12 Jul 2012

Why motherhood isn’t graded

In the last week alone I have ordered food from the McDonald’s drive through window, paid for the food, and then driven off without it. I have taken the highway I can drive in my sleep in the wrong direction and had to go all the way to the airport to turn around. I have forgotten my husband’s phone number and consistently called my sons by the wrong names.

Yea, there’s been a whole lot of tired and a week or two of feeling lost as to how to ace this whole motherhood gig.

And then you know what happened? A friend told me the most wonderful thing. She said I’m not actually being graded. And some days just surviving is the greatest success. It felt like I’d shed a baby hippo’s weight worth of frazzled worry.

I looked around my upside down house with fresh eyes, took a deep breath, and decided that it was OK it didn’t look like The Nester’s. Since the Nester herself has three boys and deliciously confessed on twitter a while back that drive throughs were her salvation too when her kids were young. Tell me this doesn’t make you want to hug her!

Yup, turns out everyone who’s been there remembers what that kind of been-up-since-2am-would-willingly-barter-a-lifetime’s-worth-of-sports-nights-if-the-husband-will-agree-to-take-the-six-am-baby-rocking-shift is like.

It is profoundly comforting to know you’re not alone. Or crazy.

And when I asked, the reassurances came in thick and fast and were off the charts wonderful and oh so worth sharing. Because maybe you’re reading this at 2am and think you’re not going to make it. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you got to shower or use the bathroom alone. Maybe you haven’t had the energy to cook a real meal in months and you’re worried the only thing between your kids and scurvy is a Flintstones vitamin. Maybe you’re walking a fine line between laughter and the hot, ugly cry.

Maybe you think you’re failing at motherhood too.

Can I just look into your tired, tired eyes and say, you’re not. And sister, I’ve got the love notes from mamas the world over to prove it.

Take a deep breath, these are for you:

I remember just being grateful that Jesus appreciated my efforts – especially when the only real prayer time I could muster up most days was “Dear Jesus” which I’d mumble just before I fell asleep each night. ~Deidra

After the great bake sale brownie disaster of 2009, I buy store bought baked goods. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, I like to bring my food from afar! ~Lysa

My husband and I agreed when he was in school getting his master’s degree and we had small children at home that he should shoot for being a “B” student, rather than an “A” student. Being an “A” student at school would mean being a “B” or “C” husband and father. ~Melissa

Oh, we too have had hard seasons of pizza — And the Farmer Husband says pizza includes all the food groups, so it’s got to be good :) You’re all together and you’re all loving each other and that’s all that matters, sister… you’ll find clothes to wear and there’s always cereal to eat and we can all live on love. I so hear you. I so get it. ~Ann

People ask me all the time how I do it all – full time job, mama, wife, blogging, book club, etc. – my answer is always, my house is never clean. I am behind on laundry, my end tables are dusty and cheerios are on the floor. But right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is how much I love my family and the people in my life. Because love and attention are way more important than a few dust bunnies. ~Jessica

Did you get all that? Because that kind of encouragement is worth floating around in till your fingers turn pruny! Thank you to everyone who chimed in on Facebook. You were just the thick slice of chocolate cake that’s the perfect flavor of comfort.

Want to serve up another? Tell us in the comments what you would tell yourself about motherhood if you could go back in time – ten years, ten days, or just ten minutes.

I, for one, would reassure myself that motherhood is never ever graded!

And if you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of my book Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom it’s the inside scoop on my story of discovering just exactly why we don’t grade motherhood and why chocolate cake is basically a life essential for moms in the trenches!

PS You can read the first three chapters for FREE over here. 

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Comments

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  1. 1

    Walking the line between laughter and the hot, ugly cry tonight. Thank you for permission to cry . . . and permission to laugh. Tonight, it all feels like an enormous burden. Things always look brighter in the morning, and for that, I am truly grateful.

    • 2

      And the morning ALWAYS comes! I remember thinking I didn’t ever think it would, when they woke up for 16th time (and hubby snored away), but eventually you do see the light around your curtains. I was grateful for THAT.

  2. 3

    Not only are we not graded on a curve, but no two mothers are graded on the same stuff! All of our lives are individual and have their unique challenges and we can’t compare our lives to others–in a positive or negative way. My minivan has definitely seen it’s share of drive-thru’s and $5 pizzas! (like tonight…before church…)

  3. 4

    awesome post, so what I needed right now!! Thank you :-)

  4. 5

    Enjoyed your post. My daughter wore her brother’s cowboy shirt, and there maybe be a fine line between hair that has oatmeal in it and hair that looks punk rock-ish but why split hairs. As long as your house and car don’t have creepy crawly things, a drive through a fast food window every now and again can be food for your troubled soul. Read my “35 Things your teen won’t tell you” so I will and laugh, even if your kids are only speaking in dah dah language. cheers.

  5. 6

    It’s ok to watch TV in the middle of the night when you’re nursing…
    Chocolate milk is still milk…
    Don’t ever say you’ll NEVER do something…
    Talk more with your hubby about something other than how many times the baby pooped…

    Oh Lisa-Jo, I could go on and on :) LOVE this post, friend!

    • 7
      thegypsymama says:

      “Talk more with your hubby about something other than how many times the baby pooped…” Laughing so hard right now!! xoxo

    • 8

      I totally bought a portable dvd player with the express purpose of watching movies in the middle of the night while feeding my daughter!

      • 9

        I plan to wrangle a Kindle out of my hubby by the time this – our 5th – child is born in February. :) There really should be a “3AM Feeding” website where all us moms can go during the night…

    • 11

      What a great reminder that we need to talk to our spouses about more than what our kids did today. Some nights when my husband calls on his way home from work I give him the run down and then we get quiet, like we’ve forgotten there’s other stuff to talk about!

      And Lisa-Jo, I so needed this post today! I am bleary eyed and coming into the office with way more work to do then time to do it in. My house is a disaster area and I haven’t done dishes in over a week. We went to our son’s first swim lessons last weekend and four days later realized we left his swim trunks at the swim school. Now to find time to buy another pair before this weekend’s lesson.

  6. 12

    Walking the line to night…and those might have just pushed me over the edge into the hot ugly cry…but maybe because it was needed?

    My advice? It’s ok to cry, actually it’s good, it’s scientifically proven to make you feel better. It can be a way of communicating. My husband know that I need a break, it teaches my girls that sometimes in life you just gotta cry and kids give the best comfort when you are crying because they don’t say any of the stupid things adults say.

  7. 13

    Hi I’m so glad I signed up for your daily emails and this came just in time. My daughter is almost 9 months and I stopped working about a year ago. I used to be a workaholic, late hours and big people to chat with. Now it’s just the kiddo and me. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m acing this motherhood thing either but your words are starting to sink in and it’s not a test, it’s not for a bonus and it’s not for a promotion. It’s just about loving her and ensuring she grows up to be a well rounded caring individual. Also, I’m battling with PPD and sometimes it’s just so lonely. My husband tries but he just doesn’t understand what happening with me. However with God’s grace I trust all will be ok. Now when my baby smiles it just lights up my day and all is right with the world.

    • 14

      @Paulie I also stopped working with the birth of my twins over a year ago. I totally get it!

  8. 15

    If I went back 30 years I would have more of the snowball fights …we had IN the house, more of the nights when the kids had sleepovers although there were quite a few and we made cookies, then sat on the floor in front of the oven and watched them bake…6 year olds like that…

    • 16
      Handsfull says:

      Watching cookies bake does sound nice… although my oven door would need to be clean enough to see through, lol! Sigh…

      • 17

        I was thinking just that same thing as I read Chris King’s comment…and my problem is that I’d have to take the oven door apart to get to the messy part. SO far down on my to-do list…though to watch cookies bake, it might be worth it. That sounds heavenly. :)

  9. 18

    Love this post! I’m going to share it with some young mamas I know :)

    If I could talk to my young-mama self, I would tell that never-feeling-like-enough me to just breathe, and be…to stop trying to do everything so prettily, to forgive my perceived shortcomings and revel in the moments at hand, to let my babies get messy in the kitchen with me more, play a few hundred more rounds of “Guess Who,” and maybe just maybe ignore the dishes while NOT skipping so many words while reading the 3700th rendition of Berenstein Bears ;) I would tell her again and again, until she believed me, that that only people matter.

    If we love well, we have lived honorably and well.

  10. 19

    Tears in my eyes now.

    Our boys are 9, 10, and 13. They are magical ages. They all still hug me. A lot. My dad calls the time of their ages The Glory Days and I know he knows more about kids growing up than I do so I’m constantly trying to slow these wonderfully imperfect Glory Days down.

    What a beautiful post.

    • 20

      OHHH<
      just yesterday one of my boys had a birthday they are 9, 11 and 13! and in two weeks my 9 year old turns double digits!

      It's slipping through my fingers.

  11. 21

    The seasons are so fleeting. My kids are 2, 11, and 12. The days slip through my fingers, and I’m learning to be more present and less racing. Sometimes the easy way is perfect – instead of handmade Valentines, I buy the KitKats with space for a name and let go of the guilt trip (and cancelled my subscription to Family Fun, because I always felt inferior! LOL). My husband told me he really loves my “usual” meals, so I’m going with that instead of stressing over new and exciting meals right now. Some days are one-verse-clinging days more than chapter-reading days. God’s grace flows over us mamas. We are all trusting in His strength (and lots of coffee – or is that just me?) to get through some days. Love the encouraging words. You all bless my early-morning, pre-coffee moments!

  12. 23

    Oh how I love this post! Just to sneak away for a moment and be encouraged…such a gift!

    I won’t be graded…that’s such freeing truth!

    Another, “this is for you…in-joy it.” The babe was taken care of, the house didn’t matter…He only wanted me to be in the moment and be in the joy of it, and to receive the gift He had for me in the new babe.

    I often came to this truth…*I might be able to do it, but I’m not being ASKED to do it…being SuperWoman isn’t a command performance.”

  13. 24

    We always have a big lunch on Sunday afternoon – on 1st & 3rd Sundays we have a potluck lunch at church, on 2nd & 4th Sundays we go out to eat – so a few years ago I declared Sunday nights “popcorn and cereal night.” The kids get a break and I don’t have to cook. A lot of weeks it’s mine and my husband’s date night. :)

  14. 25

    Thank you from a mama of a 7, 5, 4 and 7 mo. old. I needed this. : )

    And my one thing that I tell myself (and that I wish I had told myself more) is that the internet isn’t going to go anywhere, but my children don’t stop growing. Look them in the eye more.

  15. 26

    They are not to big to be picked up and carried. Really. If I can still lift one up to put on my hip – if they are still asking, then they are not too big. *Because one day you’ll wonder when you stopped carrying them for the last time and wish you had one more of those moments.*

  16. 27

    Thank you! I SO needed this today. I have often told my husband that if I just had someone else to relate to about my day that half of the battle would be won. As a mom of five, with three under three (2 1/2 year old and one year old twins) I am always “victoriously frazzled.” I must admit that I don’t do this well every day. I am unable to enjoy the messy house like I wish I could. I am trying to embrace chaos but some days….I’m not so successful. Many days I am in tears when my husband gets home. I vowed just this week to stop using facebook, as all of my friends are sunkissed, vacationing, and/or something equally enticing. I don’t want to be discontent with my circumstances. I do know that these days go by very fast. So, today I’ll enjoy these sticky kisses and I’ll read Harold and the purple crayon over and over! Thank you for the post!

  17. 28

    Mother’s Day (or “mothering day” here in the UK) hit me hard this year because I felt like such a bad mom. And wife. And daughter. And person. But I had a little reminder from the Lord. It’s been a few weeks since then–and your post just brought it back. Thanks.

    http://partofthemain.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/of-mothers-day/

  18. 29

    This is great, Lisa-Jo. The epiphany that I had yesterday: The quality in my kids that causes them to disobey by repeatedly cutting their hair, coloring on things that aren’t paper, etc., is the same quality that lets them splash through sprinklers laughing and screaming, not holding back the way I do.

    It’s hard to parent kids with such bold, care-free spirits; it’s takes God’s wisdom. I need to bend their will but not break their spirit–a tough balance. But that’s what I will tell myself today. They are tough because they have wonderful spirits that I DON’T want to change.

    I know this answer is a little different than the direction you were going, but I most feel like a failure when I don’t know how to get through to my children more than if I don’t fix the most nutritious meal.

    • 30

      “No tomorrow is guaranteed…remember that every morning…and live like you believe it”
      Oh–and…
      “no one is too old for naptime”

      I loved this post Lisa-Jo.
      Time to stop grading myself.
      Time to quit grading others.
      Time to stop thinking others are grading me.

      Who am I trying to please anyway?
      “…so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him” (Col 1:10)

  19. 31

    We are so hard on ourselves. My self-imposed expectations are part of what keeps me stressed out all of the time, I think. I find that when I give myself a break, I am a much happier mommy, don’t you?

    And hooray for Starbucks drive thru! Terrible for my waistline, but great for my sanity!

  20. 32

    Ok, so this is totally off topic, but my four year old say the photo of Zoe’s fantastic headband, and said, “I LIKE that FASCINATOR!” It was sweet. Your girl clearly has style. :)

  21. 33

    I so needed this today it’s not even funny. <3

    I am not even at the place to tell the past me anything – the future me needs to tell me something now.

  22. 34

    My baby is finally sleeping now and instead I’m having the ugly cry over trying to parent a 2-year-old.

  23. 35

    I’m definitely de-lurking for this one!! I just came through a weekend of multiple kids with the stomach flu, haven’t been out of the house except for a quick grocery run in days, and I’ve done the hot, ugly cry more than once. It’s a crazy life but we’re learning by #3 that it just goes by too fast to not slow down and appreciate more and “expect” less.

    Thank you.

  24. 36
    Kim in Va. says:

    I would tell myself:

    Choose your battles wisely, don’t be a people pleaser, God and family come first, always.
    See your child through God’s eyes, even in their/your worst moments. You don’t get do overs. Keep the main thing, the main thing.

    And above all, Love them unconditionally always, even if you don’t condone what they do, and understand the difference between what they do and who they are.

  25. 37

    I wrote a post about the exact same thing! I’m still trying to find my house (6 weeks on from giving birth ;)
    And pizza is our staple food stuff atthe moment! I love what Ann said about it containing all the major food groups, I’ll be remembring that one !

  26. 38

    As a homeschooling mom of 6 {ages 13, 11, 9, 7, 5 and 3} , wife to one fine, singing police officer, I totally get this!! Here are some of the things I’ve had to come to terms with:
    1. Once the children are actually IN bed…..it’s better to just brush their teeth in the morning!
    2. Yes, pizza is the perfect food and it does contain all the food groups, so why not serve it at every meal?
    3. Getting the big chunks off the floor is about all the time I have for vacuuming!!
    4. It’s so much easier to just store all the children’s shoes in the van anyway. We can always find a matching pair that way!!
    5. Thank goodness my husband’s underwear is laying in a crumpled heap on the floor at the foot of OUR bed {as opposed to someone else’s ;)!!

    Thank you for this post!! Needed to hear the affirmations that I’m not alone in all this!!

  27. 39

    Lisa Jo, you are so awesome!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this post!! Such a great affirmation that I am not alone!!! lol!

    Comment 29, by Kim in Va. really resonated with me & made me cry…such wisdon in that comment…Thank you, Kim in Va.!! :)

  28. 40

    Wow! What a revelation…we are not being graded. Who knew? That re-sets my whole day. Thank you for this. With Joy, Carey

  29. 41

    I would tell myself that those nights spent fishing with my husband talking about how I was going to be a horrible mother would be some of the sweetest memories. That even though there were tears, he really was right. I got this mother thing. I would tell myself that those friends who have perfectly clean homes when I come over (just grateful to have found semi-clean cloths for my kids), were crazily cleaning their home the night before; really were not something to strive for. Kisses and book reading while the laundry is around us waiting for be put away was WAY better. It’s not like the laundry is going any where. Oh and on the laundry subject, you are not going to damage your kids for the future if they spend a month (or two) digging their clothes out of their ‘basket’ rather than their drawer. ;)

  30. 42

    I love this. I have a 2 week old, 1 year old, 3 year old and 4 year old. And while everything is going very smoothly, I find myself battling old demons of self-doubt and self condemnation. I had a bad 2 days, so tired and weepy, starting to have those feelings of “is this all really worth it?”, and paralyzing by fear of another PPD battle. A long talk/cry with my hubby, and a few extra naps, and I am feeling better today. But hoping to keep my heart calm in the knowledge that I am loved and supported by my husband, and my kids could care less if they wear the same shirt 3 days in a row.

  31. 43

    I need to read this every day. :) I have few friends that are moms, so I end up comparing myself to mommy bloggers who don’t always write about the bad days. I’m so glad you write about the bad days.

    I think in a few years I’d be telling my present self to slow down, to let go of the housework more often, to sit on the floor and play more. To pick my battles and use the teaching moments. (Oh, there are so many battles with a 2.5 year old!) To revel in this pregnancy and not stress about how I will parent two kids. To trust God with the path for my life and not try to figure it all out now. To remember His goodness more.

    • 44

      Oh, and the man in the @shanyn silinski picture looks just like my dad. I’ve never met another man whose hair can stand up like that!! :)

  32. 45

    My little sister… a brand new mom of just TWO weeks posted this as her facebook status this week… “I have a whole new appreciation for drive thrus. Wegmans and Target need them.” she is learning quick! :)

    Me, I am just learning to celebrate the little victories… when I choose my kids over my housework, computer, crafting, etc!!

  33. 46

    This has been an incredibly rough month that has been fraught with cancer, surgery and pets put to sleep and frankly, I’m pretty much holding onto the fleeting threads of my ability to just. keep. going through sheer force of will. I identified with this so completely that it was literally hard to breathe. Thanks. Now I just have to manage to not do the ugly cry at my desk. :-)

  34. 47

    I had a 10 minute ugly cry last night. And I felt A LOT better after. Sometimes I just gotta let it all out to be able to hand it over to the One that can handle it.

  35. 48

    I love this post. Your honesty is humbling. I remember in the early years praying for strength, and now ten years later I’m still praying for strength. Every mama needs it in some way everyday. I think it would be great, if everyday as moms, we could send up a short but sweet prayer towards heaven for another mom who might be needing it. Then, we would have good energy surrounding us, instead of negative or critical energy that makes us doubt ourselves.

  36. 49

    5. Thank goodness my husband’s underwear is laying in a crumpled heap on the floor at the foot of OUR bed {as opposed to someone else’s !!
    Thanks! You have eternally changed my perspective on my husband’s unwillingness to put his laundry in the laudry basket!

    I love this entire post! So what I need to hear! I always picture what my mother in law might think if she stopped by and saw my house unannounced (which she doesn’t do, so why do I hold myself hostage with this scenario?????), and then I get all stressed out about how untidy it always is.
    I have a 2 1/2 yr old who just quit taking naps, a teething 7 month old, a husband who works full time and runs our 30 acre orchard on the side, I’m now heavily involved with MOPS, and I feel like I’m finally starting to let things slide and I love it! Definitely a work in progress though:)

  37. 50

    I would tell myself that it’s okay to ask for help. When I got married and had a baby I wanted to do it all on my own. I thought that I should and could be the one to do all the laundry all the cooking all the cleaning and all the late nights with baby (and do it all perfectly). When I realized that I couldn’t I started to resent my husband for not helping out more. Lately I’ve discovered that he is thrilled to help if I only ask him. He doesn’t always think to help out on his own (until I have a major melt-down) but if I ask he is always happy to help. I am able to be such a better mom, and a better wife, when I don’t try to do it all on my own.

  38. 51

    Sometimes, it’s okay if all you did all day was breathe. Really, it is.

  39. 52

    great post – wonderful reminders. i constantly remind myself to slow down and take it all in because it’s such a blessing and it goes by much too fast.

  40. 53

    As someone who has gone through this season of life and is into another, I wish I had someone to tell me these things and blogging yrs back. Mine are 30,29,23, & 22.

    Forgive yourself, don’t try to measure against other moms, ( you’re all struggling s0me just don’t show it), and remember that this too shall pass. And it will, all in the blink of an eye. And please, please don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness or failure. It’s the smart thing to do on days when it all is just too much! There are those of us who would LOVE to help if only we knew it was ok with you. Mothers, mothers in law, church friends, people just like you. THIS is thee most IMPORTANT job you will ever have…please enjoy it..enjoy them and know that God has made you a mom and will always be there to listen. God bless.

  41. 54

    I’m not officially a mama but these words still speak grace to my heart. Thank you for this beautiful post, friend! One of my favorite quotes ever is by Jill Churchill, “The most important thing she’d learned through the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” That was in Real Simple magazine ages ago and I clipped it right out and hung onto it. I think it applies to all areas of our lives, “There’s no way to be a perfect wife, daughter, sister, friend…but a million ways to be a good one.” Love you so much!

  42. 56

    I would say not to fret over letting them watch *another* movie, especially on those hard days.

    I would say who cares if they haven’t combed their hair in days. Most other people just aren’t gonna notice!

    I would say cookies for breakfast never killed anyone. And how is that different from a donut?

  43. 57
    Nurse Bee says:

    Found you through Jessica Turner today. Totally what I needed to hear. This is one of those days I feel like I suck at everything.

  44. 58
    Jenna :) says:

    I would go back two days and tell myself that my in-laws prefer happy, smiling children to those that have been worn weary by cleaning at mother’s ‘command’ in a clean home.

    Thank you. I needed this today. :)

  45. 59
    Alexandra says:

    If I could go back to when my kids were little, I’d work on:
    … Including in a routine the things that are important to me (like showers. I have to take a shower everyday – I’d usually snatch 2 mins before my husband left in the morning)
    … Being OK with “I’ll get around to” the things that aren’t so important (like housework, especially dusting.)
    … I’d try to understand that sometimes, it’s OK to cry… and it’s OK for your baby to cry. Not that I’m advocating neglect or anything, but I know that sometimes I rocked, and worried, and worked at getting my babies to stop crying just because I couldn’t bear to hear them cry. Sometimes, it’s OK to let your baby cry in his/her crib while you snatch 5 mins of sanity time. Also, it’s amazing how fast a room can get flooded while you snatch 5 mins of sanity time. (I lay there, hearing the water, thinking “how bad can it be for them to play with the water for a couple of minutes?”, turns out, it can be great for housework- their tile floor got nice and clean :)

  46. 60

    As a mother of 3 grown children, 6 grown step-children and 12 grandchildren, all I can say is I’ve been there! Funny how you don’t forget those days of unbelievable responsibility, busyness and FATIGUE! I can practically feel exhausted just remembering them! I also am the mother of a 23 year old son who is already living with the LORD in paradise. Not so anyone would feel sorry for me or anything, but it has given me perspective about what is really important: being involved in your children’s lives, loving them for who God made them to be, making sweet memories for them to cherish as they look back from adulthood some day. From that perspective, they won’t care what the house looked like or what kinds of meals they ate. They will remember how they were and are loved. They will know how much God loves them. Those are the legacies we want to leave our families. There are so many different seasons with a growing family (…a time for this and a time for that…, my paraphrased Ecclesiastes). When your kids have families of their own, when they are in those discouraging seasons, you will know just what encouragement to offer them. Give yourself GRACE. God does, and your kids do, too.

  47. 62

    By the way, I immediately forwarded your post to my daughter, who is a work outside and inside the home mommy of an active 3 year old. She will be so blessed by it!

  48. 63
    Jennifer says:

    I totally stumbled on your blog today via someone elses. I struck by the fact that I stumbled on someones blog who lived in Owosso. As do I.

    • 64
      thegypsymama says:

      No way!!! We LOVED our time there – my second son was born at Memorial :)

  49. 65

    I have read this post twice now. I may bookmark it so I can read it every day…or every hour. Oh, how we need each other…

    This is beautiful.

  50. 66

    I’d tell myself that my kids think I’m a great Mommy and that they’re not expecting me to over exceed on meeting their needs. While pancakes for supper may be an easy out for me, they look forward to the switch. They enjoy cleaning up their toys when I set a timer and make it a “race”. A fantastic husband and father help ease the self-created stress too.

    Thanks for your post, Lisa-Jo. I loved it.

  51. 67

    I think I would tell myself (over and over again) to not always listen to others. I was at a place where I was okay with my house and it’s imperfections. Then, I was told that my home was ready enough for hospitality to lead a weekly group in our house. Ouch! I know the people judging me were wrong, but it still really gets to me.

  52. 68

    I tell myself, “Someday, I’m going to miss this.” And I mean it. No matter how hard it is. Someday, I AM going to miss this.

    • 69

      Alyssa, you speak truth. I miss the days of having my boys around. Even the hardest places we had to walk God used to make beauty out of ashes. Repeatedly throw yourself back into the loving arms of Christ and you will have beautiful memories of it ALL!

  53. 70

    thanks for this. Someone evil randomly stopped by my house today, and I could see they were judging me. It was 1pm and I was in my jammies, and their was a big ugly kids play tent in the living room. “oh dear”, I thought! But otherwise I had a great day, mess or no mess.

  54. 71
    Katherine says:

    Stressing the small stuff is never worth losing your calm.

  55. 72

    I’m with Cheri, oh yeah, I’m with her. My three-in-4-years are all grown with kids of their own and we now care for our youngest granddaughter a couple of days a week. Mothering is the most wonderful and the most terrible thing you will ever do in your life. Exhaustion, euphoria. Grace-filled, angst-filled. Tears of laughter, tears of regret and fatigue. Those early years are just plain hard (and they are just plain miraculous). I thanked God every single day for Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and my husband walking in the door at 5:30, ready and willing to roll on the floor, take the kids for a walk, and otherwise step into my shoes for a couple of hours as I tried to put dinner on the table and finish yet another load of laundry. If we’d had drive-thru Starbucks, I would have thanked God for that, too! You do your best, you love your kids, you ask for help, you live with the mess and the chaos, you celebrate the milestones, you comfort the hurting one(s), you referee the quarrels, you fill the wading pool and the bathtub and the vaporizer. And you admit every single day that you can’t get through another one without grace and mercy – both received and given. YOU’RE DOING A MAGNIFICENT JOB, LISA-JO. And so are all the rest of you who have read and commented. So many blessings to you, each and every one of you. Keep on encouraging each other – it makes all the difference in the world to really know that you’re not alone.

  56. 73

    Oh, I needed this! I’ve been thinking and planning and thinking some more on how I can be a better mom and make sure my kids feel loved, special, have fun, and remember it all. I’ve been so busy worrying about being good enough I’ve distracted myself from just being there.

  57. 74
    Heather says:

    Last night seemed like an epic parenting fail. I’ve been stressed out about work and was taking a last minute run to Hobby Lobby to get project supplies for my 12 year old. I brought my 10 year old as well which caused immediate problems between the girls. In the midst of their squabbling, I lost it and sone not so nice things came out of my mouth. The result…a heated “I hate you!” from the 12 year old and a “Please take me home!?!” by the 10 year old. I cried myself to sleep thinking I’d ruined them both for life.

  58. 75

    I completely paid for my food at Wendy’s drive through and drove off without my debit card. Yep. The newborn is taking my brain cells. Or maybe it’s the five year old, three year old, 2 year old that are doing it… oh well.

    I loved this post and I SOOOOO needed it! Thank you~

  59. 76

    Thank you so much for this post. I am about to have another little blessing soon, but I have been feeling down and worried about how I am going to handle a five, two and newborn at the same time. Thanks for reminding me that love will keep us going and things can be messy and imperfect and it will be fine. My children will not be scarred because I am not doing it all (or ‘all there’ as sleep deprivation and hormones are pretty crazy the months after baby’s born!)

  60. 77

    If i could go back 7 years (when my 1st born was born) i’d tell myself the same thing i do everyday. Messy house, messy kids makes for messy but delightfully happy family. Oh! and Rememeber , you need to eat at least a pound of dirt to be human! So worm ,backyard and swingset ,better watch out we are comming out…So long dishes!!!

  61. 78

    Anyone giving advice about surviving the toddler years, and making them sound neat and pretty, is no longer in them. (Or has a personal assitant.) Seriously.

    As a mom to an 11, 8, 5, and 2 year old, I can tell you assuredly that I have amnesia about 1) the pain of birth and 2) how everylovin’ difficult it is for me when children are under 2.5. By the time the new baby arrives, I’ve always had about a half-year of some degree of normalcy, only to have the baby drop like a bomb in the middle of the “normal” I’d managed to scrape together.

    Other moms IN the toddler years just nod understandingly, and touch your arm softly as you half-sob/half-babble endlessly as you struggle to grasp “where you lost control of your whole.holy.life.”

    At a recent homeschooling meeting, when I was a-babblin’ about trying to homeschool older kids when the younger set underfoot, one well meaning mama of an 8 & 10 year old urged me to “blanket train” the baby and that my difficulties would be solved. Um, mm-kay. Because spending several weeks scolding the 1 year old, to get him to stay on a 3 x 3 ft. square of quilt, sounds crazy to me on a whole score of levels. :) I told her, “I appreciate the advice, but maybe I was just looking for someone to agree with me that my life is, indeed, totally nuts.” I don’t think she was impressed. Ha.

    My husband likes to suggest that our life, set to music, would have a calliope background sound. :) It has been soooooo crazy, and so worth every blessed, chaotic minute.

    Relish these days and use up your mommy instincts. You won’t be sorry about the drive-through in a few years, but I promise you’ll wish you would have taken your salty, french-fry lips and kissed the baby fat on his neck. Run your hands through that baby hair. Watch your toddler run. See how his hair turns in the wind? Have you ever seen anything more lovely?

    Bless you for this sweet article.

  62. 79
    Kristen Waller says:

    …I’d say dinner was going to be late that night because I’m sitting down and playing horses with my daughter…. Too many times I’d tell her “not right now, I’m busy”. I knew in my head that there would come a time that she’d no longer ask me because I wasn’t making the time for her. But I still chose to strive to be the “perfect housewife” and have dinner on the table on time. Now she no longer asks me to play with her…. now I (with God’s help) try to do whatever I can with her and her siblings.

  63. 80

    Lisa-Jo,
    Thank you so much for this post. it was exactly what this weary mommy needed to hear. i start so many days already feeling like i’ve failed…only to remember that He has succeeded in MY place. Love your blog and am going to subscribe to it this minute!! you have so much to offer!! God bless…
    ~patty

  64. 81

    Decades down the road from the 2am feedings I would say this….say yes to your children as often as possible. When you need to say no, its really no.

  65. 82

    Oh, you have no idea how much I needed this…like a breath of fresh air. I have 5 kids (12, 9, 6, 4, and 3 months). I have days that go great, and days that frankly…suck. Yep, it’s true. And just last week, I admitted to my best friend that I am going through some post-partum depression and anxiety. I had to admit it to myself first.

    Sigh…but it does get better…it does. And I have the BEST hubby in the world, who has so far survived 2 of the worst meltdowns ever from me (and both in a week’s time!). I took his head off…literally, but he still hugged me and told me he loved me. Awesome.

    God bless you, thank you again…and blessings to all the moms out there.

  66. 83
    natalie says:

    If I could go back and give myself advice on motherhood:

    1) Do not ever let laundry, dirty floors & dust bunnies make you feel guilty.

    2) Do not compare yourself to anyone. Period. [this is hard!]

    3) Having fun is more important than following the imaginary rules.

    4) Ponytails are technically a “hair-do.” ;)

    5) Hold them as often as you can … it goes by too fast.

    6) Shirades are an acceptable form of communication until your brain cells start functioning again. {typically it takes a few years of solid sleep to recover them}

    7) Your worst critic is yourself. No one is judging you as much as you judge yourself.

    8) There is no FairyGodMother handing out gold stars to the Super-Mom-Of-The-Week. Stop trying to earn them.

    9) LIFE = MESS. Accept it, you’ll be much happier and so will your kids.

    10) You are not a bad person if your attempt at scrapbooking remains nothing more than a pile of photos, paper and stickers collecting in a plastic bin.

    10) Failures teach you about Grace. Understanding Grace is foundational to your entire life.

    11) Cry whenever and wherever you need to. No shame. Liquid Prayers.

    12) As hard as it is to get your head around … don’t ever, ever forget:
    YOUR KIDS (AND GOD HIMSELF) THINK YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL
    ~ AND ~ THEY LOVE YOU JUST AS YOU ARE.

    (so make it a priority to start loving yourself too!)

    • 84
      natalie says:

      oh geez… Spelling is also something that comes and goes… LOL

      #6) CHARADES {that is} are an acceptable form of communication until your brain cells start functioning again.

      sigh… :P

    • 85
      thegypsymama says:

      Am I the only one who wants to print out this list and frame it???

  67. 86

    Wonderful post. When I have had one of “those” days hubby has said “At least the kids are alive and supper is made”. :)

  68. 87
    Genevieve says:

    Reading this at 1:30am with those tired eyes you mentioned. It made me smile, thank you! and Thank you to your contributors too!

  69. 88

    I am crying too hard to type very much except thank you. My guilt over feeling like I fail my kids every day was just eased by this. Xo

    • 89
      thegypsymama says:

      Shay, I am so glad – hold onto that – you are wonderful. You are a mother – that makes you a hero!!

  70. 90

    Lovely post. So often I grade myself — much too harshly. If I kept to my grading system for this year I might be attempted to see all that we didn’t do and accomplish and not see the beautiful things in the midst.

    Thanks for such a poignant reminder.

  71. 92

    Celebrate the small victories. Have they been fed? Put to bed? Are they clothed at all? {Dirty, clean, matching…it doesn’t matter.} Are they chattering, smiling, maybe even singing? If the answer is yes to any of these, you’ve done something right. : )

    I LOVE this post! Thank you for patting us all on the back.

  72. 93

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! So good to have reminders of grace. Let’s hear it for that mighty Flintstones vitamin and avoiding scurvy!

    You are a GREAT writer.

    • 94
      thegypsymama says:

      Yes, indeed – who said the Flintstones weren’t good for more than just entertainment :)

  73. 95

    Thankful for you, Lisa-Jo! I don’t comment as often as I’d like, nor do I get to participate in “Five Min. Friday” as often as I’d like, but oh, I just want you to know I’m thankful for you and your words of encouragement. Hope you have a blessed, restful weekend.

  74. 96

    Here are a few things I am still learning and need to hear every day:
    1. Grace: accept it from God and others. Give it to your kids, your husband, and everyone else.
    2.Pray – as much as possible, even if the only quiet time at your house comes beytween midnight and 2 am. Pray when kids are screaming and you are doing laundry. Pray in the car over the cries of “MOM!…..(fill in the blank). Pray even when you can only manage to say “God, please HELP me do tis!”
    3. Laugh-when you think your house can’t look any worse and your kids cannot be any less responsive or obedient. Find anything small about which you can laugj every day. Laugh with your kids and laugh at yourself when you begin to demand perfection in every area of you home and life.
    4. Listen-to God as He speaks through scripture, to your husband when he wants to tel you about his day, to your kids who want to share with you every detail of their
    latest adventure or heartache or joy. DO NOT listen to those who would tear you down because your house, family, child’s behavior, or mom ponytail does not meet their expectations or approval.
    5. When you fail to do any or all of the above in a day, give yourself the okay to start again tomorrow and as you fall asleep ask God for strength to try again and His mercies that are new every morning.

    4. Listen-to God as He speaks through scripture and His creation, to your husbad wen he wants to telll you about his day, to your kids

    • 97

      Sorry for the misspelings throughout-the fun of touchscreen typing on my phone! And quite funny that #4 is in there twice. Maybe what my Dad always told me about having 2ears and listening 2x more than I speak was important:)

  75. 98

    Oh how I needed this tonight! Thank you thank you thank you!

  76. 99

    hi – i stumbled upon your blog from the nester. thanks so very much for this post. love how you included pics with the words. such a needed & blessed reminder. sometimes i just need to read my own advice in someone else’s words!! why is that?!
    i linked to this post from my blog. hope you don’t mind.

  77. 100

    Every day you get to try again. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to others that were feeling overwhelmed. God doesn’t want perfect, he wants you to try. You’ll find friends that are living the same life as you and you will be lifted by that and one day you’ll be the mom with experience and wisdom! ;)

  78. 101
    micaela says:

    I believe that we compare our worst traits to others best traits and that is no way to treat ourselves. We all have days where nothing goes right and we need not only his mercy but the mercy of all those around us. I think it helps to admit that we need it and frankly, that we can’t make it without the help of our father in heaven and those people we choose to suuround ourselves with. I hope I can remember to always extend help to others and love unconditionally.

  79. 102

    I’m so glad you posted this. I shared it with several of my friends who are in the thick of living the mom life. Being a mom is overwhelming at times, and there are rewards, but it’s a hard job. I’ve “run away” three times, cried so hard, hidden in the only place I could (the bathroom), and then I went on. I have a strong support group of ordinary/ extra-ordinary moms that I know from church that I can be real and honest with and we still love and understand each other. We fight so hard to not compare ourselves to others, and sometimes, what we are comparing ourselves to, is not a true picture of what is really happening. I’m not sure if that makes sense. so many times, we go through our day and if someone ask, we say we’re doing okay – even when we’re not. So we deceive ourselves and others. Our house isn’t the cleanest and we have dust bunnies living in plain sight. On any given day, there are 3 little ones under two yrs., 3 teens, a German Shepard who sheds horribly, and a psycho cat, and in the midst of that, we homeschool two of the three teens – we don’t even attempt to make excuses.

  80. 103

    Lisa-Jo, could you turn all these comments into a book, too? I bet sitting with these comments during the 3am feedings would be pure gold… I’m only 10 weeks along right now (with our 5th) and I’m already wishing I could curl up and read more with pint of chocolate ice cream…but alas, motherhood calls me back to action… :)

  81. 104
    Dara Shultz at LivingMySomeday.com says:

    If I could go being a first-timer, I would tell myself it gets better. All of it. It just gets better, so hang in there. The 2am (and 4am and 6am) feedings will pass, you will sleep again, and you will miss those quiet moments in the dark with the baby God has so graciously given you.

  82. 105

    I Love, love, love this! Such a beautiful post and comments! One of my hundred things to tell a new mum would be that wherever your baby sleeps is fine. As long as you are both sleeping, it doesn’t matter if they’re in your bed, in your arms or on the couch. Sooner or later they will be sleeping by themselves and you will miss those sleepy cuddles.

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