There was a time and a church where women didn’t tell their hard stories.

I was a sleep deprived brand new mom who wished someone else would whisper in her ear that they missed going to the movies as much as I did. If she was alive, I would have asked my mom if that was why she smelled of popcorn those days when she was late to pick us up from school. I’d ask her right out if she snuck away into the dark to lose herself in the stories of someone else rather than the piles of laundry waiting at home.

But instead I assumed it was easy, this mothering business, and I simply a slow study. So I fumed quietly and efficiently and still showed up when and where was expected, baby politely in tow.

I have grown up quite a bit since then.

Two more babies and I’ve thrown books and expectations out the window. It feels good to breathe. Christie tells me I am not being graded. She shares her hard stories and I believe her and learn that I am not alone.

So I roll down the windows of my life and I yell out to the other moms passing by, “You’re not crazy for feeling so all-out tired. You’re normal.”

And I laugh right hard in my little kitchen where the fake bricks are peeling off and I turn up the country tunes some days and dance with my boys between the dishwasher and the kitchen table. No one tells me that Jackson is too old to be sneaking down the passage way and into our bed at midnight. No one tells me because I’m not listening anymore.

I birthed these boys and this tiny girl and it cost me in cuts and pounds and a jean size I wonder if I’ll ever get back.

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But it made me their mother and I’ve finally learned that mama knows best.

So, if we choose to public school, if we let ’em dance in the rain wearing nothing but their skivvies, if we eat pizza every Friday night while watching Three Ninjas Kick Back, or all go out for ice cream at inappropriate times, if we don’t iron their clothes or let them play video games, if we insist they always say, “yes, ma’am”, and teach them South Africanisms we know will confuse Americans – I’m no longer afraid of the hard stories.

Because they’re what made me a mother. Under the cute bows Zoe might wear and the light-em-up shoes sported by Jackson and Micah – it’s been in the hard, flailing moments when I was learning how to mother.

Those moments – I don’t think they’re the exception. I think they’re the definition of motherhood.

I promise to share mine with you.

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