“SIMPLY LOVE. I found this picture the other day… a sweet photo of my four boys. I smiled at the memory and felt that bittersweet tug on my heart and that yearn for what once was. It is hard to believe this picture was taken 18 years ago.
Life felt so incredibly difficult and overwhelming at that time. I was juggling a 2-year-old and 6-month-old triplets. The days were a blur of diapers, Blue’s Clues, bottles, crying and rocking babies. The days were long, and the nights were even longer.
I was still in my 20’s when they were this age… I was so young, so tired, so hopeful, so in love with my boys. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing back then. I was just trying to survive and to make it through each day.
Being a ‘seasoned’ Mama now with over 20 years of experience with five kids . . . I admit I still don’t know what I am doing. I still feel like a hot mess most days and I have made a million mistakes over the years. I have failed and cried and yelled and messed up. I still get behind on laundry, I still worry about every little thing and I still get angry when my kids don’t listen. I am a work-in-progress, learning every day… still just trying to survive each season of life.
But one thing I have learned over the past 20 years is that so much of what we worry about as mothers just really doesn’t matter. It has taken me 20 years, but I now know that so many things I used to stress over aren’t that important.
I have learned that it doesn’t make a difference if you breastfeed or bottle feed.
Or if your child sucks their thumb or takes a pacifier.
It does not matter if you use cloth diapers or disposable.
Or if you co-sleep or let them cry it out.
It does not matter if your child is potty-trained at 18 months or still wearing diapers when they are three.
Or if you choose to homeschool, private school or public school.
It doesn’t make a difference if you live in the city or on a farm.
Or if you work or are a stay-at-home mom.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny house or in a mansion.
Or if you let your kids have screen time or not.
It doesn’t matter what you wear or how you fix your hair.
Or if you exercise or eat cake.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single Mama
Or you have one kid or 10.
It doesn’t make a difference if you pack your kids an organic lunch every day or if your kids buy school lunch.
Or if your kid plays football or marches in the band.
It does not matter if your kid makes the Honor Roll or fails a class.
Or if your kids ride the bus to school or you take them in your car.
It does not matter if your house is clean or if you are crafty.
Or if you join the PTA or not.
It does not matter if your kids go to college or join the military or go straight to work.
And it doesn’t matter what other people think of you as a mom. You know your child best and you always have to do what YOU think is right for them.
I used to think ALL of that was important. I used to think that making the right choice would help me raise a good human. And making the wrong choice would ruin my child forever. I used to care what others thought. But I know now… none of that matters at all. None of that means you are a good Mom or a bad mom.
Motherhood is full of judgement and advice… it is full of what-ifs and regrets. It is full of worries and insecurities. But after 20 years, I can tell you that the only thing that truly matters is…
Love your kids big and bold and fierce and always. And pray for them the same way. That is all they need.
Love those kids of yours with all of your heart. You love them through the sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the homework meltdowns. You love them through the disappointments, the sassy attitude and the bad choices. You love them through their successes and the good times. You love them through sickness and you love them through the tears. You love them through the tired and you love them through the hard. You love them through the hanging on and through the letting go. You love them through their littleness and you love them through their teen years. And you keep on loving them when they are grown adults living their own life.
You show your kids that love and you keep praying them through each day. That’s it. Just LOVE & PRAY over your kids. Always. No matter how big they get.
Because how you love them matters. A Mama’s love is important. It is what your kids will remember. It is what they need. It will teach them to love others. It will make them feel safe and secure and treasured and happy. That love will live in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
And that is really our most important job as mothers… to simply love. Kids won’t remember our mistakes. They won’t remember that we yelled or cried in the closet. They won’t remember if the house is clean or if you didn’t take a shower for 3 days. They won’t remember if you fed them cereal for dinner or if they wore cloth diapers. But they will always remember that you were there for them. That you showed up time and time again. That you believed in them. And that you loved and accepted them just the way they are.
So, love them well, Mama. For that is the only thing that truly matters.”
This story was written by Heather Duckworth of Love, Faith & Chaos. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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