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I remember trying to breastfeed my second child right after she was born. It hurt so much. After having successfully breastfed my oldest daughter, I knew something wasn’t right with my pain. I understood it could be uncomfortable at first, but nothing changing positions or widening her latch couldn’t fix.

I cried to my sister who is (lucky for me!) a lactation counselor saying how I didn’t understand why this wasn’t working. That I was trying so hard and I had done this before so why wasn’t it clicking?

The pain continued for a few days, but I kept asking my sister for help and eventually me, my daughter and my sister figured it out together.

I’m really grateful for that, but I do also realize that it might not have worked out the way I had necessarily hoped it would—even though I had tried really, really hard.

Because a lesson I am humbled by over and over in my motherhood journey is that I can try and try and try—and sometimes things work out the way I want them to and, well, sometimes they don’t.

I am not perfect, and I don’t pretend to be, because quite frankly—that’s exhausting. I often wear my husband’s sweatshirts and yoga pants and have way more failed Pinterest attempts at crafts or desserts than wins. (I actually don’t have any wins, TBH.)

I lose my patience and then feel guilty and I say the wrong thing and wish I said something better or more meaningful (like Mary Poppins or Fräulein Maria or some other wise, all-knowing Julie Andrews character would say) but sometimes I just end up feeling like I came up short somehow.

But I love my children deeply. Despite my imperfections and faults—I give them 100% of my heart every single day of my life. That’s what matters most, right?

And so kids, I want you to know that I try. I try really hard. Maybe you realize my effort. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you won’t fully understand it until you’re a mother yourself, if you decide to go that route.

Even when I don’t have anything philosophical to say in response to your “This is the wrong color Play Doh!” meltdown—I am trying. Trying to keep my cool and trying to calmly respond to you in this moment of despair. (Usually this includes a quote or song lyric from Daniel Tiger, who is basically the Plato of our time anyway.)

Even when I forget to bring you to your dentist appointment because I made it five months ago—I am trying. Trying to remember to do these important things and trying to keep everything organized. (To be fair, I’m trying to remember something from five minutes ago, so five months ago is a bit of a stretch. Just sayin’...)

Even when I serve you chicken nuggets for dinner instead of something from Pinterest that takes much more brain power and prep time and one or two ingredients I definitely don’t have—I am trying. Trying to fill your bellies with food and keep those growing bones satisfied.

Even when you feel like I am not helping you because I’m not getting the toy you want back from your sister and you tell me I’m mean—I am trying. Trying to help you two work things out and understand how we work through strong emotions. (Crying in my room is usually my go-to strategy to do that, FYI.)

Even when—to the outside world—I look like a hot mess at drop off because I’m not dressed up and only had time to choose between brushing my teeth and putting makeup on—I am trying. Trying to get you to school on time and keep the peace. (And trying to be responsible. Teeth won...I mean, teeth have to win, right? Or should concealer? Am I adulting all wrong?)

Even when I seem stressed because we have bills to pay and insurance claims to take care of and big parenting decisions to make—I am trying. Trying to provide for you and care for you and give you the best life possible.

Even when I am conflicted about whether I should or shouldn’t be working or whether I should or shouldn’t be staying at home—I am trying. Trying to savor as many moments of your childhood possible. Trying to remember every chubby newborn roll, every funny toddler saying, every amazing preschooler discovery.

Even when I am feeling guilty about taking time for myself to go to the gym or spend time with my girlfriends or thinking about how one day I’ll go on vacation for a few days sans kids—I am trying. Trying to fill my cup so I can be the best, happiest version of myself possible. So I can be recharged and renewed. (Aka “nice mommy”.)

In the end, I mostly want to be remembered as a mother who gave her all.

Someone who put her children first and loved them passionately.

Someone who made mistakes but learned from them and moved on after them.

Someone who never gave up despite roadblocks and challenges along the way.

Someone with big dreams who worked hard.

Someone who was proud to be a good role model for her babies.

And for being someone who tried really, really hard to do her best. Every day of her life.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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