A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a parenting article our church could use. And I didn’t write it. I was chatting with a friend about it, and she asked, “Well, isn’t Chasing Supermom a parenting blog?” And I was flummoxed. Because, yes – I began the blog with moms in mind, but over time, my posts about mom life started to dwindle. And I couldn’t put my finger on why.

In the beginning, I was in the thick of it. I was walking through the potty-training, “dear God PLEASE don’t let them skip their nap today so I can just watch an episode of Mad Men in peace”, Cheerios EVERYWHERE, Candyland 30 times in a row phase of life. I was tired, overwhelmed, and not quite at peace with being a stay-at-home mom.

Fast-forward 11 years, and life has changed. My kids sleep through the night, pick up after themselves (sort of), and I no longer have to carry a giant purse full of sippy cups and Pull-ups everywhere. I have independent, older kids – and their needs have changed. And so have mine.

It feels like our culture operates under the assumption that once a child starts school, the “tough” part of motherhood is over. We operate as if our need for encouragement and support vanishes when the potty chair, biter biscuits, and ground-up goldfish crackers in the car disappear. (Haha – just kidding. The ground up crackers are there forever. Embrace them. They’re a part of you now.) I even used to attend a group for moms that held a little ceremony at the end of each year to politely hand the moms whose children were starting kindergarten in the fall a pansy and send them on their way.

And sent on our way, we start to grapple with the new challenges we face – on our own. With each new phase of motherhood, we adapt and recalibrate – and let’s get real – those words mean change, and change is hard. And aside from sharing frustrations over not understanding third grade math anymore or mentioning to a trusted friend how hard it is to constantly feel like a referee – we just don’t talk about the struggles of moms in “the middle.” And that’s where I was – until now.

Because you reading this? The mom with older kids? Your needs still matter. You still matter. And even if the world may treat you as though your life should be/feel “easy” now that your kids are in school – it doesn’t have to. It probably doesn’t. Because here’s the truth: motherhood is hard. Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Elementary Schoolers, Middle Schoolers, Teenagers, and Adult Children ALL present unique (and draining) challenges for mothers.

And I’m going to say this loud and proud right now. Don’t tell yourself (or let someone tell you) that you need support and encouragement right now because of the pandemic. You do not need to walk through a global crisis to “deserve” attention and support. Encouragement never needs a qualifier. Ever. Don’t fall into the mindset that you “get” to take care of you because you’re going through a hard phase, etc. You get to take care of you always. Full stop. No reason needed.

And I’m going to be here. And I see all of you moms out there. I see the mom with the infant – crying in frustration because what she read in “the book” isn’t working. I see the mom with the toddler who isn’t talking much and the one with the child who just won’t stay in their big-kid bed. I see the moms wrestling with kids who lie, won’t do their school work, and are struggling to fit in. I see you. I was you. I am you. And we’re in this together.

So, while I don’t have a pansy to give you – I ceremonially invite you back IN to the group and welcome you with open arms. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. And we’ll get real – because none of us have it all figured out. We’re just doing our best. “Supermom?” She’s not real. We’ll always just be chasing her.