Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Suicide. Depression. Anxiety. Anger. Sadness. Fatigue.

These were common themes of my childhood. My paternal grandma committed suicide three years before I was born. My mother wrestled with depression since even my earliest childhood memories. My siblings struggled with their mental health from around middle school onward. When I was expecting for the first time, my mom urgently coached me on what to say to my doctor if I did not feel emotionally well afterward.

Now, in adulthood with four children of my own, I’m surrounded by mothers in abundance who wonder in silence, “What’s wrong with me?” or, conversely, who wisely celebrate the availability of medication and therapy.

And I want those mothers to know the other common themes of my childhood:

Strength. Mental wellness. Mental support. Creativity. Courage. Compassion for others. Compassion for self. Faith

I’m grateful to live in a time when so many openly celebrate the blessings of mental health support.

I’m grateful to live in a time when there’s an encouragement to have compassion for those vulnerable to mental illness. That has not always been the case, but it should have been.

RELATED: I Made PB&J Sandwiches, Then Got in the Car to Die

Because the fact is, your babies need you! No matter how dark a day is for you, your babies need you to stay, they need you to fight, they need you to be present in whatever ways you can. Even if you feel dark and heavy and tired and like you are not enough . . . You. Are. Enough. I want to say that again: You are enough!

The truth is, your kids may remember the dark days. They may remember months or years of darkness. They may go off to college and win awards for writing about mental illness plaguing the family as a heavy shadow. They may paint pictures, dance dances, or sing songs about it. They may someday be in therapy talking about how it affected their childhood.

But those things are all OK. It will be their story to tell also and that is nothing for you to be ashamed of.

Because at some point as they process the experiences they’ve lived through, they will realize you were not simply passively existing in your mental illness. They will realize that while it seemed those shadows were reaching their dark, spidery tentacles into their lives, their mama was a lioness in her mind keeping it at bay minute by minute as it ebbed and flowed in strength. While you may feel like a damsel in distress, your children will someday know that you were and at the same time, you were also your own knighted lady coming to your own rescue.

They will rightly see that you were an actor in your story, battling moment by moment the lies your brain told you. You were not sitting passively by even while to their eyes, you may have been sitting or lying down a good deal.

If you are like my mother (and it turns out so many of you are), your weapons are many.

RELATED: New Mom Takes Her Own Life After Silent Battle With Postpartum Depression: Why All Of Us Must Share Her Friend’s Plea

Your weapon may be an active faith that you are a beloved daughter of God and that your children are His children and He has entrusted you with a sacred stewardship over them.

Your weapon may be a creative impulse to code, to paint, to run, to teach, to build, to garden.

My mother was and is a sign language interpreter, an educator, an insatiable learner, an animal lover. These things fill her up, helped lend her purpose and drive, and distracted her from the demons within, and they were also a beautiful gift to me as your passions and interests will be a gift to your children.

Your weapon may be the relationships you cultivate. Hopefully, a spouse or partner lends you love and support. Perhaps it’s your own mother or sisters or sisters-in-law. Maybe it’s friends from church or your neighborhood or maybe coworkers who respond to you with sympathy and compassion. Maybe it’s strangers in support groups on the internet.

Your weapon may be medication and therapy. Maybe more than one medication. Maybe more than one therapist.

And your weapon may also be something else. But whatever your weapons are, I plead with you to use them. Arm yourself. Believe in your ability to stay the course.

Because I will tell you something, mama: someday your babies will thank you.

They may remember the darkness. They may remember that you never felt your house was adequately clean or you were adequately motherly, that you felt you could never measure up. They may remember that you went to the mother-daughter event in a cloud of darkness, that you absolutely didn’t want to be there. They may remember that you sat in the car beside them once and wondered aloud if their lives would be better off without you.

But someday they will experience depression or anxiety themselves on some level and suddenly recognize that you battled this every single day for years on end, and they will know, like an epiphany, that you were exhausted and also that you were brave.

RELATED: Depression Changed How My Mom Loved Us

They will know what a gift it was that you gave them the language and tools that if they become awash in these emotions, they know what to do. They will sit surrounded by their children and feel overwhelmed by the household and the constant neediness and loneliness and suddenly see clearly how hard it was for you.

And they will remember that you were there when they got the awards, when they attended the dances, when they expressed their faith for the first time, when they got the diploma, when they married their sweetheart, when they brought their own babies into the world.

And, oh, mama, no matter how dark it gets or how heavy it feels, I plead with you to stay, to press on and through, to survive, because someday with every fiber of their beings, your babies will thank you.

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

Keegan Taylor

Keegan is an avid reader and an aspiring novelist who resides near Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband and four boys. She blogs about reading and writing at Bibliophile Family on Facebook and Instagram, hides in the closet with a book and a cup of ridiculously rich hot cocoa, and makes a lot of library runs to pick up books on reserve.

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

Memories are What Matter—Watch the Chevy Holiday Ad Making Us Cry

In: Living
Chevy holiday ad

I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I find that this time of year feels fragile. I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong. But these days I recognize a comingling of joy and sadness that envelopes so many during this season. It’s a giant heap of emotion as we sort through the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad of the past year and try to make sense of where we are right here, right now, in this moment of time. So when I saw Chevrolet’s new seasonal ad last night, I was...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

6 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids Remember Their Grandparents

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Grandfather dances with granddaughter in kitchen

A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy. Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm. It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never...

Keep Reading

When You Need a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Living
Two friends having coffee

We have all seen them—the posts about the door always open, the coffee always on, telling us someone is always there when we need support. I have lived with depression my entire life. From being a nervous child with a couple of ticks to a middle-aged woman with recurrent major depressive and generalized Anxiety disorder diagnoses. Antidepressants, therapy, writing, and friends are my treatments. The first three are easy, my doctor prescribes antidepressants, I make appointments with a therapist, and I write when I feel the need. RELATED: Happy People Can Be Depressed, Too The fourth is hard. As I...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Who Coach: Thank You

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother with young son in soccer uniform, color photo

I always planned on being an involved parent, whatever that would mean. Never an athlete, always athletic, I joined the swim team in high school, taught swim lessons for spending money as a college freshman, played intramural soccer at 10 p.m. on weeknights on a college team with a ridiculous name. Later, mama to only one baby, finding extra dollars wherever I could, I coached track. And then, my own babies really started to play sports. I promised myself I would volunteer as possible, but something always stood in the way, and all I could manage was to get my...

Keep Reading

Now That I’m There, 30 Doesn’t Seem That Old

In: Living
Woman holding a sign with the number 30 and chocolates, color photo

I turned 30 this year. The change of a decade has caused me to reflect a lot. This is the first time I’ve hit an age ending in zero and sort of wish I could go back a ways. At 10 and 20 years old I was still eagerly waiting to get older. That desire slowed down and stopped around 25 years old. Still, I haven’t lived my first 30 years with a lot of regrets. I have four little ones who call me mom. Some days they make me feel old. Often they keep me acting young. Dance parties...

Keep Reading

Teachers Carry the Weight of Their Classroom in Their Hearts

In: Living
Stressed teacher sits with hands on temples

I would like to argue there really isn’t anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s job. Oh, there are overwhelming, too much to do moments. And exhausting moments. And early morning, long day moments. But there isn’t really anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s work. It’s the being a teacher that’s hard. For in being a teacher, your heart splits open with all the things you cannot fix and all the things you cannot do or cannot do enough of. When your heart aches for a family you barely know and you long to comfort...

Keep Reading

Give Me Friends to Do Everyday Life With

In: Friendship
Two women at a sporting stadium, color photo

She sees me coming. A small wave from her house window and a silent invitation to come on over for our morning coffee. An unsaid invitation to connect with someone who gets the joys and challenges of being a mother. A quick, small, and valued break from life and stress and my house messes has become the perfect way to start the morning. A neighbor who has become a dear friend. Prior to this encounter, alarm clocks were ringing, breakfast was made, backpacks were packed, and shoes were missing. School mornings are rough. Motherhood is rough. The world around us...

Keep Reading