I recently witnessed an intimate moment between a dear friend and her newborn son. As we sat on a park bench while our toddlers play, I watched as she got completely lost in time as she simply soaked up her baby. For just a few moments, everything stopped and both mother and child were completely entranced with one another. It was beautiful—a display of the purest love we'll ever have the pleasure of experiencing.
A few minutes later, the moment broke and my friend sighed. "I wish I had done more of this with my first child. You know, just sitting here, soaking her up." Memories of my own daughter's infancy flooded my head, along with the ever-familiar guilt that I too could've done more to soak it all up. But then a memory flashed in my head as I remember the first time I saw my friend with her newborn daughter, and instead of adding my own guilt about moments gone by, I exclaimed, "But mama, you did! Let me remind you…"
The most sound advice I've heard throughout my short two years of motherhood is this: The fact you feel guilty or worried about any part of motherhood means you are already doing a great job. While I am much better about using this truth to empower other moms in my life than leaning into myself, I've learned that's why we have a village—we can't do this alone and sometimes we need a reminder.
So mamas, let me remind you…
When you don't feel like you soaked it all in, I saw the way you adored and cherished your sweet new baby. Yes, I know the constant worry and struggles of new motherhood laced those early days with challenges we never foresaw and sleepless nights that dampened our memories, but let me remind you of the immense love you felt for that baby.
Mama, I didn't even have the nerve to ask to hold your newborn because the bond you immediately shared was unbreakable and I wasn't going to be the person to take your baby out of your arms. The smiles, the coos, the getting lost in each other's eyes… you enjoyed it, mama. It just went by so fast. Too fast.
When you feel a pang of guilt for leaving your child and going to work, let me remind you that your child has never felt like she has anything less than all of you. While logistics and routine race through your head at night to make it through another day and prepare for the next, all she sees is the smile on your face when you pick her up from school.
She knows her evenings are filled with laughter and joy and that your arms are a place where she can still fall asleep even after you've both outgrown the rocker. She feels every time your hand reassuringly touches her head of curls and knows the quality of your time is greater than your quantity.
When you feel overwhelmed that you aren't doing enough to help your kids, let me remind you of the time I watched you leave a party so you could run wind sprints with your son in the backyard to calm his social anxiety and how there was no place you'd rather be. Or the first time he sat at my dinner table, and I watched in awe as someone so young could be so respectful, leaving me desperate to learn everything I possibly could about parenting from you.
Let me remind you that you aren't merely lucky to have a good child, but that you, mama, have raised a good human who reflects all that is good about you.
When you feel bad for missing an opportunity to get on the ground and play with your kids, let me remind you of the nights you slept on the floor by your baby's crib so you could measure her breaths throughout the night. There've been the seasons where you have spent more time at home with sick kids than you have come to work and the hours you've invested in cuddling and comforting equate to the most important work of your life.
Your kids will remember the way you made them feel and the way you worked your magic to bring them comfort in pain, hope in the impossible, and chocolate milkshakes when nothing else would do.
When you feel like you don't measure up to other moms, let me remind you that you are the only mom in the world who can perfectly impersonate Mama Llama and sing more than two dozen verses of "Wheels on the bus."
You are the only mom who can make up a new princess story every night and give your child the cuddles she needs each morning. Even on your off days, you show up. You make the world's best chocolate cookies and can heat up a mean batch of frozen meatballs.
Let me remind you that your baby is going to grow up remembering the belonging she felt looking forward to Friday pizza night and Sunday pancakes more than the number of practices she was shuttled to or Instagram photos you posted.
Your heart is her home and she will never be without it.
Let me remind you, Mama, that you are not alone. The joys. The pains. The guilt. The excitement. The anxiety. We're all in it with you and sometimes we just need a little reminder that we are enough. And mama, you are more than enough.