I was twenty-one when I gave birth to my first child; she was beautiful. There was nothing that could have ever prepared me for the depths of love that filled my heart as I held her for the first time.

I knew right away that she was worth my every effort. My relationship with her made me feel as though I had been designed to be a mom, I felt completely made to be “mom.” Every moment with her felt like my soul had found it’s calling.

I felt like I could see things for what they really were. One restless night, Shylee had been crying for so long, at each failed attempt at making her happy I felt more and more like a failure. I started to cry with her, I could feel her pain and as the tears came down my face it became clear to me that this moment was about more than finding a way to calm her down. This moment was meant to build a trusting relationship with my daughter. I whispered in her ears “Mommy’s here.”

I was filled with excitement everytime her cries woke me from my sleep. I knew I was getting out of bed to show my daughter that I would be with her through thick and thin. I was showing her that even though I can’t always make her troubles go away, she never has to fight them alone. I knew someday her troubles would be bigger and that this moment and every moment like it acted as a stitch in the fabric of our relationship, and every stitch made us stronger.

Shylee will be five years old this July. There have been many sleepless nights since we sowed that first stitch. With each stage of our relationship, the “Mommy’s here,” mentality has served as a lamppost as we’ve made our way through more difficult challenges. The phrase “Mommy’s here” was the most humbling statement I had ever made as a new mother. I was admitting to my daughter that I did not have it all figured out, I did not have a solution for her troubles, and that the most I could offer her in this difficult moment was merely my presence.

I have eleven brothers and sisters, I am number seven in that lineup so my mother was a pro by the time I came along. I have so much respect for her; she is so loving and wise. I honestly believed that she was perfect and I wanted to grow up to be just like her! I thought being a mom meant you had some kind of power or insight that others didn’t and that you always knew just what to do or how to fix anything! When my mother said “Mommy’s here.” I knew things would get better because MY MOM WAS THERE… Her presence made everything better!

Uttering the words “Mommy’s here” not only humbled me it shattered the unrealistic ideas I had about being a mom. It’s not being perfect, it’s being present, it’s not having the power to fix anything; it’s having the bravery to face anything. Being a mom doesn’t mean you have all the answers, and that’s ok because this isn’t a test, it’s an opportunity to love wholeheartedly.