I Am Just a Mom

We are just moms.

Every so often, a friend of mine who doesn’t have children yet tells me that I am “such a good mom.” I occasionally hear it other places, too. Like from my husband on Mother’s Day or from my mom when I’m feeling defeated. Unfortunately, those sweet, well-intended words usually set off the marching band in my head. The one that parades about with vigor, sending each weak mommy moment promenading before my eyes.

I shoo my kids to bed. I prioritize a clean house over the kids. I let them watch too much TV. I knowingly let library books go overdue. (WHY?)

The truth is, no one is the best mom. But we are the best we can offer our kids. That’s all we’ve got.

We’re too task oriented. We rely on siblings to play with each other, so we don’t have to “play airport” one more time.

We don’t practice our letters like we should.

We raise our voices.

In honest moments, we admit that we are just as selfish as our two-year-olds.

We lock ourselves in the bathroom just to get some space. We can’t remember how to spell, because our brains are fuzzy. We’re tired of sharing. (Why does the food on our plates always look better than the food on their own?)

We long to not be needed, but deep down, we secretly like it.

We’ll break all kinds of our own rules if it means the baby will sleep.

We have sippy cups hiding under our couches.

We hope no one looks closely at the inside of our minivans.

We forget to brush our kids’ teeth on the way out the door. Worse yet, we occasionally forget to brush our own teeth.

We leave a trail of crumbs all throughout Target.

Facebook has become our outlet for adult communication.

And when we’re pregnant, it all goes to heck.

But on good days, we listen to their stories with a glow in our eyes, because we made those kids.

This is life. 24/7.

We are just moms. Run-of-the-mill moms. We are like our mothers before us and our daughters after us. We are the same. But here’s the thing: Maybe they’re right. We are the best.


Click on the image to get a better view of these beautiful, hard-working women! Thank you for your photo contributions! Linked up with Grace at Home and Mommy-Brain Mixer.

  • Rachel T.
    August 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    What a beautiful collage of mothers!

    And why is their so much guilt associated with being a mom? I feel it all the time. Like letting Sierra watch way too much TV, not going out to do enough fun things, not talking and teaching her every spare moment, too much iPad time, etc. You captured it perfectly. We just do our best and hope it all turns out okay. 🙂

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Just wanted to say I loved your comment! Mom guilt seems to be inescapable, because there is just ALWAYS more we could be doing, and since we know what an important job it is, we all wish we could pull it together to give even more. But we have to balance our own sanity against it all, don’t we? A sane and happy mama is as important for a family as anything else! (That’s like the theme song of my life right there. haha) Love you!

  • Josh
    August 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Beautiful thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to articulate the thoughts that are swirling around in the head of every mother (and father, but that’s another story). It is so interesting to live close to and watch my own (“best”) mom interact with my children. She sometimes gets annoyed, lets them watch ‘Little Einsteins’ the whole time they are together, forgets to brush their teeth, or cleans the kitchen instead of building a block tower. But this is my mother, the woman who I owe it all to, the woman who taught me everything, how could I have turned out okay (maybe even successful?) with so many shortcomings?

    Because this is the same woman, who tells my little guys that they are smart and ‘good talkers,’ that they have ‘beautiful’ faces, and that they are the fastest runners around. She hugs them, and kisses them, like she hugs and kisses me.

    So as I watch my own wife struggle at times with the mommy-guilt, it is important to realize that it all works itself out in the end. You love your kids, they love you. Keep pushing forward and do the best you can, and sometimes the best you can do is to lock yourself in the bathroom, or go shopping by yourself. In the end, little boys don’t remember the clean kitchens or the times they didn’t brush their teeth, they remember feeling loved and protected.

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks so much, Josh. Considering the subject is so close to my heart, your comment brought tears to my eyes! I hope everyone who reads this post also reads your comment!

      I love the idea that even your mom (a mothering pro!) cuts corners here and there with the grandkids, as I’m sure she did with you and your siblings. What we remember from childhood is so much more a FEELING, not individual incidents of our moms cleaning kitchens instead of building block towers. (Good thing! Because it has been a WHILE since I built a block tower!) This thought is so reassuring, as I’m pretty confident that overall, I’ll be able to make my kids feel loved and protected, despite my imperfections as their mother.

      Btw, sorry I’m not gearing this little blog more toward fathers! 🙂

    • Kendall
      August 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Definitely teared up at this!

    • Emily Smith // The Best of this Life
      August 17, 2013 at 12:41 am


  • Lisa
    August 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Love it. And the selfish part…yeah, I KNOW that’s me. And I had to laugh at how true the crumbs through Target and sippy cups everywhere are. I just hope my girls remember the good parts, because we’re all learning together.

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Yes, we certainly are learning together! Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and tell the boys, “I don’t know! I’ve never done this before!” I know they think I’ve been a mom forever. 🙂 Unfortunately for them, this is my first time around! But then again, all we can offer is our best, and that’s okay.

  • Beth
    August 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The collage turned out so nice! It is fun to see all those photos! I feel a little famous. 😉

    I feel like you hit the nail on the head here! So much to do, and then many times we feel guilty for what’s left undone. If I *do* manage to check off a lot of that to-do list, I wonder if the sacrifices I made to get them done were really in my family’s best interest. And then, yes — I feel selfish for wishing away the responsibility sometimes.

    It’s nice to feel a little validated in all of that!

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 2:40 am

      Thanks so much for contributing, Beth! And yes, motherhood is an impossibly difficult balance to walk, which is probably why we all feel guilty a good part of the time. If you’re doing on thing, it’s often at the cost of something else. But it’ll all work out in the end, and with a bit of luck, our kids will hold on to the best of us.

      Have a great weekend!

  • Beth @ Structure in an Unstructured Life
    August 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    This is so beautiful and honest! Just the other day I was saying that I am not perfect, but I take the job of motherhood too seriously to get hung up on the imperfection and I just keep trying every day. I think realizing we’re not going to be perfect helps us to be really good. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up at the Mommy Brain Mixer!

  • Alaina
    August 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    This is beautiful. I love all of your examples and chuckled at how true they are, particularly the crumbs through Target (workers must HATE those bags of popcorn). I like to think about the feelings created instead of specific memories – that, I can do. I like to think that my kids feel loved and know I care even though I’m impatient and irritable far more often than I’d like to be.

  • Alana @ Sparrow + Grace
    August 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    So good, friend. We’re all doing the best we can, as you so eloquently pointed out. And all those mess-ups? Our kids won’t remember most of them. What they will remember is kissing the boo-boo’s and just being there. THAT’s what is most important: our attentive presence. Knowing that they can come to us whenever they need us, whether they’re three or twenty-three.

    And… the collage of mamas is a beautiful sight. Perfect for this post!

  • Liz
    August 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    They can look in my van all they want, just not the house! We recently found a lost sippy cup…with what I think used to be milk inside. Yuck! I know we can all relate to this, especially calling our moms in desperations and hearing them say just that.

    I went to RS this week without any kids! When I came home 15 minutes late, my husband said he was worried about me. I admitted that I got caught up in time: sometimes it a great escape from the kids if only for 2 hours! I was enjoying some adult conversation!!

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 2:38 am

      Haha, we’ve all been there. It’s amazing how unrecognizable milk can become. 🙂

      I’m glad you got a little R&R at a RS meeting this week! Funny how ANY break and ANY adult communication can make such a difference.

  • Ashley
    August 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Beautiful, as always Erica!

  • Tiffany
    August 16, 2013 at 1:48 am

    This is beautifully written and so relatable…It”s true we are just moms being moms and we struggle everyday (at times every hour) yet we do it. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 2:37 am

      Thank you so much, Tiffany! “At times every hour” hits it right on the head! 🙂 Best to you!

  • Nicolette Springer
    August 16, 2013 at 6:35 am

    For Mother’s Day my husband interviewed our four year old. He asked her severals questions about me. One was “what is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?” Her reply, “cleaning.” It was very funny on video but part of me feel bad that she didn’t say something like “playing with me” or “doing crafts together.” I’m guilty of being way too task oriented at times. We can be our own worst critic but deep down I know I’m doing the best I can.

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Haha, my kids would totally say that! Let’s just consider it a compliment that they notice our hard work to keep a clean house. 🙂 Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Nicolette, and have a great weekend!

  • Betsy (Eco-novice)
    August 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Another lovely reflection on motherhood. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting siblings entertain each other as much as possible — why on earth did I have those kids so close together otherwise? I do wish I played with my kids a little more though, like their dad does.

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Oh I totally agree. I’m so glad Trenton and Chase have each other, and despite their squabbles, I much prefer having them close together so they can be playmates. I do feel the occasional pang for not getting down and playing with them more, because neither Ryan or I are great at that, but they’re still happy and well-adjusted and so am I. 🙂 Good to hear from you, Betsy! We miss you guys!! (How’s the house treating you??)

  • Susi
    August 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I loved reading this and nodded along to so many of these statements. I bet my kids would put cleaning on the top of my to do list, too. But I try very hard to off set my cleaning time with good quality time even if it is just a walk around the neighborhood to watch and feet the ducks!

    • Erica {let why lead}
      August 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Well said, Susi! It all evens out in the end, doesn’t it? Have a great weekend, and thanks so much for your comment!

  • Emily Smith // The Best of this Life
    August 17, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Everyday is just doing the very best we can! Out of all the hours in a day, a little too much of this or not quite enough of that is easily countered with all the love in the world – and I don’t know a mom who doesn’t give their children that! 🙂

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  • leigh
    November 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I have 2 kids. My son, Matthew has ADHD, bipolar disorder and anxiety. People don’t know how emotionally draining it is, they just see a happy 11 yr old. However difficult it is my husband and I would not have it any other way! That part of being his mom.

    • Erica - Let Why Lead
      November 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Leigh! I can really only imagine how draining have a child with special needs would be. All I can do is imagine how draining parenting my own kids is, and then magnify it! You are amazing.

      The bond I find with other moms continually uplifts me. Have a great day!