Your children want YOU

There’s this crazy phenomenon going on right now. Good, devoted mothers get on Pinterest . . . and blogs . . . and Facebook . . . and Twitter . . . and then they flip through parenting magazines and TV channels (full of advertisements and media hype) . . . and they’re convinced they’re not enough.

They’re convinced that everyone else has magnetic, alphabetized spice containers,

and unless their garden parties are thematically accessorized with butterfly lanterns,


and they’re wearing the latest fashions (in a size two, of course), there’s no point in even showing up for the day.

Last Saturday, this happened to me.

I came home from a lovely day out with my extended family and had serious intentions to spend the evening dyeing Easter eggs and making bunny buns.


By the time I got everyone settled and fed, however, I was so tired that I just laid on the couch and dozed while my children played and got themselves to bed.

Around 8:30, when I finally had the energy to sit up, I decided to try out Pinterest for a few minutes until my husband got home. There it was — 1,000 reasons why I’m failing at all things domestic.

I don’t make grilled cheese sandwiches look like ice cream.

I don’t even have seasonal throw pillows on my couches or live plants anywhere in the house.

Is it really so hard? Can’t I pull myself together and wrap some candles in green foliage and bring happiness to our decor with bright fabrics and hand-crafted photo frames?

As I was trying to calm my frenzied state of mind, my husband came home and held me tight. We talked about our day, and he told me how much he loves me and that he wants our boys to marry someone like me. I fell asleep snuggled under his arm.

The following morning, our children enthusiastically bounded into our bedroom and tucked themselves into our covers. My 4-year-old gave me an arm massage, and we all sat there together — joking, laughing, planning the day ahead, and enjoying that special feeling of family. Reflecting on the discouragement I’d felt the night before, I realized that my family doesn’t care about what I see on Pinterest. They care about me.

My daughter Grace loves me to sing “Baby Mine” to her each night before bed. When I go to our Power of Moms Retreats, she misses that special ritual. We have recordings of Michael Crawford and Allison Krauss singing their versions, but Grace doesn’t want those. She wants me. So I recorded myself singing “Baby Mine” and emailed the audio file to her and to my husband so Grace can hear “her song” before she sleeps. As far as she’s concerned, my untrained voice belongs at the top of the charts.

A few months ago, I was practicing sideways dutch braids on my two daughters. They had found these great “how-to” videos online, and we set up our comb, brush, and hair bands in front of the computer so I could become an expert.

Photo source: Pinterest

Half-way through the braid, my fingers got all tangled up, the hair was too loose, and one of my daughters had been sitting with her head to the side for several minutes.

Feeling extremely frustrated, I said, “That little girl in the video is so lucky to have a mom who knows how to do hair.”

My daughter stopped me in my tracks when she responded, “But I have a mom who is trying.”

My mom is in her 70s, and her memory is starting to go. Her sweetness and love are as strong as ever, but when we talk on the phone, she can’t remember the last time we spoke or the last time we saw each other.

At the end of one phone call a few weeks ago, I whispered, “I miss you, Mom.”

She said, “Oh, I miss you, too! But we’ll get together soon. You can come down to the park, and we’ll get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s.”

I replied, “Yes, that will be fun.” But then the tears started, and I had to use every ounce of control to keep my voice even so she wouldn’t know I was crying.

What I really meant was, “I miss being able to talk to you, Mom. I miss laying on the grass while my children make a hopscotch and savoring our long phone conversations. I miss you remembering all those secrets I used to tell you. I miss you asking me if I’m okay. I miss seeing you read books and hearing you sing while you do the dishes and having you drive out to my house without getting lost. I miss you remembering how much I need you.”

My mother didn’t specialize in home decor or gourmet cooking, and she didn’t lift weights or run marathons. But she makes me feel like I am the most important, wonderful person ever born. If I could pick any mother in the whole world, it would be my mom.

There’s something deeper going on in family life than can ever be expressed on a social network. Whatever it is we feel we are lacking, can we collectively decide — as deliberate mothers — that we are not going to sit around feeling discouraged about all the things we’re not?

Can we remind each other that it is our uniqueness and love that our children long for? It is our voices. Our smiles. Our jiggly tummies. Of course we want to learn, improve, exercise, cook better, make our homes lovelier, and provide beautiful experiences for our children, but at the end of the day, our children don’t want a discouraged, stressed-out mom who is wishing she were someone else.

If you ever find yourself looking in the mirror at a woman who feels badly that she hasn’t yet made flower-shaped soap,


please offer her this helpful reminder: “Your children want you!”

QUESTION: How do you keep the right perspective on your importance to your family in the midst of so many ideas and temptations to compare yourself with others?

CHALLENGE: Recognize any tendencies you might have to get wrapped up in discouragement, and set up a regular way to remind yourself that your children want you.

59 comments

  1. Edie Morgan

    Thanks for this! I needed to hear this just like the rest of the women do! Easter was not big surprise here with all the frills and new outfits, but just the same we had a great day together celebrating life and time together. You have lifted a weight off my shoulders for the day! I hope I can keep it off tomorrow and the next…. and the next… and the next!

  2. Teresa Koepke

    A friend sent this to me (probably knowing what an over-achiever I try to be), and it deeply touched me. I can honestly say my most dear childhood memories of my mother are of just being around her, not of what she made for dinner or what our home looked like. Thank you for helping all of us women put things back into the proper perspective.

  3. GAMOM

    Dang it! I’m sitting here at work bawling! What a great, great article. I am now a grandma and often hear my daughters feeling down because of many of the things you mentioned. I remind them (and myself)that on blogs people usually only talk about the good, positive, exciting, beautiful things that happen in their lives. They rarely show the messy living rooms the dinners of boxed mac and cheese and green beans. We usually never see the other side. But yesterday when I came home from work there were 2 of my daughters (at whits end btw) sitting outside in my back yard with toys everywhere, the discards of a pb&j smashed into the sidwalk, 1 toddler with a scraped knee the other with a bite mark on her arm, and the few petunias I had wilting from being pulled up by little hands. Waiting for Nana to come home so they could go see the baby chicks and collect the “gaws” (eggs). No pintrest perfect picture but perfect to me!

  4. Suzanne

    What a terrific article! As moms, we all want to be the best we can by creating great memories with our children This article put everything into perspective. Children just want to feel special and no amount crafty ideas can do that. Kids are happiest just spending time with you. As woman, we need to try to not be so hard on ourselves.

  5. Carlita

    I think this is spot on. I think most users have a problem with internet validation – it’s way easier to get than the real-life kind. Want a lift? Just post a cute picture and bask in all the “likes,” “repins,” and comments. It’s ridiculously easy, and takes the enjoyment out of making a real effort and waiting for real results – which, if they involve your children, may not appear for years! Yet what do we take with us to the next life? Pinterest or our families?

    I liked this so much, I pinned it on Pinterest, with a quote from the article, and I used the photo of the “ice cream cone,” and ironically, 99% of the people who repinned it from me put it either on their food or kid boards! But it’s ok, because if they try to click on it to get more details on the ice cream cone, they’ll just be brought here anyway! :)

  6. Vicky

    This brought tears to my eyes! It was so beautifully written! I often feel like a failure because I don’t do anything “spectacular”. I’ve been blessed with four amazing boys and I feel like I just can’t keep up with them no matter what I do! I don’t want them to have memories of a Mother that is always tired or a house that is always messy, but that is life, well my life!

  7. Jeanene

    I just spent two days looking at the piles building around me and despairing of ever feeling like I have it “together” again…then i remembered WHY…I have to *adorable* babies here…foster children, 4 months apart in age…they are 5 months and 9 months old…and they are worth every second…every thought that they require…and if that means the bookcase still needs to be pulled apart, dusted and reorganized…so be it…if it means that once again, the laundry didn’t get done as efficiently as I had hoped or planned…so be it…those eyes…they are watching me…soaking up the love and they are learning who they are by what they see in my eyes…in my face…Thanks for the reminder…they want me…all of my kiddos want me, laughing, playing, happy…with a look of wonder in my eyes…I am not perfect…and that’s ok. Today is all we have anyway! I just have to BE here, now…in this moment. That is enough…

  8. Gail

    That was a beautiful article that got right to the meaning of real life. Get off your computers and go make some memories with the ones you love.It makes one feel alone even when you’re together.
    My Mother has dementia & my daughters spend the majority of their time texting & online ….noone connects eye to eye anymore….its sooo sad. Give your loved ones the gift of your presence…..

  9. Amy @ LivingLocurto.com

    This article makes me sad. I have friends who have said things like that to me for years. That I make them feel bad with all of the creative things that I do. I just love doing creative things. It’s not for everyone. I don’t get tired after making fun things, I HAVE to do them to be happy. I’m an artist and I get energized by creating and doing art projects. Everyone is not the same. Taking photos and editing them all of the time makes me tired and stressed, but many people love doing that and take tons of photos a day. I don’t feel like a bad mom if I don’t take a ton of photos of my kids to document their life. I take a few good ones each month and fine with it.

    Oh, and most photos you see on Pinterest are not things people do in real life. I hope people realize that:-) They are done for blogs and magazines.

    I have a lot of fun creating, but have a messy house. I feel like a bad mom when I go to my “organized” friend’s homes and they have every item put in it’s place, no toys or dust anywhere in site. I’m sure the person making flower soap has the messiest house ever. You just don’t see those photos on Pinterest.

    Every person has their strengths. Hopefully you will nurture yours and enjoy life. Ease up on us creative moms/bloggers. We do it because we love it. We are not neglecting our children either. Most of what I do involves my kids. Instead of playing dolls, we’ll draw on t-shirts or bake cupcakes… or even glue fake butterflies to things just because they are pretty! And yes, I will usually take a photo and Facebook or Tweet about it. But, hopefully my kids will have fond memories of us being together and me taking one minute to take an Instagram photo won’t make a difference to them in the long run:-)

    • Katie

      here here! I appreciate you saying this. We all have different talents, and I don’t think throwing one hobby under the bus is productive or supportive to ANY women.

    • Jenny @ MindOverMotherhood.wordpress.com

      Amy, I ,too love (and need) to have creative outlets. I loved this article, and didn’t feel that it meant to put down anyone for being creative (or throw anyone under the bus), but maybe just more to help encourage each of us not to compare ourselves to other moms.. or get wrapped up in trying to be like other moms. You said it perfectly, each of us has our different strengths and interests. We sometimes need a little reminder to remember that just because a friend down the street may be very clean and organized (while I am not), that doesn’t devalue me in anyway, because my kids need ME. With all of MY strengths and weaknesses. Not any other mom. So.. I shouldn’t try to be anything other than the best me that I can. – It’s so easy in the world of Facebook and Pinterest to see other moms’ “best” attributes, but like you said, we tend not to post pictures or status updates about our failures. That can lead to a false perception that other moms have it all together.. this article reminds me to keep perspective. I so enjoy looking at all the fun stuff on Pinterest and am a Facebook regular, but I work each day to remind myself that most people put our “best foot forward” in those venues and it isn’t a whole picture of a person’s life. :)

      My favorite part of this article is the Question and Challenge at the end.

      Keep on doing the fun projects with your kids! And the ones you do that are JUST for you. Because THAT IS important, too. And share with us your tips for keeping perspective. :)

      http://mindovermotherhood.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/the-pinterest-effect/

  10. Amy @ LivingLocurto.com

    I also wanted to say, I did like your message in the article. We can’t do it all, that is for sure. I also think your daughter’s braids turned out great! I don’t do hair well either… nor do I know much about fashion. But when it comes to making pretty things, I can do. So that is what I focus on, I do the things that I love, really well and not worry about the rest. My daughter seems fine with a regular pony tail in her hair for now:-)

  11. Pam

    Excellent read! I do love browsing pinterest and facebook, I do pin lots of ideas etc but nothing complicated for me – I know I am not a crafty person, even my kids know I don’t bake lol but what I DO for my kids, what I am good at, they love! I will admit at the beginning I did get caught up in should my kid do this or should I be doing that, but what it all comes down to is what’s right for US! I do have the odd moment that I need to stop and remind myself, I’m sure we all do. Its life, its our life to be happy!

  12. Nikki

    This brought tears to my eyes as I am Mom to 3 wonderful daughters. They tell me repeatedly how much they are just happy to have me. I am handicapped and my family does everything for me. I constantly struggle with the image of the “perfect” Mom. So we have a messy house, spend a lot of time at home (I can’t drive) and eat take-out, but no one can LOVE my girls like I do!

  13. Renee Montero Kovach

    I wept. My mom has early stage Alzheimers, and the way you describe your mom…it broke my heart. But it also felt good hearing my thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth. I didn’t feel so alone, you know? Thank you for that.

    I have three wonderful daughters, and they would agree with you: they want me. I am so blessed.

    Beautiful article.

  14. Kim from 3 peanuts

    This is so true and so poignantly written. There is SO much I do not get done in my life because I am soaking in the small moments with my kids. Sometimes I get down on myself because I don’t do enough professionally but I do spend a ton of time hanging out with my kids. We have a ton of little family rituals that I know mean the world to them.

    I do love beauty and decor and cooking too and I do peruse pinterest and blogs but I don’t really think about comparing myself to those people or photos. i just see them as I eye candy. I have never even thought that anyone can REALLY do all of those things (look perfect, have a perfectly decorated and spotless home, cook gorgeous and healthy meals, make soap flowers). I know that we are all doing the best we can. Beauty is in the imperfections in life. BUT I know that a lot of women are spending WAY too much time on the computer and not enough time just snuggling with their kiddos.

    I am going to link to this because you have written exactly what so many of us observe happening in life today. I am a marriage and parenting coach and I see this so much. AND we transfer that anxiety about being the best or having a perfect home/ life onto our kids and it is stressing them out too.

    Excellent post!!!

    Best,
    Kim

  15. Caroljean

    Tears for sure…this is soooo true! Thanks for sharing this perspective…I sometimes fall into the trap of feeling less than, because of the many expectations I “imagine”…so glad your mom has kept her sweet nature…that is lovely!

  16. Angela

    This made me cry!! So beautifully written. So many times I do feel inadequate, and you reminded me that my children want ME, not the crafts, not the coordinating curtains and pillow shams, not the food that looks like animals, etc. Thank you so much for this reminder. I have amazing kids that think I’m the best mom in the world, and they tell me that regularly. I need to listen to them instead of the critical, lying voices in my head that say I could do more, be more, because what I am isn’t enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m beyond blessed.

  17. Miranda

    I loved this… I am a creative mom too and throw a great party and can make lots of cool stuff out of nothing (thrift store finds etc) and love to decorate, but what you don’t see or know is that I despise doing dishes and laundry and half the time it’s sitting in a LARGE pile for days before I tackle it. My kids love the things I make, the pictures I take and the parties I throw them, but most of all they love our “special tuck-ins” at night, the way I wake them up in the morning singing “You are my Sunshine” and that I’d rather skip chores and go swimming (just like them)! Those are the important things.

  18. amanda

    As a was reading, started crying and couldn’t stop! Ok I’m 7 months pregnant, but still…these were the EXACT words I needed to hear! Thank you for blessing us all today!

  19. Becky

    Thank you for this…it really is true and sometimes it takes someone else to point it out. Kids don’t compare us to others, we do! Enough is enough. XO God bless!

  20. valerie graves

    Thank you for this..I am a full time college student and the hubby works from home. I feel bad not being there all week long, but it makes me very greatful for the weekends. This is truly inspirational, thank you.
    p.s., i love the braids! i can’t do hair either. :)

  21. JoAnn

    Your article is lovely. The most important thing is to keep everything in perspective and balanced. First the essential things, next the necessary things, then the nice to do things. Having the spirit tell you how to keep it all balanced will allow you to be happy with yourself at the end of each day.

  22. Betsy

    You don’t have a subscribe or RSS feed button anywhere. How am I supposed to follow this unless I remember to come here every day, which as a mom will be impossible. Am I missing it somewhere?

  23. Rob Johnson

    Erm, I may be the only guy commenting on this, so please excuse me ladies for butting in :)

    What a great article! I appreciate how much heart and soul was put into writing this. A great reminder about the importance of time with family.

    Thank you April. You made my day a little brighter today.

  24. Toni

    THANK YOU! Thank you for reminding me that my sons love me for who I am! THANK YOU! Thank you for telling me that I don’t have to be the perfect wife! That my husband married me not my ability to cook or bake…you have brought into perspective that when I was a child the thing I remember are not my moms cooking or what I got at Christmas…but memories of her watching ballet recitals and coming into my room when the thunder scared me! Its nice to be told that we are not loved by our ability to do or not do things but by being ourselves and doing what comes naturally! So the next time I’m in the rocking chair and my son Alex wants to cuddle…I can take comfort in knowing that its me he asked and it will be a memorable moment in his life about me.

  25. Bentley

    The timing of these words…..greatly needed!!! Thank you for putting all the words to what I’m feeling.

  26. V

    I have three children and have had a rough time lately. Troubles at school and ill health have not helped how I feel about the ‘job’ I ‘do’as a Mother. Until recent I have really reflected that perhaps my children would be better off without me, how my husband too, would have less of a heavy weighted burden if I were no longer ‘here’. But, if what you say is true, how much damage would I do to them if I were no longer here?! They want me…flaws and all. Very humbling…..

  27. Lisa

    This is so powerful, along with all the comments. I always look at all the “pr
    ojects” some moms set out to do and I think of how much time that must take away from their kids. I am a homeschooling mother of 6 and almost daily get down on myself for not having a decorated house. However, I have come to learn that part of a “house of order” means having your priorities in order, and on the days that I do it “right” and spend time with the kids and homeschooling, my house ain’t all that pretty! However, these are the days I usually feel most fulfilled. Housework can run you ragged and it’s never enough. Time invested in our children is eternal. Thank you for the humble reminder.

  28. Rachana Shivam

    Love the article. Forget the presents and bring on the presence! Well written.At the end of the day ‘issness’ is the best ‘business’!!

  29. Laura

    This is just so so lovely and I have tears of gratitude streaming down my face. Thank you for your wisdom and insight and honesty…now I’m off to MOTHER my children :-) x

  30. Poppet

    Parenting is about TIME. Spend time with your kids and don’t worry about anything else. If you want to do Easter baking, do it with your kids and then take the pictures.

    Lots of the pictures on pinterest are clearly professionally taken photos and the interior shots are have “stylists”.

    I write a blog about parenting too. I often come back to something I call “competitive mothering”. It’s a trap. Don’t sink into it. Your kids want you. They don’t want to live with Martha Stewart! :-) Your kids will remember making cookies with you – not how symmetrical they were. Even if they burn to a crisp, you’ll have something to laugh at.

    This is easy to say and hard to do. The media and even other parents pressure Moms to go the extra mile for such insignificant things as perfect design. Don’t give in! :-)

  31. Gwendolyn DiFerdinando

    This is very inspiring..its so easy to be hard on ourselves. I own a skincare salon and it takes a lot of emotional and physical energy to take care of everyone. I always have to stop myself because as a business owner..you are never, ever done working. I see me getting busier and busier and I see how you can lose the time with your kids–so easily. I struggle with this weekly and this is a good reminder that we have to just say “no” and have more time with our kids. And no, I cannot make flowers out of soap.

  32. Beth

    Thank you for this. I dont know how many times over the last 4 years when I was pregnant with our first son that I’ve looked at parenting magazines or Good Housekeeping or at a few of my friends and thought – how am I ever going to be a good mom – I cant make . Here I am, 6 months pregnant with my second and still wondering how I’m going to be the kind of mom I wanted to be and your article helped me realize that I already am. Every morning, my son crawls up in my lap and says in his tiny, 3 year old voice, “want you, mommy” and wraps his little arms around my neck and gives me a hug. How could I ever doubt that I’m not a good mom when he reciprocates the love I have for him voluntarily?

    Thanks again. I’ll be sharing this on my Facebook page because I know I’m not the only mom who feels inadequate because they’re not “perfect”.

  33. Andrea

    thanks for writing this. funny. beautiful. and the best encouragement for our generation of mothers.

  34. Katie

    I agree with and fully support the sentiment of this article! However, I take issue with one of the lines: “(in a size two, of course)” …guess what? some women ARE a size 2, and it’s not OK to paint that as “wrong,” even in jest or sarcasm. Skinny is not wrong. Reading this did, however, inspire my latest blog post over at http://www.katilda.com. (I did love this article, though. Don’t get me wrong! Just want to point out that we should be more careful with what we flippantly or off-handedly say or imply about another body type.)

  35. Rebecca

    There seems to be a trend latley of moms writing content for blogs about how pinterest/blogs makes them feel bad about themselves. I wish that as women we could be happy with ourselves and not have the neurotic urge to compare ourselves with one another. I read articles like these and I think that the authors have low self esteem. Are you seriously telling me that you go onto pinterest and end up feeling bad about yourself? You have to get some confidence. pinterest is a simple tool designed to share ideas and get inspired. just becuase you see a photo of a gorgeous birthday party or pretty salad recipe doesn’t mean you have to enter into a self inflicted downward spiral of “i’m just not good enough”. don’t take it so seriously. just be yourself, love yourself, know that you are good enough. there are so many more important things to worry about in this life than comparing yourself to your craft/cooking skills others on pinterest/blogs. if it gives you that much of a complex than don’t use the site.

    ariticles like this one are not profound – they only feed into the cycle of pertpetuating something that is a non issue. If we can all love ourselves for who we are and what we have to offer then we can look at someone else’s craft project on a blog/pinterest and feel good for them. After all – you only live once why get all up in arms over the good stuff?

  36. Risa

    Thank you for this beautiful article and reminder.

    ****What I really meant was, “I miss being able to talk to you, Mom. I miss laying on the grass while my children make a hopscotch and savoring our long phone conversations. I miss you remembering all those secrets I used to tell you. I miss you asking me if I’m okay. I miss seeing you read books and hearing you sing while you do the dishes and having you drive out to my house without getting lost. I miss you remembering how much I need you.”****

    That’s exactly how I feel about my mom. She’s been gone for 4 years now. And you’re right, all I want is her.

  37. Angela Kroemer

    This could not be more beautifully written. You hit the nail on the head. Be who you are and do the best you can with what your natural talents are.

  38. Delle

    I loved your article!!! I am a wife and mother of seven daughters ages 2-20. I am also a blogger, a crafter, and my home is pretty tidy and organized {for my sanity}, and I homeschool. What I don’t do is watch TV. I think it’s all about balance and using time wisely – when others might watch TV in the evening, that’s when I peruse Pinterest {which I find to be an incredible tool, searching out grad decorations and hairstyles right now!}, or when I keep in touch via Facebook. Blogging is a way to earn a little extra income and be a stay-at-home mom at the same time. It’s amazing what we can get done during naptime!!! I don’t feel guilty about my time on the computer as long as I always remember “Good, Better Best” and do essential things before nice-to-do things.

  39. Desiree

    thank you. this made me cry several times. i love my mom. i love being a mom. i’m so lucky and blessed and i DO feel bad sometimes that I’m not super duper mom. I needed this.

    • Sharon Seesink

      The most important thing a mother can do is let all her children know they are loved and cherished that is all that matters in the end From a mother of six loved and secure adult children.

  40. Angie

    I also thank you for writing this article. Growing up, my mother worked her full time job. At the end of her days or weekends, she was not always there for us kids. She is a very selfish person when it comes to her personal time and didn’t spend it with her family. Sometimes she could be found reading a book or shopping, or sitting in a bar. On the weekends she would head to her campground despite bringing us kids if we didn’t want to go. For so many years she chose others, not her family. My brother needed a stable person on his life. He went to live with our dad when he was younger and my mom just let him go. They still do not have a relationship to this day as they old grudges toward each other. My little brother ended p living on the streets for a while as he struggled to finish high school because he didn’t want to move to the campground his junior year in high school. He spent some time in jail for underage drinking too many times. He has become part of a wonderful family of his girlfriends the last few years and has since turned his life around for the positive since someone has listened to him and spent time with him. As for me, I lived with my mother and father growing up looking for the time from each of them too. I played many sports through school. All I wanted was a parent to come see my events. For parents night one year, my mom showed up drunk and embarrassed me in front of a sold out basketball game.
    Now I have my husbands parents who have been my family since the day I have met them. I am also a mother of two wonderful children. Growing up I just needed a mom, and never had her attention. Your article made me realize that now. As a mother now, I have just been reinforced that spending time with my children is more important than getting the house clean. There are days when I don’t clean up a thing until they go to bed that night. When I think about al the time I could have done the cleaning all I come up is, I was playing. Now that is a great reason, and not an excuse. Thank you!

Leave a comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.

*