It had been another long day and I was spent. One child cried for a full 12 hours, and despite my attempts, nothing I did pleased him. Tantrums and whining and the throwing of food contributed to a messy house and tangled emotions. I tried to create some semblance of control by giving orders to my other child, but that just made me sound like a drill sergeant instead of her mother.

As the day came to a close, I wasn’t sure I’d directed even one true act of kindness toward my children. Sure I had fed them and bathed them and clothed them. I even read a couple of books to them, but it was all done to the tune of grumbling instead of grace.

And like the end of so many other days, my mind dug itself into a deep hole of regret. The previous hours had entailed too little patience and too much yelling. An entire day had passed, and the guilt of failing to spend quality time with my kids was sitting square on my shoulders, a weight that never seems to lift.

I fell into bed feeling like a failure.

My mind was swirling with the recollection of mistakes and missed opportunities, impatience and a temper that gives out too soon. And in the darkness, I wondered if I left even a single mark of goodness on my children’s hearts or if there’s even a single bit of goodness in my own.

But just then a voice broke the silence, speaking words I was desperate to hear.

“You’re a good mom, you know,” my husband said, slipping his hand in mine.

“Thank you for being a good mother to our kids. Thank you for loving them. And caring for them. And directing their path. And pointing them toward heaven. I don’t say it enough.”

My feelings of guilt and remorse, inadequacy and overwhelm poured out of me like my toddler’s spilled milk. I told my husband how I feel like I ALWAYS get it wrong. That I never do anything right. That I’m always failing. And that I feel like a mess every single day.

But maybe my feelings aren’t always reality. Or maybe they are and I’ve been blessed with a husband who happens to wear rose-colored glasses. In any case, he pointed out so much goodness that he sees flowing from me even when I feel like it’s all dried up.

There are homemade meals. And laundry that’s (almost) always done. There are packed lunches and popped popcorn. There are trips to the library and park. There are books upon books that get read to little people. There are movie nights and bowls of ice cream. There are crafts and homework projects that get done. There are moments of singing and laughter and painting little fingernails and rocking children to sleep. There are bedtime prayers and attempts to help my kids focus on others instead of themselves. There are conversations about God’s love and forgiveness. There are offerings of time and life-saving chocolate when a little one is having a bad day, too.

Sure, there are no perfect days, but there are still good ones that are full of love.

And I thank God for a husband who notices it all. Who sees goodness in me when I cannot. Who sees the bearing of fruit when all I see is failure. Who reminds me I am valuable even when motherhood empties me. It’s a truth that often gets lost in the mess or forgotten in the midst of mistakes. But thank God that messes can be cleaned up and mistakes can be redeemed. And thank God for a husband who reminds me of this.

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.