Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

This past weekend, our plans fell through. We were supposed to meet up with a group of friends, but after waking to a text chain notifying us that our friend’s daughter was sick, we found ourselves suddenly faced with a free Saturday evening. 

I wasn’t going to complain. The thought of a night of nothing actually sounded pretty incredible.

My husband and I went back and forth. What would we do with our newfound freedom? Play some games? Go out to dinner? Work on some projects? The possibilities felt endless. And exciting.

In the end, a night of carry-out Chinese food and old family movies was the winner.

After gobbling up plates filled with sweet-and-sour chicken, crab rangoons, spicy beef, and other delicious dishes, we took our full bellies into our bedroom and piled all six of us onto the king-size bed.

My husband attached the old video recorder to the television, and suddenly, we found ourselves face-to-face with videos we hadn’t seen in years.

There they were. On the screen. My babies.

It took my breath away.

I could hear the sound of their baby squeals, laughter, and sweet, little, high-pitched voices. I could see the roundness of their toddler cheeks. And watched as they walked to and fro on wobbly, unsteady legs.

I was suddenly transported to a different time and place. One that seemed so long ago and at the same time, like it was yesterday. I remembered. Vividly.

RELATED: Older Kids Are Magic, Too

The videos were mostly of our oldest two, now 13 and 11, with a few of their 9-year-old sister sprinkled in. Our youngest was not in these videos and lost interest after about 30 minutes of seeing his sisters toddle around on the screen.

The rest of us were held captive.

I said to my husband, “I remember the feel of those PJs. The smell of their skin. I can remember what it felt like to hold them. And rock them. And carry them.” He agreed.

I found myself wanting so badly to be able to reach out and touch them and their littleness one more time. I wanted to take them into my arms and hold them tightly to my chest. I wanted to feel the softness of their skin and press my nose onto the top of their heads as I inhaled the sweet smell of baby shampoo.

But that time has passed.

As we watched the videos, I was struck by something deep in my heart. So many of the videos were of my husband and I sitting and enjoying our children. Videos of them eating. And playing. Walking. And talking. Reading books. Dancing. And Singing.

“Will you sing Twinkle, Twinkle for us?”

“Catch the ball! You can do it!”

“Can you say your ABCs?”

“Look at her eat those bananas!”

We were engaging. And they were responding.

I remember all of those years of self-doubt. Am I being a good mom? Am I teaching them? Are they learning? Do they know how much I love them? Am I spending enough time with them? Am I enough? Is this enough? Am I doing a good job?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

For a moment, as much as I wanted to reach in and touch them, I also wanted to reach in and whisper to the young mom on the screen: you are enough. You are doing enough. You are doing a good job. God made you to be their mother. Trust in Him. Trust in who He made you to be. Stop beating yourself up. They will be OK. You’ve got this.

As I watched the video and thought of these things, I found myself saying out loud, “I remember this so well. I wish I could give those little babies a hug.” And my daughter said to me, “You can. I’m right here.”

And my heart melted.

Yes, those years have passed, but there is so much treasure to be found in the now. I was reminded, as I watched these videos, of the joy that comes from sitting and being present and engaging. Of the closeness that comes from asking questions and waiting for responses.

I may no longer be asking them to recite the ABCs, but there are so many other things to ask. Big things.

“How is your heart today?”

“Do you know how much you are loved? By God? By your father? By me?”

“What is happening at school? How are you doing with your friends?”

“How can I pray for you? Can we pray together?”

I was also reminded that I am a good mom. And it’s time to embrace that truth and stop the negative self-talk.

Am I enough? Yes. God gave me these children to raise on this earth. He made me to be their mother. I am enough.

Is this enough? Yes. I am doing the best I can. I trust God will fill in the spaces where I am lacking, and He will fill their lives with mentors, good friends, and family members to help shepherd their hearts as well.

Am I doing a good job? Yes. I am trying. I love them with all of my heart. Will I mess up? Absolutely. But that’s okay. We all do. I once remember a friend saying, “If you were a bad mom, you would probably never ask if you were a good mom. Don’t you think?”

I think she was right.

RELATED: Having Big Kids Is Pretty Great, Too

I woke up the next morning with a fresh perspective on my children and my parenting.

They are getting older, and while they no longer need me to feed them and keep them from getting hurt like when they were younger, they still need me to sit with them. And to engage them. To ask them questions. Hug them. Applaud them. Love them. Enjoy them.

And to trust in myself as their mother.

Because one day, these moments will also be memories being played back on a video. One day, these years of elementary school and middle school will turn into years of high school and college. One day, they will be on their own. 

So I will hold them. And hug them. And love them. Because I can. Because they are right here. 

I will take it all in. And store it in a special place in my heart. 

I will trust in my parenting. 

I will thank God for these ordinary moments that make extraordinary memories.  

I will thank God for making me their mother. 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Thompson is a freelance writer, preschool art teacher and mother of four with a heart for Jesus. Her work can be found on a number of blogs and parenting publications. Recently relocated from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee. She is a passionate storyteller and believes every person has an important story to tell. We grow when we share. And even more when we listen.  

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading

I Love You Even When I Say I Don’t

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter touch foreheads

“I love you even when I say I don’t.” These words came out of nowhere from my 5-year-old. I was standing in the bathroom with her (we still don’t like to go potty without mommy standing right there), and she wouldn’t look at me while talking to me. You see, my 5-year-old and I have been in more spouts than ever before. She’s found this new attitude in her first couple months of kindergarten, coming home with new phrases including, “No, I don’t want to–you do it.” It hurts my heart, makes me frustrated, and leaves me asking myself where...

Keep Reading

Big Questions at Bedtime Don’t Require Perfect Answers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child at bedtime

Last night at bedtime, my son asked why everyone has to die one day. The thought of my sweet 7-year-old grappling with the weight of such a question hurt my heart. He looked so small tucked under a fleece blanket, clutching his favorite stuffed panda. How could the same little boy who just started second grade wearing a space backpack stuffed with bright, wide-ruled notebooks ask such a thing?  Perhaps my children are more aware of the inevitability of death than other kids their age due to the passing of various family pets over the past few years, or perhaps...

Keep Reading

If Someone Needs a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Three kids with backpacks, color photo

“If someone needs a friend, be a friend” it’s the running joke in our family. My husband will say the phrase to our four kids when discussing certain life situations in a lovingly mocking type way. They’ll all look at me and chuckle. I giggle a little myself at the corniness of it. But I always add, “It’s true.” It’s a phrase I’ve used more times than I can count. To teach them all to be includers—the kind of kids who look for the kid having a bad day and seek to brighten it, the kind of kids who stand...

Keep Reading

I Hope My Daughter Always Hears My Voice

In: Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler girl putting on sock, color photo

“Dots on bottom. Stretch over toes,” she mutters to herself while independently putting on her tiny toddler socks. I must have said those words to her about a thousand times and responded to “Mama, help” even more . . . modeling how to correctly put them on until the moment she finally pushed me away and insists on executing this task herself. When I believe I sound like a broken record, what I’m actually doing, as it turns out, is imparting wisdom . . . “Uh oh, try again,” she declares when her tower topples. “Chew first, then talk,” she...

Keep Reading