Dear Kids: I know I complain a lot. I know you see my frustrations and my struggles and how tired I am all the time

I know sometimes I fly off the handle at the small stuff. I know I get annoyed easily.

I know that you don’t always understand my moods or why I’m angry or sad.

It’s just mothering you is hard—the hardest thing I have ever done.

But you also need to know that being your mama is the greatest gift. I’m so lucky to be your mom.

Even when you wake me up in the middle of the night, again and again.

Even when you leave the top off the milk and Legos on the floor and never shut the back door.

Even when you splashed all the bathwater out of the tub and broke the window with the soccer ball and dented the wall because you used the laundry basket as a sled.

Even when you told your first lie and when you said I was the meanest mommy ever.

Even when I worry because you forget to finish your homework or leave your room a mess or beg for an Instagram account.

And even when I know there will be times in the future when you don’t want to be hugged and you will slam doors and roll your eyes at my comments.

Even then, even if I forget it in the moment, I am so very happy that I am your mom.

Because while sometimes motherhood drains me, because sometimes I am scared I don’t know what I’m doing, because sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to be the very best mom, you may not see how much joy you bring me, too.

Like the unmatched excitement of your first steps and words and every milestone thereafter.

Like when my heart almost burst when you looked over your shoulder to smile at me after scoring the winning goal or gave a speech at school or sang in your first holiday concert.

Like when I know you are growing up well because you held a door open for a stranger or played sweetly with a baby or took the dog for a walk without needing to be asked.

Like the warmth I felt when you nursed or snuggled into my bed in the early hours or when only my touch would help your hurt.

Like the bittersweet times that are coming, such as when you first fall in love or head off to college or marry the person of your dreams.

Like the pure elation I will feel when you get to be a parent yourself.

Dear kids, I need you to know that no matter what you see from me on the outside some days, I will always love being your mom.

It is my honor. It is my privilege. 

It is my greatest joy.

Mothering you, kids, is the hardest work I have ever done.

And I’m so lucky that I get to do it.

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is the mom to three tween daughters, a communications consultant and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays http://playdatesonfridays.com/