“Do you think I’m a good mom?”

Sitting on the couch one afternoon with my oldest son, I got brave and asked what he really thought of me. I knew he might try to spare my feelings a little, but he’s four. He would tell me the truth. Besides, his opinion was really the only one that mattered.

“Yes, you are a good mom,” he reassured me with a hug. It surprised me how nervous I was to ask. What if I wasn’t a good mom? It took more courage than I expected, but his answer brought relief.

A few days later, the moment was less than precious. He was taking his time in the bathroom, as he has a tendency to do. I was in a rush for some reason, but that is not out of the ordinary either. I could not get him to move, to do whatever I wanted him to do. I huffed out of the bathroom yelling, aware that I was not in control of him but not in control of myself either.

Moments like this make me hate myself a little. Or perhaps the hate is always there, but I don’t see it until times like these. Times when I am impatient and erratic.

It’s times like these where it feels like being “a good mom” is just a fluke and now the real me is showing, “the bad mom”.

I think most of us mothers are secretly afraid we are blowing it, that we’re incompetent and mean and terrible and we don’t have what it takes. At least a lot of the moms I know feel this way. So our bad mom moments only confirm our suspicions. And pity the person – or child – who is around to see us then.

I stomped into the bedroom to give us some distance. I did not feel like talking right now. Instead of taking my I-need-some-space cue, he stood in the doorway and called to me, “You’re a good mom. You’re a good mom.”

I stared back at him. How did he know exactly what to say to my soul? And then I broke down.

What? I didn’t know how to respond as he repeated himself again.

I don’t remember what we fought about that day probably for this reason: these six words from the only person whose opinion matters.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized God was shouting at me with the voice of my four year-old, right over my shame and self-hatred, right past the finger accusing me of sucking at motherhood. “You’re a good mom,” my son, an incarnation of God that day, called to me.

How does a good mom act? Well, if I am a good mom, I can act like one. I can put the “bad mom” in the past, and we can all move on from her. She’s not who I am anyway.

Even when I am yelling at my son, even when I am impatient and brooding and exhausted and out of control, who I am is really “a good mom”. I’m just not acting like myself.

And so are you. You are a good mom. Even when you don’t act like it. When you don’t act kind or compassionate or generous with your kids, it’s not the real you. The real you is redeemed. The real you loves your children with a sacrificial love that you didn’t know you had. The real you stays up late holding tired bodies and wiping tears, doling out medicine and singing lullabies when you wish you were snug in your own bed.

You give and give and give, and most of the time, no one sees you. No one knows. And no one acknowledges. It’s hard work, and your children will never repay you or know how much you gave up. Maybe they won’t even care. And that’s what makes you a good mom. Because you keep showing up and doing it anyway.

Not many people will tell us we are a good mom, not even on Mother’s Day. But we need to know it, don’t we, moms?

I might get flowers on Mother’s Day. Or maybe I’ll get to pick where we go to eat. Maybe someone will send me a Happy Mother’s Day text message, and that will be nice. But I don’t need a bouquet or flowers of my choice. I just want to know I’m doing a good job. I think I am, maybe, but I am insecure. After all, I’m only four in Mom Years.

Maybe you need to hear it too. Mama, you’re doing it. You’re not only doing a good job. You are a good Mom. A good mom. Do you hear me?

And speaking of good moms, I asked you to nominate a mom who inspires you, and I am proud to announce our Momspiration winner, Adele Reiter. She was nominated by her friend, David. Here’s what he had to say:

“My nomination is Adele Reiter. Her resolve and gumption blow me away. She suffers through a difficult and demanding job in order to put food on the table and provide health insurance for her 3-year-old. She’s the primary breadwinner as her fiance is a full-time student. On top of that, she sings in two different bands. She also works out religiously (I’m talking Insanity and half marathons) despite having spinal problems. There have even been times where she’s worked a second job on top of all of that.”

We are proud of you, Adele. You’re a good mom, and we know your daughter thinks so too. Thanks for being a mom who works so hard, all for love. We know it’s hard but you think it’s worth it and you do it anyway. A great big mom’s hats-off to you. Happy Mother’s Day. And thanks for inspiring us. Be looking in the mail for the lovely necklace from The Lulu Tree Boutique – it’s yours. [The purchase of this necklace will go to empower and equip mothers and families in Katwe, Uganda through The Lulu Tree.]

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