Sometimes we feel like we don’t make the mark as a mom. I’ve heard author Emily Watts speak at different events and read her books, but her latest one hit home for me. I love the sweet picture book, Once There Was a Mom. The sweet illustrations by Destin Cox make for the complete package. The first time I read through the book I was touched by the simplicity and the message that the little things do matter. A few days later it hit me with a little more power.
Getting Down on Ourselves
It’s easy to feel the most inadequate at my mom job. At different times of the year (spring and Christmas) there are so many concerts, recitals, assemblies, sporting events and everything in between I always feel as if I’m coming up short. I’m sleep deprived, emotional and a little on edge and for sure consuming too much sugar and caffeine to keep myself afloat, which of course, makes the crash harder.
So back to my story. I was feeling sleepy last Tuesday when my 5-year-old climbed up on my lap with the cute pink, Once There was a Mom book. “What is this book?” she asked. “Will you read it to me?” Well, considering it was short and I had enjoyed it before, I obliged.
The book talks about some of the long days of parenting and the questions we have as mothers if the long days of cooking, cleaning, lessons, drives in the car and all the stuff are really worth it. There’s a page in the book that says, “Mom was the biggest word in her world.” As I read that page, my daughter looked at me, pushed my hair back from my cheek, touched my cheek with her squishy little girl finger and said, “That’s true.” I laughed, but it struck me that she knew that about me. As I kept reading I kept just feeling the words. There are so many days that I ask myself, “It it worth it? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much?”
Emily Watts: It is Enough
Then near the end of the book the mom comes to a great conclusion: It is enough. As I read the words, tears starting to fall down my cheeks. I got very emotional as I read the rest of the words. My daughter clung more tightly to me, grasping my hand as I underlined the words in the book with my finger. She didn’t ask me if I was okay, because I suspect she could feel the same spirit I was feeling – that our life is beautiful – it may be chaos, it may be crazy – but it is beautiful. It’s in those small moments (and big ones too) that I see God’s hand in my life – I feel like He is helping me on this journey to help give His children a beautiful life.
To add another layer to my feelings, just the day before I had received a sweet email from my oldest daughter who is currently serving an LDS mission in Sweden. She is one of those kids that did EVERYTHING growing up. She played soccer, she sang, she did plays, she ran, she was a school officer (every year) and she was good at all the activities too. She’s one of those kids that as a mom you look and wonder where in the world she came from and how you got a child so amazing. But there were hard days and busy days because I have five other busy, accomplished kids too! We spent what seemed like days in the car together driving to all her events when she was in junior high and high school. In my weekly letter to her I was talking about busy May and how her younger sister seemed to be following in her footsteps with all her activities and I was wondering how I was going to make it all fit in.
The Little Things Matter
She wrote back to me how significant the little things were for her, most importantly the car time. “I think I would be a goner without that time with you,” she wrote. She went on to say how much she learned about life and herself in that time with me alone in the car. Reading her words were like manna from heaven to me. To be honest, I always cherish the car time with kids because there is no escape for anyone. We have to talk, we have to be together, but I never realized that maybe my children felt the same. I can’t be distracted by other things in life, they have me and only me.
Most of our teens haven’t had free reign of a car during the driving years just because of some unforeseen circumstances of our life. It has made for some tricky and difficult scheduling, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the car time that provides much more than miles on a tired minivan. It’s a time of love, shared feelings, shared testimony and it really makes my life beautiful, as weird as it seems. It’s the memories and it adds to my patchwork quilt referred to in the book and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself, the little things – they matter. They become the big things. I will try to take my own advice as well. Pick up a copy of the book, read it a few times. Let it soak in. Read it to your little ones, so they know how you feel too. You won’t regret it. I know I don’t.
Rachel J. Trotter is a writer at Evalogue.Life, where we tell personal and family stories that inspire, and help you tell yours. She has worked as a writer since her college days over 20 years ago. She loves telling people’s stories. She lives in Ogden, Utah and is busy raising six children and loves working on family history alongside her husband, Mat.
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