I tell my kids often that they are enough.
You will know what that means if you have ever felt like you were not enough. Enough to ace a big test. Enough to get that promotion. Enough to be loved in your ugliest moments with your jiggliest bits.
It is important to know that we are enough even if nothing is achieved, nothing is earned, nothing seems right.
Since getting divorced a few years ago, I have experienced an entirely new level of wondering if I am enough. Enough to pay the bills. Enough to provide the warmth and emotional support two boys need on a regular basis. Enough to show them life with all of its intricacies.
And through this blog, as well as in my own day-to-day life, I’ve met many women who do what I do. Single mothers who work long hours, work out, cook a mean meal or know their local takeout clerks intimately, raise children who will have a positive impact on our world.
These women do it beautifully, if messily. And part of the beauty is the mess.
But they all share a secret. They feel, many times, as if they are not enough.
They cry in the shower when they have to work over a long holiday weekend and feel like they are cheating their kids yet again. Or when the mother next door trots out her freshly baked cookies and pristine scrapbooks. Or when they see the women in the grocery store fresh out of exercise class—the same exercise class they’ve not been able to make in over a month.
There isn’t enough time to fit it all in. Not really. Not with just one little ‘ole mommy trying to be everything to everyone.
Here’s what I want to tell these ladies.
When you look back, you will realize you were always enough. More than enough.
My boys are about to turn 11 and 15 years of age. I’ve only been divorced a few years but I can tell you, I had the guilt complex in spades. I have worked long and hard to keep us financially afloat. Keep my house. Keep them in their school. And I cannot clone myself so you do the math. That means they’ve missed out on some class gatherings after school, some extracurriculars, some time with me.
Looking too closely at this is like stabbing yourself in the heart with a fork. Not something you should do. Ever.
While she was berating herself, do you know what she was doing? Showing up for lacrosse matches in the pouring rain. Celebrating wins and losses at the local wing place, pizza parlor or ice cream store.
She was pinching her pennies so she could show her boys what real adventure looks like. In the rainforest of Costa Rica, high above the tree line, sliding down waterfalls, marveling at macaws and monkeys. Hiking and horseback riding in the California desert. Downing far too many butterbeers with her young Harry Potter wannabe. Times Square, the Lincoln memorial, Ground Zero.
She was applauding at tae kwan do belt ceremonies, laughing at the joy her kids experienced because she finally let them buy a street hot dog in New York City, cooking weekend breakfasts she was really too tired to make just to see the relish with which her boys ate.
Not perfect. Not anywhere close. Tired looking? Yes. Impatient? Often. Loving? Always.
This story is really not about me. You can switch out any of those things I was doing with someone else’s story.
The point is, these ladies make the world go round when no one else can for their kids.
With Father’s Day approaching, I think of these lovely women. The ones who play mom, dad and everything in between. Who show up. Day after day after day.
And I want to say, when they ask if they are enough: “Yes. Hell, yes. Unequivocally, yes.”
I hope they look back and see that some day.
Or maybe, if you know one, you can tell them.