How I know I'm a good mom - JJ Landis
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note from emma to mama

How I know I’m a good mom


Just like the night before, on my pillow was a love letter written on a hot pink, flower-shaped sticky note: “You are amazing, outstanding, awesome, unbelievable, perfect. These are barely anything compared to you. Emma.”


More than 15 years ago, when Esther was born, I learned how to be a mom. I learned how to change diapers and nurse, how to worry, how to punish, how to praise, how to clean puke out of hair, how to tickle and sing and play, how to love a little girl. I recognized that motherhood was a bigger job than I had expected.


When Alex came along two years later, I learned how to multitask, how to kiss and love on a baby boy, how to snuggle just a little bit more, how to be shared between two people, how to handle conflict (still working on that one). I realized that in motherhood, the mind is a gymnast, flipping effortlessly from joy to terror, from laughter to tears, and from peace to panic.


With Emma three years on, I learned how to juggle more needs, how to master all sizes of car seats, how to relax and give up control, how to cuddle three wee bodies at once, how to love another girl who was, despite the improbability, just as beautiful as her big sister. I figured out that motherhood was my calling.


With the parenting gig, as soon as you have something mastered, it changes. It’s a frightful venture. I used to make lists of all the ways I could screw up my children (yes, I literally wrote these things on paper).


The more I’ve surrendered my fear to God, the less fearful I have become.


Obviously, there are ways I could damage them – by hitting, insulting, neglecting, abusing, humiliating – but I’m not going to do those things. I am not going to mess up my kids by loving them unconditionally, by giving them a secure childhood, by listening to them, by being present. I’m their mom – they are my perfect matches. We will be okay.

note to mama

When my baby repeatedly expresses her love to me in writing, I know I’m a good mom.


When my teenage son sits next to me on the loveseat Every Morning before breakfast, I know I’m a good mom.


When the oldest thanks me for helping her dye her hair turquoise and for not expecting her to look a certain way, I know I’m a good mom.


I moved the note from my pillow to my nightstand with the others and crawled under my white comforter, pulling it up to rest on my chin, just beneath my smile. Falling asleep, I reflected on what I have, amazed that this is my real life.


I live in awe of my responsibility to mold, teach, guide, love, and then eventually let go of these people who rock my world.

  • Morgan Leah
    Posted at 08:58h, 11 May Reply

    There is no doubt in my mind that you are a wonderful mom! Your kids would not be who they are today without you!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 09:09h, 11 May Reply

      Morgan, You’re so sweet. I love that you read and “get” my writing. Isn’t it amazing, this motherhood thing?

  • P. J. Lazos
    Posted at 07:36h, 11 May Reply

    What a beautiful tribute both to your children and motherhood.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 09:09h, 11 May Reply

      Thank you, Pam.

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