I don’t think that’s a word. But I’m coining it today.

I need to remember that simply listening to the stories of little ones is enough. Smiling at them, getting them a glass of water or juice, fighting their “good lego guy” with your “bad lego guy” on a terrain of wooden blocks, and reading “One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish” every night, learning to let them turn the pages on their own terms, is enough.

It is said so often in the mom world, because it is so quickly and easily forgotten, but just being with your kids is enough. I don’t have it in me to “be” with them and keep house and take meals to my neighbors and host college students and find creative ways to share the gospel with my mom friends each week. And lately, I’ve been forgetting that that’s okay, the fact that I can’t do it all. And I’ve been feeling bad about that, and telling myself that there must be something wrong with me — I must not be trying hard enough, or I must be sleeping too much, or reading for pleasure too much, or just being too selfish with my time. I have been listening to that ugly voice, the one that tells me I am what I do. That ugly voice lies.

Because I do it every day, I forget to factor the little ways of loving kids into my analysis of energy and time-spending. I forget that rocking a baby girl counts. I forget that letting the oldest make soup with me counts. I forget that doing daily life with my kids counts, and it costs me a helluva lot more energy than doing daily life on my own.

Right now in our home, we are recovering from a month-and-a-half of houseguests. I am sleeping in almost every day, waiting to wake up. They are watching a lot of movies, and we are eating a lot of popcorn, and having snack-like lunches and dinners. We are drawing and making things out of cardboard, and the kids are jumping around and getting really loud because we haven’t gone outside much lately. We have minimally decorated for Christmas, in between feverish colds and mommy’s volleyball tournament, and I have zero plans to bake this year. We are trying for one bath per week, since we’re not outside that much anyway. This is real life. And I’ve been feeling that it wasn’t enough. That I wasn’t enough.

Let self-graciousness be the (not real) word for the month. Be nice to yourselves, mamas! You do more than you’re aware of.

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