As I sit in Panera, having retreated here during a power outage, working and drinking too much coffee, I watch a table of five teenage girls, and a woman leading discussion. I’m not sure what they’re talking about, but from what I’ve gathered it sounds like a committee of sorts and they’re planning an event. They seem organized, eager and excited.

As I sit here thinking about them I also wonder what they’re thinking about me. I’m sure the confidant person I like to think I am is not the one they’re seeing. Today is one of those days where I feel like the weather outside—dreary, gray, and rainy.

Today is a day where I could really use a pep talk. And I’m the only one who can give it to me.

My to-do list sits next to me as a constant reminder of what needs to be done. And that’s only for work. It doesn’t include the never-ending mental list containing everything else to do. Regardless of what’s on either list, they both add the proverbial weight to my shoulders.

That hint of anxiousness stems from thinking about the four days next week I’ll be away from my 10-month-old daughter, Emma. It’s only the second time I’ve been away from her overnight since she was born.

Those bags under my eyes and those moments of zoning out? That’s the lack of sleep resulting from Emma’s recent middle of the night wake-ups. Even without these wake-ups I can’t seem to get to sleep before 10PM. It’s not for a lack of trying. Remember that mental to-do list? I actually have to do those things, some of them daily. My daughter is usually up by 6AM every morning so sleeping in, even occasionally, is a luxury, not the norm.

Coupled with a few other unexpected let downs today and it’s no wonder I need a pep talk.

What do I wish I was conveying to those girls instead of the faltering, tired, anxious person sitting here with bags under her eyes? That I am a confident woman. That I’m a mother who loves being a mother. That I hope as my daughter grows up she is as confident and vibrant as that table full of girls. That I’m a wife who couldn’t ask for a better husband, my perfect partner.

I continue on with my internal pep talk, still feeling a little guilty about dropping my daughter off at daycare knowing she wasn’t feeling 100%. I think about what I would say to those girls if they needed pep talk.

I would tell them that as cliché as it is, life does throw curveballs, and sometimes they’re small and add up, and sometimes it’s one giant one.

You will have times that you question and doubt yourself, like I am today. We all have moments like this. You may falter and stumble and that’s okay. You’re stronger for it.

This feeling doesn’t have to last long, though. As I sit here faltering, I’m also thinking about the smile that awaits me when I pick up my daughter. The love and warmth that walks through the door when my husband gets home. I think about the past weekend, spent with family, friends, and laughter.

I think about evenings with my daughter and husband. The ones spent listening to music and dancing around the kitchen. I think about the times I tiptoe into Emma’s room at night, for just a few seconds, to simply look at her one last time before the next day’s hustle and bustle begins.

Sure, motherhood is probably not top of mind for these girls, but it’s the same concept—when you’re not feeling your best and need a pep talk, think of the times you do feel good, and the moments that bring you happiness.

As I watch the girls finish their gathering and depart, my internal pep talk concludes with a reminder to them that they have an incredible strength within, even if they’re not sure they do. It’s there and it’s continually growing. Lean on it. Use it.

I know that I have an unbelievable amount of strength within me. Strength that has grown over the years as a result of my experiences. Strength that multiplied the moment I became a mother. Strength that I hope my daughter sees.

While this was not one of my more confident days, I knew a pep talk could turn it around. In this moment there was no one better to deliver it than myself and I feel immensely better for it.

And just like that, my day changed. Coincidently, the rain even stopped and the sun began to peek out.

Wendy Buck

Wendy loves motherhood and is the incredibly proud mother of Emma and wife of Matt. Residing in Northern Virginia, she is a runner, marketer, craft beer lover, and Washington Capitals fan.