The Four Words All Moms Want To Hear


“You’re doing great, mama!” ??The text came and brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t feel like I was doing great. I had a newborn at home; my first baby.

I was sleep deprived. I was sore. I was constantly hungry. I was reading everything and anything I could get my hands on relating to the newborn stage of life.

“You’re doing great, mama!”

The text came from a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while. She, too, was home with a newborn, her second, though.

She didn’t know how much I needed to hear her words.

She didn’t know how much I was doubting everything. Doubting being a mom. Doubting my ability to care for another person. Doubting whether I was up to the task at hand. She didn’t know how nervous I was about feeding my baby and whether she was getting enough food. She didn’t know I questioned everything from burping to swaddling to diaper changes and everything in between.

“You’re doing great, mama!” ??She didn’t know how desperately I needed to hear those words.

I felt less than great, mediocre at best.

Her words came to me and brought life to my weary spirits. Her words gave me a truth that I could hold on to. Her words spoke to me in the haze of caring for a newborn.

For it’s no small task to give birth and raise new life. I carried and nurtured and cradled a tiny baby for 9 months. I stretched and tore and cried out in pain. I held and rocked and fed this new baby.

It’s no small task to have a part of ourselves out in the world. It’s no small task to have our hearts torn open only to be filled with more love and joy and hope than we could have imagined.

My friend knew the truth of her words.
She knew a deeper truth about motherhood.
She knew that I was doing great.
I was doing great because I loved.
And I was loved in return.

Deep down inside I loved this baby beyond anything I ever felt before.
I felt amazement and awe and fear and a deep, deep sense of hope.

I was doing great.
Even amidst the tears.
Even amidst the doubts.
Even amidst the late night google searches.

“You’re doing great, mama!”

My second baby was born recently and I still need to hear the affirmation that I’m doing great. For now I have a toddler running around demanding attention, learning about her world, and sharing her love for her sibling. I have more joy and more hope, and more worries.

But I hear my friend’s words. And I offer those same words to all the new mama’s that I know. Because it’s true.

We all are doing great.
We’re doing the best we can.
We’re loving and forgiving and loving some more.
We’re walking and sleeping and feeding.
We’re raising world-changing people.

So on those occasions when the kids are napping and the house is silent, I’ll reach out to another friend, a new mama, and I’ll say to her:

“You’re doing great, mama!”

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at:



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