park and other fun outings. And here I was, depleted from the basics, trying hard to get a load of laundry done without relapsing back in bed. I recall being in tears, feeling so inadequate, venting to an older mom who had “walked my path.” Her words to me were simply this, “Don’t worry about what other moms can do. Remember, all your kids really need is love.”
I confess, that was not initially helpful. A sweet thought but slightly patronizing. How was love alone supposed to potty train, drive them to soccer practice, make dinner!
But it’s funny, her words, have stuck with me.
Even though I’m not quite in the same dire state as I used to be, I try hard not to forget the words of that mom.
Because I still get caught up in the stuff of motherhood that is nice, but not essential. I get caught up in trying to keep up with so and so, and the fear that I will never be enough or get any of this right. Still, I am often weighed down with guilt when my kids don’t measure up in the way I had hoped.
And it’s in these moments, when the schedule feels full and we’re all feeling a bit frustrated, when my kids start seeming like projects rather than blessings on loan to us… and everything feels like a task, rather than a joy, and the weekends are about getting things done rather than cherishing life together… it’s these moments, when her words ring loud, “All they really need is love.”
More than my kids need freshly baked organic, gluten-free cookies shaped in the current holiday motif, they need a mom who knows when to put down her phone, look them in the eyes, and listen.
More than my kids need an uber organized home, they need a mom who cares enough about their fleeting childhood to let it all go for those spontaneous sofa forts and explosions of creativity on the kitchen table (often involving a ton papers cut into little pieces and glitter paint- eek).
More than my kids need my perfection, my textbook answers, my perceived godliness… they need to see my humility, to see how the tears fall down my face at times, to get that I need grace just as much as they do, maybe even more.
Yes, it’s hard work. It’s messy and imperfect work. We will fail. There will be super moms that leave us in the dust. Kids who surpass our kids in all ways.
Yes, the world may one day need artists, doctors, scientists, all-star players, dancers, spelling bee winners, National Merit Scholars, whatever else…but not more than it needs kids who know they are loved and how to love. Without that, what actually matters?
But it helps to remember motherhood is easy for no one. We’re all tired and slightly unsure. We’re all in need of grace. But we can do it – we can do what matters, to politely curtsey out of the race and start treasuring this chaotic journey, one glitter explosion at a time.
My friends, I know it’s cliché, but I want to encourage you with it anyway, “Don’t worry about what other moms can do. All your kids really need is love.”
Because sometimes clichés are so heart-wrenchingly true.
So let’s catch our breath, dear moms.
Teach them, train them… but mostly, let’s enjoy these energy-draining miracles. It won’t be forever.
Because at the end of the day, our love for them, is likely the only thing they’ll remember.