He came in the door with his typical 5-year-old enthusiasm. Another good day of school. Excited about movie and homemade pizza night with the family. Hungry. Always hungry.

After putting his backpack and shoes away, he circled the corner of the kitchen with a new library book in tow. Uh-oh. Library day. He must’ve taken the old book back that morning, then picked out a new one at school.

I forgot. Once again, I’d missed reading last week’s choice before he had to return it. Each week I try. I promise I do. But there’s so much to do. So much to keep track of.

Mom fail #3,580,496.

As he climbed onto a kitchen stool, I hustled to put away groceries, sort through the mail, and go through each child’s homework. “Homemade” pizzas from Papa Murphy’s sat near the preheating oven. I didn’t have it in me to make another meal.

Mom fail #3,580,497.

“You foh-got to weed my whybary book, again.” He interrupted my pity party. I responded by whipping my head around like something from The Exorcist.

“Excuse me?”

“You foh-got to weed my book. I gotsa new one.”

I felt heat color my face. He didn’t mean anything by it. Five-year-olds don’t know how to judge. He simply stated the facts.

Still.

I bit my tongue, but fumed. Why don’t we talk about all the things I remembered this week? Like breakfast. Sack lunches. New tennis shoes. Math homework. Reading assignments. Pigtails in pink hair ties. Dinner. Brushed teeth. Clean clothes. Baths. Carpool. School forms. Bus fees. The groceries I’m still putting away!

I might have bruised the bananas.

Mom fail #3,580,498.

One moment I’m cataloging my failures. The next I’m spewing a defense with spinning heads. This mood swing should be banned from the playground.

If you’re an overwhelmed mom, you’re not alone. I’ve been parenting since the 90’s, and even with all this practice, I can’t keep up. The teachers say we’re supposed to do math facts and read every night. College counselors say we’re supposed to plan and save. The USDA says we’re supposed to serve enough vegetables and calcium. The dentist says we’re supposed to brush and floss their tiny teeth. The Sunday school teacher says we’re supposed to review their Bible verses. The coach says we’re supposed to practice their skills. The pediatrician says we’re supposed to make sure they get 12 hours of sleep a night.

As if anyone can get that much sleep with this much to do!

When it comes to motherhood, success always seems just out of reach. The list of supposed-to’s never stops growing. And the weight of our failure suffocates. We’ll never keep up. And trying might kill us.

Unless we quit. Not motherhood, but trying to measure success according to a checked-off list of unrealistic expectations. Motherhood is less about supposed-to’s and far more about get-to’s:

  • I get to say “Good morning!” and smile at sleepy faces with crazy hair.
  • I get to say “Welcome home” and “How was your day?”
  • I get to listen to stories of recess and circle time while dipping cookies in milk.
  • I get to hold hands, tickle ribs, and wipe tears as often as possible.
  • I get to teach them how to share, talk nice, and encourage each other.
  • I get to explain that mistakes and “I’m sorry” are part of life.
  • I get to say “I love you.” Every. Single. Day.
  • I get to remind them that the God who made them will never, ever leave.

Maybe you spaced the library book, served take-out, and lost your cool while handling the bananas. There’s always tomorrow.

But today? If your child knew your touch, your wisdom, your love and your God, you’re a good mom. Hands down.

Even if you can’t keep up.

What is one thing you do well as a mom? It’s okay to brag a bit. I give you permission. 

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