Sweet sweet, sometimes not so sweet kids of mine, I have something you need to know.

I want you to know how hard I try.

I really need you to know that. More than anything. I know I haven’t been perfect, I know I’ve messed up more times than we can count, know I’ve lost my cool, but in it all, I’ve really, really tried.

There are so many nights when I go to bed and I cry in my bed.

I think I’ve failed.

I think I’ve let you down. I see the promises I didn’t keep or the things I didn’t do. I see all of that stuff that messed up the perfect plan I had for your childhood. I didn’t want you to have to deal with the heartache of divorce or seeing me work super hard. I just didn’t.

I wanted it to look different.

But despite all of that, I try.

It’s such a heart try. I tried the day the first one of you came home and I looked at your scrunched up little face not having a clue what to do next. And just because I didn’t have a clue didn’t mean I stayed there. I tried. I figured out how to feed you and change you all. I figured out bedtime and snack time. I figured out the doctor visits and memorized the doctor’s office number. I learned about preschool and kindergarten and grade school and middle school and college.

Just because I never knew what to do didn’t mean I stopped.

I kept going.

Making birthday cake after birthday cake, wrapping present after present, paying bill after bill, driving to lesson after lesson, saying prayer after prayer.

Because more than anything, my trying is from this deep love.

I’m never going to be perfect. And neither are you. I’m so glad you got to see me stumble so much, because in every single stumble you didn’t see me stay stuck, you saw me try again. You saw me show up in those teacher’s offices and driving around at night.

We tried.

Despite our messes we created a story, a family, an adventure. Your childhood.

It might never look like Hallmark, but oh my word, it is OUR story. I’m so proud to be your mom. Just beyond proud. There are nights where I look at you sleeping and tears well in my eyes and despite the slammed doors and late homework and “I hate you” moments, all I can feel welling inside is the deep, deep love of motherhood.

I love being your imperfect mom.

I’ll never stop trying. Never.

If anything, in all these years, that is what I what you to know.

I tried so hard because I love you so much.

I really do.

Thanks for trying with me. Thanks for loving me. Be brave, be bold, love others.

And always try.

This is an excerpt from my book The Brave Art of Motherhood

This article originally appeared on Finding Joy

Rachel Martin

Rachel Marie Martin believes in the power of the human spirit to overcome, to thrive and to find deep joy and because of that she pours out her heart via these platforms: she is the writer behind the site FindingJoy.net and author of the life-changing, find-your-heart book The Brave Art of Motherhood.  Her site reaches millions of visitors, her content has been translated into over 25 languages and she has a robust, engaged Facebook community. Her articles have been featured by The Huffington Post, iVillage, The Today Show, Star Tribune, iVillage, Stuff New Zealand, PopSugar, Parents, What to Expect, Mamalode, NBC Parents, Dr. Greene, and many more.  Beyond writing, speaking, media and consulting, Rachel is the mom to seven and lives in Nashville, TN.