“I can’t do anything right.”

It was 15 minutes past our usual bedtime, and I was laser-focused on nursing my 2-month-old when my older daughter’s dejected voice caught my attention.

The last two months had been hard on all of us. My newborn wailed for hours for seemingly no reason and, as luck would have it, my older daughter had just transitioned into the infamous threenager phase.

The days when my perfect angel-child could run around the house freely were gone. Now she was a big sister and with that came so many new rules. I was proud of her progress, but I could see her frustration every time I shushed her or the confusion in her eyes when I pried her off my lap when her sister cried. 

A moment before, I had reminded her to be quiet while the baby nursed.

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“I can’t do anything right.”

Hearing that sentence come out of her mouth brought me to tears. That little insecurity had shaped my childhood.

I remembered how often I had thought that when I was a little girl. When adults had yelled at me for reasons my young mind couldn’t understand. How I tried and failed to live up to their expectations. Through high school when I couldn’t make friends or get the grades I needed. 

I kept muttering that phrase right into college where my worthless self-image compelled me to pursue acceptance and toxic relationships until I became a broken creature who I hated even more.

I had come a long way from those days, but lately, that sentence was beginning to infect my mom-life in full force. I found myself thinking it every time I looked around my messy house, or whenever I snapped at my daughter after telling myself a thousand times to be patient, or every time I let her watch way more TV than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended. 

When I heard my insecurities flow out of my daughter’s mouth, it honestly took me aback. But in the next second, I also knew exactly what to say to help her. 

“Look at me.” When her big eyes met mine, I told her what my little heart had craved to hear for so long. “Never say that. Jesus made you special, do you know that? You can do so many amazing things and you are a good girl. Sometimes we mess up and we make mistakes, but that’s OK. We just apologize and try to do better. I love you and Jesus loves you.”

I was able to reassure her in that moment, but I hope she remembers her worth for the rest of her life.

Afterward, I realized I wouldn’t have recognized her vulnerability if I hadn’t spent years struggling with it myself. At that moment, because of my hurt and brokenness, I was able to give my girl the reassurance she needed.

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Do you feel broken? Like no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get things exactly right? Do your hurts, insecurities, or defects always seem to hold you back from being the mom you desperately want to be? 

As moms, we tend to think of our brokenness as a bad thing. As if we need to be perfect in order to parent our babies correctly.

We tell ourselves this lie when the opposite is true.

Just keep this in mind: You were born to be your child’s mother. The life you’ve lived so far—the good, the bad, and everything in between—has shaped you into this child’s mother. 

It’s natural to strive for perfection, but honestly, perfection isn’t what our kids need. Perfection won’t help them when they struggle with their own wild emotions or when they feel less than or insecure. 

You are broken, yes. But I think we forget that our children are broken, too. When your brokenness meets theirs, you have an opportunity to shape their hearts in a way only you can.

Erin Artfitch

Erin is the mom of a crazy toddler by day and a motherhood blogger by night. Her blog, Blunders in Babyland, helps new moms raise their babies intentionally while embracing their own imperfections. Check out Erin’s latest on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.