Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

My kids spent exactly four hours at daycare yesterday, but the tearful reception I received when I arrived to pick them up made it seem like four days. Weeping and wailing, they clung to me like barnacles, elbowing one another to get a better grip on my legs. And all the while, their dad was standing right there next to me, completely unassaulted.

It isn’t often that Nick and I retrieve the kids from daycare together, and I’d imagined the kids would feel excitement at seeing us both. In reality, Nick may as well have waited in the car, because neither kid showed the slightest interest in his presence. At their ages, it’s all mom, all the time.

Most of the time, Nick pushes right through the prickly exterior of our children, fending off their swatting hands and irritated whines every time he tries to hug or hold them. Lately, it seems as though every effort he makes to show them affection is rebuffed. He isn’t mom, and all they want is mom.

I can appreciate being needed by my children. I know that won’t always be the case, and sometimes it feels awesome to be loved and wanted by these small humans even when I’m having a bad hair day, or trudging through an unsuccessful week of writing. In a world that judges and rejects me constantly, it does feel nice to experience the unconditional love of my kids.

And yet, I see the disappointment and despair on my husband’s face when he’s not the hot commodity, and it kills me. In those moments, I want to sit the kids down and explain to them how much their dad loves them, that he dreamt of being their dad long before they even existed, and probably wanted parenthood much more than I ever did. I want to tell them how lucky they are to have a dad like him, who changed his diet, gave up alcohol, does yoga religiously, and restructured his entire life in order to be better at fathering them– more present, more physically capable of wrestling and playing chase for hours on end. Don’t they know how good they have it?

Most days, we share the parenting responsibilities equally, and Nick engages intentionally with our kids, whether or not they appreciate or accept his efforts. But there are difficult days when he wants to give up, and give the kids what they want: MOM. I don’t blame him. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel unwanted. I live in fear that he’ll eventually stop trying so hard, because that’s exactly what I’d do in his shoes. But I desperately need him to stay engaged. I can’t do this alone. The constant neediness of my children drives me batty. I need breaks. I need a moment to myself. And I’m grateful Nick’s undying desire to be the best dad and partner possible keeps him going when the road gets rough.

He’s playing the long game, surviving on the belief that our kids deserve, and will one day appreciate, the energy he puts into loving them. That’s true for all parents, isn’t it? The long game is what drives us to stay focused, and stay engaged when all we see are ill-mannered, cranky, unappreciative little jerks. It’s the thought that one day, they’ll have their own little jerks, and they’ll call us up (or beam over to our house using some fancy, futuristic contraption that I won’t understand), and they’ll say OH MY GOD! THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! THANK YOU FOR NOT STRANGLING ME!

But I suppose, as parents, we have to also embrace the possibility that this might never happen. They may never say thank you, or appreciate our sacrifices and sleepless nights. They may, in fact, hate us, think we did a horrible job, and never forgive us. It’s really a crapshoot. If and when that happens, I’m ready and willing to apologize for not being whatever it was they needed, or thought they needed. I’m ready to apologize for coddling them too much, or not coddling them enough. I’m ready to apologize for all of my mistakes, the mistakes Nick makes, and all of the ways I’m sure we’ll fall short of what they want from us (and for writing about all of it for the world the read).

Because, in the end, I will know better than anyone that we did our very best. I will know about all of the times Nick felt rejected and unnecessary, but picked himself up and got back in the game. I will know that we flipping rocked it. And that’ll be enough for me.

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

Lauren Gonzalez

Lauren Gonzalez is a writer/philosopher hustling every day to survive the Montana elements, learn life's hard lessons the first time around, and make new friends along the way.

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Daddy, Am I Beautiful?

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Daddy holding preschool-aged daughter, color photo

“Daddy, do I look beautiful?” I heard my daughter ask my husband from the other room. I barely heard what she said as I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, but her words struck a chord in my heart. My sweet girl, all dressed to go out, asked for her Daddy’s assurance that she was beautiful, that she was admired and special. It hit me in that moment: this pure and built-in desire we all have to be loved, admired, and wanted. Just as my sweet girl wanted her Daddy’s approval and assurance of love, I so often cry...

Keep Reading

Sensitive Sons Are Strong Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy pets kitten held by another older boy

My son has always been timid. When he was a baby, he cried when he lost his pacifier in his crib. If I laughed too loudly, he might burst into tears. Once, he was asleep in his bassinet as my husband and I turned on a movie. The MGM lion roared, and he woke in a panic that seemed to take forever to calm. Now, at five years old, my son wrestles, runs, fights, and screams at the television. He pretends to fight bad guys and save me and his twin sister. He thinks he is the king of the...

Keep Reading

Wrestle Like a Girl

In: Kids, Motherhood
Girls wrestling team huddling on the floor

I’m a wrestling mom, but I’m a new breed. I’m the kind with my little girl on the mat. Sure, I support our son out there, and I scream like a wild banshee with the rest of the crazy parents, and I’m in awe of the athletes these boys are. But then steps out our daughter. And it’s different. She decided to join her big bro at practice years ago when word was just starting to spread about the possible emergence of girls’ wrestling. She was only in kindergarten, but I think my husband might have already been thinking college....

Keep Reading

I’ll Hold on To Moments of Childhood with My Preteen as Long as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Smiling preteen and mother

This Christmas season, my husband took our laser light projector and aimed it at the Australian bottle tree in the front yard. It shone like a thousand red and green fairies dancing through the branches. The first time I saw it, I gasped with glee. Christmas came and went. Much to our 6-year-old’s disappointment, we took down the decorations and boxed them in the attic until next year. I noticed that my husband forgot to put away the light projector though. One Friday night, recovering from a stomach bug, we decided to watch Wonka and fold laundry. We bought into the...

Keep Reading

“Tell Me Another Story, Daddy?”

In: Kids
Man reading to young son

“Tell me another story, Daddy?” I had heard these words since we had finished supper. My 5-year-old son loves hearing stories. He loves to put himself in these stories. He doesn’t just watch Paw Patrol, he’s in Paw Patrol. He is a Kratt brother. And he loves hearing stories about his favorite adventurers with him saving the day alongside his animated heroes. While I absolutely love telling stories to my son, there are many days when I don’t feel like it. When I want to say, “No, Daddy is tired. Why don’t you go play with your toys while daddy...

Keep Reading

Getting Glasses Can be an Adjustment

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Pre-teen wearing glasses

On their last break from school, my daughter and son happily enjoyed a nice week of catching up with friends and having a relaxed schedule. I was careful to avoid overloading our schedule so we had a nice balance of days out and days being at home. As can often happen on a school break, I used one day as our “appointments day.” We had our routine dental checks and eye exams booked. The morning went smoothly with the dentist, and then it was time to head home for lunch. Next, we popped back out to do the children’s eye...

Keep Reading

To the Fifth Grade Parents: Thank You

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Arcade style photo machine, color photo

To the fifth-grade parents in my community: How are we here already? The end of fifth grade. The end of elementary school. It feels like yesterday we saw each other at kindergarten drop off, some of us through the tears of sending our first baby to school, some seasoned pros, and a small group of us with a touch of extra worry in our mama hearts—the special ed mamas. Among the many things I worried about sending my kindergarten son to school was how your children would treat him. Would they laugh at him like they did at his Montessori...

Keep Reading