Some days, I just need to hear I’m doing a good job.
You know the days. The ones when nothing goes according to plan. The days when your children refuse to do anything you say. The demanding days that follow the sleep-deprived nights.
On those days, the loop that’s playing in my head is anything but encouraging. I feel defeated and discouraged. I feel like I’m failing in a dozen little ways.
And even on the good days, there are still plenty of doubts lurking in my thoughts.
Is my child sleeping enough?
Is he getting all the nutrients he needs?
Did I discipline him the right way just then?
What else should I be teaching him?
Am I doing enough?
There’s plenty of doubt cast on our parenting decisions by people around us, whether it’s through accounts we follow on Instagram, parenting blogs, strangers at the grocery store, or even people in our real lives. Not to mention the questions and misgivings we moms were already struggling with before all of that.
What we don’t have enough of is . . . reminders of what we’re doing well. When we don’t have the words to push back against the feeling of not doing enough, not being enough, we get lost in these feelings and become so very hard on ourselves. We don’t have the perspective to tell ourselves the truths we would tell a friend in the same position. Instead, we need someone else to speak the words to us.
Thankfully, I have people around me who will speak truth to my heart. And it’s like a permission slip to let go of the guilt and worry, and instead, to notice the things I’m doing well. It’s a reminder that there’s not a right way to do most of this. There are only opinions. Because each child is different. And each mama is different. And each family’s needs are different. And even though I may have a different parenting style than others, that doesn’t mean I’m doing anything wrong.
But what I really need is not assurances that I’m doing things the right way. What I need are assurances that I’m doing the best I can, and that that’s enough. Assurances that I’m learning and growing and that that’s how it should be.
That it’s perfectly normal to miss things sometimes or to make a mistake, and that it doesn’t make me a bad mom.
It’s moments like my husband saying, “I love watching you interact with him. You do such a good job with him.”
It’s my mom telling me I handled a toddler meltdown really well.
It’s a friend telling me she has been through the same thing I’m going through, and that, no, I’m not doing anything wrong—this is just a really hard season, and it will pass.
Words like these have had a dramatic influence on my heart. But I know not everyone has people in their lives who will tell them these things.
And I realize that all of our hearts could use this kind of encouragement.
So I begin looking for moments when I can be that encouragement for someone else. When I notice a mom doing something really well, I tell her. When I see a mom who looks overwhelmed, I remind her she is doing a great job caring for her family.
I tell my friends, the moms on my social media feed, the mothers I pass in the grocery store. I text the words, or write them in a card, or say them over the phone or face to face.
“You love your children so well. I can tell how much they love you too.”
“It may feel like you’re doing everything wrong, but you are the perfect mom for that baby. There’s no one better for him.”
“This season of life is busy, and I can see how hard you’re trying. You’re doing a great job!”
And something happens when I share these words with other moms.
Their tense shoulders relax, and the fog of tiredness, mom guilt, or anxiety lifts a little. They feel like maybe they aren’t doing such a bad job at this mom thing after all. What a wonderful gift to be able to give someone. I can tell you firsthand that it’s a beautiful gift to receive.
So if no one has told you yet, let me have the privilege of being the first—you’re doing a good job, mama. You’ve got this.
Now go tell a mom in your own life what a good job she’s doing. This just might be the day she needs to hear it.