Written by Christi Cazin
Growing up I had the mom that everyone wanted. The patient, sweet and soft-spoken high school teacher who showed us unconditional love every day. As a little girl, I looked up to her, and still do. Now that I have my own children, it’s surreal. She’s still my biggest encourager. She’s always cheering me on and complimenting me as a mother. It feels strange when she compliments me because deep down, I still feel like that same little girl who wanted to be just like her mama. “I learned from the best.” I often reply to her kind words.
Even before my two sons were diagnosed with Duchenne, she’d always build me up when I needed it most. At times I just felt overwhelmed by motherhood. I felt impatient and exhausted. I thought I wasn’t doing enough, but she didn’t see it that way. She saw my heart, my devotion and my love for my kids shine through. Even on the messy bun, got nothing done days – she’d remind me that my kids were happy and loved and for that I should be proud.
After the diagnosis, I became someone else. I felt as though I could never be a good enough mother to my children. How could I possibly love them enough, cherish them enough and enjoy each day with this awful disease trying to overshadow our days? No amount of time with my kids will ever be enough, so how on earth could I keep going? The truth is that I didn’t have a choice, so I kept fighting to be the best mom I could be.
There is no way to be a normal parent, when you have abnormal circumstances. The important thing is that you keep getting up every day loving those kids. You may think it’s not enough, but your children see you differently than you see yourself. I have days that I feel like super mom and days that I feel like a huge failure. “It’s just too hard,” I mumble to myself as I crawl into bed at night unsure of how I will possibly do the whole thing again tomorrow.
Thankfully, when tomorrow comes around things feel differently. So, I get up, wash my face, brew some coffee and keep going. It’s not the big challenges or sad circumstances that define a good mom, it’s the fact that you’re there for them. It’s not just about big moments and milestones. It’s often the little things our children remember most.
Over the weekend we went to the movies. The kids were excited to see the latest Marvel flick so off we went. That day was also an important date in our history, it was the 5-year anniversary of our sons’ diagnosis. I was running on empty. While they stared ahead at the screen munching on popcorn, I stared at them with tears in my eyes. So much had changed since that day. They can no longer do a lot of things they used to do, like walk or turn themselves in bed. I tried my best to hide it, but my heart just felt heavy.
When we got home, I told my husband how much I was struggling. I’m sure he was too. I told him how guilty I felt for not being more present. His response was a good reminder for me and for all moms. “What do you think they’ll remember about today?” he asked. “They won’t remember that mom was a bit sad. They’ll remember that we went to the movies and had Mexican food for dinner.” His words comforted me as I thought back over the day. Yes, I had moments of sorrow and a few impatient reactions, but I had good moments too. I felt like wallowing in self-pity, but I didn’t. I went to the movies. I met their needs. I nurtured them. I loved them deeply that day, just like I do every day. That’s what matters to them, not how perfect my mood was.
Moms are incredibly hard on themselves, and I am no different. I have ups and downs when it comes to this journey, but I know I’m a good mom and so are YOU. That’s right. I see you mama. I see you put your needs last to care for your children. I watch you get up in the middle of the night to comfort or care for your child. I know that you love your kids like no one else can. I see you keep fighting to be the kind of mom you want them to remember, and that is what makes you a good mom.
At the end of the day, your children not only love you, they admire you. They appreciate every thing you do for them – even if they don’t say it. People around you admire you too. Family, friends and even strangers see you parent. They may not tell you, but they are inspired by you. Personally, I have so many mom friends that I look up to, including my own mom. Mothers that motivate me, inspire me and encourage me in so many ways.
For the big things you do and all the little things you do – you are valued. For the meals you make, the dishes you clean, the laundry you fold, the to-do list you tackle and the sleep you lose – you are appreciated. For the special things you do, the hugs you give, the words you say, the tears you wipe away and the memories you make – you are so very loved. Never underestimate how important you are.
Mothers deserve more than one day of celebration. Moms should be celebrated every single day. If you’re a mom, you should be proud of your role. You impact the world around you more than you realize. You might think you aren’t doing enough, but I assure you, your children think you are. They love you on your good days and on your bad days. They see you sacrifice for them, fight for them and show up for them day after day. You are not just a mother to them. You are a role model, an advocate and a friend. A huge piece of their heart will always belong to you and that alone is worth celebrating.