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(This is a letter to a real mom.)

I can’t stop thinking about our conversation.

I keep hearing those words:

I do all these things, and no one notices.
I do all these things, and nothing works.
I do all these things, and I feel like a failure.

I hear your exhaustion. I know you feel like everything is about to fall apart. I see that you are losing track of the wins because the losses keep piling up.

There’s so much I want to say to you, but let’s start with this: you are a @#$%^ing superhero. I see you. I see how you showed up to our call, even after being awake and feeling desperate at two a.m. the night before. I see you searching for the courage to hope. I see you laying it all out, ready to do whatever it takes.

I know you’re going to get through this, but there’s something you can do that will make this so much easier…

Please stop minimizing your wins.

This morning, you did exactly what we planned, and put our new strategy in place. Your son loved it. You nailed it.

You even sent me a text message to let me know, just like I asked… but I didn’t hear a celebration from your end. Instead, you wrote “It’s a work in progress.” I wasn’t even sure at first whether you had tried the strategy at all, or whether the morning had been a complete chaotic mess.

Yes! Yes, it’s a work in progress, but this is a step! You get to give yourself credit for this. You did something, and it made a difference.

Sure, we’re not “there” yet, but in my experience, “there” is like a mirage. We trudge along with our eyes on a glimmer on the horizon, and we move closer to it, but it keeps getting further away. We forget how far we’ve come. We set new goals and we don’t look over our shoulders to see the many, many footprints behind us.

Every single step is worth celebrating. Thank you for sending me that message this morning. Thank you for inviting me to be on your team. I look forward to that next early morning message, and the one after that.

You’re building something here. It’s big. You can only add one brick or two at a time. Some days, you might find we have run out of bricks. That’s okay, because you keep coming back. You keep piling those bricks up. I know it doesn’t seem like enough right now, but trust me, you are creating something real and lasting. Don’t kick over the pile for being small. Don’t walk away or start over because it’s incomplete. Don’t forget to look at all the bricks that came before, and remember that you put them there.

You’re not going to fail, I promise. You are going to just look for that one brick.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder