Dear Moms,

You are a wonderful mom—yes, you.

The way you love each of your children is astounding. When you are tired, you love. When you are sick, you love. When you are angry, you love. When you are hungry, sad, hurting, overwhelmed, anxious, overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, touched out and worn out—you love.

Please know it is not all in vain. Your children are like tiny seeds soaking up every ounce of endless love as they grow, change, and emerge into the world carefully and thoughtfully over time. The fruits of your love, though often invisible beneath the dirt and layers of grass and earth, are growing too.

Be patient. Be present.

I know it is hard being the sun and rain and night and day for these little ones, but you will not regret your dedication. There is a secret though, to such unwavering strength in love. Dear friend, the thing you must not forget is that you are mothering yourself, too.

That sounds funny, I know. Because you likely have a mother, a very good one. Maybe a step mother or a mother-in-law, or even a grandmother who is like a mother to you. Whether your mother is still here on earth or in Heaven mothering you with the angels from afar, every day you draw from all she has taught you, all that has been instilled inside of you by all the women who have mothered you across your life. And now you are a mother yourself. But your mothering is not just for your children.

Your beautiful ways were not given to you by God for only the smaller people inhabiting your home and your heart to absorb to their fullest content. They are for YOU as well.

When you think about your children growing up and moving out on their own, raising their own babies, rocking them to sleep in the depths of the dark nights, the sharp early mornings, when you picture your daughter exhausted and lonely holding a baby who loathes to be put down, when you imagine your son reading books with tired eyes to kids who won’t go to bed and wake up way too early, what do you want for them? How would you mother them in those moments far in the future, but exactly where you are right now?

You would be kind to them, give them grace and patience and love and offer words of strength and compassion. Do you do that for yourself? Can you be that kind, loving, and courageous for yourself? I hope you will start.

I hope for you an awakening of your soul, for you are not just a mother. You may have forgotten all you have done before this point, because yes, this is probably the hardest of all the things, mothering. But not the least, and not the last. You have everything you will ever need already inside of you to do all that you are meant to do in your life.

Honor yourself for EVERYTHING you are, because you are everything you need to be. Nothing more. You don’t have to stretch, or break or bend. You don’t have to reach on your tippy toes. You only need to stand. To hold on. To pick up all that lies in front of you every day, hold it, shape it, mold it, move it, toss it. Drop it in your pocket if you want it, chuck it in the ocean if you don’t—and keep going.

Keep dreaming. Keep planning. Keep loving. But please friend, do not ignore yourself.

Give yourself permission to add your name to the list. It hurts to be left out. So, get back in there and see yourself. You are amazing. Forgive yourself for forgetting, for pushing yourself aside these last few years.

Do you remember a time in your life when you refused to be pushed aside? That doesn’t have to go away just because you have children.

Remember, one of the greatest gifts that you can give your children is to do for yourself what you would do for them. Children learn by watching. They look closely at how you see yourself, how you treat yourself, how much you love yourself. Knowing you see yourself as worthy of love makes them believe deep down in their little hearts that they are too.

Remember: when you are feeling lost, abandoned, alone, that you are not alone in the least. You are being mothered every day, and you are strong enough to love your children and yourself.

Mostly, dear friend, you deserve all the love in the world. And it is right there for you if only you choose to stand inside of it.