Jillian Lauren

Women Crush Wednesday: Jillian Lauren on Motherhood, Adoption, and Surviving the Hard Parts

I started Jillian Lauren’s new book Everything You Ever Wanted (just out yesterday!) in the bathtub one night, where I often start new books, and ended up so engrossed, I realized I was sitting in cold water an hour later. Jillian is a brilliant writer who tells it like it is and does so with humor and remarkable self-awareness. Everything You Ever Wanted is the story of how Jillian became a mother and how, through the challenges that followed, she was guided by love for her son and her family in a path that ultimately led to accepting herself. I dog-eared so many pages in this book–things that made me laugh (I mean, come on: “What happens when schoolyard taunts of “Your mama is a ho!” are actually factually confirmed by said mama in her hoish memoir?), stories that made me cry and experiences that, while different than mine, make me feel less alone. I had to whittle down my questions for Jillian because there are so many relatable topics and honest truths about parenting in this story. You will fall in love with her just as I have, and I’m ever so thankful that she lends her voice and shares her story for other women so that we can feel the community in motherhood’s “me too!” hug.

This book is much more than an adoption or special needs story–this is a motherhood story, a love story and a self acceptance story.

I’m thrilled to welcome Jillian’s words into our online space today.  Now quick, grab some coffee and read along.

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Your book begins with your challenges of infertility—the emotions of which you articulated so honestly. I know several women who’ve gone through this and have been witness to the deep emotional struggle of wanting a baby more than anything but not being able to will a body to meet the expectations of the heart. You refer to “wild fluctuations of self-hatred and self-pity” in your journey and describe the fertility disaster as leaving you hollowed out, but define a moment when—and this part made me cry—you finally, in the recesses, “feel the faith in me, small and glowing.” Why do you think women put so much self worth into fertility and what would you say now to that version of you that felt hollowed out and defeated? Was it simply the hope of adoption and the relief of loosening those expectations on your body or was it something deeper that returned that faith within yourself?

I think there’s some ancient tribal stuff that causes us to equate fertility with worth. I also think that there’s a ubiquitous celebrity culture that fetishizes pregnancy and baby bumps and all of the attendant accoutrements. When that didn’t happen for me, I felt more than just hollowed out and defeated, —I felt cursed. I’ve had a life with plenty of adversity, including drug addiction, depression, abuse, self-harm, you name it. Not to make myself sound like an after school special or anything, but it’s been a ride! Even with all that, infertility is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. It was extended and relentless and dragged me to terrible depths of doubt and self-pity and shame. I had specific expectations around how creating my family was going to go. I was like, okay, I’m behaving now. I’m a good girl. And the reward for that is the house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 children, right? ASAP! So when that didn’t happen, all of my deep shame about myself and my past bubbled to the surface. I felt ruined and punished. How did faith rise out of those ashes? I can’t say exactly. That’s the mystery of faith, isn’t it? We find it in our most broken moments. Maybe because suffering is an experience that connects us with our humanity, and the humanity of those around us. If I could go back now and whisper in my own ear, I’d tell me to just breathe and hold tight and lean into the storm. I’d tell me that I’d joyfully live through all that suffering again and more if I knew what gifts waited for me on the other side of it!

As an adopted child yourself, you express that you were never able to look at the world and see a reflection of yourself with no parents or siblings, and you thought pregnancy would fix that—that you’d finally feel this physical connection to the world. You challenge yourself with the question, “What do I want, a mini me or a family?” (loved that). I imagine that this bond you and Tariku now share–in the love story of mother and son sense, but also in the fact that you are both adopted–has shifted that perspective a bit, but maybe I’m wrong. Do you feel more connected to the world physically now and find a reflection through being Tariku’s mother? Do you think he’ll feel the same growing up?

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Wow, Kelle, I think this is my favorite question ever! This is really the blessing of telling our stories- that our readers find things in them that we can’t even see ourselves. Yes, I absolutely think that mothering Tariku has made me feel connected to the world around me in a physical, primal way. My own unique story of motherhood has has allowed me to understand who I am, and has led me to my tribe. When you go through a rough time, you learn who your true peeps are! I truly hope that the fact that I was also adopted will resonate for Tariku, and that I’ll be able to model for him the fact that we live connected to so many different things- by blood, by choice, by faith. Our position as adoptees is not without its complexities, but it’s a truly privileged one.

Your first memoir (which I’ve now ordered and can’t wait to devour) chronicles a completely different lifetime for you. You were (and, I admit, I Googled the heck out of this because I simply can’t believe it) once a stripper and later a member of Prince Jefri of Brunei’s harem. I couldn’t help but chastise myself while reading this book—this beautiful brilliantly written account of motherhood from a smart woman who loves like me and wants the same things as me and has all the same voices in her head as me—for my judgment of people, of women. The story of a stripper-turned-harem member seems to drastically clash with a loving mother in search of answers for her son and yet, you’re the same girl. We all are, really. That said, you talk about feeling shame for not appearing to be mother material and you echo what so many of us feel—that feeling judged as a mother is harder to weather than any other comments one might say about us. As you put it, “Why did motherhood suddenly make me cower before the masses? Make me want to fit in, seek approval?” Why do you think that is? And that said, is it harder to put this book out into the world than your first one that honestly exposed your former life?

Ha! I know- it’s so funny to watch people’s faces when they first hear about the harem thing. Especially people I meet at a faith-based event or pre-school or Mommy and Me! I watch people do elaborate mental gymnastics, while still trying to maintain their composure. Their mouths often actually hang open. When the first memoir was published, I was so scared of what everyone was going to think of me. I had lived my life in a compartmentalized way. Not necessarily because I was ashamed of my past, but because I figured that it wasn’t all that relevant any more. I learned one of my biggest lessons through my neighbor Helen. For some reason,I was so concerned about what my sweet, 82-year-old, religious neighbor was going to think of me. I’ll never forget the day she rang my bell with four copies of my book in her hand, telling me she was so proud of me and asking me to sign them for her daughters. Helen was 82! She had lived through poverty and prosperity and pain and joy and love and death. She had lost a husband and a child and countless loved ones and SHE DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT about a harem! Puhleeze, child! Or about how wild I was or who I had sex with or what drugs I did. She cared about who I was in my relationships– as a friend and a neighbor to her and as a mother to my child. Helen and I actually got much closer after that. When she could no longer stay in her house, I visited her often in her assisted living center, and then in her hospice facility. I spoke at her funeral. I treasure the time we spent together. I like to think my honesty in the book had something to do with how our relationship blossomed.

You shed light on some of the hard truths about adoption that you don’t always hear but that are important to talk about—the fact that families don’t magically save abandoned babies and everyone lives happily ever after. You reference Disney movies and their orphan narrative: the hard-knock life and the immediate sun-will-come-out-tomorrow finish. (so true!) Your experience—and that of many other adopting families—was entirely different and yet so understandable given the expanded story. And yet here you are: in love with your child, stronger, wiser and—obvious from the book—gaining a keen awareness for your own past struggles and strengths as a woman. Now that you’re on the other side of the particular struggles you discuss in the book (are we ever on the “other side” of struggle as parents? Ha!), what would you say to parents considering or new to adoption?

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First of all, adoption is beautiful and incredible. It’s my favorite thing. We’re doing it again right now. I’d do it ten more times if we had the space and the resources! That doesn’t mean that it’s not complex and sometimes painful. It’s important to understand that adoption isn’t an act of charity. You’re not saving a disadvantaged child, who should then reward you with eternal gratitude. Many of our children suffer tremendous loss. In the case of international adoption, they lose an entire culture. We have to be respectful of the trauma our children go through, and the loss and grief that follow. I would say to potential adoptive parents that it’s important to educate yourself. In the case of international adoption, you need an agency that’s transparent, that you can trust, and that’s respectful of the children and their histories. The agencies should be willing to walk you through their entire process, from beginning to end, and give you as many references as you need to feel comfortable. You should definitely talk to other adoptive families and familiarize yourself with the community.

More than anything, I think this book gives permission to all parents to truly be honest—to say that parenting can be hard, boring, isolating and to admit that we feel inadequate, selfish, guilty—and yet still know that we are good, that we love well, that we wouldn’t trade this fulfilling path for any other. You admitted that here, after you chased motherhood so fervently thinking it was going to make you feel a part of something, it did the exact opposite—made you feel more isolated than you’ve ever been. Your prayers in this book made me tear up. The emotion was so palpable and relatable—we’ve all been there. There was one, after you were feeling particularly guilty, after your son was preferring his dad and pushing you away, where you cried out, “Please, God, help me be a better mother. Please, God or Jesus or Krishna or Allah or Mary or Moses or Grandma or whoever is on the other end of this line right now. Please throw me a bone here. I need help.” I think we should just patent that prayer and give everyone permission to use it. Your vulnerability in this book is such a gift. For all the rock bottom moments that you so articulately describe in this story, can you summarize what pulled you out of them? I know it probably won’t be a tidy singular answer, but what would you say saves you and reestablishes your confidence in these moments?

I wanted to give a radically honest account of my experience of motherhood, with all of its complexities and ambiguities and beauty. I wanted to tell the truth, warts and all because it’s so much better and richer than some glossy façade I really hope that I give other women a sense of permission. That they can see their own transgressions and struggles, whether or not they’re as dramatic as mine, in a more compassionate and maybe even humorous light. We live in a culture of relentless self-improvement, steeped in the rhetoric of “happiness.” We’re supposed to be so “Happy” all the time or we’re failing somehow. I’m much more interested in meaning than happiness. Adversity has shaped me and made me strong. It’s given me the family and life I have today, which is amazing. I’m not saying that I’m not happy, and that I don’t have my moments of joy because I absolutely do. But I don’t see life in this strictly binary way- things aren’t bad or good. Things are hard and messy and gratifying and wonderful and everything. Everything, all at once! Bring it!

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You went through a lot—a lot of schools, a lot of experts, a lot of advice–to truly get to a place where you felt Tariku’s needs were being met. As a parent of a child with special needs, I could relate to so many of your thoughts. One of my favorites was when you expressed finding it comforting when one of Tariku’s therapists referred to children with special needs as “our children”, distinguishing them from typically developing kids—as in “our children have a harder time handling unexpected touch.” I’ve had a few other parents and support team members of Nella’s who’ve done the same, and I know how endearing that is. As you said, “it makes me feel less isolated and reminds me that children are raised by communities and not individuals. We may not have asked to be a part of this particular community—but who does?” Amen. How important has that role of community been in finding your rhythm as a mother?

The importance of this community is one of the reasons I keep writing. Through my story, I hope to extend a hand to others who may have questions, like we did. What would I do without the people I’ve met through the special needs community? This community has taught me how to be an advocate and a warrior. They’ve show me that I’m strong. They’ve taught me that my priorities were all kinds of screwed up before, equating achievement with worth. I would never have consciously admitted to that, but it was true somewhere in my bourgeois heart. They’ve showed me that worth is not about conventional achievement, but about connection and relationships.

One thing you do so well—and I think it’s vital in parenting—is honoring both parts of us: the good and the bad, selfish and selfless, clueless and confident. You didn’t tell a transformative story where selfish, insecure, isolated mom is suddenly replaced through love by nurturing, confident, connected mom. You celebrate the fact that, even after these trials and deepened love, you still value and understand all the parts of yourself that play a role—selfishness, vanity, incompetence and yet resilience, resourcefulness, unwavering love. Are you less hard on yourself after all of this? What does your self talk to those negative voices sound like today?

I can still be a total asshole to myself! It’s not like I’ve achieved enlightenment and I’m some kind of monk. Today, for instance, I’ve been traveling and being very social, promoting the book, which is enough to make you crazy. You lose the grounding of the everyday routine– the family stuff. You’re facetiming your kid from the bathroom of a hotel. It can really fire up the self loathing. But this is what my years of being an asshole to myself have taught me: it passes. It changes. It always changes. Sometimes the best I can do is to maintain a spirit of curiosity. This is the part of yourself that, no matter how dark things get, can still say, ” Oh, how curious, that I’m calling myself a fat, mediocre, useless fraud. I wonder why I’d never think that about anyone else? I wonder why I can look at my son and see so clearly that he’s filled with endless love and potential, but I look at myself and see someone worthy of nothing but disdain….” It can give you some perspective.

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I’ve been asked many times if I worry about my children reading the honest things I write about or if I wonder how Nella will feel reading her birth story. I know my answer to this, but I’d love to hear yours. What are your thoughts about Tariku reading this book someday?

This book is a story of triumph and my son is the hero. I see it as a gift to him, and a valuable document of his precious first years of life. I may not always be a great mother, but I’m a good storyteller. This is my gift and it’s a special thing I have to offer him. People can be judgmental around sharing publicly about children. I absolutely agree that it’s not the right choice for every family. But when I was struggling, there were people like Rachel Cusk and Beth Kephart and you and Christine Moers and Kristen Howerton, who were being brave and honest and sharing about their families and offering me an education and a point of connection. I think that a lot of people who judge haven’t experienced what it’s like to be part of a marginalized community. People lambast Facebook all the time, but I have a friend whose child has a rare and severe medical condition, and Facebook is one of her greatest sources of strength and hope. I personally have an entire community of incredible friends with children from Ethiopia on Facebook. Tariku and I love to follow their stories. I think it makes us feel less alone. It’s totally valid not to share publicly about our lives, but I also think we have to be careful not to confuse privacy with shame. And not to judge the ways other people find connection in the world.

This isn’t really a question. Or I guess it is. Do you give me permission to write all over my walls or maybe tattoo on my body or, if I ever figure out the needlepoint thing, stitch on a pillow the closing statement in your epilogue? Because it’s solid and such a simple statement of all we need to remind us that we’re doing the best we can: “This house is full of love and warmth and music. And we try like hell; really we do.”

I’m so glad it touched you. If you ever make that into a sampler, my life will be complete!

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You can order Jillian’s new book, Everything You Ever Wanted, here.

And for you, dear friends, Jillian’s put together some thoughtful gifts for a giveaway today–signed copies of all of Jillian’s books, Bruce Kaplan’s memoir I Was a Child, a signed Weezer CD (her hubby is the bassist) and a “mommy survival kit.”

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Just leave a comment with something you tell yourself when you feel the rabbit hole of self doubt opening. Whether you’re a mom or not and whether those moments come in parenting challenges or through other experiences, we all have them. What’s one thing you tell yourself to reestablish your confidence? Giveaway winner will be randomly chosen from comments and announced in Monday’s post.

Comments

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  1. Laura Vales says:

    “I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and that’s enough.”

  2. Ruthie says:

    I tell myself that I am trying my best, that everyone makes mistakes, bad choices, etc but I love and I try everyday.

  3. Alyssa says:

    I tell myself “this too shall pass”

  4. Ooooh.. the moments of self-doubt – should I be working, will I regret not being there to greet them from the bus, do I spend enough time with them. I take a deep breath and take myself back tot the night before, snuggling each of them in bed and I try to give in to trusting that they do in fact know and feel how incredibly loved and treasured they really are.

  5. I tell myself that I’m not a perfect mother, but I’m the perfect mother for my children. God knew what he was doing when he gave them to me. And then I pray and do my best.

  6. Melissa says:

    When i start to go down my rabbit hole, I make myself physically stop what I’m doing. I close my eyes, and imagine Christ looking at me with love in His eyes. “He doesn’t make trash,” I say. “I am good. I am beautiful. I deserve to live. I am not alone. I am loved to the end.”

  7. Nicki Folger says:

    When I have moments of self doubt, and those moments come and go so often as I make my way through this life, I just try to strip everything down. I love, I am loved. I love my kids, my husband, my family, my friends and they all love me. No matter what kind of day I have had, no matter what mistakes I have made, these two things have not changed. Even on the most difficult of days with my two children, I will kiss them goodnight, tell them I love them and they will say it back to me. I will feel it strongly and completely, this love. It may not erase every not so great moment that led up to that point, but its the foundation of what our life is about. And when the thoughts in my head get all loud and self loathing with all the what-ifs and I should ofs, I can go to the only thing I am sure of – I love and I am loved.

  8. kristine m Veselinovic says:

    This too shall pass. The only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. Carry on. Tomorrow is a new day.

  9. Taylor says:

    My chant: “Remember to live big. ‘Life shrinks or expands according to ones courage.’ – Anais Nin You’ve made it this far. Have courage and be kind.”
    (A mix of my own philosophy, Anais Nin quote, and a line from Disney’s Cinderella.)

  10. Nicole brady says:

    I have always repeated “I am alive”. From a terrible hot yoga class I want to walk out of, to a feeling of all the walls in a room crumbling in, and even the beautiful moments I repeat that mantra. How small is my problem when I AM ALIVE!!! I would LOVE to dive into these books, that interview was incredible to read.

    • Smiling. I love that. I remember Oprah once saying something about “I have breath” being such a statement of gratitude.

  11. I adopted my sweet girl when I was 45. Having a 13 month old and keeping up was sometimes exhausting. As she grew I let those doubts creep in (a younger mommy would be able to….run faster, play more, not have as much grey hair) but nothing recharges my self confident/self worth than hearing her say “Mommy, you are the best in the whole wide world! I love you more than anything”

  12. Beautiful – thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It’s so easy to sink into our own heads, it’s nice to get someone else’s perspective. I’m a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama to three kiddos (ages 2, 5, and 7) and I can beat myself up and and feel like I’m going insane much of the time. Sometimes I wallow in it, but I try to keep it in perspective by remembering that this is just a season in my life; it won’t last forever and I need to savor the good parts while I can. One day, I’ll actually long for these days! Minus the challenging bits, of course. :)

  13. I am so happy that the era of authenticity is here! Enough with pretense, let’s just be real with each other. This is how we will change the world, by sharing our truth and our stories. Sometimes in the middle of life when things aren’t working out and I feel like I’ve just been making a series of wrong turns in every direction, doors are closing and time seems to be running out too fast I can get really down and have mean thoughts about ruining my whole life (HA!). When this happens I think back to some of the best ad copy I’ve ever read (for Norwegian cruise lines I think), “Isn’t it nice to know that some of the best days of your life haven’t happened yet.” That sets me right back down into the perfect NOW, chills me right out and straightens out my distorted thinking.

  14. As a first time mom a week from my due date I have a lot of self doubts but I tell myself that people have been doing this since forever and so can I!

  15. I cannot wait to read more about jillians life–I have a feeling it will expand my heart, my life..

  16. I struggle with this. I guess the thing I tell myself most often is that this current challenge is just a moment in time. My sister passed away 18 months ago and she would usually pull me out of slumps, and talk me through the rough times. I’m working hard to become a good support system to myself now that she’s gone.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Andrea. I can’t imagine losing my sister. She’s where I turn too during the hard parts. But she’s always reminded me that I already have what I need to get through rough times…I know you do too. xo

      • Thank you! I always love the posts in which you feature your sister, even more so since I lost mine. Your sister is right, that you have it within you, but it just might be because she helped put it there! I am learning that I don’t have Sue anymore , but I do have all the lessons and pep talks she ever gave me still inside. :)

  17. Brittany says:

    Thank you for this. Kelle your blog is always a source of hope and happiness- Jillian- I am starting the road to adoption with my husband after a long road of infertility acceptance. I needed the honest thoughts from moms who have been through the fire and made it out the other side. I am constantly sitting between overwhelming excitement about adopting and the waves of terror for the possible attachment problems, fear that my children will never truly feel connected, or worse- that I will never be able to connect deeply with them. I stopped reading half way through to order the book and then came back to the interview- Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  18. Erin Sandvick says:

    First I say, “Get it together, Erin!”. Then I remind myself that the things I don’t say, can’t be heard and that no one ever died from asking for help or crying.

    • Erin Sandvick says:

      Also, I look forward to these posts every Wednesday. I LOVE your family, but these posts really do it for me. Thank you for broadening my horizons with these awesome women and your thought provoking questions. I appreciate the challenges you present with your words. Thank you.

  19. JOanna johnson says:

    this too shall pass!!

  20. My mantra is “rest if you must, but do not quit”

  21. Angela Sarkonak says:

    Self Doubt – When my 2 year old son just wants to me to stay home with him all day, and I have to drop him off at daycare so I can go to work. It makes me feel like I’m failing him somehow, even though I know he loves daycare. Like as his mother, I should be the one raising and nurturing him. I think he knows that it just kills me to leave him every day.

  22. Melissa says:

    Beautiful. I can only imagine how wonderful the book(s) must be. I will tell myself: Just show up and try your best.

  23. Really enjoyed this interview, Kelle, looking forward to reading Jillian’s latest now. Thanks for putting her on my radar!

    I rely heavily on the grace, mercy and strength of my heavenly Father. I remind myself of what he has brought me thru in the past, and I will myself to let that shred of faith to continue to bloom as long as there is breath left in me.

  24. Such wisdom in this post. I’m going to need to read it several times to let it all soak in.

    When I’m drowning in self-doubt…

    First, I run to my secret chocolate drawer and indulge myself with a small piece or three

    Then I cross the heck out of my to-do list for the day and add in a few extras until I’m left with something that looks a little more like this:

    _snuggle/storytime session with my littles on the couch
    _text hubby that I love him dearly
    _encourage someone (note, text email, Facebook msg, etc)
    _write down 3 things I am grateful for
    _lay with my littles during their nap-allow myself to fall asleep and leave the mess
    _pray

  25. What I say at the end of a yoga/meditation session works during moments of self doubt, worry, anger, saddness, anything…
    “kind and loving thoughts. soft, gentle heart to cultivate gratitude and peace in this moment. namaste.”

  26. I am a parent of three young adults and I have learned that parenting is hard and painful and joyful and fun and miserable and I would do it all over it a heartbeat.

    What I tell myself in the darkest hours is I never, not one day, got up in the morning and thought what can I do to f*** my kids up today? I know that for good or bad, my intentions were based in love and the best knowledge I had at the time.

  27. Bailey eaves says:

    I say to myself, “This shit is SO hard! But my kids are SO happy. I’m doing okay. Calm down.” Then I let them go play outside and get really, really messy …so they’ll go to bed early :-)

  28. “I could probably do worse.”

  29. Even on the hard days, my kids still know they are loved and cherished and wanted and important. And that they know that and feel that every day is what matters to me.

  30. christine black says:

    I tell myself, tomorrow is a new day, I survived yesterday, I will survive today and tomorrow too..i ask myself am I or my loved ones dying!? if not, carry on!

  31. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on” Robert Frost

  32. Lorraine says:

    I rely on prayer and faith. And remembering my mother’s words “this too shall pass”. As someone who has struggled with infertility and has built our family through adoption, I too felt cursed. My son brings me joy everyday! He will be 12 this month and we share a wonderful relationship with his birth mother and his siblings.

    Love this new series! Thank you!

  33. Katie P. says:

    I hate to take a line from a Disney movie after this beautiful post, but…honestly, I tell myself…”Just keep swimming…just keep swimming!”

  34. Yesterday I had a bad day. My adopted son was angry. He usually is when I pick up from school. I go in to this with open loving arms and come out always scared. Scared of how much I must be doing wrong as an adoptive mother. Why can’t I find the tools to make him love me. I have one biological son. I had so many losses after him…. we adopted internationally. Yesterday, I had a bad day. Today I read this article and it is perfect! I am not, but I just told both my son’s just yesterday ” mommy is doing the best she can”! Of course I want to try harder…. in this society I have days when I feel completely alone. No one understands picking up a child from school who’s mood will be so angry, throwing his snack I brought for him and saying he hates this. What ever demons he has, I can not change, I can only keep holding on to him with all my love and my older son and I will hope that this will fade as the years go on. One day at a time. Thanks for the blog post, as always, it keeps me going knowing that we as mommies do not need to perfect and families we may perceive as normal, still have their moments! Love. A

  35. When the self-loathing voice tells me I’m not enough, I remember that it’s true. Alone, I’m not. But Jesus is. He loves me, and that makes me enough. It makes me more than enough.

  36. I tell myself that all of this… the good and the awful, the beautiful and ugly, the happy and sad …. it’s all a part of making me into the woman that I am becoming.

  37. Meagan says:

    To reestablish my confidence I try to tell myself that everything is a learning experience and I will do better next time. I am a teacher and am constantly telling my students that mistakes are not failures but simply how to learn. I am working on believing myself:)

  38. I tell myself that my children will only be babies for a second. A split second. The teeniest chapter of my life. So when everything is confusing and I’m feeling guilty about not “leaning in” enough, I tell myself to stop and just hug my babies. Stare at them. Love love love them. Because doing that, more of that, is something I will never, ever regret.

  39. “To want what I have, to take what I’m given with grace, for this I pray.” (Don Henley) My favorite, favorite quote; sometimes even my mantra (repeating it to myself over and over when things kind of suck). Sometimes, we all need to be reminded inevitably things will get better…

  40. Love reading about your woman crushes!! My saying is simple…God trusts me….so I gotta trust myself.

  41. Molly S. says:

    I remind myself that my daughters are safe, healthy and feel my love for them everyday. Those are the important things and I need to be grateful for that. The other struggles will pass with time. I once read a quote that went something like “Everything is a phase, both the bad and the good”. I have found that to be very true.

  42. The thing I tell myself is from the Disney movie “Nemo”: Just Keep Swimming!”. I know things may be difficult, but I just try to keep going. Similarly, I also like an idea from Glennon Melton’s Momastery blog: Keep Showing up.

  43. I’m going to bookmark this and read the comments for inspiration as this is something I struggle with a lot!! I guess one thought I try to have is that “this only matters this much to ME”–most of the time no one else is questioning my choices, so why should I?!

  44. Davilyn says:

    “And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.” – Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

    I first read that poem in high school and it has never left me. When the “I’m such a failure” thoughts rise, this brings me much needed peace and perspective.

  45. Caitlin says:

    I regularly tell myself, ‘This too shall pass.’ Especially with my 3 year old!

  46. Jennifer says:

    When days are hard I try to remember that tomorrow is always a fresh start, no one is perfect and the best we can do is learn and grow from our mistakes

  47. In any moments that I doubt myself as a mother, I remind myself that women and men with way less resources than me thrive at parenthood too- because above all else, my child needs love, and I can give him that every day of the year.

  48. Leonie M says:

    Whenever things feel like they are getting out of hand, and I’m rushing around trying to get us all out the door.. I stop and try and be mindful and think ‘what’s the worst that can happen? The boys will be five minutes late to school, I can deal with that.’ I would prefer to drop them off late Feeling calm and connected to me, than yell and rush and drop them off on time. I think ultimately it’s valuing the kids more than seeming like I have it all together.

  49. “It could always be worse” is kind of the way I look at things when they are really really bad…because it is so true. Then I count my blessings. I am so fascinated with this author and would absolutely LOVE to read her books!!

  50. Amy daviS says:

    Awesome post! Can’t wait to share pieces of it with my sisters! As a mom of two little ones I have several words for myself:
    – It’s just a phase. So, don’t miss it! (Taken from Reggie Joiner) This encourages me to dig deep and to choose to keep investing.
    – Live in light of eternity! In those moments when we all just want to jump ship I think about down the road. How do I want my girls to remember this moment? That grounds me instantly!

  51. Hillary says:

    I think to myself that we often focus on what we don’t have (things, people, even house cleaners!) rather than appreciating what we do (a loving spouse and growing happy children). I remind myself to live intentionally and this pulls me back from the “woe is me” mentality.

  52. It’s a phase. They (children) are so worth it. My children are now 34 and 37 and raising children (one with DS) of their own. The hard things you go through when raising up children are worth everything to have mature and compassionate adult children/parents.

  53. As a foster-turned adoptive mother and a mother to a biological son after facing major health issues, I tell myself that after my gritty journey to motherhood I can accomplish anything.

  54. TRicia says:

    My mom always said this and I wear it on a bracelet….”this too shall pass”

  55. Paraphrasing from Amy Poehler’s book: “Good for her, but it’s not for me.”

  56. Stephanie says:

    I tell myself and my older son (6) that “God invented pencils with erasers because we are all allowed to make mistakes.”

    We just realize what we did, figure out how to fix it, erase the wrong parts, and make the change. This could be anything from school work, job, relationships, you name it!

  57. Kortni Miller says:

    This. Loved all of this. As someone who has struggled with the heart break of infertility and known the beauty of adoption I can relate to all of this. My mantra as of late has been playing on repeat in my mind daily. “I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.”

  58. Heather says:

    This moment, this day, doesn’t define me. I am more than my circumstances & I choose joy.

  59. Johanna says:

    Absolutely loved this Interview and can’t wait to order Jillian’s new book! we are right now in the adoption waiting process and it can be really challenging. Stories of families and mothers like her fill me up and let me grow. Thank you!!!

  60. I call my mom! Even if she has no advice for me, I’m calmed to know I can talk to her. That and pray.

  61. Give yourself grace. Sometimes I find myself just repeating “grace grace grace grace” until I have the mental space to take a deep breath!

  62. greenapples says:

    My mantra when I honestly don’t know if I can/want to/will continue the looong road (that having nothing to do with her): ‘You’re doing it for her. Keep your eye on the prize’. Once I have elevated her to the point where she can think and act independently, I will have succeeded.

  63. I have to remember that we are all human and we are all still learning (especially my two-year-old). And I am not always right. And I should not always act solely based on emotion, even though I would like to.

  64. Olivia says:

    Find the good in this moment. You might need it later.

  65. Victoria says:

    Oh wow did I slip down that rabbit hole last night. Third trimester of an unplanned third pregnancy has really taken its toll in all areas. And my mantra last night was, “Why are we doing this again? I suck at all of it.” And in the middle of all of the self-flagellation and hate, I just kept seeing my daughters’ faces bright with hope and delight at any grain of love I send their way. I fell into a calmer place knowing I can try again in the morning and make at least one small tweak to be a better person for myself and these babies. They are shockingly forgiving and resilient. I can be the same. Great interview. Can’t wait to get and read both books.

  66. Corinne says:

    “This way. Keep going.”

  67. Rebecca L says:

    My deep-breathing chant: “I have everything I need.”

  68. “The children are alive and smiling. Today, that’s enough”.

  69. Emilie scheckman says:

    In those moments where I feel the mommy guilt creeping up I try to remember to tell myself “you’re doing the best you can, you love those kids and you’re not alone”.

    I’m going to go order the book now!

  70. Shawna says:

    I had a stillbirth and then 2 rainbow babies followed by a miscarriage and then 2 more rainbow babies. I’m always telling myself that “You know what, just enjoy it. They’re your babies for a reason. You’ll be okay and so will they.”

    Its not always easy and sometimes I forget my mantra but I try.

  71. Jacqueline says:

    “you got this”

  72. Valerie says:

    I tell myself that this too shall pass.

  73. Molly May says:

    I tell myself and my children, “Live Happy Thoughts.” (You can’t just THINK happy thoughts, we need to LIVE them.)

  74. My mantra is “this too shall pass”. Another variation of the same is Kurt Vonnegut’s words – “So it goes”

  75. Wow, reading this brought tears to my eyes! I love hearing about other women’s journeys. Whenever I’m struggling (mostly with parenting) I remind myself that this time, when kids are young, passes by too fast to get stuck on the tough moments. Almost every mother reminds me to cherish these moments because they are fleeting. And yes, “this too shall pass.”

  76. nicole says:

    Kelle what a great interview. Thoughtful questions. I ordered my book today!

  77. Jessica says:

    “Do your best. Let go of the rest.”
    <3

  78. Amanda says:

    When I’m starting to get down on myself or I’m being too hard on myself I will say a few different things: “my kids picked me, flaws and all they chose me. That’s worth something. They see what I’m capable of. They know there is good here.” “Don’t take life so seriously Amanda, its an adventure a game a learning process. In the end we leave and take nothing but our lessons with us. Relax.” “Shit happens.”

  79. Kristen wheElIS says:

    I jUst found this through your Instagram while taking a break from my kiddo. It broke through my tears and hopelessness and made more tears come(the not so alone kind)- I am a momma to my two brilliant and utterly challenging kids who both have special needs from being born drug exposed. We are a family by adoption.
    My kids are able bodied but neurologically and emotionally challenged. People don’t understand the fight to become a family and the the fight to help your children be recognized and accepted for who they are. Thank you for this moment of serendipitous grace.
    I can’t wait to read this book!

  80. When self-doubt creeps in, I tell myself that I am loved, I am still learning, and “All shall be well.”

  81. Gretchen says:

    The best for me is to take a deep breath and remember they are only little for short time.

  82. Loved the interview! In those moments of self-doubt, I try to remember that, for the 10 things I did wrong today, I did 100 things right. On any given day, those numbers may shift, but overall there is way more good than bad. Same for my kids–they do more good than bad. I have to remind myself that all the time!

  83. I always tell myself that I’m doing my best, that’s all they want. Spending time with them is all they need, other things can wait. They are my world and are only little for a little while.

  84. When things get rough I think of my Aunt Barbara (actually she was my husband’s aunt.) When she was dying, right before our wedding, she told me “Either I’m going to get better, or I’m not. I’m not in charge of this ride. I will see you on the other side, no matter what.”

    If she could face such a serious thing with such grace, then who am I to doubt my patience and skill at parenting, my inability to clean my house up to the standards set by my parents? Who am I to think I am an unworthy friend, or spouse.

  85. I tell myself that I am enough for my children, they love me the way I am, and that tomorrow is a new day to start fresh.

  86. nothing stays the same forever…

  87. Melissa says:

    The moment I finished reading this I ordered her book, beautiful. I have whispered many times to a fallen me…. You are ten times stronger that you believe, show up. Sometimes just showing up in life is the only thing that needs to be done and I am pretty damn good at it.

  88. Nichole says:

    I remind myself there are many ways to “reset” and that tomorrow is a brand new opportunity.

  89. carolina says:

    I tell myself to trust my 6th mama sense. It is there for a reason, so I remind myself to embrace it even if it takes me a couple of days of crying to come to terms with whatever I am struggling with at the time.

  90. “I’ve been asked many times if I worry about my children reading the honest things I write about or if I wonder how Nella will feel reading her birth story. I know my answer to this”

    This must have been a tricky question to make up your mind about! Would you be willing to share your thoughts/answer on this one regarding your own writing and Nella?

    • Hi Dalia,
      I have similar feelings to what Jillian expressed. I can’t wait to have Nella read her story, to show her other families we’ve connected with through the blog, to show her how we’ve grown through little love stories I’ve written. Ultimately, they are all stories of victory and hope and love and real life life–things my kids will go through too. And the community that writing has created–it’s Nella’s community too. I’m so glad she gets to share that gift.

  91. “I can do hard things.”

  92. Amy campero says:

    Tomorrow is another day to start again.

  93. jESSIKA says:

    I tell myself that my 6 year old autistic son was made exactly as he was supposed to be. Don’t even try to change him!

  94. Sarah mcclellan says:

    Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters most.

  95. This might sound terrible, but I remind myself of all the women and times throughout history where they had to be doing it (mothering) worse than me. Like, I think of the late 1800’s, for example…where days were spent tending to fires, mending clothes, and harvesting and grinding their own wheat. How much lovely, nurturing one-on-one time could they realistically have spent with each one of their eight children? How much time could they have possibly spent getting pretty for their husbands with all the tasks they had to do from sun up to sun down. And then I think, “This isn’t so bad. I’m actually a really great mom/wife/etc. I’m totally killing this.” 😉

  96. Rhea Wilcox says:

    Someone already said this but this simple quote always gets stuck in my mind when I am going through something difficult. It was from another blog I read by a mother whose young daughter passed away.
    “I can do hard things”

  97. This interview is really really incredible. I love hearing others’ stories. So much insight here. Self doubt…I have it all the time. Seriously about 50% of the time. The other 50%? I make a lot of lists. I write down things I’ve accomplished, happy things that happened that day, good things coming up…just to shake the funk off.

  98. missMaegan says:

    Its the heart that matters.

  99. Megan Mathews says:

    Something I learned in a Beth More Bible Study-
    “You are Bkessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven”. Truth!

  100. Alyssa says:

    Parenting my son, adopted from foster care at age 7, 4 years ago, has been so different than parenting my 3 older bio kids. Loving him has broken me, made me both softer and stronger, changed me forever. “Love fiercely” is all I could do through his pain and fear and anger. I didn’t think I could do i some days… but I did and he is letting us love him and loving us back. This is a beautiful story and I look forward to reading Jillian’s book.

  101. I tell myself, “who you are, just as you are, is more than enough!”

  102. I tell myself that I am not alone. Even if it seems I’m the only person whose kid is subsisting on peanut butter and tortilla chips, that can’t possibly be the case, right?

  103. Lauren says:

    It will be ok. I can get through this.

  104. Liv Sanders says:

    Kelle, what a beautiful interview. Please interview Heather Armstrong for WCW one week, I would love to read her interview!

    Thanks Kelle for always sharing so much of your life with us, it truly is an honour to read it x

  105. Meredith Russ says:

    This is our story, it is being written by someone who loves me perfectly and has the perfect end in mind.

  106. Sarah Wilson says:

    I remind myself that they are ALWAYS watching…sounds creepy right? Lol Not really…just means that I have 4 sets of eyes who mimic what I say and do…they notice even when I think they don’t and I need to pull it together, because I would never want my self-doubt to turn in to theirs!

  107. During hard times, I say to myself “if this isn’t going to matter in 5 years, let it go”.

  108. Carisa Roberson says:

    This too shall pass.

  109. I pray for Jesus to come quick.. And drink wine

  110. This too shall pass!!!!!!!!

  111. My mantra is delivered by the lovely Maya Angelou ” do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

  112. I tell myself “this is a moment.”

    I love these interviews.

  113. Adeline says:

    Whoo! Awesome interview, I can’t wait to read her book. When I feel like a lame, mean, lazy mama I just yell for help… In my head, and sometimes outloud. I also tell my screaming baby jokes, which shakes up my perspective a bit and usually makes me chuckle.

  114. I remind myself of the power of perspective. As Shakespeare wrote, “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

  115. Elizabeth says:

    In moments where my confidence is lackluster, I remind myself it is a moment. I am perhaps sucking in the moment, but not holistically as a mother. And well, if I am being completely honest, I tell myself to calm the f* down and breathe. (No, really, and depending on the severity of said suckiness, I either say the actual word or simply omit the last three letters, keeping it clean.)

  116. I’m 47 and a half and I’ve only just learnt to say to myself, kindly and with conviction, ‘you are enough’. xx

  117. I am beautiful. I am worthy. I am loved.
    I am a blessed child of God.

  118. Elena Tsentas says:

    “Tomorrow is a new day”
    Or
    “Choose love”

  119. I have a glass of wine, put the kids to bed early and watch some trashy TV. Tomorrow is a new day!

  120. “I’m a rock star, I’m a rock star, I’m a rock star!!”
    A quote from one of my favorite books, Bloom. :)

  121. amy Famini says:

    I look at my two sweet boys and see how incredibly perfect, whole and happy they are…and tell myself that whatever I am doing, it must be enough. Because just look at them. They are everything!

  122. Having breast cancer when my 3 children were very young has taught me many lessons. I embrace every moment with them. I realize everyone has a story, things can always be worse and reach out and DO where you see a need.

  123. Uuuuuuussssaaaaa!

  124. Aleshia says:

    I question myself, my every decision, far too often. The one thing that always comes to mind, which is actually a verse taken from my husband and I’s wedding song, is, “wouldn’t life be awfully boring, if the good times were all that we had”. Then I remember, if it weren’t for the not so good times, whether past or present, I wouldn’t appreciate what’s right in front of me.

  125. Great interview

    I have a kid with epilepsy and our life turned upside down in one..that one ambulance ride changed it all for us. I learnt that nothing lasts forever.. When something good happens I tell myself “Nothing lasts forever. Enjoy this moments to its fullest, like there is no tomorrow, store it in your memory” During tough times I say “Nothing lasts forever. Good things will happen. Although you don’t control the bad that is happening now, you can control your reactions to the situation. Make something positive and try to help others through this. This shall pass’

  126. Great post! Thank you, to two strong radiant woman, lightening the way.

    My pep talk…. “I’m a good mother, having a bad day”

  127. I’m another mama to a precious little one from Ethiopia. I pre-ordered Jillian’s book and am hoping it arrives ASAP!
    Thanks so much for sharing this lovely interview.
    For myself, I often try to use the language I use with my children on myself as well, such as, “there are many things that make us special and different that we love”

  128. Deb D. says:

    A dear friend wrote a song and it had this line…”I know I am a child of the Most High God”….that is my go-to line when I have doubts.

  129. What an amazing woman!

    So, what I tell myself on those rabbit hole days is this, “I love myself, and I am enough.”

    Thanks Kelle. You’re amazing too :)

  130. I remind myself “There’s not one way to be a perfect mother – but a million ways to be a good one.”

  131. Let go and let God.

  132. Jenny Hoppie says:

    “God has a plan for me. My part is to keep trusting Him.”

  133. My self doubt tends to appear around choices I make, especially those involving parenting. I tell myself “I can always make another choice. It (breastfeeding, working, etc) is not all or nothing.” While the self doubt may still come up, telling myself this makes me feel calm and brings me back to a simple truth that life is full of choices. Everyone chooses differently because everyone has different circumstances that affect their choices. Thinking this way helps me (try) to not judge others for the way they do things and makes me feel we are all in this together.

  134. Rebecca says:

    I always try to think up a good bible verse… but sometimes it just winds up being “oh my word, calm the ____ down!” Haha I wish I was better at this type of stuff!

  135. Kellie says:

    Prepping to become a foster parent in the next few weeks and that fires up some pretty large self doubts. My own two children’s behavior has been a little scratchy- makes sense because this is a big transition for them to get two younger siblings. Even if you train for a year, the reality is these children did not pick you. Their hearts are longing for someone else. They have real losses to face. But I find a rock solid endless resource in Christ, His word and a million people, things and situations He sends me. I don’t have to fill every crack in myself, He does.

  136. I just remind myself that no one has all of the answers, that there are times when I’m going to do the wrong thing, or make the wrong decision, or honestly just succumb to distractions, or hormones, or whatever and act like a crazy person. But, I’m usually coming from a place of love, and if I’m not, I recognize that and switch gears. I’ve gotten good at that part, and that gives me confidence. So short answer, “switch back to love.”

  137. i can only do so much, i am only one person…it may be done in slow, baby steps, but eventually, it will get done.

  138. Erin K says:

    This song:

    When we woke up
    The world was figured out
    Beyond the beauty we’ve dreamt about.
    This brilliant light is brighter than we’ve known,
    Without our darkness to prove it so.
    Still, we can’t help but to examine it,
    To add our question marks to periods.
    At the foot of our bed, we found an envelope…

    “You are enough.”
    These little words, somehow they’re changing us.
    “You are enough.”
    So we let our shadows fall away like dust.

  139. Katherine says:

    The results are not up to me… my job is to be faithful.

  140. At first I was thinking I tell myself that my children love me unconditionally, so I must be doing something right. And tomorrow is a new day, where we get to start over again with the best intentions. Then I remembered Stuart Smalley from SNL – “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darnit people like me”. But really, the mantra inside my head is “F%*k ’em if they can’t take a joke”. It reminds me that I know who I am, and I like me, and people who would judge me aren’t the people I want to be surrounded with.

    This is my first exposure to Jillian and I can’t wait to find her books to read.

  141. “all you have to do is make it through today.”

  142. Beverly says:

    God is with me and already has my plans figured out before me.

  143. When the self talk is getting bad enough that I see the rabbit hole opening, I say this, out loud, “Shut the f*** up, Amy.”

    I don’t have to be kind to the part of myself that is cruel to the rest of me.

    Then I tell myself all the things I’ve rehearsed to say to the other people out there who have doubted or talked down to me.

    “Yes, there is always something more I could be doing. It’s all on my list. I can’t do ALL THE THINGS. But I do enough…”

    No one is harder on me than me, and sometimes the rabbit hole gets me. But like Jillian said, I’ve learned that it comes in waves. I can cry it out tonight and tomorrow the built up pressure will be a puddle on my pillow. And the dishwasher will get loaded, and the carpet spills cleaned up (we’ll have to replace that shit before we move anyway), and the boys will get taken to their therapies, and given dinner (or cheetos), and, and, and, and my 4 and 6 year old kids will be happy and safe, and completely unaware that Mom is anything but there for them when they NEED me.

  144. “All Shall Be Well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
    -Julian of Norwich

  145. Sara S says:

    Take time for the “real” things…quality time with the kids and or my husband should always trump laundry, cleaning, to do lists etc…That’s the important thing :)

  146. I always remind myself to take a deep breath first. And then I remind myself that when I look back be it an hour or a month or a year later I will have learned something. And that sometimes it is hard to get through the tough stuff but there is another side, there will be a time when you will look back and be proud that you made it to the other side.

  147. This is not an entry for the giveaway – but a simple thank you. Thank you for sharing Jillian’s story, I would have never come upon her book(s) without your post. So thank you for sharing your story and hers – I love the stories of stong women!

    • Aw, you’re welcome. I’m loving reading these comments and seeing how important it is to share our stories. I know Jillian’s words, experience and vulnerability have encouraged so many women…and many more to come with this new book.

  148. Krissi says:

    I try to tell myself the same thing I tell my daughters. “Just try your best and I will proud of you no matter what happens.” It is so much easier to say that to them and have it be 100% true but I am trying to believe it for myself.

  149. That children are loving and forgiving even when I feel as though I am falling short…and that tomorrow is a new day.

  150. You don’t have to be perfect, to be perfect.

  151. Mama Leone says:

    Depending on the situation I may ask myself “will this matter in 10 years?” If the answer is yes. Then I remind myself, we learn from our mistakes. It is only a failure if I have not learned anything.
    I love the quote from Jillian about not confusing privacy with shame.

  152. I’m so free with grace and forgiveness for others, but rarely with myself. I have to remind myself to treat myself as I would others – a reverse golden rule if you will :-)

  153. “i am enough” is a good one, but when stuff is really hitting the fan i go a little more spiritual with the prayer (i feel like this might be st. francis of assisi or something?)–“be still and know that I am” it’s the same thing i tell my 7 year old to repeat in her head when’s she’s getting antsy at church 😉

    awesome interview- would love to read all those books! what could it possibly like to be in a harem? is it okay to admit i’m most interested in that? my cursory (and wishful for the women) thinking on this is that it would be a tad boring!

  154. “Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh.”

  155. That rabbit hole and I are great friends. The month of May is full of joy, stress, and pain. As a teacher, my students test this month. As a mother, my daughter turns 1 this month. As a woman, I turn 31. As a daughter, I will be missing my mother for the 2nd mother’s day. My mom used to pull me out of my rabbit hole, and now I’m struggling to find my way out and remind myself that I’m OK. My answer is in heaven and doesn’t speak in odds anymore. I watch for the signs, the flowers, the baby talking to someone not there, and know that she is with me in the wind. I drink my coffee, sit on my porch, and cry. In those tears I find my mom and my lifeline out of my hole.

    • Oh dear Kira, your words have captured the deep loss you are feeling. I’m so sorry. Yes–flowers and babies and breezes and tears over coffee on the porch, the spirit of who she is…still with you. Happy early Mother’s Day. xo Thank you for sharing.

  156. Shannon says:

    It is a marathon, not a sprint. That seems to help me realize, it does not all have to happen right at this second.

  157. WHEN MY STEP SON ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY AND MY DAUGHTER IS AN ANGEL. I JUST WANT TO RUN AND SAY HER AND I CAN DO IT ON OUR OWN, BUT THEN I REMEMBER OF THE JOY THEY BRING ME WHEN THEY BEHAVE AND I THINK OF HOW MY ONLY CHILD AND DAUGHTER LOVES THE PROTECTION THEY GIVE HER. I THINK IT TAKES MORE COURAGE TO STAY AND THAT MAKES ME BRAVE.

    THANK YOU LADIES FOR GIVING US A PLATFORM TO BE HONEST AND NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HAVING REAL FEELINGS THAT ALL STEP MOTHERS THINK BUT ARE TOO AFRAID TO BE JUDGED.

    XOX

  158. I didn’t realize how much I needed to read this today. Thank you for posting. When life feels like a whirlwind or I feel that little voice of self-doubt sneak into my head, I focus on my breath. It’s a good– but really hard!– yoga technique that, for me, takes an immense amount of concentration…but then I can’t think of any of the stressful stuff! There’s not enough brain-space to engage with rabbit-hole thoughts when I’m throughly focused on my life and my breath.

  159. Monique says:

    I tell myself to remember to take it one day at a time. Even if today is rough, tomorrow is around the corner.

  160. Kristen says:

    “Family means forever chances.”

  161. Brittany says:

    I am a 25 yr old who just became a step-mom to a 19 year old, an 18 year old, a 15 year old and an 11 year old. Most of the days I feel like I am completely drowning. I love my husband so much and wouldn’t trade any of it, but it’s SO hard sometimes. When I’m in my rabbit hole, I have to remind myself that I was given this situation for a reason. There must be a reason I am who I am, and I was given to those kids. I also remind myself to LOVE THEM. Love is an verb, not a feeling.

  162. April M says:

    I take some deep breaths, look into my little one’s eyes, and then allow love to take over… Love for my myself, love for my child, love for my husband … The positive energy always finds its way out and it’s infectious.

  163. “I don’t have to be anyone else except me.”

  164. I try to tell myself every day that I am enough. As a wife, as a mother, a daughter, sister, friend. That who I am right here, now in this moment is enough. Always and forever. No changing required.

  165. Melissa Wofford says:

    On the days where the doctors, therapist, insurance and life are all going crazy I tell myself, ‘faith is being sure of things hoped for and certain of things not seen’

  166. Lori HUNTER says:

    It is what it is, we will get through it eventually.

  167. Whenever I doubt my parenting skills for my toddler or even my four legged babies, I always remind myself “Let it go. Just keep loving them with everything you got and keep going.”

  168. As a mom who struggled with infertility and was finally blessed with my 2 miracle sons, when I find myself doubting my ability as a mother I just look at those precious faces and tell myself, ‘Remember Brandi, the love they have for you will oversee anything’. A child’s love to me can fix any feeling I may have in the world. It’s undeniable. It’s true and raw.

  169. I am doing my best and will not beat myself up about it.

  170. I love what you said about not confusing privacy with shame. As someone who struggled with infertility for years and then lost a baby I’ve always heard that voice in my head telling me that. I didn’t always believe it, but it was there. Kelle, Jillian I appreciate so much what you do. Thank you.

  171. Allison says:

    Trust.

  172. Christina k says:

    I remind myself that it’s okay to have bad days – not every single day can be perfect. And that it’s okay to lean in to whatever emotion I’m feeling that day, or that moment – instead of pushing it down and pretending that everything is okay, to really allow myself some time to feel whatever uncomfortable emotion I’m fighting.

  173. Jenny Nicole says:

    Tomorrow is a new day

  174. I have the will to survive this and so I will.

  175. I tell myself that I need to take care of myself so i can take care of others.

  176. Cynthia says:

    When parenting life gets a bit rough, I conjure my Mom’s patience, kindness and unending love for me and pay it forward. She wasn’t perfect….none of us are….but truthfully, I don’t really remember her in those imperfect moments. I remember hard moments, lessons taught, speeches given…sure, all of that. It’s her persistent love that embodies her spirit here in me, and now in my kids.

  177. I remind myself of all of the difficult things I’ve survived in my life and tell myself, “You made it through that, you can make it through this.”

  178. sandy johnson says:

    I sometimes beat myself up when I fail at being the “perfect” mom but I at some point come to my senses (after having a good cry) and think that maybe I’m not that bad and tell myself to try harder next time. I do tell myself that “I am a child of God” and he loves me no matter how weak I am at times :)

  179. Jen Sadler says:

    I remind myself that God has a purpose for me. I take a quiet moment for myself (usually in the bathroom as little fingers reach under the door) and tell meself I am doing the best I can with what I can. My kids are happy, healthy, and safe. That’s all I need to know.

  180. Rebekah says:

    Boy. I’ve had a lot of those moments these last few days with twin toddlers running under foot. I think the thing that has helped me most is just to say “peace”. I chant it in my head to myself over and over when I’m frustrated or angry or upset, and if things get really dirty I will say it out loud a few times to assure myself that it is possible. I don’t know what it is about that word, but it definitely brings peace into the room.

  181. I have bee taking a page from Jillian and trying to tell myself that I, too, deserve the kindness patience and compassion I give my kids. I too am a kid in this life, learning, starting over, trying and the journey isn’t over till it’s over. In the meantime, I have got to be more accepting that I haven’t been perfect.

  182. I give myself a few moments to feel what I’m feeling (anger, doubt, anxiety) and then remember that everyone has these feelings and they’re what make us human.

  183. Kristina says:

    When I feel my confidence flagging, I tell myself that I will soon blink and my children will be grown. I tell myself that I am enough for them, and that the time I spend with them will be what the remember. Not how clean my house was or what “things” they had.

  184. I take a deep breath and pray for whatever I need in that moment, usually patience :) And I tell myself, I’m doing the best I can, nobody’s perfect, and it’s ok to make mistakes and say I’m sorry. That’s how our littles learn too – seeing us make mistakes, offering apologies, and offering ourselves grace.

  185. I just try to take a deep breathe and get to bed as soon as I can knowing I can always start fresh in the morning.

  186. I am on a journey to lose 50 lbs…I have lost 38 so far, and let me tell you, self doubt used to rear its nasty head ALL. THE. TIME.

    But now? Now I am in control. For the first time I saw a picture of myself and realized, it was me all along!!

    Thanks for sharing this post….can’t wait to pick up her books and dive right in.

    • Congratulations, Amy! That’s incredible! Love this. It’s empowering to show yourself what you’re capable of, isn’t it?!

  187. I remind myself that I probably need a snack. :)

  188. Susan J says:

    I’m not sure that I have any one thing that I say to myself to (try to!) restore my confidence – usually something along the lines of : “keep putting one foot in front of the other” or “just do your best”. But I have really enjoyed reading the comments to this post to see how others move themselves forward when life becomes challenging.

  189. Brittany says:

    “out of everyone in the world, I was chosen to be their mother.”

  190. I’m about 3 weeks away from giving birth to my first child, so about now the doubts regarding parenthood are coming fast & furious (i.e., “Am I old enough for this? Am I too selfish to be a parent? What if I just can’t do it?”) But I just keep coming back to the fact that bottom line, all this kid REALLY needs from the get go is love, cuddles, food, a place to sleep, and someone to change his diapers. For now, that’s it. And those things I can handle. I think 😉

  191. lINDSAY aNN says:

    I remind myself that they (my boys) still love me.

  192. “There’s a reason for this. Look for the reason.”

  193. Callie says:

    I tell myself “you are enough.”

    By that I guess I mean, I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. My presence is enough.

    I say it to myself all the time.

  194. When I’m a mean mom, I tell myself that they know they are wildly loved and they are seeing me being fallible and asking them for forgiveness. I want my kids to be really great at saying, “I apologize, please forgive me”, so I make a point of very thorough apologies when I’ve had a….moment.

  195. Love Wins, Just love the best you can.

  196. Every action I have taken has led me to this very point of my life. Every right or wrong choice, every success or failure, every good intention and every mistake. Nobody is perfect, and being perfect would be pretty darn boring anyway.

  197. Lori D. says:

    Love this post even though I am not a mom–tho I have always wanted to be! When I have my self doubt moments it tends to be because I have always felt I am a “late bloomer” due to years of past abuse and just generally being more cautious than others I know. This has bothered me more as I’ve gotten older and watched my peers get married and have children and realize that hasn’t been my experience and I don’t know if it ever will be.
    So I say an affirmation I learned about 10 yrs ago. “I am enough!” And then I seek to do something for some one else–whether it be pray for someone I have read about going through a difficult situation, a news story/current event or some random person. I almost always feel better for reaching out!

  198. On those days when I feel like everything I touch has fallen apart and I have failed in every way as a parent, I crawl into bed next to my husband and we whisper to each other before falling into the exhausted sleep that only the parents of special needs children really understand, “We will try again tomorrow.”

  199. “flush it”…..and I literally imagine the negative thoughts being flushed down a toilet.

    And my very favorite quote (don’t know the author) I came across when raising children that became a daily mantra to me: “They are God’s child. You are just the earthly parent.”

    This gave me such freedom, knowing that God loved them so much and had given them to me to parent. Not to be their friend, but to teach, to parent. And He ultimately would equip me with what I needed to do that…even with mistakes along the way.

  200. I tell myself that God gave me my kids for a reason. I don’t know why, but he did. :)

  201. sara Dick says:

    ” Mama said there’d be days like this”

  202. Katherine says:

    I step into nature, usually at night, stare at the moon and stars, smell the woodsmoke, listen to the leaves, and remind myself that though my feelings feel BIG right now, I am small, that my troubles in the scheme of the grandness of the universe are tiny, that there is nothing I am feeling or will experience that has not been felt and lived through in the past, or that will not be lived through in the future, but that this is my time to feel. For me for some reason when staring at the moon, full or crescent, deep calm, perspective, and an urgent sense of ‘make the most of this, you won’t always be here’, enter me. I realise that (metaphorically) from the sky the Great Spirit sees me and says hi, it’s ok, you’re ok, everything is ok. I’m here. I’ve always been here. You’ll come to me soon enough. Breathe me in.

  203. KATIE FLOERKE says:

    I TELL MYSELF I’M JUST AS GOOD AS ANYONE ELSE AT THIS MOTHERING THING AND THAT THE FACT THAT I EVEN WORRY IF I’M DOING ‘GOOD ENOUGH’ MEANS I PROBABLY AM DOING AWESOME. :)

  204. shaama chahoud says:

    “Today was a total parenting fail, I must text my friends and tell them so they can tell me that they too have had those days. Then, I will sleep and get up tomorrow and try, try again. Tomorrow will be a day that goes in the bucket of successful parenting days because I have learned so much from today”

  205. Julie A says:

    Thank you dear God for the help that is here for me. I am ready to be helped!

  206. Julia Anderson says:

    Never give up!

  207. TObilinn says:

    The days are long but the years are short

  208. Rachael says:

    two hours, two days, two weeks or two months- by the end of one of those, this promlem/phase/feeling will have passed.

  209. “You can do it because you ARE doing it.”

  210. I tell myself that at dawn new light will come and bring with it new joy, new hope, and a whole lot of love and laughter. I urge myself to take one quick glimpse at my baby boy and let myself realize I brought that bundle of perfection into this crazy, beautiful world which in turn makes me feel strong and empowered again.

  211. Tiffany says:

    moments of self doubt flood in when i’m typically not at my best. when i’m rocking it and totally on my game (which is rare with 3 kids and a traveling husband), i don’t question myself. it’s only when i’m feeling broken does the self doubt flood in. i remind myself of this when i’m down and refocus on who my girls are becoming…they are the best reflection of my daily efforts and successes. when i look at them, i see none of the failures i thought i endured.

  212. Lindsey says:

    God chose me to be the mother to my kids. Not anyone else, me. Some days are great and some are not so great, but as long as my kids know I love them then I’ve done something right!

  213. Brooke mathews says:

    Whenever I am experiencing self doubt I remind myself of my position on the Earth. I always tell myself and others to “liven them with kindness”, as opposed to “kill them with kindness”. I think there is a certain subtle contradictory nature with the latter statement, and find I would much rather build people up than bring them down. I strive to remind myself that I am here to be kind to people, and if I have accomplished nothing else I am doing okay.

  214. Lindsey H. says:

    “This won’t last. It never does.” And Dory (from Nemo), “Just keep swimming!!!” (Extra exclamation pints are mine;-)

  215. Gemma Donnelly says:

    I would like to begin by saying THANKYOU to you both. This last few days I have been introduced to you both via links put up on Facebook and I have learnt so much from your words, interviews and podcasts and have ordered both of your books as I know I will benefit tremendously from them.
    The one thing i say to myself is “thank you’…it goes to god, to the universe and to my teachers in the world because it is because of them that i am able to be supported and to learn such wonderful lessons whilst hearing the messages sent to me…..THANKYOU xx

  216. Gemma Donnelly says:

    PS. The best quote on FB that meant so much to me as mother of little people was from Adriana Trigiani…..

    “Motherhood is a career,
    God hires you and pays you
    with the smiles of
    your children”.

  217. joannee says:

    Do the best you can with what you have. That is what I know my parents did, and I try to do that also.

  218. Janice D. says:

    In my worst moments of self-doubt, I remember, “My best is good enough for him, and he loves me. He really LOVES me, so I must be doing it right.”

  219. I tell myself that I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.

  220. T. Whittles says:

    ‘Things only happen as they must.’ You can only make the decision you’re meant to make. If it turns out well, fantastic; if the result is not so great, that’s OK too – it was meant to be that way, for you to learn and grow.

  221. I’m not a mom (hopefully one day!) but when things are feeling stormy and self doubt starts to creep in, I comfort myself with a host of mantras and hope one of them sticks. :)

    -You can do hard things – you can do this thing.
    -Just breathe.
    -What’s the next right thing? Concentrate and do that.
    -You are good enough.

  222. Jolaine says:

    Great article. Great comments. When I am down or feeling overwhelmed I lean on my husband. He puts things in perspective of how I’m doing as a mother: that our son is happy and healthy and that’s all that matters. Trying to fit into the supermom mold is too exhausting so I pick my battles and let the rest go (most of the time).

  223. Tara Hall says:

    I am a newly single Mom to two amazing children. Age 4 and 9 months. This past year has been a struggle in every conceivable way but it has brought me closer to God, closer to myself, and closer to my children. There are days of course when I feel like I am failing miserably. I just stop & tell myself that God has given me this life, these children, these circumstances because he knows that I am strong enough to face any hardship with Him by my side. “His lover never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”

  224. “Take a deep breath, tomorrow is another day to start again.”

  225. I teach my daughters how beautiful they are, just as they are, and I truly believe every woman is. Every person is! But I try to hide myself in clothes and often I feel quite shameful about my own body. I don’t want to do this but there it is! So what do I do? I go for a walk, or I stack wood, or I clean my house or I hug my family and then I marvel at the wonders my body can do!

  226. I totally need to read these books! She seems very insightful and uplifting. Having been through a failed marriage and now a failing boyfriend, I am at the bottom of the self worth bucket.. I just need to remind myself that tomorrow is another day and another chance to be happy. It is so easy to get caught up in the self pity that you miss all the good that is going on around you. Stop and smell the roses – literally :)

  227. Tina Ward says:

    Loved this. I am an adoptive mom who recently had her adopted child, now a 19 year old, that he was going back to his “real” mom because he didn’t like an answer I gave him. My heart was shattered. He has since apologized and we are fine. But adoption is not Disneyland or a fairytale, it is hard, it is work but it is SO WORTH IT. I love my son and always will and will support him in whatever he chooses in life.

  228. When I am overtaken by the overwhelmed, scared, and shame spiral, I tell myself “No one ever died from this. Tomorrow is a new day and you can begin again”. I also reach out a call a friend – I find community is the cure for most things and isolation is never the answer.

  229. WHitney Covey says:

    This post really resonated through me. I feel that so often we forget that who we were, and what we’ve gone through has shaped us into the person we are today. I was raised in a very religious family where everyone was the same size, got married at 18, and multiple babies by 20… I didn’t fit that mold. I was independent, living on my own, got married YEARS later then they thought was acceptable, and I still don’t have kids! I was always the odd man out. I was proud of myself, but they seemed to be disappointed because I didn’t fit their ideal mold. I struggled with this for years. I was upset because my past, my body type, my relationship status didn’t look the way my family thought it should. A year before I met my now husband I remember I finally accepted myself for who I am. Written on my mirror in dry erase marker were the words, “YOU are strong. YOU are beautiful. YOU are smart. YOU are accomplished. YOU are brave. Be proud of YOU” I had to learn to compliment myself. Look at my strengths and realize that honestly, if I had the chance to change anything about myself, I wouldn’t. I’m proud of my thick thighs, I’m proud of my life. I’m proud of who I’ve become through trials. I was created this way for a reason. I’m not going to let my purpose shrink because of an unkind word. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  230. So much mother’s love is pouring out. This blog post made me cried :) Happy Mother’s Day :)

  231. tracey says:

    When I am having a rough time being a Mom I remind myself: “This is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW.” Things always change. What seems like a crappy time right now may very well look good once it is in the rearview mirror!

  232. teresa says:

    I think – “look at her. look at her joy. look at her contentment. she’s home…and i’m home.”

  233. My husband and I recently became foster parents, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I think about the uncertain future of the kiddos living in our home. Our constant reminder to ourselves is that at least for today, these kids are ours to love.

  234. This was a great piece. I was fascinated by it all and admit I had to go google the harem part too! lol What I love most is that she tells her truth – warts and all. I wish more people were willing to live their lives that way. Keep posts like this coming, Kelle!

  235. grace upon grace upon grace!

  236. Karen J Moseley says:

    I’d love to read her books. I have so many things in common and some that are not, but I like her honesty and I believe that in sharing the “real”, there comes so much healing.

  237. Kelly B says:

    When I was crying in my hospital room the day after having my first child (just feeling overwhelmed and hormonal, I suppose, as well as recovering from an unexpected C-section and nursing not working at all), my dr. walked in and told me, “Lesser people than you have done this, and do it every day. You absolutely can do this, and you will”. And to this day, I remind myself of those words when I start getting overwhelmed or lacking confidence in myself in some situation – and it always helps. Also, “This, too, shall pass”.

  238. I tell myself “You are enough”

  239. I tell myself to take a time out and look, really look at my kids, because they think I’m awesome. Then I give myself some grace, we all get in the bath and call it a day!

  240. “Even the ocean can calm itself.”
    My newest mantra. Reminds me to find the calm in the chaos – that it IS there.

  241. This post resonated with me on so many levels. As one who has a uterus that is nothing more than a death trap, I know all too well the reality of living in a body that will not cooperate. I have been blessed by the miracle of adoption as well, and have 2 wonderful littles who call me mom. My son has special needs, and each day he works harder to function and fit into this world than I could ever imagine. His perseverance has is awe-inspiring. I keep remaining myself that this life is a marathon, not a sprint. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…I must be in par with Thor .

  242. A counselor once said to me after hearing a very long tragic saga of my hard life—“Wow, you ARE a survivor!”. I can still “hear” him saying that to me. It validated me in some fashion. So when I experience a stressor and want to hide away in my bed, under the covers—I just recall that I AM A SURVIVOR!

    XOXO

  243. Jillian says:

    The full saying is “then, when it seems we will never smile again, life comes back.” I lean on the “life comes back.” portion. It’s my mantra when I need to know this too shall pass.

  244. JessiCa says:

    When the voice in my head gets overwhelming and critical I remind myself that I’d never be alright with someone else saying those things about another person around me. I wouldn’t let them be that critical, that judgmental and that wrong. I’d call them out! So I definitely owe it to myself to do the same when it’s being said about me (especially when I’m the one saying it!). Reframing it as if I were standing there hearing someone make those statements about another person helps me to see how ridiculous it is. To snap out of it and get more positive!

  245. Heather says:

    I know I did the best I could with what I had to work with

  246. I tell myself there’s nothing we can’t handle. We meaning the collective world which we so often have to lean on and ask for support.

  247. “Keep it in perspective” is what I like to remind myself when things get tough.

  248. Kellyann says:

    When I am having one of those moments, I try to remember that it’s not about winning some Mother of the Year award, but about showing up! As long as I am still trying, still showing up, I am on the right track!

  249. I have four young kids between 6 and 12, and although I’m sure we have lots of challenges ahead, I feel that as a family we can manage it! At the end of the day we will come together around the dinner table and look at each other thinking “it was another beautiful, maybe even a bit crazy, day!”. Sometimes life gets messy, but at the end we have beautiful memories.

  250. Yola owens says:

    In the dark times I try to remember that “we will work through this toegether, and if I’m still willing to work through this then I can’t be all bad. Selfish or fat or ugly or depressed or stupid can’t really define me if I’m still willing to dive in and do the work of relationship.” I loved reading the line in this interview about how we can describe and define ourselves so harshly but we would never define or describe another human that way.

  251. Emelyn says:

    It helps when I’m falling down that rabbit hole of self doubt to say:

    “Em, you are enough. You’ve got this. “

  252. Jennifer s says:

    My Dad always told me, in moments of self-pity or doubt, “who told you this life was supposed to be easy?” and I remind myself in dark times that the hard is what ultimately makes this life worthwhile. And even in my struggles and weakness, I have love. All I can do when it’s really hard, is try to love.

  253. After having a daughter with DS, our motto in the days after became “it could always be worse”. I find it applies to everything in life. It helps me pick up, be thankful for what I gave and move on.

  254. Makahla says:

    I’m not a mom yet. In fact I’m a college Dental Hygiene student who feels so small in this world. I’m engaged, and often ask myself “Am I capable?” Motherhood is a scary thing that I can’t put on pause. When I’m not ready for something in my life, I can put it on pause. But with a child, the movie keeps rolling. Am I capable of giving the out most love to a small human being who is relying only on myself? Your blog I have followed for years. And because of it, I’ve learned that motherhood doesn’t come easy, it takes failing, learning and love. I can do anything I set my heart to!

  255. Melissa says:

    I remind myself to ‘keep showing up’.

  256. In my darkest moments of anxiety and self-loathing, there is a small light buried deep that tells me “Just keep moving forward.”
    It feels like when I’m running, and I hit that wall, and I know that even though it hurts like hell and I just want to stop, if I keep moving my feet forward it will get easier again and I will feel so much better for it.
    Or, I tell myself to run. Running fixes lots of things.

  257. Allison D says:

    “We can do hard things”

  258. I loved this post. Keep doing these! As a parent now and being pulled in many directions, I often tell myself whether the day was crazy, sad, happy – whatever, and I’m SO tired at the end of the day, I just tell myself to take it one day at a time. It’s always something new the next day that you can tackle after a night of sleep.

  259. I’m a new mom… of twins. No grandparents around, first of my friends having kids. Well, we’re trying our best. And when I feel sad, grumpy, anxious, angry, tired, I know there’s him, my fiancee, with me. He’ s a reliable, loving, clumsy, funny dad and even if he forgets to take our little boy’s pacifier with us when we go out (and that makes me mad!), he’s there. We are better together.

  260. Rachel Patrick says:

    I look at my son and tell myself I can’t be that bad, I made this beautiful boy and he is perfect.

  261. “I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got”

  262. Christine says:

    Gosh, it’s hard seeing the gaping hole open up beneath when I have been a bad/yelling/wrong/insert other negative mom. What helps me is remembering that I am a broken person parenting little broken people. As much as I teach them with my kind moments I am teaching them how to be broken and not stay down, too. I may visit their of self dought but I don’t live there and my kids see that truth.

  263. for better or for worse this too shall pass so immerse yourself in it regardless

  264. Kristin A. says:

    There are a quite a lot of things I remind myself when I get stuck in a rough moment. Among them would be that I am a great mom and that I’m doing a good job.

  265. I remind myself to notice and appreciate the small, daily moments that really mean so much. Prayer helps too! And regular dance parties with my boys!

  266. Destiny says:

    I’m not a mom (yet), but I have eighteen special needs little ones in my class that I strive to nurture and support and care for every day, who I still hold and comfort when they are in time out for biting me or when their tummies hurt because they ate half of our Very Hungry Caterpillar book. I love all of my little DS and CP and cri du chat and autism babies that literally drain the life from me every day because I’m pouring everything I have into nurturing them, and sometimes it’s all I can do to just make it to my car before the tears start, but in all of this, what helps me the most is those sweet little moments when a child climbs into my lap and snuggles me, or seeing one of them master a task that they’ve worked on so hard for months, or watching them play together and forgetting that they are different because when they’re together, all I see are the sweet spirits of little children, life’s most precious gift to us tired, worn down adults.

  267. “we’re breaking the cycle” … 😉

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