23 Jun 2016

What I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Tell Myself When I Was a New Mom

There will be days you will question everything you believe.


There will be days you will be so tired it’s too hard to make the bed. Just getting out of it will have to be enough.

There will be days you will wonder why no one told you that they loved you today.

There will be days when you’ll step over that pile of Barbie clothes and plastic figurines and scrumpled up art projects and you’ll think to yourself, “I should really get around to tidying that up.” But you won’t.

There will be so much that you get wrong.

You will want to go back to the beginning to try and make sense of it all but you won’t be able to. Because there’s too much new already happening again today.

It’s like a rushing river of ordinary that roars by you through your living room and around the corner from that little white house that you rented for five years that felt like forever.

Only it isn’t.

Nothing is forever when you are on the timeline of children. Everything is right now. And before you know it, everything is yesterday.

And everything gets better.


Tomorrow is always a mystery.

A shifting changing mystery that you’re scared of and then, before you know it, tomorrow is yesterday and your baby is turning eleven.

There is so much you will get wrong.

It’s OK to just accept that at the beginning. Or better yet, in the middle. It’s OK to just accept all the many times you’re going to need to start over.

I lay down next to my nearly eleven-year-old last night and the song that came on the radio was the same one I was singing when we stood in church one cold Sunday night in South Africa when I was six months pregnant with him.

And there I was again last night singing the words over him, his arms wrapped around me. My gangly, long-limbed baby who isn’t a baby anymore.

I made all the mistakes.

I tried to keep to the feeding schedule the books told me to and he was never interested.

I quit nursing too early; I started formula too soon. Depending on which book you consult.

I loved him but I missed sleeping.

I was confused and lonely by motherhood.

I loved all of it and I wanted to go back to the part of my life when I could read a book uninterrupted.

That part has come back around now. I’m not sure why it surprises me so much. But it does.


I never expected to miss him while I was enjoying peace and quiet in my own room. So I close my laptop and sneak into his room and climb into the twin beds he and his brother have pushed together. I pet their backs and tell them stories of that old song that showed up eleven years ago and is still playing on the radio tonight.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re a new mom.

And then it turns out you don’t know a whole host of new things when you’re a ten year old mom.

What I know is that it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s important to keep learning. And that the kids love hearing about what the journey has been like. Because they don’t remember most of it. They love when I fill in the gaps.

They love hearing all of it.

Even the things I thought I got wrong. Now I tell those stories and they make sympathetic noises and pat my back and look, it’s all starting over again. Even the parts I thought we were done living. I’m reliving them through their fascinated eyes and there is redemption in the way they receive them like a gift.

A gift I’ve been carrying with me all that time I was sure I was doing it wrong, that I’d never sleep and that all I wanted was to get through potty training.

We lie in bed together and I know it’s going to be OK. Even the stuff that doesn’t feel OK. It’s going to be OK.

I didn’t know this moment would be waiting for me.

When I was tired and confused and he was only 2 months old I didn’t know.

That there were gifts so tender and beautiful waiting in tomorrow.

But I know now.

So I’m better at stepping over the mess of today because who knows what kind of beauty it will show up as tomorrow.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    The best of times. Then, now and, God permitting, tomorrow.

    Nice slip ‘n slide pic :)

  2. 3

    Thanks for encouraging us and reminding us that the whole point of motherhood is not getting it perfect, but creating relationship with our children.
    We’ll be making mistakes as moms for the rest of our lives. Even when our children are grown. But as I tell my youngest, hooray for mistakes, this gives me an opportunity to learn something new.

  3. 4

    I just wanted to say I just re-read your book again surprised by motherhood & it made me laugh cry & want to hug you all at once again..its been a rough couple of years with my 3 teenage girls & this book helps remind me of WHY God put these 3 lovely STRONG WILLED & beautiful girls into our(d.h & myself) arms to care/cherish/love. Motherhood is not for wimps & thank you Lisa-Jo for helping ME to thank God for the blessing he has given me… Even when there are too many times that tempers flare, drama ensues & just all out war between 19, 16 & 14…it’s chaos & there are to many times that I don’t fall on my knees in thankfulness but in defeat & tears from angry words & overly sensitive emotions. I, to am a work in progress…one I hope God never gives up on.

    • 5

      Oh I love this Kelly – thanks for the encouragement. And amen to the hope in a God that never gives up on us.

  4. 6

    Again, and always, I love you. That is all. (My 21 year old texted last night, saying she missed me this week. We usually get together to walk/hang out a few times a week and it just didn’t happen this week. All of those years –the ones I thought I was nailing it, and the ones I was convinced I was so not– through ALL of them, our goal was to raise a human who we would want to hang out with when she was a grown up. The gift is that we did it… and that she wants to hang out with us as well!) So what I am saying is tomorrow holds SO MUCH beauty, my friend! xoxo

  5. 7
    Elaine Pool says:

    LOVE this! My own personal daughter is pregnant with her first, and every time you write about your trials as a new mother, I think “Catie needs to hear this.” Thank you for truth-ing! (I shared this post with her)

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