I’m not the mother I planned to be or the mother I wanted to be.

I’m not the mother I should be or the mother I could be.

But I am the mother I am.

I am the mother my son needs, the one he wants and loves.

Like so many others, my motherhood journey has not gone according to plan. Breastfeeding was too hard. We co-slept, and sometimes still do. I don’t have cool, fun activities set up for my toddler every day. I’m not as hands-on and interactive in his learning as I want to be. His communication is starting to get better, but he’s way behind where others his age are. His sleep is a nightmare. His diet, a disaster. And of course, he has too much screen time.

I struggle every day and do what I can to get through those long hours.

Every night I feel like a failure. Like I should do more because if I don’t, I’m not good enough. I feel like he deserves a mother a hundred times better than I could ever be.

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But that’s not true.

I love him.

I’m always there for him.

I try my best.

And that is what he deserves.

Here’s the thing, there are times when I am the mother I wanted to be or at least a version of the one I envisioned. That version is the one my son needs.

My 2-year-old is little Mr. Independent. My husband and I struggled to connect and communicate with him. But then we found music. Music and dance are the keys to our little boy’s heart.

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Yes, he has too much screen time as he watches The Wiggles, but he gets up and dances. He tries to sing even though he can’t speak. He acts out the scenes from the movies he loves. He strums our guitar and plays the piano with his father. He loves listening to music and doing his own crazy dances. We all get up and dance with him and the smile on his face says it all. “This is the best! I love you, Mom!”

Last year, we went to a Halloween trunk or treat activity held by our local church. He wasn’t interested in the candy or the games. He didn’t want to play with the other children. He heard music and all he wanted to do was dance. It was the same at the Christmas party, and it was disheartening. We went there for him, and he didn’t even care.

But then I watched him.

I watched him spin in circles and move his arms to the music. He danced by himself then saw his shadow. He danced with his shadow, watching it move as he did. He looked at me and smiled as he kept dancing away. Happy in his own little world.

So, I walked over to him and started dancing, too even though there were other people there. People I didn’t know well enough to be myself around. People who had never even met me. But my son was dancing, and he wanted me to dance too.

So, I did, and his smile grew a thousand times bigger.

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In moments like that, I am the mother I wanted to be. The mother I planned to be and the mother I should be. Not the perfect mother we all strive to be, but I am the mother who loves her little boy so much. So much so, she dances with him like no one is watching.

That is the mother I want to be.

That is the mother he wants me to be.

And that is the mother I am.

Dannielle Grant

Dannielle Grant is a young SAHM of a cheeky and very active toddler boy. Her son and husband are her world and two of her biggest blessings from God. Motherhood, and life in general, are messy and hard, but she believes you can always see something good, even if it takes a while.