As a full-time mom of two toddlers, I often wonder if my mothering is enough for my babies. For their hearts, their minds, and their growth. All that and then some. My around-the-clock calling right now is caring for and nurturing my children. And sometimes, that role leaves me filled with self-doubt. Mom guilt for what I haven’t done perfectly. The constant pressure that feels like the world’s weight is on my shoulders. And, frankly, a yearning for an occasional affirmation that I am doing this whole “raising humans” thing right.
Which brings me to a chance encounter I’ll cherish forever. It was an ordinary midweek autumn morning like any other, just me and my babies. We headed to the children’s play museum for a few hours, as we often do to break up the days that can easily blend together without such plans. I knew we’d have our typical fun (and a long car nap afterward), but I didn’t expect to leave with much-needed encouragement and newfound confidence in my mothering abilities.
To the kind-hearted museum staff member who took the time to see me, talk with me, and affirm me that day, this one’s for you. And others like you who’ve done the same for mamas like me.
A Letter of Thanks to You Who Complimented My Mothering
You might not remember me or my spunky, hard-to-forget 1-year-old and 2-year-old. And, of course, they won’t remember you. But I do, and I will. Probably for a very long time. Maybe even forever.
You see, the day we crossed paths was a day I’ll always treasure. It was a typical kid-run morning on my end. And I’m guessing it was a typical day of work for you. My hair was half-done, my twice-worn daily mom uniform (a sweatshirt and leggings, of course) probably had fresh applesauce and teething drool, and my toddlers were most definitely, well . . . toddlers. Both they and I were running on who knows how little broken sleep. You see, my oldest has been in the nap strike phase for a bit now, while my youngest is going through a major bout of separation anxiety at bedtime. In other words, none of us have been well-rested for a while.
For me, it’s not just physically well-rested that I’m referring to — but mentally and emotionally. Like any other overstimulated, touched-out, running-on-empty mama of multiple tiny humans.
We’re in the age of trying-to-share but not-quite-there, “hands aren’t for hitting and feet aren’t for kicking,” and learning to give each other grace upon grace upon grace. Because life with two tiny humans — while beautiful, wonderful, and ever-entertaining — is hard. We’re in the thick of it, and that day at the play museum was no different than any other.
You Saw the Chaos
I’m sure you saw (and heard) our chaos clear as day. But you also saw me. A mother. A mama. A mom. A woman simply doing my best with my babies. Trying to keep my 1-year-old and 2-year-old in one place. Or at least both within eyesight. Trying to keep my curious explorers from escaping into the next room. To keep little hands to themselves and mess after mess picked up, keeping the peace and everyone happy and entertained, and being there for both babies at once. To keep it all together.
In a world that so often doesn’t see mothers for the endless, weighted load we carry, you did. You saw me. You saw my work. In a world that often glares at mothers just trying to get through each day, you looked on in appreciation. You noticed me.
“You’re a wonderful mother,” you offered, after taking it upon yourself to help me wrangle in my too-quick-for-my-own-good mini-mes. And that was an extraordinary gift. It was one of the best I’ve ever received.
You proceeded to ask if I was, at one point, a teacher (I was). You praised the way I spoke to and with my children. The language. The dialogue. You commended my ability to engage with my babies and their play. To positively reinforce. To guide and nurture. You praised them, too. You applauded their cheerful energy. Their vocabulary and vocalness. Their friendliness and warmth.
You Reminded Me I’m Making a Difference
In doing that, you reminded me that my work as a mom is making a difference. Even more, I’m getting the job done fully. That I’m not just getting by. That my children aren’t just getting by. That I’m succeeding. And they’re thriving.
Perhaps most significantly, you made me feel seen. Heard. Valued. Worthy.
You reminded me that all the little moments I pour into being a mom add up to something noticeable. Something special, important, irreplaceable.
And as odd as it sounds, I was taken aback by your heartfelt gesture of complimenting my mothering on that ordinary, child-centered day. I probably didn’t verbally express my gratitude for your kindness toward me as much as I should have, but I hope you felt it.
You see, the type of affirmation you offered was a rare blessing. And on that random midweek morning, I needed it more than you might have realized. Or maybe you did realize how much I needed it. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, though. What matters is the kindness you didn’t have to show — to me, a random mother you don’t even know.
So, dear stranger, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. For seeing me in all my motherhood — mess and magic — and for choosing to speak life into me.
Moms everywhere need more encouragement from people like you.
Me — That Slightly Frazzled, Full-Hearted Mom of Two You Got to Know at the Play Museum on That Ordinary Midweek Day