Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

I grew up one of four kids in a middle-class family. I shared a room with my two sisters and sometimes wore hand-me-downs but never went without.  My dad was a hardworking man who often worked long hours and traveled for his job. My mom stayed home with us, citing his unpredictable schedule and outrageous childcare costs as her reason why. It made sense, so from the outside, nobody ever questioned her choice. And since they didn’t, I didn’t. Looking back, our home operated differently than a lot of my peers’ homes did, but since I wasn’t in their homes, I knew no different. It’s a toss-up if that was a blessing or a curse.

My mom loved her kids and she loved being a mom, but depression changed how she loved us.

And, unfortunately, that was long before depression was a well-known, let alone socially acceptable, condition. Armed with all I know now, I shudder to think about how isolating that must have been for her. And for that reason, she has all my respect for pushing through and continuing to show up for us as she could.

One of the first memories I have of my mom is us watching MacGyver and Days of our Lives together after she dropped my brother off for kindergarten in the mornings. We’d pop a bag of popcorn and curl up on the couch together. It was “our time.” It was also all she could manage. But she still tried to make it feel special. And to this day I appreciate that. I recognize she did what she could with the resources and knowledge she had.

I entered elementary school waking up on my own to an alarm, making my breakfast, and packing my own lunch, too. I remember pouring cereal for my younger siblings in the morning and filling plastic glasses with milk that they could easily add when they woke up. I was “mama’s helper” and proud of that.

I loved my younger siblings and they loved me. We had each other, and again, nobody else to compare our experience to.  

RELATED: Depression Happens to Stay-at-Home Moms, Too

My mom was always in her chair when I got home. And from there she would check my homework. She’d check homework and read to my siblings and me if we asked. Often two to three of us at a time would lay on her lap. She loved being close to us. This memory is one of the ones that tells me though she wasn’t a hands-on parent who played, she loved us. And, when I think back on that it jumps out at me that she would have been a hands-on parent if she’d had the physical strength and mental stamina to get up and do so.

We didn’t play sports or do many extracurriculars in our house, Mama said she “didn’t have enough hands to keep up with us.”

Hindsight being what it is, I now know anxiety was at play.

We were all able to do Scouts in elementary school but were responsible for getting there on our own. Still, it remains an opportunity I am thankful for. In part, because it was my first glimpse into other’s lives and homes.

The older I got, the more distant my mom became. Not just from me but from all of us. I don’t know if she couldn’t cope with our changing needs or if without help her illness just kept progressing. I remember thinking if I got better grades or found the perfect Mother’s Day gift things would change, but they didn’t. I’d strive to make my younger siblings behave and keep the house straightened up, again seeking her approval, but it never came.  I now know it wasn’t that she didn’t want to give itbut that she couldn’t.

Her cup was empty.

My senior year of high school I had just two classes to take. I came home at 10:20 each day. And the first few times I did, I was shocked to find my mom still in bed. Eventually, I started crawling into bed and laying down beside her. Just to tell her about my day.  

 Again, we had “our time.”

RELATED: I Wasn’t Just a Teen Bystander to my Mom’s Depression

My sister developed some pretty chronic health issues about this time, and I’d spend afternoons at the hospital with her. I knew her medication allergies and treatment regimens, and my mom knew she was cared for.

I think that experience was her awakening. Me being there, instead of her. And I saw a change. Mom saw a doctor and went on medication. Oddlyfor the first time, maybe in my lifein the months to follow, I saw her cry. And I didn’t know how to help.

So, I moved across the country.

And I had a daughter, and more than ever I needed my family, so I moved home. My youngest sister, the one who still lived at home moved in with me. My mom was changing and getting better, but for herat that time the bridge had been burned.

Kids require emotional and physical support to thrive, and my mom had never been a source of it.

Because of that, my sister came to rely on me, and because of my relationship with her, I knew more of the kind of mama I would be. Like my own, I knew I wanted to be a mama who read books to her children, but never only in one spot. I’d read stories with my daughter on the couch, on the floor, and in her room at bedtime.

I’d be the kind of mama who went to playgroups, slid down slides, and blew bubbles at the park. I’d be a field trip chaperone, a presence at school parties, and in the stands of whatever sport she wanted to play. I’d be a mama who was present and engagedbecause, by the grace of God, I could.

I’d be a mama who smiled. Because my own had not been able to.

And as I did these things, my own mother continued to work on herself and get better. And she was able to do many of these things alongside me. As my family grew, her heart did, too. And it was a new beginning. And I love that through my children, I finally see the happiness and approval I longed for.

RELATED: To the Mom Living With Mental Illness: You Are Strong

Though it is largely unspoken, I came to realize the impact of her untreated depression throughout my childhood. It shaped my upbringing, rendering me anxious and without confidence. It created feelings of unworthiness I still fight today and is (at least I claim) the reason I can’t catch a ball.

But I’m not angry, anymore.

I know now, more than ever, she loved her kids with all she had. She loved us enough to hold on. Even when we felt it was cruel.

And I don’t share this to guilt her. In fact, I published it with an anonymous byline to protect her. I share this because while most of us know of postpartum depression, few know of maternal, and we need to. We need to protect our mamas and their children.

Children need and deserve engaged parents. And I share this not to shame those who aren’t but to start conversations to help them.

Life IS worth living. And nobody deserves to go through most of theirs before learning that.  

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

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at https://herviewfromhome.com/contact-us/write-for-her//

Graduation Means One Last Party

In: Motherhood, Teen
Little boy smiling

My head is about to explode. My youngest, AKA my baby, is about to graduate high school this June. While that is a huge deal, I know what goes into graduation. It isn’t a simple thing. There is no “just a graduation.” Or a simple “end of the year” summation. I have an older son who already graduated high school and college. I’ve done the parties, planned the events, and lived through the end-of-school-year activities. And I’ll be honest—my first thought with my second son’s graduation was this: I don’t want to do it! Please, don’t make me do this....

Keep Reading

My Teen Is Always Changing His Mind—And That’s Okay

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy with neutral smile

My teenage son changes his mind about everything around him. And it’s driving me crazy. My sweet 17-year-old son chooses one thing, only to change his mind about it a second, a minute, or a day later. And he does this all day, every day. At first, I didn’t notice this trend—the swapping of his choices—until it was about things that were more expensive or more serious like careers and cars. And then I began to wonder about his mind. Was there something wrong with him? “I think I want a Mustang,” he would say about the future car he...

Keep Reading

Friendship in Motherhood is Beautifully Unique

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Three mothers sitting on lawn watching kids on trampoline, color photo

Friendships in motherhood hold a unique and treasured place, distinctly different from any we’ve experienced before. The ones we meet in the trenches of parenting, as we nurture our kids and rediscover ourselves after becoming mothers—these are the relationships forged amidst the chaos of early morning T-ball practices, the joy of trampoline birthday parties, and the occasional playground meltdown. Motherhood friendships have a distinct depth that sets them apart from the rest. Of course, the friends from our youth are treasures—steadfast companions through the awkwardness of adolescence, through every scraped knee and heartache. Then there are the friends of our...

Keep Reading

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

The Baby I Prayed for Became the Daughter I Needed

In: Motherhood, Teen
Mother and teenage daughter, color photo

It started with pain, doubt, and prayers just moments before they laid you in my waiting arms. The cumulation of months of planning, anticipation, and excitement all ended in a small, brown-haired little doll who we could dress in pink. I quickly handed you over my head to the eager hands of your older sister, who promptly took her spot in the rocking chair, welcoming you into our family. Many nights, I would hear your tiny sounds as you rooted around, waiting for me to pick you up, carry you to that same rocking chair, fill your tummy, and pat...

Keep Reading

I Prayed for These Moments I’m Living with You

In: Motherhood
Little girl smiling on couch

There’s a half-eaten, yellow Dum-Dum sucker stuck in the console of my dashboard, right in front of my gear shift. Every day when I pick my daughter up from daycare, she gets a Dum-Dum sucker from the director as we leave. Once in the car, she usually eats some of it and either puts it upside down in the cup holder of her car seat, or she hands it to me, and I place it in the console until we get home when I can toss it in the trash. This is nothing new. This has been part of our...

Keep Reading

When You Wonder, “Why Do I Even Try?”

In: Motherhood
Weary woman on couch at home

I have thought these words to myself countless times in the past year. With a fresh teenager in seventh grade and a pre-teen in fifth, it has been a year of trial and tribulation I can only imagine compares to the biblical character Job. Okay, so maybe I am a bit dramatic. However, as a hard-working single mother, this year has truly tested me to the point of near torture. And here I am, still standing, in need of copious amounts of caffeine and some serious self-care but still standing nonetheless. I am admittedly (and my sons would agree) not...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

These Family Recipes Feed My Soul

In: Living, Motherhood
Old, messy, recipe book, color photo

There’s a recipe in my cookbook so caked with flour and cinnamon that my mother’s handwriting struggles to be seen. It’s for sweet roll dough, a recipe both my maternal and paternal grandmothers used and passed down. There’s just a difference in how many eggs and flour you choose to use. From this dough, meals that memories are made of take the shape of pizza, cinnamon rolls, Runzas (for us Midwesterners), or simple dinner rolls. For our family, it’s a Sunday night tradition of homemade pizza and a movie and Monday morning cinnamon rolls to start the week. Not much...

Keep Reading