13 Oct 2011

For The Days When You Want to Quit Motherhood

This post is for my little cousin, Bronwen, who’s at the one year mark of motherhood.

And it’s for you.

This post is for those days when “getting over yourself” is the last thing an exhausted, I-can’t-take-it-anymore, run down mother needs to hear.

Can I just take your sweet face between my hands and look into your tired eyes and tell you what you’re doing is exceptional?

Tell you that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Period. And I’ve worked for the UN on counter human trafficking, for NGOs on the Aids and orphan crisis in South Africa, as well a corporate law firm.

And I still maintain that having the 24/7 responsibility of a child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far.

Being at some else’s literal beck and call will lay you low. It will rob you of a sense of self that can take time and tears to rediscover in this new identity of mother. Give yourself grace to realize that and to mourn the loss of who you were, before you begin to embrace the who you’re becoming.

I remember when I was just a two-month-old mother and the baby would cry, looking over at my mom, an aunt, anyone else in the room and wondering why on earth they didn’t pick him up?

I couldn’t accept the daunting reality that his crying would be my forever responsibility.

There will be days when you just want to be done. When you want a pass. When you want to go back to your books and late afternoon naps and movie nights on the spur of the moment.

This doesn’t make you a bad mom.

This makes you a human being going through some of the profoundest growing pains ever designed.

I have some small suggestions for those moments. And I’m going to invite all you other wise moms who’ve travelled this road of motherhood much longer to please share in the comments. To please encourage. To please offer their advice for how to navigate the desperately alone moments of motherhood.

Bronwen, sweetheart, here is my advice to you:

1. Get more sleep STAT.

Each time I’ve had a baby, I’ve often found myself in irrational arguments with Peter during those first few months. And he knows enough now to call a time out and tell me to go and take a nap. This used to make me mad and I’d fight it all the way till I passed out in the bedroom. And emerge hours later filled with a renewed love for life and baby and husband.

You need a babysitter, mom, husband or friend who can gift you with time spent sleeping. Not cleaning, not watching TV, not grocery shopping. Just sleeping. It’s essential.

2. Take a time out.

It does not make you a bad mom if you need a break. It makes you a wise one who is taking care of herself so that she can keep taking care of her baby. Whether it’s a few hours at the mall, going to a movie or a weekend away. You will need this as much as you need sleep and oxygen if you are going to keep on keeping on. Make plans, sweetheart, right now.

3. Call a girlfriend

The daddy can’t be all things to you. He just can’t. Even if he wants to; even if he tries to. At some point you are going to need girlfriends who’ve been there, cried that and can offer a different kind of comfort. Surround yourself with them. Don’t let the baby cocoon leave you isolated.

Seek out your friends, your mom, the kind lady at church or the next-door-neighbor with twins. You need a woman to confide in. Regularly.

4. Eat what you love, not just what you’ve got time for

Moms are notorious for eating leftovers or crackers or food that’s cold, or fast to fix or forgetting to eat at all. Work in meals that you love, that you get to eat while still hot, and while someone else is holding the baby.

5. Chocolate

Enough said.

6. Get real with God

He’s a parent. He knows what it feels like. He designed the system. Go ahead, tell Him how you really feel about it. Vent. This is the most honest kind of prayer. Give Him all your frustrations, your exhaustion, your desperation and hear how He listens to you.

Then know this – when you collapse at the end of a day; when the baby finally sleeps for a few snatched hours; when you close your eyes with no thought but the desperate need for sleep – He stays up, dear cousin. He stays awake and sings over you. Sings! All through the night. Just for you.

God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
~Psalm 42:5-7 (The Message)

7. Laugh & cry

Because there is so much of the ridiculous, the hard and the wonderful wrapped up in motherhood. Go ahead – let some steam off. Sometimes that takes tears and sometimes, especially with girlfriends who’ve been there, laughter will heal you best.

8. Know when it’s time to ask for deeper help

This list, it’s a beginning. But if it doesn’t help. If you don’t find your joy emerging from the fog. If you feel alone and isolated and desperate. Then you need to find a wise and professional counselor who can listen and give you the tools to help yourself.

This choice does not mean you are weak. It means you are strong.

I love you deep and wide and wish I lived close enough to come over with cookies or cake or celery if that’s your fancy. But know this, you are not alone. You walk a familiar road trodden by thousands of moms over the decades who have struggled to find the balance between the miracle of motherhood and the quiet desperation that sometimes arrives in it’s wake.

Just admitting that out loud – that may be the first step to starting to feel normal again.

So please pipe up in the comments – share your encouragement for moms who have a desperation simmering just below the surface of fine.


{Related posts for additional encouragement}
Why motherhood shouldn’t be graded on a curve
When sleep deprivation is a good thing
Sometimes the only Monday morning list I can manage
The best ways *not* to help a new mom

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{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I needed this.
    Bless you.

  2. 2

    Love all your words Lisa-Jo. A few things to add:

    Remember that days will often seem slow, but years fly by. Perspective. Look for that eternal perspective. Know that these little sinners you are in charge of will continue to sin and push your buttons, but they will also give you a greater understanding of God and of yourself. They lay you low and speak truth that hurts, but they also give you hugs and kisses that are too soon gone.

    It is the most difficult job I will ever have and it will never end…I will be praying for them until the day I die or Jesus comes back…but I would never trade it for the world. What an honor that God would see fit to give me children.

    • 3

      Angela’s reminder that our children are human–born with a heart to sin. It’s important that we know this. We can’t control them.

  3. 4

    Such GREAT advice! The only thing I would add:

    Don’t listen to the world! It isn’t about what your house looks like. (The old poem: Scrubbing and cleaning can wait ’til tomorrow!!! Babies grow up….) The best thing you can do is love your children, love their daddy and love YOURSELF.

    My babies have grown up….and there are things I would do differently if I could. The biggest change would be to follow my own advice: Don’t listen to the world. And if you follow Lisa-Jo’s advice, it will be easier to ignore what the world is telling you. What a great honor to be a mom!

    • 5

      Yes! Start now to reject the world’s expectations and follow the advice found in the Word and in Godly counsel so that the eternal perspective becomes a habit.

      And, it does get easier…sleep does come and you do eventually emerge from the fog and begin to feel normal again. Give yourself grace to allow for the time it takes. Even though the days seem endless and the road is tough, find moments of joy in the midst and hold on to them. We may not know each other, but because we are sisters in Christ, we are a part of that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ cheering you on!

  4. 6

    Such an awesome post! When I’m done with this comment, I’m sharing it on Twitter!

    Remember you are still a woman. Take a shower, do your hair, put on make-up, and put on dressier clothes (just for fun!). It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel when you remind yourself that you are more than a mom.

  5. 7

    Oh Lord, did I ever need this.

    Last week, someone left a comment on my blog that parenting an infant is “insignificant” and that I should “get a real job”. And even though I responded well on my blog, it hurt a little bit. It was just so nice to hear someone validate that being a mom is HARD. Worthwhile, but HARD sometimes.

    • 8
      thegypsymama says:

      Why anyone would think that raising a human being is easy, is beyond me. It’s a brand new *human being*!

    • 9

      My jaw dropped, literally, when I read what this person said on your blog. What an idiot. Sorry, I know that’s probably not exactly the words that Jesus might use, but He stressed the importance of children and how we should think like them, so I would imagine that raising them ranks a little higher than “insignificant”.

    • 10

      Oh, Meredith. I’m so proud of you for answering them with grace, when I’m sure the MamaBear in you was coming out.

    • 11

      Oh dear. You’re a better Christan than me. I would have had to let someone else interpret my screaming into something civil. Whomever that person is, they were either trying to start something nasty or are simply foolish.

      It IS hard, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it”. And so it is. The glittering smile in my baby’s eyes knocks me out every time, even after he’s gone and lost my keys.

  6. 12

    Wonderful, loving words here. I’m sure Bronwen will be so encouraged! I would like to recommend a book I read when I was in the middle of mothering three blonde-haired boys 5 and under. My cousin sent me Angela Thomas’ book, Tender Mercies for a Mother’s Soul. It was the single most comforting and helpful book I read during those sweet but downright hard days.

  7. 13

    This was so encouraging to read today. I’m not a mother yet, but someday I hope to be. However, I have very strong fears about motherhood–many that have been fed by my years of nannying and childcare. For instance, this very morning I was nannying two little ones and it was one of those mornings that incurred loud, persistent crying and whining. I’m not even the mother and my nerves were grating to the max! On days like this, I vow to never have kids, but in my depths of my heart, I long for a little one that is my own. Reading this is the hope I need to keep desiring motherhood–knowing it will be an incredibly difficult challenge, but believing that it is an incredible blessing at the same time.

    • 14
      thegypsymama says:

      Yes, it’s both. That’s the strange and brilliant thing about parenthood – it breaks us and builds us up in new and important ways at the same time. And I’ve had days I wanted to make a run after the ice cream truck and away from my kids – and they’re my kids! :)

      • 15

        I was a teacher before I had kids and I had parents tell me ‘you’ll be such a good mom!’. Now I look back and wonder what in the world they were talking about! I feel so often like I have no clue what I’m doing! But, having your own kids is so different. I have a 4 year old who cries EVERY day! And he’s a boy! Sometimes I feel like I’m ‘losing it’ and I’ll run screaming out of the house if he doesn’t just stop! But most of the time I have way more compassion and love for him than I would for other kids. Don’t be afraid…God will equip you with all you need when the time comes…and (unfortunately!) not a moment too soon! Lol

  8. 16

    Thank you for your words. These posts keep me moving through my days and the very short period of time that my little ones are with me. Remembering to ask for help from others has been the best way for me to enjoy motherhood and become completely wrapped up in it. And whenever I forget to ask for help, my little brood and I all suffer. So mommy now keeps a reminder on the fridge and in my daytimer and on my cell phone to remind me to ask for help whenever I need it. :)

  9. 17

    Excellent words of wisdom, Lisa-Jo. So much tender truth…and I love your call for more ideas here in your comments!

    After doing the weary-from-newborn thing seven times over, I gotta first say I absolutely ‘second’ what you wrote. Sleep. Time away. Friends. Good food (think nutrition too!). Chocolate. God. Laughter & tears. Real help when ya need it.

    I’d add to that…
    Sunshine: Get outdoors. Every. Single. Day. If at all possible, get some fresh air for at least a few minutes every day. If you don’t have time for much, at least step outside and pray, breath deeply, look around and appreciate God’s glory.

    Water: Drink more than you think you need. We are a chronically dehydrated society. And especially if you are nursing a baby, or within a few months of recovering from childbirth & pregnancy, you need the extra benefits of life-giving water.

    Date Night: Take some time for a little romance. Despite the exhaustion, postpartum-pimples, and stretched-out Mommy-belly, you are still a beautiful woman! And you need to remind yourself of that, by getting dressed up, pampering yourself, and slipping your tired toes into those slinky black sling-backs. That man of yours never stopped seeing the beauty you possess, so take a few hours to let both of you appreciate the love you share & the woman you are…at the core of the Mommy you’ve become.

    Well…that’s a start…
    Honestly, there’s so much more I’ve learned over the years (exercise, sex, self-tanner, delegating)…but maybe I’ll just have to blog about it myself! Thanks for the inspiration, Lisa-Jo!

    • 18

      sitting here, snuggling with my sleepy 6 week old baby boy & i am crying reading these amazing comments to an amazing blog post! for some reason, your comment really brought me to tears.. joyful, happy, thankful tears. our baby was born with a heart defect after an emergency c-section & was taken away to another state for surgery & care while i remained in our hometown hospital.. in pain, away from my husband & brand new baby. through all we’ve been through as our new little family, my husband has constantly amazed me with his overwhelming love & support, strength & unending faith. to see him as a daddy & take care of our little miracle while i was in recovery and away from them.. to hear his words while we pray together for our sweet holden.. to feel all the love in his eyes when he looks at me.. to see the immediate mountain of love he had for holden when he first met him 6 weeks ago..

      all of these thoughts, feelings & emotions flooded into my mind when reading your added comment about date night.. knowing that my husband is a great man of God & loves me unconditionally…. no matter how many stretch marks my mommy belly has. :)

      thank you for your comment!!

      – ashley {a new mommy..}

  10. 20

    “a desperation simmering just below the surface of fine” While your whole post spoke so much wisdom – this last part struck me. I was having coffee with friends(for national coffee day) a couple weeks ago and we talked about just that – Why do we feel like we need to ALWAYS be “fine” when deep down we are screaming for someone to tell us it’s ok to tell the truth. We are wanting someone – anyone – to tell us it’s ok to wanna scream and feel like giving up – it’s normal and I’ve been there. I’m reading Grace for the Good Girl right now and I’m pretty sure I have perfected my “Fine” mask.
    Thanks Lisa-Jo!!!

    • 21

      Michelle, that part struck me as well. I often feel like that’s my automatic response whenever someone asks how I am. I just figure they are just asking to be nice, they have enough problems of their own, and they don’t need me to unload my problems on them. But sometimes I let it all spill out…it really just busts out involuntarily and usually spills out on my husband or closest girlfriends.

      Just had a thought…motherhood is really hard if you don’t have any friends that are at the same stage in life as you. My baby girl came 7 years after her older sister. So all of my friends had older children. I felt really lonely for a long time. But thankfully God sent someone into my life that I could relate to. I pray that God sends Bronwen a great support system.

      • 22

        Michelle, after months of mild post-natal depression after my 2nd baby was born, and being unable to get myself to tell anyone I was other than ‘fine’, I don’t do that any more. I’ve come to understand that saying I’m fine when I’m not is actually lying! If I’m having a bad day, I say so, and for the times that I’m not fine but really don’t want to go into the details I’ve got a couple of other phrases… ‘I’m getting there’ is one of my favourites – it implies movement, but doesn’t actually specify where the destination is. Lol! Often people don’t actually listen to what you say anyway. I will never forget the time a woman asked how I was, I said ‘Terrible’, she replied ‘That’s great!’ and carried on with what she was saying! I carried on with the conversation like nothing had happened, but I’m still laughing about it years later!

  11. 23
    Jo Ann Taylor says:

    Hang in there honey. “This too shall pass” and one day you’ll be wishing you had all of that time back when they were little. It goes so fast and we have such a short time to hold them, dry their tears and have a positive influence on their lives. And the neat thing about being a mother – is that someday you get to be a grandmother and great-grandmother as I am now and loving every minute of it. And you get the reward of seeing your own kids become wonderful, loving parents because they were taught by the best–YOU! YOU CAN DO THIS!

  12. 24

    For a while all I did was complain about how hard motherhood was. And then I figures out all of the above and many others. I’m happy and a happy mom raises happy children. Will have to say one of my favorites: Chocolate!

  13. 25

    Mine are teens now, if I had to do that season of 24/7 again I would take a nap and spend time in prayer during naptime instead of cleaning up my house. When everything feels out of control in those years, we tend to want to control something. For me it was keeping the house orderly. Looking back, what I needed most was to be refueled by the spirit. Sounds trite, but more time with Him even if it is 10 minutes of quality.

  14. 26

    What a beautiful list! I have a 10, 7 and 4 year old. Motherhood is HARD.

    To finally feel that I was doing Motherhood right, I had to learn how to ‘be’ first. I think as women we often find ourselves ‘doing’ it all. And as a mother the list of ‘to dos’ in our western culture is extensive and growing. I used to worry about enough independent play time, social time, knowing colors and shapes, etc. etc. etc.

    Then I found that motherhood is really a job of ‘creator.’ From conception on, I am merely partenering with the Creator in the lives of my kids. If I am not finding my sense of self through my Creator, I am very limited at connecting with the Creator’s design in creating my kids.

    So I began to really listen to the needs within me, before God. And I found liberty, joy and precious moments wrapped up in the times I stopped doing, in order to be, and began being, to find purpose in my doing! This looked like afternoon naps wrapped up with my kids or raking leaves in a pile, not to bag them, but to jump in them!

    Soak in Christ’s presence – just ‘be’

    • 27

      Cheryl, I agree with you completely…. just wish I had been more conscious of it when my 3 boys were growing up… they are now 27,29, and 31. We have 1 grandson and another on the way but live too far away to be a constant presence in their lives. I think that I was trapped in the ‘doing’ portion of motherhood for the 1st couple of years of our eldest sons life but when the second and third sons came along I relaxed and didn’t have to ‘do’ so much as enjoy their little boy years. SO glad I did! Acknowledging the presence of the Lord in ones life is such a crucial part of learning His path for it. The older I get the more I see His hand in our sons lives and how very much the Heavenly Father loves them more than I ever could! He will guide young mothers and comfort their weary hearts if only they will ‘cast all their cares on Him’…. thanks again for this post and opportunity to answer.

  15. 28

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, drawn to the gypsy in you (one in me too!). I’m currently pregnant with my first baby (and blogging about it). This is wonderful advice. This pregnancy has been so hard, I feel like all this advice is to be taken seriously right NOW. The perfect post for me today. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  16. 29

    I have 5 boys. Even our pets are males! I felt with every fiber of my being the countless times of desperation masked by “fine” in the words of this post. It can be so difficult to recognize yourself in diapers, teething, sleeplessness, and toys strewn everywhere; while dishes pile up and dust bunnies unite! The frustration mounts when you try to rationalize the fact that you WERE once a productive, cohesive, put-together individual…”and just look at me now!” If, at some point God sees fit to grossly outnumber you where gender is concerned as well…giving up can scream at you as an attractive option.
    But know this: and know that knowing takes time, discipline, faith, and relying on and clinging to Jesus only…
    1. You are investing your efforts into treasure that cannot fade. Your children are eternal. This makes you wiser than the most powerful bankers and Wall Street moguls.
    2. No one else can do your job. God gave you your specific child or children. His partnership and confidence lie in your ability to be obedient and faithful to Him to bring about his purposes in shaping that individual. Wow.
    3. The Kingdom Economy is upside down in the eyes of mortal man. In fact, to the critical masses and well- meaning but discouraging few, it is quite possibly invisible. Be grateful that Jesus has mercifully opened your blond eyes to see.
    4. Learn to be gracious; while acknowledging that, again, time, faith, and circumstances help to define this within each individual. Many people parent, but it takes full submission to Jesus to be one that disciples. As you lean into Him more, He parents you allowing you the privilege of passing that on.
    5. Listen to affirmation that is real truth and cleave to eternal perspective.
    When sought, they allow seeds of confidence and true stability to be nurtured into full lush plants.
    6. Know your limits. Jesus does. And He’s not condemning you for having them! He loved you enough to become human, so He would feel your every emotion. Learn what refreshes and brings you rest, and then practice it. He did.
    Love to you, you fantastic, beautiful, one-of-a-kind mom! You were chosen!

    • 30

      Wow, thank you for this post. As I nurse our beautiful, growing, 3 week old son its such a good reminder that this is all for His glory and what a gift he’s entrusted me witH. thank you:)

  17. 31

    I would also add to that, take a good multivitamin and bump up your calcium and magnesium intake. I can tell when I haven’t been taking my vitamins. I feel a lot more on edge and overwhelmed. They do help me.

    Oh, and wait until you have teenagers. You think it’s hard now……:-/

    But it’s also wonderful and rewarding.

    Enjoy when you can, Endure when you must is my motto.

  18. 32

    Those would be blind eyes, by the way. Mine are blonde much of the time! Sorry…typed from my phone.

  19. 33

    This here was completely God-sent and like being thrown a lifesaver.

    I’m so grateful, thank you!

    I also love your comment “it breaks us and builds us up in new and important ways at the same time” as I’ve been feeling ‘broken’, but hanging on to hope that God is going to remake me for His glory.

    If we can use our failures and brokenness to keep us desperate for Him and His strength what a mighty and beautiful outcome that is!

  20. 34

    This is such a silly thing, but all the lovely ladies above hit on the important ones. ;) I learned that investing in a scent I loved was such a mood-lifter for me. Whether it’s a lotion, body spray, or perfume, you can put a little on when you’re in the middle of one of those colicky days when baby won’t let you shower. Every once and a while, you will get a little whiff of a reminder that you are woman– separate from the spit up, diaper changes, and feeding center that your role wants to label you with. (P.S. This only works if you promise not to save it for things like date night, and Sunday church. This scent is for you, not others. :))

    • 35
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh I love that. Yes, for my birthday this year I got a new perfume. Haven’t had one in years. And then Pete kept bringing home samples to see what I liked and when I fell in love with one he bought it for me. And that whiff of beauty is gift during the days for sure!

  21. 36

    I really needed this today. If there was a possible way to drive from Wales to Texas, I would drive home to my family, drop my kids off and check in to a hotel for a few days. Thanks for encouraging me.

  22. 37

    Beautiful post and on a great day (for me, anyway)! I have a 10yr old and a 4yr old and it has only been just lately that I realized that taking a “Mommy time out” was NOT a bad thing, but rather an essential thing to renew myself and be a BETTER mom.

  23. 38

    I’ve only birthed a child once and though I have gotten seven years in, these words remind me of what would be necessary if I were to be blessed with this all over again. Because, I didn’t know it was okay to admit that it’s hard and frustrating. This is probably the greatest advice of all. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. And it doesn’t mean that by admitting your feelings God will take your children away as punishment for you not being 100% grateful all the time. Raw honesty isn’t a reflection of ungratefulness.

    I tried to be superwoman. And I survived through the baby years by the skin of my teeth (only by Grace!), and sometimes I’m nervous to go through it again; nervous that I’d revert to that tendency again, even though I have grown so much. I never had a community of women to be honest with. I never had anyone visit. I never asked for help. And so, my advice is to remember the truth behind Maya Angelou’s statement that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Because, it does. There’s so much truth in this–it’s freeing for ourselves and it’s important to remember that we aren’t everything to our children; they need others and God designed it that way. It’s OK to ask for help.

    Another strong recommendation is exercise. I firmly believe there’s an essential balance to strike–not the goal to look perfect or even close to it, but the goal to give yourself time to sweat. There’s something amazing that happens when the body sweats–and something very biological, of course. I tell my son that I am a better mommy when I get out an run or even walk. “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” I never knew the truth in this until I lived through the questions. Drinking a lot of water falls into this category. And so does sleep.

  24. 40

    Very wise advice, Lisa-Jo. I had recently read over at the Psych Mom’s Blog that the number one thing that moms keep as a secret is that we are overwhelmed. As you noted, we need to admit it, call a girlfriend or reach out for help. We seem to be so wired for pride, and we think no one else is having the difficulties we do.

    I love all the suggestions-they are so full of wisdom and experience, and some are so simple yet escape us when we are in the midst of desperation.

    Because you asked for encouragement, I humbly include a link to a post I wrote when I was overwhelmed and didn’t want to admit it. I encourage other moms read it and let go of trying to live up to an unrealistic standard: http://www.toodarnhappy.com/2011/06/08/failing-quitting-and-winning/

  25. 41
    Darlene C. says:

    Although my oldest is now 25, I still love to read your blog because it keeps me in touch with my past enough to remind me of where my daughter is now with her first child. It also blesses me because my 96 year old mother lives with me and I am mothering my mother who has dementia and is almost totally blind. Caring for my mother is very much a reminder of my early days of motherhood as the daily care never ends. I’m glad I found your blog for a “sweet reminder” instead of a clinical care by the book editorial. Realizing that I’m mothering once again and it is okay to take care of myself helps put things in perspective.

  26. 42

    You hit it bang on! What a beautifully, well-written and appropriately proportioned post! I agree so, so, so much with the sleep part. I often tell my younger-mom friends: sleep is the #1 focus with little ones. Who cares about the house?! It’ll be there tomorrow. Today, we sleep! Sleep when baby sleeps, sleep/nap on the couch while toddlers play…rest and don’t feel guilty about it. If I could add anything it is this: I have 4 kids ages 11 to 17 and I miss my babies SO much. Some days I cry for them. I thought mothering was hard then, but it is so much harder as they grow and find their own way; making mistakes, venting emotions..really tough. The thing that got me through was this: I am the ONLY ONE that God chose to be the mother to these small ones. Yes, it makes the burden greater but it also put a fire in my belly to be their mom, love them like no one could and make sure they knew that it’s okay to screw up, have a messy kitchen, make mistakes but still get up each day and try again. And I will say, having a friend or two who will just come over and hold your baby while you sleep is a much needed and necessary God-send. Don’t be afraid to ask for help~ it’s okay.

  27. 43

    Oh Mama. You hit the gigantic motherhood nail on the head!

    My biggest advice? Lower your expectations. The world tells you you should be WAY UP HERE, and you’re DOWN THERE in reality…and that gap in between – you know what that leads to? Comparison, defeat, disappointment, discouragement, and discontentment. You cannot be everything, and you cannot do it alone. Be who Christ wants you to be, not the world. Delight in Him and this incredible role He’s gifted to you.

  28. 44

    Relax the standards a bit, Mama. When a baby is new, if all you do today is sit and nurse – that is enough. When they are older, if you managed to feed them, read them a story, tell them that you love them and tuck them in at bedtime, that’s enough too. The world will give you a thousand messages about how to parent. The Bible gives us one: Love.

  29. 45

    Such great wisdom found here!

    Take care of yourself! I neglected myself often in my 21 years of parenting, thinking making myself a priority was selfish. When really it isn’t at all. Caring well for yourself can help you be a better mom.

  30. 46

    Thank you… I am sitting here in tears because I desperately needed this. My husband and I recently separated and I have been trying to adjust to single parenthood of a 2 yr old and an 11 month old… Its possibly the most difficult thing I have ever gone through in my life. It makes my days long, my nights short and the showers few and far between ha ha. My kids are my heart and I wouldn’t ever want it any other way… I would however like a break. I need a break. I catch myself losing my patience and my blood pressure starts to rise then I look into their eyes and it goes away… Thank you once again for this. :)

  31. 47

    I just wrote about the Seasons of life God puts us in and how we ought not wish them away or believe the lie that our season is harder than someone else’s. I pray it will encourage someone here.

  32. 48

    I agree with this lovely list. But also want to add – exercise if you can find time & if it makes you happy. It is like a happy drug for me. It makes everything else ok. Also, get some sunshine. Get outside with the baby as often as possible. Fresh air and sunshine do a lot for the soul.

  33. 49

    This is the best post ever. I’ve commented before on your blog – but have to again. I love your posts and your honesty. Love it. I have 4 adult daughters, 2 married with children, and I point them regularly to your words. I’ve lived through all that you’re talking about, but you’re living it in the present tense – so it really is good for them. They are both exhausted but understand the truths of what you just wrote – still – the struggles live on.

    I really, really like you. Your personality and heart come right through your words. So happy that you get to have a daughter and happy for you that you get to have 2 sons. They are all adorable. So cute. I love my girls – would have loved to parent a son, but all of that is God’s business – I now have 3 grandsons and they are delightful.

    I love to read about your heart tug for Africa. I have a tug like that, but it’s South Alabama. I know that’s hard to imagine. I was at my childhood church, a few years back, and was blessed to hear a speaker – a young woman – who had lived in Iran but had to escape. Iran is to her what Africa is to you and what South Alabama is to me. It’s home.
    She aches to go back, but can’t – it’s too dangerous. Yet, it was in the States when she became a believer in Jesus, her Redeemer. Born again. She loves him. In Christ, we have that eternal home, don’t we – our true home.

    Thank you for your posts.

  34. 50

    Thank you! I needed to hear this today and will most likely reread it & read it again!

  35. 51

    Could not have been a better post at a better time. Im 12 weeks old mama my second baby and my older is 26mo. I was just wondering if I’ll ever shower or go to the bathroom alone again. :)

  36. 52

    I appreciate ever portion of this…oh, so very much.

    When folks say to take things one day at a time, I let them know I like to take things 15 minutes at a time. Something will change in 15 minutes-baby will be full, bleeding will stop, a nose will be dry…the tears will finish up. Things will change in 15 minutes! ;)

    These are the exhausting years, but these are such very good years.

  37. 53

    Wonderful advise. All of it. Over and over again I hear “I had no idea what it would be like!” and of course that’s true. Everyone’s experience is unique…but there are some things we pretty much all experience…which is why it’s fun to laugh and cry with another female. That’s why God arranged it this way…if we knew ahead of time what lay ahead…we’d say, “No way!” to having children and mankind would come to a screeching halt. So not-knowing is a good thing, me thinks. :-)

  38. 54

    I love this….every new mother should read it.

    We know so much once we’ve been down those halls, don’t we??

  39. 55

    Such a great post because we have all been there and we all needed someone to give us permission to give ourselves a break. I remember chanting to myself “this too shall pass” as my two infants screamed in unison while I tried to soothe them both at once and felt that I could never do enough. Sounds like a cheesy phrase now but I recited it to myself over and over as a reminder that every moment that I felt I was losing my mind was only temporary.

  40. 56

    Such a beautiful post! I am not a mother {yet}, I hope that one day I will be by God’s Hands. The next time I go visit my bestie, I am going to give her the gift of sleep when her kids are awake. Thank you for that wisdom. Hugs!

  41. 57

    I love this! As I began to read it one of my 3 dogs(the puppy) peed right next to me.

  42. 58

    Wonderful post! Wonderful advice! I struggle daily with what I feel needs to be accomplished, both with my daughter and our home. Now being 24 weeks with triplets and unable to do much is compounding my feelings of obligations and fears of having 4 children 2 and under.

    He always gives us what we need, and sometimes we just need to spend more time listening.

  43. 59

    Thank you for posting this! I have a feeling I will be back many times to read this. I have a 2 and a half year old and a VERY colicky 4 month old, so it get pretty overwhelming at times. Oh and the post partem depression isn’t helping either. There are so many times that I feel like no one understands and I’m in this alone. I always feel like I need to get away, but then I feel really bad for feeling like that….. Not really sure what to do here…

    • 60

      I was close to where you are..boys about the same age, second one just under the definition of colicky (we’d be up 2nights then he’d sleep before 1am the next night! And on and on!). Number 2 is still more intense and requires more effort, but has a wonderful personality. All that to say, Erin, allow yourself to feel the way you do (nothing in the Bible saying any feelings are wrong, so don’t condemn yourself for them!) and find help, as Lisa-Jo suggested. There is no shame in admitting you need more than just a friend with a shoulder to cry on. And if people around you don’t understand, it’s okay to shut them out for a time. Do what you need to do to get better and know that this too shall pass. You’re not alone and you will get through with time and a little help!

    • 61
      thegypsymama says:

      Yes, wise words from Judy below. Grab a friend, a girl from church, a neighbor – share, talk, ask for help. I promise they will listen.

  44. 62

    I loved, loved, loved this post as well. All I could add is this: Get outside–for the vitamin D, for the breath of air. When I get out and DO something my funks don’t feel as strong.

    And as you mentioned, if it feels too overwhelming and you can’t emerge from the fog and into the joy, get help. If you need a place to look for help check out http://www.postpartum.net This is Postpartum Support International’s website. There are regional coordinators for every state, many countries, and even special demographics (like the military population). Hop over there and connect with someone. They can help walk you through getting the help you need to feel like you again. And they’ll remind you that you are not alone, that the way you are feeling is not your fault, and that with help you WILL be well.

  45. 63
    handsfull says:

    LOVED this post – it is all true! My one piece of advice that nobody else has mentioned is – if you can possibly afford it – get a cleaner! Knowing that somebody is going to clean your house for you, even though you are paying them, makes such a difference to how you feel. Just for the first few months after the baby is born, if that’s all you can do… get a cleaner!

  46. 64

    MOPS because it helped me so very much. Eating a meal by myself with other ladies, listening to a topic, discussing it, and making a craft, while my precious daughter was taught God’s word and helped potty train! Can’t recommend it enough. Even if it’s odd or weird or you have to get there…a friend brought me, the group gave me scholarship, it was so much a gift of God.
    I went for counselling, and it was wonderful to realize lies I’d believed;
    I ate too much (esp. chocolate chip cookies);
    I did so many things wrong;
    but I clung to the grace of God
    and I rejoiced in him, and I will continue to rejoice!
    God bless you.
    (kindermusik was also wonderful, and we had early intervention for speech)

  47. 65

    Wonderful post!

    I will add this; Call on Jesus!
    My middle son was diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years ago-he was 4. It was a TRUE eye opener for me. I’ve learned- It’s okay to have a messy house. To be thankful that my son is here and is throwing the occasional fit b/c he’s HERE! To love the people the Lord has blessed you with like there will be no tomorrow. To be thankful for the day and the morning when my whole family rises from their beds. To learn to rely on God to meet every need you have. To enjoy watching your child(ren) grow b/c it goes so fast and some children never get the chance to grow up.

    May God bless each and everyone of you Mother’s out there!! :)

  48. 66

    I have no advice. Just tears of relief and gratitude. Thanks for your post.

  49. 67

    I love honesty in motherhood. Too many mushy gushy all is wonderful messages out there. Moms need the truth! Thanks!

  50. 68

    What a beautiful letter. Having raised six kids I connected to everything You said.
    There were some bad times but so out weighed by the good times. To see the world thru the eyes of a child is the blessing God gives us.
    The words Mommy I love You are magic.
    As Maya Anglou says, When your child walks into the room let your eyes light up as if he/she is the most important person in the world and they will know they are loved.
    Thank You and blessings to all of the Mothers out there.

  51. 69
    Jill ESber says:

    Don’t wish the newborn days away. Take time to enjoy and hold your baby. Sleep as much as you can. And ask someone to take your toddlers for a morning so you can nap or just have some quiet time (no housework allowed). There will always be time to clean when they leave the house for college!

  52. 70

    I just want to say that this felt like a virtual hug, and I SO needed it today. Thank you for your wise words.

  53. 71

    Amen to this post! Although my children are grown, I remember those days… especially the desperate need for sleep. I finally learned to ask the Lord for enough sleep to get through the next day–nothing more, nothing less. And then I would try not to lay awake and worry about it! As someone else has posted, the days are indeed long, but the years are short–and those babies are certainly worth it.

  54. 72

    I WISH this had been around when I had my First baby…..Years Later I figured it out….But Truth IS…You Need to do what Feels RIGHT IN YOUR HEART! Motherhood is the Toughest Road You Will EVER TRAVEL. And Unfortunately..they didn’t give us a Manual. Mother hood is the BIGGEST JOB you will EVER have too…but there comes a time when you have done all you can and you have to let go…KNOW when that time IS. Take Time for you EVERYDAY…even if it is only5 minutes.

  55. 73

    thanks so much for this. i’m still trying to get my feet under me again after having baby #3 (he’s 2 months old) and trying to figure out how to make friends in a new place, and i just finished a week without my husband while he was traveling for work. it’s been difficult and lonely, but your blog has been such a blessing, and this post especially meant a lot – at just the right time.

  56. 74

    Thank you. I needed this today. After being up with my 19 month old at 3am and then having to get up for work at 4:30, it’s amazing to see this post and know that there are other moms who get as frustrated as I do. I am a birth mom, somehow that makes me feel like with my parented child I have to be a perfect mother, perfect provider and perfect example to her. I feel like I need to prove myself every day, and it is so disheartening when I feel I am lacking in some way. There are days when I am so out of it, and then the guilt tops it off and just makes me feel horrible. If I am too harsh or too impatient, if I get upset with her for playing in the dog water (for the 8th time that day) I feel like a terrible mom. Maybe this is just how all mother’s feel. Thank you.

  57. 75

    This is a blog post that all young moms should read. Thanks for the honesty and encouragement!

  58. 76

    I really neeeded this today! As a mom of 3 I feel like most days I am losing my mind. I have a 11 yr old girl, 4 yr old special needs boy, and 7 month old.

    I have no help except my husband who works 14 hrs a day so I can stay home with the littles. My 4 yr old has behavior issues and adhd, so my parents will not or can’t keep him. I am totally exhausted and this is day 3 with no shower in sight.

    It is nice to know I am not the only one struggling right now.

    I needed this today!

  59. 77

    I needed thiss desperately today. My 3 year old, 18 month old, and 3 month old and I have had the stomach virus from hell since Tuesday. My husband has to work so I’ve had little to no help….couldn’t tell you the last time I got a bath…between mopping up vomit and diahrea and soothing sad babies and being sick myself tis has just been one of those “i quit” days….will be tossing some work my husbands direction, taking a bath, and going to bed as soon as he gets home :)

  60. 78

    Thanks for the very realistic look at motherhood… so refreshing to hear the ‘truth’! It inspired me to blog about it myself… http://foreverspringtime.blogspot.com/2011/10/quitting-motherhood.html
    Thanks again!

  61. 79

    Thanks! just what i needed to read, right now at 12h13 on this wednesday, trying hard not to have a ‘meltdown’ infront of the kids!!

  62. 80

    Remember when you’ve had enough, no one is answering the phone, you’ve prayed, and hubby is not available (maybe won’t be for a long while), look at your baby. Whether 6mos or 16, they scream, cry, rant and say they hate you. Remember you love them, and really they do love you. No child ‘does it on purpose’. Sometimes they lack reason, it is our job to teach them…so when at wits end…find a lesson plan.

  63. 81

    As a mom with a 2 yr old and 4 mth old, I fought back the tears reading this. Thanks for sharing because it helps to remind me that I’m not alone. :o)

  64. 82

    Thank you! As a 9-month-old mom, I feel like I am just now emerging from the cacoon and am trying to figure out where I fit in my life. I love my precious child so much, but I often feel lost. Thanks for this, I needed to hear it!

  65. 83

    Thanks so much for your sweet words. I have a wonderful 20-month old son and thought I was made to be a mother before he was born. I couldn’t anticipate the trials that were before me. I still can’t tell how much of my “rough times” is from postpartum, our difficult life circumstances, or just because motherhood is so hard! So many moms make it look like a breeze and I’m left feeling like a mess. I’m so grateful for your encouragement, and all you other moms who have commented with similar feelings. Bless you all! Our children are blessed, and are our blessings.

    • 84

      Hi Jenny, after years of trying to conceive and finally achieving it, I can understand exactly what you mean. Motherhood hasn’t been easy for me either, and I have friends who just breeze thru it also. I just take it day by day and pray for guidance, patience and energy. Kids will test us in ways we didn’t expect….but their love is so awesome and precious.

  66. 85

    I just found your blog and thank you for all your wonderful articles. Yesterday was the hardest (disciplinary) day with our 4 year old. I ended the day in tears, wondering about my Mothering skills, wondering what I had done wrong to have a selfish, ungrateful, temper tantrum little child. It’s so true that we need friends who have been there, for they truly understand and can lend support and validation. Today our little rascal was a total angel, and filled my heart with happiness and awe. God bless you!

  67. 86

    I just love this post. I always come to it on days like today. And read it over and over. Thank you for this Gypsy mama. Its amazing.

  68. 87

    Wow! So much love and encouragement from so many wonderful women. I am raising a lovely little boy who is just about 4 but can somehow manage to push an instant nerve from time to time.

    We were blessed with twins, but lost our daughter at 17 months, and I thought I was horrible for “losing” it with our son, because I truly am blessed to have him, and love him more than anything. HOWEVER it is still hard! My husband is wonderful and even though we still have some healing (it has been 2 years since Bella passed) he loves us and always and does his best too.

    Thankyou for making me feel normal!!!!

  69. 88
    melissa says:

    Omg, I literally just read almost this entire blog and am crying bc I am so happy I’m not insane! I have a 5 month old and a seven year old, am a stay at home Mom being pressured into going back to work and no amount of cleaning or cooking or anything is enough for my boyfriend and MIL. I often feel like I need a break as I am the one who takes care of everything since I don’t work outside the home. I need to just trust in God that this too shall pass and take advantage of being home for my boys. Thank you!!

  70. 89

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I’m new here and I’m in tears as I read some of your posts. I needed this. Desperately. Thank you.

  71. 90
    Samantha says:

    I too have been through this hard time. I ended up being diagnosed with postpartum depression. I did seek help, but I waited far too long to be courageous enough to ask for it. Don’t wait if you feel yourself slipping into the hole. It make a world of difference, not just in your life, but the lives of your family as well. You are not alone. :)

  72. 91
    overwhelmed says:

    I needed this today. At this moment. I found this blog because I typed “what to do when you want to quit motherhood” into Google. I have an 8 year old and 12 year old. The 12 year old is in the beginning of testosterone pumping puberty and he can go from my sweet, caring little boy to an out of control raging teen in a matter of minutes. I am at my wit’s end. He is seeing a counselor periodically, but right now, I just want to give up and run away. Not forever. Just for a night. Maybe a weekend. I just want peace and quiet. I want someone else to somehow step in and fix all of this for me while I enjoy some rest. I am so fearful, discouraged, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, hurt and deeply saddened by my boy’s face turning red and his clenched fists shaking while he screams that he never wants to see my face again. So yes, at this moment, I briefly ponder quitting motherhood. I needed to see this post today. Thank you for writing. Pray for us moms that feel like quitting.


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