As soon as I became a mother I realized how capable I am of being selfless.

The 19-year-old version of me would never believe it—but I am actually happier now that others needs often come before mine.

Every morning I wake up to the sound of little voices.

“Mom, Im hungry.”

“Mom, play with me.”

“Mom, get up now.”

Before I’ve had the chance to open my eyes I am already needed. And even though I do love sleep—I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Related: Motherhood begins before a child is born

I was meant to do this.

Sometimes I step back in awe as I think about the simple fact that there are little people who rely on ME to survive. God chose me—the once very self-centered individual, to be a mother to my children.

And I am so thankful for that.

But as much joy as it brings me to take care of my family everyday (and I really mean that) I have to admit—I enjoy being taken care of, too.

And I don’t necessarily mean a foot rub every night and a weekly trip to the spa (although I’ll never say no to a manicure), but it is so much simpler than that.

To my people—here’s how you can help take care of me.

To my husband—

I need to know that you see me doing all of the things. That each toy I pick up, each activity I schedule, and each meal I cook is appreciated and noticed. Just a few simple words of affirmation can go so far.

And I need your love—all of it. The kind of love that shows me you’ve got my back even when I’m not at my best physically or emotionally. Those moments that you hold my hand in this crazy life…those are the moments I feel secure—that I feel taken care of.

Related: To my husband: When motherhood gets tough, you make it easier

To my parents—

You understand this more than anyone. You’ve never stopped being parents and now I need you more than ever. I need those days that you offer to help with the kids, and the phone calls that assure me I’m making the right choices.

But more than anything I still need your love and support as your daughter—even when you don’t agree with everything I’m doing.

To my friends—

Your laughter and your time is priceless. You refresh me and give me energy to continue being the best mom I can be. Even though you have your own families, careers, and to-do lists, I need to hear from you.

I need that time to connect—whether over coffee, a walk, or a girl’s trip—I count on our friendship.

To my boss—

Maybe you have children of your own, maybe not—but either way, I need you to understand that while I love my work, my kids will always come first. There are going to be days that I am completely burnt out because I am running on 4 hours of sleep, or days that I miss work because my child is sick. While I am already deeply dedicated to my job, I will be a much better employee if I feel supported and understood as a working mother.

To society—

Embrace me, screaming children and all. It is easy to judge—but try not to, please, because we all know motherhood is hard. So let’s not make it harder on one another. We don’t have it all together (not even close) and let’s be honest—we need all the help we can get. A smile, encouraging words, or an act of kindness means the world to this mother.

And finally to my kids—

It would be great if you could put your shoes on when I ask you (seriously, a girl can dream.) But truthfully, there is nothing I love more than being your mom.

And even though my role is to be your caretaker, you take care of me every day. You have given me a purpose, a reason to be my best self and you have helped me discover love I never knew existed.

Because of you I feel whole, I feel needed and I feel like I’m right where I should be.

A version of this post was published August 7, 2017. It has been updated.