I pack their lunches with my face half-plastered to my obnoxiously large phone most mornings. More days than not, when they come bounding in the front door with a, “HI MOM,” from school, I’m kissing their dirty little cheeks while simultaneously frantically trying to wrap up some loose ends at work.

I show up for his hockey practice with no make-up, and if there is make-up, it’s probably yesterday’s and more like giant black smudges under my eyes. I drop her off for chorus in my sweats and a graphic t-shirt of some sort and sometimes I don’t even take the time to put on actual shoes. I look down while I’m checking her in only to realize I’m still rocking my house slippers. I legit left the house in my slippers. More than once… without even noticing.

Most weeks, my “Mommy Days” with my four-year old consist of me trying to get no fewer than 14 things done in the middle of playing Magnatiles and watching Paw Patrol and begging him to just please be quiet for seven seconds so I can THINK. He talks incessantly and I find myself begging him in my head to shut it already.

The guilt I feel about these things, and so many more things that I’m almost certainly doing wrong with mothering, is suffocating. 

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I used to grieve for the old me. The me before I started the business that became so big and so consuming so fast, the me before the three kids and the sick parents and the so-many-responsibilities-that-I-have-no-clue-where-to-even-focus. The me that didn’t take the clothes out of the dryer, drop them in the middle of the living room floor and then start washing the dishes without ever moving the wet clothes from the washer to the dryer and now they SMELL. They smell so bad. The me that used to make all of my baby food from vegetables and fruits I grew in my own garden. The me that had a clean, perfectly decorated house and friends and hobbies. I started the business because I wanted to escape the corporate 9-to-5 and be home with the kids on weekends and holidays. I wanted to be more present with them. What I didn’t anticipate was that with an extremely profitable business came a lot of unplanned responsibilities. Responsibilities that come at midnight or Sunday morning when we used to play board games together as a family. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s my passion, my dream, it’s part of me, but in order to hit the business ball out of the park, there are days that I’m seriously striking out on the motherhood front. 

On the days when I’m doing a particularly good job of beating myself up, I tell myself I was once like that one girl I know that has it all together and now I’m not because I failed miserably. You know her. The one with the perfect hair and make-up and the cute clothes and adorable little SUV that doesn’t smell like rotten milk. She went to the gym today and I, well, I didn’t. I haven’t been to the gym in literally years. Most days, I don’t even brush my ever-loving teeth. She is successful at this mom thing and I’m just barely keeping my nose above the water long enough to breathe, and I use the term breathe loosely. Extremely loosely.

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That’s what we do to ourselves, isn’t it? We compare. 

We see that one person in our lives that we think has it all together and we write this narrative in our heads that everything is perfect in her world and we tell ourselves that our world is the worst place ever. Sometimes we let other people beat us up and in some cases, my own case particularly, we are the ones doing the beating.

It took me most of my first five years of being a mother to be able to, at least somewhat regularly, shut those negative voices up. It took me far too many days of the very limited number of days that I get the opportunity to be the center of my little people’s universes to finally be able to say to myself in those dark moments late at night… “Girl, you’re doing the best you can and that’s enough. They know you love them.” 

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I’m messy and complicated and afraid and passionate about my career. But, I can say with certainty that every single day for the roughly 5,000 days that I get the chance to raise those three little people into what I really hope are kind, well-adjusted adults, I will have SHOWED UP. I was there to take away the candy at least most of the time. I tried to show them how important it is to eat green, leafy vegetables by eating them myself. I made them get dressed and show up for practice on the days when they begged and whined and pleaded with me to not make them go. I reamed them out in the car on the way home from the birthday parties where I didn’t see manners. I hugged them when the world wasn’t what they thought it was and I did my best on the things on the things that I feel matter.

I loved them as much as I could and I apologized when I yelled too much, and I did my best to show them what it means to be an imperfect human that is sometimes embarrassing to them. I showed them what it’s like to have a mom that shoots for the stars with her business and is passionate about what she does. I let them and the world see me for who I am. I tried so hard to show them what it means to be kind and to be responsible and to try to make the world a better place, and really, that is enough. I tried. 

I am ENOUGH. YOU are enough. If you show up for school drop off in slippers and a messy bun, clinging to that cup of coffee like it is your lifeline, you’re still enough. You showed up. And showing up is at least half the battle.

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