Success in motherhood is hard to define.

It’s silent victories, small and large.

When your child uses his manners.

When she looks someone in the eye.

When he shakes someone’s hand.

When she helps a friend.

When she gets her first A after you spent weeks driving her to tutoring.

When he hits his first home run after hundreds of hours of practicing in the backyard.

When she saves her allowance to give to charity.

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When he packs up his toys to donate to the needy.

When he gets his first job.

When she graduates from high school.

When you look at them and realize that they’ve come so far and your heart bursts with pride.

The successes are there. So many minor ones, and then, of course, the great ones.

Mama, you take them when you can and feel them in your heart.

You let it leap for joy. You smile ear to ear. Sometimes you cry at the beauty.

Sometimes you have to pretend it isn’t as wonderful as it is. Sometimes you have to play it cool. Or say, “I knew it all along . . . I never doubted you.”

But I know, mama. I know you’ve been Googling ways to make your child’s life better. I see you reading about screen time and superfoods and how much sleep and sugar children need.

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I know when your child is sick and up all night, you’re up with him. Even when you have to work the next morning. Even if your husband says he can do it and to go back to bed. Even long after he’s fallen back asleep, but you’re worried about the fever.

And when your child is nervous before opening night, or tryouts, or a test . . . you’re anxious, too. But you can’t show it. There’s no one to hold your clammy hand. You have to be the strong one.

You do your best to encourage them. Tell them that they’re going to shine, that they can do it.

You try to diminish some of the pressure, even when it feels impossible. Because you know how much is riding on their success. You promise to love them no matter what, and you know that couldn’t be more true even if it doesn’t always feel like enough.

And when they fail, you’re right there. To tell them the outcome doesn’t really matter. That in five years this won’t mean as much, but of course they can’t see it, so you just comfort and support. Always, always there.

You don’t get sick days. You don’t get awards. You don’t get a pat on the back and your work is never done.

But take this moment. This one, right now, and give yourself a minute. Acknowledge how far you’ve come, how far you’re willing to go.

This is you, mama. You helped shape these people. You drove them and encouraged them and loved them. You taught them, sat with them, and whispered prayers over them. You fed them, clothed them, and helped them navigate the unknown.

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You left behind pieces of yourself so they could have this life. You gave up hobbies. You lost friends. Sleep, new shoes, your freedoms, your body, and your car. You cast them aside willingly and eagerly. It was never a hard decision. It probably didn’t even feel like something you had to do, it just was done.

You live for them.

You did it. And you’ll keep doing it. Because mothers are amazing.

Previously published on The Other Mom

Caroline Murray

Caroline is a freelance writer, mama to two young children and one sweet baby.  She loves everything country and tries not to take anything too seriously.  You can see more of her at www.the-othermom.com.