I was thinking the other day how I used to be a perfect mom. You know, back before my kids’ diet consisted of more than chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Back when the TV wasn’t a babysitter. Back when I promised myself I would follow through on discipline. Back when my kids never threw tantrums. Back when I didn’t have to avoid public situations for fear of a meltdown. Back when I had all the answers.

You know, back before I actually had kids.

I laugh at my pre-mom self now. Not only because she had no clue how much her life was about to change but also because she actually thought her kids would be better off if she was the perfect mom. It’s taken me awhile but I’ve finally learned to silence the voice of my inner perfectionist (at least most of the time) when it comes to how I’m raising my two sons. Because I believe there are so many things my kids can learn from my imperfections.

My kids may see me fail over and over (and over and over) again, but when they finally see me succeed they’ll understand perseverance.

I may lose my patience a thousand times, but I’ll say I’m sorry a thousand and one and they’ll understand forgiveness.

I may listen to my instincts and run away from something that scares me, but when they see me turn around and face that fear head on they’ll understand courage.

They’ll watch me make all kinds of mistakes, but when they hear me own up to them and do my very best to fix them they’ll understand humility.

They may hear me disagree with my husband, but they’ll also see me choose to love him every single day, despite our differences and they’ll understand commitment.

Don’t get me wrong; there are many, many things I know I won’t be able to teach my kids.

How to change the oil in a car (because hello, my friends at Valvoline can do it in 15 minutes)

How to dance (because sadly, I pretty much just look like I’m being electrocuted or something)

How to solve a linear equation (because I’m not even sure how to explain what that is, let alone solve it)

Public speaking (because just the thought makes me want to throw up)

How to draw (because that talent was somehow given to everyone in the family except me)

How to give directions (and my husband said “Amen!”)

But the things that truly matter?

If they’re true to themselves and their beliefs.

If they’re kind to others.

If they do the right thing when no one is watching.

If they know the importance of honesty.

If they work hard.

If they understand selflessness.

These are the kinds of things I refuse to let the world teach them.

It’s hard. Extremely hard. Some days (most days) I feel like a broken record no one wants to listen to anymore but I’ve also learned I’m teaching them way more with my actions than I ever could with my words. Their eyes are always watching, their ears are always listening, their mouths are always repeating, and their actions are always imitating. It’s completely humbling and completely terrifying at the same time.

But do you know what isn’t terrifying? Knowing that as their mama, I’ve already helped them understand one of the most important things they’ll ever need to know.

They understand unconditional love.

I’ve loved them through the whining, fighting, and crying no differently than I’ve loved them through the happiness, kindness, and laughter. I’ve loved them through the tantrums and meltdowns no differently than I’ve loved them through the moments of wonder and excitement. I’ve loved them through the stomach viruses and trips to the ER no differently than I’ve loved them through the days of completely perfect health. I’ve loved them through the bad days no differently than I’ve loved them through the good ones.

So they know by now that I’m here, that I’ll always be here. No matter how much they change and no matter how much the world around them changes, my presence and my love are constant. I’m pretty sure that’s a good, solid foundation for us to keep building on.

So even though “perfection” will never be a quality I’m able to offer my kids, I feel pretty good about what I do have to offer. And honestly, when it comes to that perfect mom? I’m not sure why I ever wanted to be her anyway.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Lindsay Stauffer

Lindsay is married to the most supportive husband in the world and momma to two adorable rascals, who have turned her into a caffeine addict. She writes about marriage and motherhood on her Facebook page, Life Off The Record.

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading