You can’t see it in this photo, but this is the face of a mom with a whole lot of tears in her eyes. It’s a mother who is holding back the sobs at middle school pick up line.

You see, I like to think I’m laid back, but the truth is I’m a hyper-overachiever. Those close to me know this. They know I spread myself too thin and overschedule and try to be all the things to all the people. I usually thrive in chaos and love the frenetic pace of our life.

I know that this time is fleeting and I try to make the most of it.

What a lot of people don’t know, however, is how easy it is for me to go to the dark place, how quickly I can retreat into those doubts that consume us as parents. It’s those words that constantly swirl through my mind like “Am I good enough?” or “I’m messing everything up” or “My kids are so going to need to go to therapy as adults.”

I’m no different from nearly every other mom I talk to.

I may put different pressures on myself, but I know we all have moments where we sink into the abyss.

And that’s where I was at 3:58 pm the other day. I was berating myself for missing my daughter’s doctor’s appointment because in my head it was Wednesday and not Thursday. I forgot to email one of the high school teachers about a schedule change. I was replaying an argument I had with one kid and worrying about another. I wondered what I could make for dinner with a refrigerator full of nothing and how could I help my mom more and why did I skip my workout this morning? Why didn’t I finish that work project that I now was going to have to stay up late to complete?

Why couldn’t I just be . . . better?

And as I sat there in my minivan moving faster into a tailspin of mom doubt and despair, a knock on my window jolted me out of my own thoughts.

“Hey there, I hate to be weird, but are you the mom of the 8th grader who did the cello solo at the concert last week?” a woman asked me.

I replied, “I am.”

“I just have to tell you, I thought she was awesome. What a great sense of humor she had and she played beautifully, too! You must be so proud!”

I gave her the biggest closed-lip smile I could muster and a low-pitched “thanks” and she waved as she walked to her car with what looked like a sixth-grade boy carrying a violin.

Then I sat in my car for the next two minutes and cried, realizing yet again just how lucky I was in this life. I cried until that same daughter bounded into the seat next to me, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and we drove home.

I needed that reassurance in that exact moment. I needed someone to knock me out of my own thoughts. It was a gift.

And as day turned to night, I tied up all the things I screwed up earlier. I sent emails and cleaned up messes. I gave hugs and said kind words. I finished projects and wrote out a grocery list. I rescheduled and rejigged and recalibrated my mistakes but more importantly my soul.

I did these tasks with a smile on my face and peace in my heart because another mom reached out to me and pulled me out of my dark place when I needed it most. She reminded me what was important. She gave me assurance when my confidence was low.

She extended a hand when I needed it most—when I didn’t even recognize I needed it myself.

And that’s what the sisterhood of motherhood is all about. It’s about the people who show up on your doorstep with a cup of coffee just because they know you’re going through a rough time. It’s the moms who bring meals to strangers. It’s the woman who stops by your minivan to say a kind word about your kids even though she feels awkward.

It doesn’t matter if you are a mom with a newborn or an empty nester worried about your grandkid, we have to keep reaching down and pulling each other out of the dark places.

Feel free to start with that mom wearing sunglasses in her minivan. She definitely needs it.

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

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

I Want to Be My Teen’s Friend, but First I Have to Be His Mother

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen boy smiling wearing a hoodie

He’s 13. I could stop there, and most parents would simply shake their heads, give me a look of sympathy, and simply say, “It gets better.” My too-cool-for-school kid did a complete 180 in his seventh-grade year. Always at the top of his class academically, he stopped studying, stopped doing homework, stopped caring about grades. I tried to talk to him about it, but all I got were eye rolls, barely audible teenage slang that made no sense to this Gen-X mom, and the slamming of a door. He doesn’t even need the large “Stay Out” poster on his bedroom...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter as You Grow into Yourself

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Girl in hat and dress-up clothes, color photo

My daughter, I watched you stand in front of the mirror, turning your body left and right. Your skirt was too big and your top on backward. Your bright blue eyeshadow reached your eyebrows and bold red blush went up to your ears. You didn’t care. I watched you marvel at your body, feeling completely at ease in your skin. You turned and admired yourself with pride. You don’t see imperfections. You don’t see things you are lacking. You see goodness. You see strength. RELATED: Daughter, When You Look in the Mirror, This is What I Hope You See I’m...

Keep Reading

My Child with Special Needs Made His Own Way in His Own Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding child's hand walking across street

I want to tell you the story of a little boy who came to live with me when he was three years old. Some of you may find this story familiar in your own life. Your little boy or girl may have grown inside you and shares your DNA or maybe they came into your life much older than three. This little boy, this special child, my precious gift has special needs. Just five short years ago, he was a bit mean and angry, he said few understandable words, and there was a lot about this world he didn’t understand. Unless...

Keep Reading

When the Grandparents Are Still Working, Your Support System Looks Different

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Child kissing grandma on cheek

I had my kids in my 20s, and yes it was hard, but probably not for the reason you think. People discourage you from having kids young because it could jeopardize your career, keep you from traveling, or eat into your savings, etc. For me, my kids are my world, and I don’t think I jeopardized anything by having them. They can travel with my husband and me. My savings account isn’t as cushioned as it was before I had my kids, but that doesn’t matter to me. The most difficult thing about having kids in my 20s is not having...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Friends Who Don’t Hide Their Messy Parts

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Two women sit in a field with arms around each other

To the friend who invited me over without picking her house up beforehand . . . thank you.  You had no way of knowing, but I’ve been especially weighed down by the feeling of “I can’t keep up” lately—and when I walked into your beautiful home and saw dishes in the sink and laundry scattered here and there, I let out the deepest exhale I didn’t even realize I was holding in.  Because seeing your mess? Your less-than-perfect? It didn’t make me think any differently of you, but it did allow me to give myself the grace I desperately needed....

Keep Reading

Hand-Me-Downs Come with Spots, Stains, and Sweet Memories

In: Motherhood
Hand me down clothes folded in a box

The newborn announcement pictures are precious. The new pastel-colored onesie that doesn’t quite fit the baby with pockets of fabric that have to be folded back to peak at the little, wrinkled fingers tipped with translucent nails. The little hat that covers their soft, fuzzy head will never be worn again, but it completely makes the outfit. We often love to capture our little ones’ adorable moments and milestones. However, it can be quite challenging and costly to keep up with the expectation of dressing them in fully styled outfits, especially as they grow from babies to toddlers and then...

Keep Reading

This Is a Mom’s Brain in the Middle of the Night

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman looking at smartphone in the middle of the night

Dear husband, let me introduce you to your wife, insomnia edition. You see me not sleeping. You see me “playing” on my phone. Here’s what my brain is actually doing . . .  It’s 2 a.m., I wake up thinking, “I need to make an appointment” (it can be as mundane and stupid as a haircut or more importantly, a specialist appointment for one of the kids). I try to go back to sleep, promising myself I will remember. Lying there, I tell myself I won’t forget. I will remember, don’t worry. Fifteen minutes go by . . . On...

Keep Reading

Organized Sports Aren’t Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young girl with Alpaca, color photo

Today I watched my little girl walk an alpaca. His name is Captain. Captain is her favorite. He’s my favorite too. I met his owner on Instagram of all places. She thought I was in college; I thought she was a middle-aged woman. Turns out, she is in high school, and I am a middle-aged woman. This random meeting led to a blessing. We call it “llama lessons.” We take llama lessons every other week. It’s an hour away on the cutest hobby farm. Our “teacher” is Flora, who boards her llamas at the alpaca farm. She wants to teach...

Keep Reading

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading