You’re Doing Great (and Other Truths from God and Bluey)
“You’re doing great.”
Three words from a cartoon dog were all it took to wreck me.
They’re said in an episode of my son’s favorite cartoon, Bluey. (Ok, my favorite too.) The title of the episode is “Baby Race,” and in short, it’s a seven-minute emotional roller coaster where Bluey’s mom, Chili, shares the story of how she felt like a failure when baby Bluey wasn’t learning gross motor skills as quickly as the other babies in her mom group.
Near the end of the episode, Chili has stopped going to her mother’s group all together and, noticing her absence, another mom, Bella, drops by her house, unannounced, to check in. Chili learns Bella has a much larger family than she realized and comments, “You must have learned a thing or two.”
“I have,” Bella replies, “and there’s something you need to know.”
“You’re doing great.”
Our son was born on April 2, 2020, at the height of the pandemic when the world was shutting down. I was a first-time mom with an essential worker husband who felt isolated and helpless. There was no meal train, no read-aloud or music classes at the library. There was no support system in place for me as I tried to navigate what was “normal” during a time when pretty much everything seemed anything but.
I floundered through failed attempts at breastfeeding. Sleeping through the night was not something we experienced until he was nearly one. And his first tantrum had me weeping—not because it was out of the ordinary, but because I had zero sense of what the ordinary was. I didn’t know breastfeeding wasn’t possible for everyone. I hadn’t heard tips and tricks from friends to help promote better sleep habits. I hadn’t seen an in-person tantrum in probably 15 years and was paralyzed with fear of responding the wrong way and thus ruining my child forever.
I felt like a failure.
And then I heard those words from a pink cartoon poodle, “You’re doing great.”
I know it might be a stretch, but I can’t help but imagine them coming directly from God, watching as I changed the third blowout of the day. Giving me the hug I needed while my husband worked a 12-hour shift and time moved as slow as molasses. They were words of encouragement from the Divine:
I see you.
You’re not alone.
You are a good mom.
You’re doing great.
In December of 2021 we welcomed a baby girl into our family—right as the Omicron variant of the virus was causing a stir. (It would appear I only have babies at the height of a pandemic.) Once more I found myself mourning the loss of a “normal” labor and delivery as well as the mommy-and-me activities that still hadn’t returned.
When she arrived, I was again confronted with the harsh reality of low milk supply, babies that just don’t want to sleep, and a toddler with very big feelings. From the outside, things looked nearly identical, but I felt much more at ease adding our daughter into the fold than when our son was born. Not because 20 months of parenting had magically turned me into an expert, but because I was (and still am) continuing to learn the value of looking for God in all parts of my day, especially the unexpected ones.
I was first introduced to the practice of finding God in all things while in undergraduate school at a Jesuit university. It’s a key component of Ignatian Spirituality (named for Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits), which encourages taking the time to review your day, moment by moment, and paying attention to the times you noticed God’s presence, as well as the times you perceive God’s distance. It’s a beautifully simple and accessible prayer focused on gratitude and the recognition that the Divine is forever present and available to us, even in those moments we struggle to notice it.
Simple as the prayer may be, it can still be hard to remember to actively look for God in my day-to-day as a mother—especially when the days are overwhelmingly chaotic or just drudgingly monotonous. But as I continue to turn to this prayer practice, I am routinely amazed by the new spaces where God shows up—in the hard moments, the beautiful moments, and the mundane moments.
Since becoming a mother, I’m also learning that many of the hard, beautiful, and mundane pieces of parenthood don’t last forever. So if you find yourself as I did (and sometimes still do), feeling isolated and helpless, no matter what season of parenting you’re in, there’s something you need to know—
You’re doing great.
Sarah Rose is a wife and mother living in Cleveland, OH. She loves Ignatian Spirituality and is passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She earned her B.A. from John Carroll University and her Master of Divinity from The Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, listening to audiobooks, and finding God in all things.
To watch the episode of Bluey that Sarah references above, treat yourself here.