“I know you want to give your son all the credit,” our child’s psychiatrist stated, “but you need to know that you deserve some credit for how well he’s doing too. Go home and tell your husband you’re both doing a really good job.”

Her words caught me off guard, and I immediately began to tear up as I nodded and whispered my thanks to her. Wiping my eyes I realized the validation she offered made me feel like my efforts were not for naught.

I didn’t realize how often I am my own worst critic. How often I wonder if I am doing a good enough job with these kids. How often I berate myself for being short with my kids, or angry. How often I will remind myself of all the times I’ve messed up, and use that as the litmus test for how well I am doing as a parent.

When here’s the truth: I am trying. Sometimes not as well as I should. But overall, I am trying to raise these kids well.

And I worry that my trying isn’t good enough. Isn’t good enough to hold them. To keep them secure. To love them beyond diagnoses and behaviors and family history that stretches far beyond my control and grasp.

I worry that they will remain healthy. Whole. In a world of battered people, bruised by life, my children are affected by all this hurt too. Has it scarred them too much? I wonder.

Will they not only survive in life, but thrive?

As I sit, feeling the weight of these thoughts, an old song I hadn’t heard in years, flutters through my head.

What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world and loves people back to himself—broken, whole, battered or bruised—no matter.

I may not always have faith in myself, but I do have faith in a God who promises to love us always. Who promises to be for us and not against us. Who promises to use all things for our good.

And these anchors of my faith become the prayers whispered over my children, even while they are unaware.

Lord, love them. Embrace them. Use my, however imperfect, love to show them that anchored to you, they can survive in life. They have hope. Forgiveness. A future.

This is my prayer, and isn’t it all our prayers, as parents. We all want what’s best for our kids. Maybe it’s time we recognize the criticism in our own heads, set it aside, and remember all the things we are doing right.

I once read a quote that said, “If you’re worried that you’re a good parent, you probably are.”

And I’m beginning to see and believe that God will pick up where we lack and fill in the gaps of our imperfect parenting. It’s not all up to us. We do what we can and leave the rest to God, believing our children will never be beyond his love’s grasp for them.

Carry on mama. Carry on dad. Trying counts too.