open letters to women I see everyday

To the mom who isn't breastfeeding:
You're awesome. If you chose not to from the beginning or the latch didn't work or you gave it a few weeks and lost your mind, you're doing awesome. I guarantee some of our presidents and best doctors and kindest teachers were formula-fed, and I guarantee some of our inmates serving a life sentence were breastfed. Some of the healthiest children and adults I know spent the first year of their life sucking formula, and some who get sick every other week were nursed well past a year. If you love your baby while you are feeding them, then I am convinced ice cream would do the trick. Press on.

To the mom who is working:
You're awesome. If you chose to go back to work or your circumstances chose for you, you're doing awesome. Your children value their time with you, yes, but you are giving them your time when you pack their lunches, when you pump their bottle, when you check in with the daycare for the third time today, when you pick them up the moment you are free and sing them to sleep at night. You bog yourself down with questions, "Will my kids hold it against me?" "Will my kids form that bond with someone else instead of me?" Stop asking those questions.  Your relationship with them is not tainted. You are still choosing them and you are doing awesome. Press on.

To the mom who is breastfeeding:
You're awesome. If you suffered through a month or two or eight of figuring it out and have managed to stick with it, you're doing great. If you no longer know what the heck is happening with your body because it has shifted and changed for the year you've been nursing, that's okay. It's been ever on your mind and a full time job, and you're doing it! You have secluded yourself to feed your baby for months. Your body is incredible. Press on.

To the mom who isn't working:
You're awesome. If you chose to stay home with your kids, you're awesome. You're tired and exhausted and you feel terrible when you just want a break from your kids, but that's okay too. Keep giving them your best, even if that means you'll never get out of your sweatpants or have the latest fashion. You are sacrificing so much to be there with them, and yet it doesn't feel like sacrifice at all. You are still a worthwhile member of society and you are contributing in real and valid ways, even when people tell you otherwise. You may hear "you're too talented" to be home, or "you're wasting your gifts." Don't listen. You bog yourself down with questions, "Would I have more patience for my children if I were away from them more?" "Would I be providing more by providing an income and things we can't afford right now?" Stop asking those questions. You are doing awesome. Press on.

To the woman who wants to be a mom:
You're awesome. If you are single and haven't had the opportunity to have kids yet, or you've been trying for some time and can't get pregnant, you're awesome. Your role as a woman is not defined by whether or not you have carried a child inside of you. You are a woman because God made you one, and you are touching many lives simply by being obedient to Him. We don't always get the desires of our heart because we live in a fallen world and the ache in our hearts is real. But God still knows what He's doing, and He is still walking with you. He is on the throne. I have seen you love other mom's babies, and it is an incredible thing to watch. And you are awesome.

To the woman who wears yoga pants and the woman who doesn't wear yoga pants:
You're awesome. Talk to each other. Explain your views in love. Christ can still wiggle into spandex with you and Christ can walk around in jeans too. Don't let this be a rift between you, or men, or God. They are comfortable. They aren't super modest. Both are true. Have the discussion in real community and in real love. You are both awesome.

To the mom with the screaming, biting child:
You're awesome. If your kid is getting kicked out of daycare or nursery, screams in the produce aisle, or smears their poop on the wall, we aren't looking down on you-- we are probably just surprised it's not our kid at the moment. We understand you're trying. We know you've cried and disciplined consistently and read the books. You were just one of the lucky ones to have a child with a little fire. And that child will grow up and do something awesome with that fire, because you will have stuck with them through it all and eventually, eventually I promise, that child will stop crying in the grocery store, they will make friends with the kids they once bit. That kid will have tenacity and spunk that will allow them to change the world. Because you are doing awesome.

To the mom with the perfectly behaved child:
You're awesome. You really are. But don't think that your child is perfectly behaved just because of you. Don't look down on the mom who is dragging her screaming child out of the nursery with tears in her eyes because that could have been you with a little different mixture of personalities and genes. Enjoy your child.  Their kind and polite ways will stick and they will grow up and love others well. You've done part of that, it's true. Just don't get smug because we're all in this together. Keep fostering their good behavior and modeling it for them. You're doing awesome.

To the mom who chose to have, or was only given, one child:
You're awesome. In some ways, you get to be a lot of different roles for your child that parents of multiple children don't get to experience. Your son or daughter has undivided attention, which will not hurt them in their life. They won't be weird, like people have told you [or suggested], because you are opening up their world and letting them experience many people and places. You have taught them how to self-motivate and entertain themselves long before their multi-sibling counterparts learn. You don't need to have special mommy and daddy date days because everyday you are tuned in to just them. You are awesome.

To the mom who chose to have four children [or more!]:
You're awesome. When people stare at you in the grocery store or unloading at church or…anywhere you go in public… rest assured that, though they may not understand your gaggle of kids, a part of them is wondering what it would be like to constantly be surrounded by so much chaos and love. You've given your children the gift of a life time of companionship. You may not know where half of them are most times of the day, but you know they are together and though this may cause mischief it always causes peace of mind. Your job gets easier and harder simultaneously when you add another one to the mix. You have multiple personalities and needs to not only get to know but also balance and keep fed and under control. Your days are a blur of noise, but your quiver is so very full. And you are awesome.

To all women:
Let's extend a little more grace to each other.

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