To my mom:

I’m lying on my bed hiding right now. I can hear the kids bickering as they get ready for bed, and a little voice calling for water and a song. I’m tired and weary to my bones. I will get up anyway. I will plant kisses on little foreheads and pray prayers. I will get the extra sip of water, and I will listen while they tell me about their toe with the sliver. I will say, “Okay sweetie, no more talking. It’s time to sleep now, ” but then I will still say “uh-huh” a couple more times as I sneak out the door.

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve learned that motherhood is a lot more about showing up than it is about anything else.

It’s about showing up when you are tired, and scared, and exhausted, and mad. It’s pulling yourself through the motions when you have nothing left to give. A mother’s love is about sacrifices.

Dear mom, there were times in my life when I expected perfection from you. I expected you to know what to say and to never get tired or upset. I expected you to be a goddess instead of a mother, and now I knownow I get it.

I dream back about my life and I can imagine how you must have felt (just like I do now). I can imagine it because I’ve walked 10 miles in your shoes.

Now I know, you were a perfect mother.

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I don’t judge a single decision you made or a single thing you said. I get it. I understand.

I understand what you sacrificed. I understand the sleepless nights. I understand now how you laid your life down for my brother and me. I understand how you put things on hold to give us all you could. I understand how you wrestled with every decision you made.

I imagine how you must have felt the first time you held us in your arms. How you must have felt such love, such magic, and oh so overwhelmed.

I imagine the tears you must have cried that I will never know about.

No matter what happened in our lives everything felt stable because of you. “It will be fine, you’ll be fine, we are fine,” you said. Now I know that you said that even when you were scared.

In my teen years and my young adulthood, I looked for what broke me. There was so much talk about counselors, therapy, and inner healing. All those things are good, sure, but I was broken because we are all broken. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, and it definitely wasn’t yours.

You did your best and that is the most precious gift anyone has ever given me.

You showed up again and again and again.

You came and tucked me in when you were weary to the bone. You tried your best to get it right, and you apologized when you thought you got it wrong.

I will never again hold you or anyone else to the impossible standard of perfection.

Thank you, Mom.

You did an amazing job.

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I understand, and now I know. And I have so much gratitude.

I know my kids won’t understand half of what I do. I know I will frustrate and confuse them. I know there will be times when they will wonder at how I let them down, and that’s okay. I haven’t been perfect, I have made lots and lots of mistakes, but I will keep showing up again and again and again . . . 

Just like you did.

Maybe one day they’ll walk 10 miles in my shoes, and they will know, but even if they don’t, I’m okay with that.

You taught me how to be a motheran amazing mother. 

Thank you, Mom.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is a writer and mom of four kids. She is an avid coffee drinker, risk taker, and TMI sharer. She is a firm believer in keeping it real and believes our imperfections bring us together. She writes at You can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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