I saw you today, mama. You had pulled into the neighbor’s driveway and were yelling at your kids to hurry up and get inside because you were already late for the party. I watched you as you scrambled out of the driver’s side door and grabbed the present from the trunk of your car. You were at my neighbor’s house for what appeared to be a birthday party of some sort. I watched you as you straightened your pants and ran your fingers through your hair like a comb. You looked flustered. Even from a distance, I could see it. You were scrambling. You were obviously late. As you walked up the steps behind your children, who were already ringing the doorbell, I saw it. You stiffened your back and put on a smile as my neighbor opened her door to greet you and your kids. Then you were gone into the confines of the house, probably smiling through some kind of secret pain or uncomfortableness that you couldn’t let show in this social setting.

You know what, mama? It’s ok.

It’s ok that you felt the need to pretend – to plaster that smile, straighten your back, to ready yourself before entering that house. You needed that moment. I get it. I’ve been there.

I don’t know the dynamics of the friendship or social connection you have with my neighbors. Maybe your kids are friends with theirs, maybe you are co-workers or your husbands play golf together, I have no idea. But, for whatever reason, you needed a minute before you went into that house to gain your composure first. And I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely fine.

Moms are expected to have it all together. We’re expected to know what time the bus drops off the kids, how much medicine to give, who has appointments when, to memorize grocery lists and field trips dates. Then we’re expected to work – either in or out of the home. Not to mention our duties as a wife, daughter, sister or friend. And we’re expected to do it all while looking and acting perfect all of the time.

It’s a lot.

The weight that we bear as not only mothers, but women is enormous. Societal roles and expectations on us are quite high and also insane. Sometimes it can all be overwhelming. Often it is.

None of us are perfect. You should know that, mama. You should know that no matter what was on your mind that day as you walked up my neighbor’s pathway, that it didn’t matter what you looked like, how your kids were acting that day or what you were going to talk to the other parents about at the party.

All that matters is that you were there, with your kids at the party. You had gone through the trouble of buying the birthday boy/girl a present. Who knew if they’d like it? But you had put the effort in. I’m sure it was appreciated by my neighbors and hopefully their child.

In a world full of birthday parties and playdates, I hope you know that some of us other moms see you. We see the effort you are putting in. We see the tiredness behind your eyes and the sweat upon your brow from carrying that baby all day. We know because we’re right there with you – making sure it all gets done so our families can have the best life possible. We know you bought your husband his favorite turkey at the deli so he’d have food for his lunch tomorrow. Or that you bought the strawberry Pop-Tarts for your son’s snack at school because another flavor is not an option. Heck, we even know you walked the extra 20 feet to the pet aisle to buy the cats their favorite soft cat food.

You look out for your family.

We all know this because we are you. We moms are all in this together. Granted, there are some that like to poke fun or belittle others. To make them feel insignificant because they don’t feed their kids entirely organic or whatever the latest trend is. Those aren’t the kind of moms I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the moms like you and me. The ones that have good days and bad days. The ones that skip shaving our legs for more days in a row than we care to admit because the baby is up from his nap too soon. The mom that eats the crusts off the baby’s toast because he won’t eat that part. The ones that just want to sit and watch an episode of “This is Us” for one hour alone each week. The ones that both love and hate play dates. The ones that sometimes miss the days before motherhood, but at the same time couldn’t live in a world without our kids. Those ones. That’s who we are. You are too.

Just know that you are seen. Whether it is the mom across the street observing you from a distance or the mom with a screaming baby in the grocery store – we are all in this together. Solidarity in this wonderful journey called motherhood.

Britt LeBoeuf

Britt is a married mother of two from northern New York. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Services. When she's not chasing down her two young children, she writes for sites such as Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Filter Free Parents and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Check out her first published book, "Promises of Pineford" on Amazon too. On her blog, These Boys of Mine, she talks about parenting only boys, special needs parenting, mental health advocacy, being a miscarriage survivor and life as a crazy cat lady.