I can see it now.

You’re on a date with your future spouse. You’re talking about your respective childhoods and comparing notes. You’re talking about memories and the things that annoyed you most.

I want to tell you to quit picking at your nails, but I’m going to let that go. I’ve long ago learned to pick my battles. And I know that it’s one of your telltale signs of being nervous, of being around someone you’re not completely comfortable with yet. I want to tell you to just be yourself, that you’re perfect just the way you are, no need to be insecure. Instead, I’m holding my breath. Listening and waiting for what you will say about your childhood.

You see, I tried the very best I could, honey. And I feel that some days you got what was left of me.

I’d come home from work tired, frustrated, and with very little patience. When I knew your brother was going to be hungry soon and felt the pressure to get dinner on the table, I’d turn down your request to play Barbies so I could instead get supper going. I’d decline your dance party invitations in the kitchen so I could go ahead and get baths started and catch up on some laundry.

But I hope you won’t remember that. I hope instead you’ll remember the days I did those things. That you’ll recount for your future spouse the nights we cranked up the music on the radio. The nights I spun you around and around and we danced like no one was watching. I hope you’ll remember the nights we had picnics on the living room floor for supper and watched a movie or the nights I let you go without a bath when we had nowhere to go the next day.

Although I loved you and your brother dearly with my whole entire heart, I yelled at you too much. More than I like to admit. It was probably worse for you, being the oldest and a girl. We butted heads more often than your brother and I did. You pressed my buttons and I sometimes reacted. It was a painful process for me to learn how to tame your spirit without breaking it. I always knew you’d do great things in life, it’s just that I wasn’t always prepared for how to handle your strong will.

But I hope you tell him how loved and safe you felt. How your parents taught you boundaries and set rules for you. I’ll hope you’ll tell him how wonderful your mom’s hugs were and how you always felt all was right with the world when you were snuggling with her in bed at night. I hope you’ll remember the whispered I love yous and that you tell him you never ever doubted that.

There were so many times I failed you. The time I forgot to turn your book order in by the deadline, or when I had to go to work when you were sick and find someone else to watch you. The nights of pure exhaustion when I let you watch the iPad for way too long. Let’s not forget the nights where there was no time to prepare a healthy meal and you ate a dinner that came from a drive-thru.

I hope you’ll explain to him instead how hard your mom worked providing for your family, at work, and at home. How when you were sick, she’d come home from work and hold you in her lap, rubbing your back and “cancel” the rest of the evening, ordering in pizza instead. How even the nights she was exhausted, she always made sure your needs were met, your bellies were full, your skin smelling of Johnson & Johnson soap.

You see, my precious daughter, I loved you so, so much and I still do. I was not perfect, but I showed up every day and I tried. Oh, I tried so hard.

There were a million mistakes I made and a million more I have still yet to make. But without a doubt, you and your brother were the best things that ever happened to me.
And I was tough on you, but only because I wanted you to be prepared for what lay waiting out there for you. The world is sometimes tough on women, and I wanted you to have the skills that you needed to navigate that world as a strong, smart, confident person.

Everything I did for you, hoped for you, gave to you . . . was out of love.

And that, my dear, is the way I hope you’ll remember me.

You may also like:

Dear Mom, I’ve Never Wondered About Your Love

I Want to be a Perfect Mom—But I’m Not

I Will Always Love You Anyway

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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

Order Now

Lauren Bennett

I'm a full time working mom, married to my high school sweetheart, mother to my two precious babies. I try to make our life and home on Lake Street the best it can be in the midst of all the daily chaos, one DIY project at a time.

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

God Chose Me to Be the Mother of a Wild One

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman holding child on the beach, black-and-white photo

It was just another typical fall morning. There was a time change so you were a little extra sleepy (also known as grouchy) but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a split second, that all changed, and the reality of what it is like to live with an unbelievably relentless little human set in like never before. I sat on your bedroom floor, laundry scattered all around, and literally watched my tears fall to the ground. I was on my knees. Physically on my knees just begging you to stop or begging God to give me patience. I don’t...

Keep Reading