The thing is, moms are tired.
They’re also confused a lot of the time.
And they feel lost, like the days before GPS when we used to print out directions from Map Quest – like actually print them out on paper – and then just as you were glancing down at the paper the exit flew by you.
That kind of lost.
And there’s a lot of noise. From competing opinions and books and parenting magazines and websites and other parents and especially from inside their own homes where all the loud, loud, wildly noisy, loud children live.
And moms, they wake up after having spent a night being woken up and they walk out into all that loudness and confused lost chaos.
They do it with eyes still squinting at the light, scrabbling for contact lenses or glasses and a cup of hot tea with plenty of sugar.
They try to make sense of the math homework they’re supposed to send back completed with their kid and they feel more proud of the three spelling sentences they got the one who weeps over English homework to write than they ever could have imagined in the days when they used to sleep in till noon.
There were days they used to sleep in.
They can’t remember those days anymore.
Their bodies are programmed to wake up at o’toddler dark thirty even when they’re on vacation.
They have degrees and life dreams and grand plans for who they planned to grow up into. Maybe part of that included being a mom. Maybe they always wanted to be a mom but never realized how unexciting it can be a lot of the time. Well that can get them a bit lost. It can leave them feeling out in the deep, dark, overgrowth and it can be scary.
It can be lonely.
It can feel like a hamster wheel on repeat and then repeat again.
And they don’t understand why everyone else seems to understand what they’re doing.
They don’t understand how other mothers are functioning at such a high level of normalcy while they are also waking up with a nursing infant. How do they do it?
Two of the loneliest years of my life were the first two of motherhood.
When I looked around me in amazed wonder at the mothers who arrived at playdates and church with blow dried hair and beautifully put together children and attitudes.
I was so lost inside my own skin. So desperately confused about who I was supposed to be; what I was supposed to look like. The things I was supposed to say. I watched the moms around me and I mimicked how they cooed over their babies in the praise and worship at a Sunday morning service. When I would have been more than happy to have slept in – half starved for sleep – and left the praise to his grandparents and done my own worship at the thought of two consecutive hours of sleep.
Not one mom in two years told me she found it hard. That it wasn’t easy or natural or normal to suddenly be in charge of another human being.
And I smiled and smiled and smiled and said very little because I was working so hard at fitting in.
Looking back, I feel so sad for that new mama. I want to reach back through time and over and just squeeze her knee and tell her, “It’s going to be OK. It’s normal to feel this tired. It really is. It gets better.”
I want so badly for someone to tell her the truth about the exhaustion and how hard nursing can be and that everyone who looks so put together at church — there are none of us immune from the meltdowns and feelings of inadequacy. I want so badly for someone to take her aside and ask how she’s really doing. For someone, anyone, to mentor her and admit their own hard days. To be willing to go first. To tell her how frustrated they were at the thought of even beginning the tedious process of trying to leave the house.
I want someone to ruthlessly admit to her that they don’t have it altogether.
That’s where you come in.
You can tell the truth.
That we’re most of us lost. And that’s OK.
It’s OK if we’re in it together. Grab another mom’s hand today. Or pass her the coffee or a slice of cake. Or just a nod as you maneuver your cart around her in Target, at the checkout, in line outside the preschool.
Or better yet, say it out loud. Tell her. Throw a life presever of words in her direction.
Be a wildly encouraging truth teller by inviting her over on the days when your house isn’t perfect. When your temper’s not in tact. When your kids aren’t behaving.
Invite her into your real inside life.
And watch how it makes you both feel better. Braver. Ready for tomorrow.
Oh Lisa-Jo, exactly. I think so many of us hit this wall where we just can’t do it for one. more. day. And to know that there are other mamas, fatigued and afraid they’re mucking it up too? That is a priceless gift to hand another mama. Priceless. It reminds me that we’re stronger together. That grace is bigger than my exhaustion. And that there are those willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as we take on mamahood (even if it’s just to prop me up for a day or four!). You have such a beautiful Encourager’s heart. Thank you!
::tears:: Thank you! Breathing this in deep today. <3
I know many people who feel like you did. Whereas, I loved every minute of it (up to age 13!). However, I was an older mother so I had the confidence not to listen to other people, to do what felt right to me and for my babies. I ran a busy business and had no family support so knew I couldnt expect anything else of myself. I didn’t feel the need to dress up or go out but then I’d had years of partying so didn’t miss it. Neither did I care what anyone else thought. I took each day at a time and marvelled at every new thing they did. I think it’s yet another area area where confidence and self belief are key!
I was a young mother and I, too, loved it when they were young and now that they are grown. I absolutely did not like the teenage years…I was always outnumbered. My husband worked afternoons and midnights, so I was essentially a single mom. The teenage years are the roughest in my book.
I seriously hope someone is able to teach both of your children the meaning of empathy and how to express it (because based on these comments neither of you can). This post is not about you or your need to brag and tell the world your joy. This post is about those who are struggling and those who do need an empathetic heart from other moms. Do you also show off your new designer purse to the neighbor who has lost their beloved pet? Get off your high horses with this “every moment” nonsense and look at the moms around you. I bet you’ll find a friend, relative, or neighbor who could really use someone. And if I read one ‘but whiiiine, this is just my opinion’ reply then you’ve done nothing but further prove your inability to look beyond yourselves. There are some moms out there who ARE struggling, who DON’T love every moment, and who DO need an emotional hand. That’s who this post is for. Instead of focusing on bragging about yourselves why don’t you take a hard look at those around you and try to find a mom who could use that hand, or some guidance, or a reassuring smile. Help others, share your experience (not experiences–that is also you-focused), and for goodness sake…embrace empathy and share it with others.
Since you don’t me or what I went through, your comments are out of line. I was agreeing with someone else. Each of us needs help in different ways. Children are young, but for a moment and they are older for the rest of their lives. I suggest you get off your “high Horse”. And since my four are grown, I can most assuredly bet that I’ve helped people dealing with teenage issues. With a commentary like that, there are no empathic bones in your body.
you are obviously missing the point, Sue….and Libby! You are doing exactly what this article is asking you not to do.
Every minute of it? That just isn’t true. Please don’t say it. No one loves trying to change the poopy diaper of a baby who will not stay put.
I’m probably comparing little to teenage and I’ll gladly go back to little! Many times I’ve held a baby under the shower to clean off poop that has went from butt to neck! I just tried to see the funny side of it, mostly. The days will become a blur….we have all been there.
I think what Sue Alley is trying to say is that even when it is tough remember that this is only a temporary thing. I have a 9 1/2 yr old and a 5 1/2 yr old. It is true. It goes by so fast. If you try to see the humor in the frustration then it makes it a bit easier. It is very hard. I have a business, homeschool and take care of the kids 24/7 except for the few hours my husband is home. We have no date life and are pretty boring. I did, however, have to lay down the law and have mommy free weekends. They are weekends I go out of town without kids or husband. It really does help. Otherwise I would go crazy. I would have no outlet. I am an older mom and so sometimes it is frustrating to be in those stages that most of my friends have been out of for a long time.
I will say cherish the times you have with your kids, spend more time playing, reading to them, etc., less worrying about cleaning house. Because when I already look back on the years that I have had children I think ” Wow how time really does fly. Do I remember having a messy house? Of course I know it was, but really I remember the memories we have been making. I spend more time teaching them.
Believe me it does feel like being on a hamster wheel. Just knowing that other moms are out there in the same boat helps. If you are feeling overwhelmed get a friend or family member or babysitter to watch them. If you don’t get a break you will burn out. Bottom line. Those moms that say they “LOVE” having kids and to change diapers, etc are not realistic. Sure there are those out there.
Take a deep breath. Get help when needed. Before it gets too overwhelming. Find ways to enjoy being mom.
I’ll never forget the day that I told my mom and my aunt, when they came to visit, that I didn’t think I loved my baby. I asked, “When does that instant love, you hear about, kick in?”….then, my aunt said, “I can’t believe you just said that out loud. I felt the exact same way, but would never have been able to say it out loud because it might make me sound like I didn’t want her.”
She had six children. My mom had eight. They told me that I was normal, exhausted and that instant love doesn’t just happen….that’s what bonding does. They told me to go to bed and to this day, I don’t remember anything after that, but I’m sure the sleep helped because I’ve raised four wonderful children and none of them wasn’t loved with all I had.
New moms need sleep.
I love this. I love that you had the guts to say it out loud. I certainly didn’t. And I certainly didn’t have those feelings of instant love. That first moment when they placed my oldest daughter in my arms at the hospital – I knew I was *supposed* to love her, but all I could think was “What now? What on earth do I do with this baby?” And the overwhelming responsibility that was now placed squarely on my shoulders was almost too much to bear. Then it all gets worse a few days later when the husband goes back to work and you are left on your own ALL DAY LONG. Now I’m three kids in and the youngest is almost three and the love abounds. But I sure wish someone had told me that it’s okay. The love will come.
I don’t know what I think about many, things, but this I do know – our North American culture of living apart from extended family that leads to new moms being left alone is completely backwards.
PS. I read once that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
I don’t know what I think about many, things, but this I do know – our North American culture of living apart from extended family that leads to new moms being left alone is completely backwards. –> It is! And it’s the same in Western Europe. I’m on my own with my first baby, 10 months old, all.day.long. Almost àll Belgian mothers go back to work 3 months after delivery (and babies go to day care at that early age!), so you don’t see another mom during weekdays anywhere, only some eldery people, who start by asking ‘Well will you go back to work? or ‘Aren’t you bored doing nothing?’ :(
I tell people all the time that I didn’t feel that instant love — you have to tell moms that or they will feel crazy when they don’t feel it either. Like they are a bad person. I remember feeling scared and amazed by the little baby looking at me. I couldn’t stop looking at him, but I didn’t feel some overwhelming LOVE for him. I was protective, I was attentive and nurturing, but I wasn’t in love with him. That’s like expecting to love a complete stranger you met at a party — you don’t know anything about that person. That doesn’t mean it won’t come :) And I don’t feel guilty saying it out loud now, because I dare someone to find a mom who loves their kid more than I love mine! And anyone who sees me with him for more than 30 seconds will see that. And no one enjoys every minute. When you’re forcing clothes onto a screaming, wailing 3yo who doesn’t want to wear a shirt if it has buttons on it, all the while trying to get to work on time — no one enjoys that.
Oh….I remember wanting to tell my mom but it would have not been accepted. In my day and age you had to hide when you were nursing your baby (bathroom, spare bedroom, and closet). I sure could have used a helping hand. I had a husband who was NOT there….duty called and even when he was there he was NOT. I am amazed at the beautiful men by babies have become. I am even more amazed by the beautiful daughters through marriage they have given me.
BUT…..I will in all ways look for the young mother with the lost look. I will extend a grandmother play date to the children with the hopes that she will get a few hours of sleep, a chance to take a long bath, a moment to reconnect or reflect on her own needs.
By the time the teen years rolled around….I knew you were not alone and could ask for support but those early years were a true struggle.
THANK YOU for this post, and for your comment Sue Alley. I survived years of infertility hell to finally welcome my perfect little boy into my arms. I thought for a long time that my lack of ‘love at first sight’ was because we used donor ingredients to conceive. I worried that we’d made the wrong decision to have a child. It didn’t help that my poor boy had terrible awful colic for his first 6 months. It was so hard, and no one was happy. To add complexity to the situation I felt like I couldn’t talk about my feelings of ambiguity because we’d fought so hard and long to have this child. We went through the motions though, and over time got to know one another and adjust to being a family. It is SO reassuring to me to know that ‘normal’ families struggle in the same ways. We will be celebrating our second year as a family this christmas and not a day passes that I don’t shower my son with kisses and love. It just took us a little longer to get there. I’ve also found a comfort in being honest about how incredibly HARD it is to be a parent, and I don’t hesitate to share my experience in an open and honest way with others when they inquire. No one I knew told me how hard parenting would be, and I don’t think its fair to set new parents up for failure by failing to convey the honest truth to them.
No one ever tells you that, but a had a sneaking suspicion about it. That “click” bond didn’t kick in the moment I saw the muck-covered pair in the delivery room. Over the next month in the NICU, as I desperately wanted them home, I intentionally told myself: memorize this moment and this wish, ’cause you are probably going to soooooo un-wish it on many future occasions. Sure enough :) but as others have said, it gets better and easier. Yay!
I feel the same way, I wish I could go back in time and give myself a huge bear hug. It was so hard, and I was working full time, and other moms judged me. The nights I spent crying. Thank you for writing how hard it can be. Because of you, we know,we are not alone in this mothering thing.
Seriously. This what just what I needed to read. I have three kids, ages 5, 2, and 14 months. I’m exhausted most of the time and starving for girl time with friends but alas, they are all live in different states. Thank you for your encouragement. And for the prompting to be an encouragement. I sometimes forget to encourage others because I don’t have it all together. I’m probably never going to have it all together. And that’s ok.
Thank you Lisa – I’m a mom of a 17 and 19 year old and I’m feeling that way even now TODAY. I needed to hear what you wrote. It does get easier – but there are still some days… :-)
The days of toddlerhood and elementary school bullies and teenage angst are well behind me. What I am wrapping my brain around these days is how to encourage a 29 year old son who is struggling with career choices and staying connected with a 23 year old daughter teaching English in Japan 14 hour time difference from me. So as I type this at 10 am CST it is midnight in Japan. Not a good time for talking.
I know all too well my failures as a mother but I also know how God’s grace has covered me and protected my children from those failures.
I recently released my memoir and my daughter wrote the Final Note at the end. I wanted to know how she felt being raised by a super morbidly obese mom. Although I’ve lost over 250 pounds I wanted to honestly know, did I scar her for life?
Here’s what she said, “I’ve watched you battle with your own demons for years. You’ve inspired so many people. You continue to inspire me. I’m proud of you, Mom.” Yeah that made me cry and made we realize, children watch us more than we will ever know.
Be encouraged. The battle is tough but with God on our side, we win.
Congrats on your weight loss. I loved your comment of “God’s grace has covered me and protected my children from my failures.” That gives me alot of peace! God Bless you!
So. Much. Truth. Here.
My first-born arrived one month after we arrived in Nebraska from Massachusetts – I didn’t know one single person, my family lived 1,500 miles away, my husband had a brand-new job. One month after Noah’s birth, I sat on my living crouch, newborn cradled in my arms, and watched the TV as the Twin Towers crumbled. I cried and cried and cried and never felt so lonely or isolated or afraid in my life. That same day I picked up the phone and called my local hospital – the same hospital where Noah had been born a month earlier — and asked, desperately, through a tear-constricted throat, when the receptionist answered the phone, if she knew of a mom’s group in town, something, anything to help fill the gap that had yawned so wide open in my life. She did. I showed up at the first meeting a week later, so, so nervous, so awkward, so not fitting in. Slowly, bit by bit, I made friends. It took a long time. It wasn’t easy. It was kind of like dating. But four of the women I met in that group? We are still friends, good friends, today, 12 years later. They saved my life.
I love this Lisa Jo. even though it has been many years since I have been a young mom, I can remember that feeling well. And even as our kids get older, it can still seem like all the other moms have it together, but we are just barely keeping our head above water. On my blog, TheStressedMom.com, I encourage moms to be real, to be transparent about where they really are, and about their struggles. I believe when we take off our supermom mask we give other struggling moms permission to do the same. So instead of trying to prove our self to one another, we can reach out with a hug, a smile, a tear, or just an “I know exactly what you mean” look.
Excellent post, sharing on my FB page!
Thank you for this encouraging post!! I am am “older” mother of 3 kids, ages 3, 2, and 9 months. Life is messy and loud and hard; but I love to see my littles discover life! I am one of those moms who probably looks like she’s got it all together when she gets to church….but do you know why?? Because most weeks Sunday is the only morning I actually wash my hair! Lol!! For the rest of the week I’m usually in a baseball cap and yoga pants. I make an effort on Sunday because I want that day to be different than the rest. :)
I still feel like that and my kids are 5 and 4. I had that instantaneous love for my children; however, then the reality hit that I could love them and not like them at the same time (and I mean Really Not like them.) I felt awful (still do somedays when all I can think about is when will they take a nap, why can’t she just play by herself, why must I constantly be supervising and referreeing, I just want to pee alone, ocan’t I just cook something or do a chore without a million interuptions, IS IT BEDTIME YET?!?!?!?) I get so jealous of those mothers whose husbands helpbout equally when it comes to the kids. Or the moms who have a network of sitter available and can use them to just get out of the house once in a while. Or even the parents with two cars so they can drive gheir kids somewhere like chic fil a for a coffee and achapter while the kids germ up in the playzone. I live in the middle of cornfields 20 minutes from the nearest McD’s, no car, no money, no sitters, etc… all alone physically, mentaly, and most importantly- emotionally. I find myself trying to start conversations at Aldis during my once a week solo shopping trip, whic is often my only time without kids out of the house during the week and one of the three times I’m out of the house during the week, period. Sigh.
Of all the posts, yours touched me most. I am an old lady with 7 grandchildren, but remember vividly what it was like to feel isolated and lonely. My children were preemies, so I couldn’t take them out much even after the lengthy stay in the hospital. Going to the grocery store was thrilling. My youngest daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 4. On and on. You make it because you are determined to make it.
My “been there” advice is to seize the good moments, even if you only get 1 per day. Cherish it and be glad that they do grow. Catch them being GOOD and revel in it. You do learn to love them fiercely. You will know the passion for a child you can’t know describe. It takes time.
Then you can step back and go “aha! this is what they were talking about.” In the meantime, I shall pray for you.
My grandmother – Mother of 9 – told me
1. If it isn’t going to be important in 20 years, don’t fret over it. Gum in their hair is not the end of the world. Get the peanut butter or mayonnaise out and then the shampoo, but take pictures to laugh at later.
2. When guests come over, clean the bathroom. It’s the only place they can go in, sit down and look around. The rest of the house – don’t worry about it.
3. Remember that all athletes look into the camera and say, “Hi, Mom!”
4. You will make mistakes. Forgive yourself because your Mother did too.
5. There was only one perfect child and He even got in trouble for not going home with His parents when they said so.
6. Cuddle at least one of your precious monsters for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. It helps.
And, you are not alone. Oh! it feels like it, but there are millions like you. It gets better – until they are teenagers. Then good luck. You will yearn for toddlers.
Be of good faith and hang on. You will be fine.
Love from Nana to 7 glorious children.
Thank you for this, Nana. This is as encouraging as the blog post!
Rachel, are there no neighbours at all? Could you get to know them a little? I imagine you in farm territory; would’t the neighbours be in a comparable lonely situation? Maybe not with kids, but in other circumstances. You may need each other some day. You need a little friendly help or some company, but you may be able to give a little as well. Take your kids along and who knows what you’ll find. Blessings on you from Holland, Europe
Thank you for being honest. And encouraging me at the same time! This describes me most days with my 3 daughters age 3 and under… completely lost and trying to figure out how everyone does it seemingly so easily and naturally!
This was me. And I felt added pressure to “be perfect and happy and put together” because I was a “preacher’s wife” and we adopted our kids. I felt pressure (which probably wasn’t really there most of the time) to show people what “good wife/good mom” looked like, when I had this inner constant battle of “I’m failing.” Then add the thought (which I think was from the Evil One) of “we should always love our kids so much more because we fought so hard for them.” No one understood why I was so overwhelmed, since I didn’t just give birth. I clung to a couple of ladies who knew where I was, but felt trapped that I had to be different for everyone else. Now though, I’ve seen the beauty of being real with other ladies (mom or not yet). I desperately want to shield them from the scary times of loneliness and percieved failure that I felt. Thank you for being another voice to this wrongly hidden side of motherhood!
Thank you. I suffered terribly at the beginning with full on post partum depression, but then later, when those symptoms abated, I STILL had times of such confusion. My boys are now 3 and 5 and there are so many morning where OVERWHELMED seems to be the emotion of the day. Jesus was tempted w/ being overwhelmed. I know He was – the bible tells me this. That is a colossal comfort to me, for some reason! So was your post. Thank you!
I want to share everything you write! I feel like you constantly write love notes to mothers and it is so rich and empowering. LOVE YOU!
Oh thank you for this post. Thank you for your blog. I had my first child five weeks ago, and just this morning I tearfully told my husband, “I need you to tell me I’m good at this.” I’m a type-A over-achiever and I’ve never found anything as relentlessly difficult as mothering a newborn.
Pre-baby, I enjoyed several snarky mom blogs. But now that I’m doing it, I can’t bear them. I’m sure I’ll enjoy poop jokes and mommy-needs-wine-before-noon stories again some day, but snark just isn’t helping me through this. Since getting into the thick of motherhood, I’ve devoured your positive, encouraging posts. Thank you. Thank you for the empathy and encouragement.
Bless you, Jenn! Those first 6- 12 weeks are tough. I am/ was a type A too, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. You are not alone. And I’m sure you’re doing a great job. xo
Hey Jenn, I was type A as well and motherhood was the first test other than federal taxation I truly believed I was going to fail. It’s hard. Plain and simple. But I promise you, I really do, that it gets better. But it’s slow. It’s hard and slow and then one day it turns out it’s crushingly amazingly beautiful. All the most miraculous things are, I think. The hard part is what makes it all so terribly valuable. Hold on. It’s going to get better. Be gentle with yourself. Because parenting is a kind of breaking up with yourself. And it hurts until one day you wake up and can’t believe how brave and strong you are. Sending much love and extra chocolate your way today!
~so many warm wishes
Thank you for this – so beautifully said. I’m so grateful for the group of moms I found when my daughter was just a few weeks old who never acted like early mother hood was anything but hard with occasional moments of transcendence. It helped so much to know everything I was feeling was normal, even when it felt totally crazy.
I dealt with the hair issue by cutting almost all of mine off. It is so much easier to look good when your hair is only an inch long and needs next to no styling!
Love this, Lisa Jo! Yours is such a powerful story, and you share it so beautifully, but it’s so good to be reminded that we all need to be speaking up, letting down the mask, inviting others in.
So very, very true. I remember being severly depressed after my third baby. I feel like his infancy was a blur. I was overwhelmed, tired, angry and frustrated. Not good when you have two other toddlers running around. I’ll always feel guilty for that too. But we all survived by the Grace of God! Motherhood is so underrated . We do everything for our babies! We would die or kill for our children. They truly exasperate us. Mothers need to seek fellowship and support from others. Friends, neighbors and family. They need all the help they can possibly get. Thank you for your blog
I am lost! Today! Right now, lost while I am on break from teaching other peoples children. I am blind and still don’t see. But timmorrow I will do it again because I believe motherhood and Cameron John Garcia are important!
Wow. Your words have reached down deep into my soul. My boys aren’t little anymore, but I don’t think the feelings of inadequacy fade with the growing older. I feel like the hamster on the ever-spinning wheel. And I don’t understand how everyone else can think I know what I’m doing. I do feel lost most days in this world of tweens. But I’m thankful for HIS holding of my hand and never letting go.
Thank you for this. It was a hug and encouragement through the cyber-world.
Yes and yes. I try so very hard as a new mom of two to tell the truth about it all on my little blog. Truthful representations of motherhood with a goal of embracing grace in community. I would love that.
Exactly. It’s amazing how even a knowing nod in the middle of Target can make you feel understood—and less alone. I love nothing more than having other women to share this “loud, wildly noisy, loud,” WONDERFUL journey with!
Also, Lisa-Jo, you are the best. Just the best. I SO wish I could have a voice like yours. And maybe someday I will. :)
How well I remember those days–thinking all I did was yell and fail when I compared myself to my friends. Yes, I played the comparison game–how could I not–I was looking for direction without asking–so I compared my mothering to theirs and usually I felt like I lost. Until. Until-what a beautiful word! Until I was talking on the phone to one of my perfect (or so I thought) mothering friends, and she said, “Just a minute,” and then proceeded to raise her voice at her children! When she came back to the phone I was crying and all I could say was, “Thank you, thank you–I’m not alone in my yelling or my unflattering, unmotherly days.” It was then that it struck me–we all mother the same: with words of praise and raised voices of exasperation; with tears and ear-to-ear grins; with slammed doors and skinned hearts; with openness and vulnerability–all trying to master this thing called motherhood realizing the mastery only comes in knowing that we can only succeed with the Master holding our hand and our hearts, day-by-day, minute-by minute. How blessed we are as mothers, how alike we are as mothers.
So well written about wishing you could reach over and help your previous Mom self. The last 4 years of motherhood have made me a warrior. I was an absolute wreck the first two years, tired doesn’t even begin to cover it. Thanks for this post :)
Oh Lisa-Jo! Yes and yes and yes! I am a much older mom with a 5 year old and 3 1/2 year old twins and I work full time. I remember the exhaustion, the having to work myself up for hours to take those babies out of the house, the never feeling rested, overwhelmed and unknowing of what to do next feelings. I still have days and hours and weeks like that. By the time the kids are in bed and asleep I have almost nothing left to give to my husband. I fall in bed but never quite get enough sleep because as a mom you always have one ear listening just in case. My babies are growing and in some ways life is easier but in others just as hard. Motherhood is WORK! I look back and think the best days are when they are infants – when they sleep and cuddle and are content to just be held. But then I think that now is the best – when they run up and grab on in tight bear hugs and say “love you mama” before they run off again. It’s wonderful and hard and exhausting and draining and so full! I never have it all together but now I’m not afraid to let others see my messy, cluttered house and my bouncing off the walls children. Life is not about perfect, it’s about living and trying and loving and doing it all over again the next day.
Today of all days, after telling my husband just how lonely, lost, and useless I feel I read this by pure chance. I am currently a 20 year old momma with a 16 month old and 5 month old, trying to figure out work, school, my old hometown, and my little family. After my first daughter was born I thought I had been handed a little stranger, when i asked my mom why i didn’t feel a connection or even unconditional love for my daughter she chalked it up to post partum depprssion. After my second child was born i had almost the same feeling, except this time i didn’t feel like i was holding a little stranger. I love both of my girls with all of my heart, but right now i just feel so overwhelmed with everything and even with my husband’s love and the new friends i am making at work I feel so lonely… i pray every night for it to go away, i don’t want my kids to see me like this- it kills me that my husband does. Still, this gives me hope by reassuring me that although i feel alone- i’m not. Seeing the comments just adds to the vast amount of truth you have written lisajo. Thank you.
Stay strong, momma. You’re doing the best that you can for your little ones and your family, and that’s all anyone can ask and more than many can do. We are all around you, the other mommas in this crazy club that doesn’t have to have meetings to be a network. All of us struggle, in one way or many, every single day. Draw strength from never being alone, even when you are ;-)
Emily, mothering a 16mth and a 5mth is tough for anyone. Don’t undermine what you do day-in, day-out. And at 5mth, your body/ hormone are still adjusting. I was 40 when I had a 28mth and a new born and that wasn’t any easier. Be kind to yourself. Get someone to look after the little ones so you can go out and have some me time/ couple time. Even just a couple of hours once a month. You will notice the difference. Slowly, it will get better, so be patient with yourself. And chart it up as a suceesful day if you have had a shower before 3pm and did just one thing that you enjoyed (with or without the littles). And celebrate that. Praying for you.
I really can connect to your situation. I am now up to 4 children and I send 3 to school everyday. The best advice I can give to anyone of us young moms is to find church programs, moms groups, playground dates. Do not feel that you need to stay home when you are not working or just because you are tired. If the kids are busy and having fun then you will have less of a headache. Besides you never know who you will meet, and who might just say what you need to hear that day. Don’t turn into someone that has to be perfectly put together to leave the house. If my kids are clean and they have the appropriate coat or what not we go out. (I can tell you one of my daughters always gets funny looks for her outfit choices!) Focus on teaching your children to be genuine and personable, and don’t worry about if they say the right thing at the right time. That comes with age and following good examples. To all the moms that are reading this I say pray continually, and not just by yourself but with your children.
I love this article. I think some people don’t realize how difficult it is to have little ones. Either they don’t remember because their children are grown, or they don’t have children. It is very difficult and there are some days when I just want to crawl in a hole and be left alone. I get very overwhelmed with the newborn, the older child, homeschooling, unpacking boxes (because we just moved), and running the home while my husband is on duty or on deployment. Even when he is home, he is tired too. It’s difficult to find people who understand. I’m not sure when this happened, but people don’t seem to care about overwhelmed moms anymore. The attitude is that we should just get over it. Easier said than done. So, thank you for being a voice for all of us moms who are barely getting through the day.
God totally led me to read this today. I have a 2 yr old and was struggling with feeling like my days are stuck on repeat. This was so encouraging! Thank you!
Thank you for your admittance. It’s so courageous and will help many new moms. I am definitely going to share in Facebook and will continue to share my own story with new moms. I, too, was lost when I had my twin boys 2 years ago. I suffered from pretty bad post partum and anxiety for the 1st six months of their lives. I actually did consider running away from home, giving them up for adoption and even suicide. I know I’m not alone in having that experienc, yet there is such a negative stigma and embarrassment associated with post partum. But, once I was better, I chose to NOT be embarrassed, and instead I started sharing my story with anyone who would listen. My boys will turn two in 1 month and I’m still sharing and reaching out to new moms (especially new twin moms). I’m not scared or embarrassed to share truth, hugs, resources, my phone number, and encouragement. You are so right that it is HARD, but it does eventually get BETTER! Thank you for a great article and for touching many new moms who are in need of encouragement and honesty.
Wow. I sit here in tears reading this post. I am “that” mom today. More than anything just lonely. Needing the guidance and companionship of another mom. This is not where I saw myself 5 years ago, but here I am. Praying that I can be the mom that my Savior wants me to be. Thank you for being honest and encouraging.
Thank you Lisa Jo! This is such an important and powerful post. I was that mum too. I just want to sit her down and rock her, tell her she’s doing alright, that she is alright just the way she is. Thank you!
Thank you, Lisa Jo! Maya is two and I still feel like that and with the second baby on the way I am terrified of all the things to come. And it’s not about trying to keep it all together but about being alone without my mom and friends who were left behind when I moved to this country.
Thank you for this encouragement today! As an exhausted new mom, it always seems like all the moms around me are so put together & have it figured out & could never have been as tired as I am. Definitely needed to hear that I’m not the only one!
You are definitely not the only one exhausted as a mom. Definitely it is the hardest job any of us will have. We are expected to take on so many responsibilities AND be full time mom whether or not we work full time or not. Hang in there and get breaks. That is the key I have found over the years is to get breaks, either a few hours, an afternoon or even a weekend.
so true. x
And then we need to tell the moms of teenagers that they are not alone. Those first two years are hard, but I honestly feel like my kids’ teen years are worse. I have a teenager, two preteens, and a toddler. Quite honestly, the toddler is a piece of cake. Even if he is smushing it all over the floor. Because at least I can understand that he’s only 20 months and doesn’t know better. But the teenager meltdowns and the preteen battles? I. am. done. in. And it really does feel like all the other moms of teenagers have it all figured out and I’m the only one wanting to pull out her hair.
I love your heart and I love how you encourage me daily. Thank you for being you.
That is SO sad! I loved motherhood – even when I had three kids who couldn’t take care of themselves at one point & worked part-time – it was stressful, but I never felt like that – but then I credit a lot to the fact that came from a larger family – and all my relatives had larger families – but NONE of them lived close enough to help. It just game me a different perspective. No doubt some women feel this way, but I hardly think it is most!! I’m sorry for those who do & encourage them to get involved with others in similar life-situations, but – seriously – this is mostly hyperbole,
Everyone’s path is different. Never forget that. Rather than point fingers at what wasn’t true for you, view life from another’s perspective and find an empathetic connection. You, your children, and the world will benefit. Maybe this post wasn’t true for you but obviously it is for others. Be grateful for your joy-filled path and don’t assume it is that way for everyone. Look at those around you–I’m sure there is another mom who could really use a hand from you. Pay your joy forward. Help others. Practice empathy.
Sally: Hyperbole, it is not. Truth, it is. Not everyone’s truth, but definitely my truth. Please don’t let your truth blind you to mine.
I wish just once in the first two (or three or four) years, one person in my all-too-seemingly-perfect church would have told me that they had days they wished they didn’t have to be a mom, or that they thought this job was just too big or too hard, or that they were lonely. I think I probably wouldn’t have ended up in a counselor’s office if there had been just one.
Can I let you in on a little secret? (Just telling the truth here.) The other end of motherhood is starting to feel just as lonely as the beginning.
Motherhood can be so isolating, especially when you feel like you are surrounded by other mothers who feel like it is a competition. They only speak of the amazing parts so they don’t “look bad” and then try to one up each other. Is that just me? It makes me sad that people can’t admit their weaknesses…that’s what makes us all human. I understand when you say that some days it “feels like this job is too big or too hard.” But some days I feel like super mom, so I guess it all evens out.
I can relate to the other end feeling as lonely as the beginning….it is hard sometimes to rejoice in the accomplishments of others’ children when yours are struggling to find their place in this world and/or have turned their back on your (and what WAS their, at one time) faith and values. It is hard not to feel as if other parents are judging you when they ask how and what your kids are doing and you have to stumble through, trying to emphasize the positive and glide over the ‘bad’ parts…….and also hard sometimes not to feel a bit snarky when one of those ‘perfect parents/kids’ runs up against an obstacle that shakes their world a bit. But God has reminded me time and again (I’m a stubborn learner) that each of us has our own struggles and HE is who we need to answer to. Also, the choices our children make are exactly that, THEIR choices and do not always reflect as much on our parenting as we, and others, have been led to believe.
To all of you tired and exhausted mothers out there, and to the ones who feel things are going a little better, I can tell you, I can relate to pretty much every scenario of the above. Motherhood is something that none of us are ever prepared for, and it is okay not to be perfect~I get SO TIRED of seeing all of the house/parenting magazines that tell you how to make everything “perfect” for your children…..keep everything in its place….etc. never have a mess, and all that. Well…..I have been a mother for 20 years, I have had my ups and downs, and my meltdowns too, and as the kids get older, I still find it very HARD, there’s no other word for it. The BEST thing though, is that I have learned to turn to my Lord in ALL of those lonely times and cry out to Him, telling that I dont know all the answers, but I know that He will walk beside me, and help me, even when no one else seems to be doing that. I still cant get everything done, my house is usually cluttered and some of the laundry is don, but….I look at…most everything as a work of art, and by that I mean….. in those awful moments when you feel as though you cant take one more, “MOM!!!!”, make one more meal, clean up one more mess, or wear your old clothes one more day…..God meets you there……and He says, “I know, I know”….Hold on to me, dont let go of my hand, because I will SUSTAIN you, in the good times, and the bad, and I WILL bring you through it all. God Bless all of you mothers out there. God knew what He was doing when He gave us this awesome responsibility. He knew that He had equipped you for such a time as this, even if you didnt know exactly what that meant, and He loves you, just as you are. Take comfort knowing this verse in the Psalms….”See!! I will not forget you, I have carved YOU in the palm of my hand.” Grab on to that hand and dont let go….ever. :)
Think it must be my most spoken prayer “Lord, help me”. Nearly daily.
I did that. I told the truth to all my friends, mothers and not. I never really had a distinct feeling of comeraderie with women as a gender before having a child. But afterwards, i felt all women were a part of the same club, mothers and not. And i vowed to be nothing but supportive and non critical of new moms.
So when i started talking to friends and posting on facebook about my experiences, i felt i was chatting with my sisters. I thought i was being helpful when i made it my business to forewarn my non mom friends about the things i found hard, the unexpected things, the things that changed from my pre-baby “i will never be THAT mom” judgements.
Instead of comeraderie, i got judged. An entire group of (professional, smart, mid-thirties and mostly childless) women who i thought were my friends collectively decided i was a “know-it-all” and thought i was an expert on motherhood. Based on facebook posts.
I wish they would have taken the time to ask me to clarify my intent. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was grappling. Settling into this strange, milk squirting, let-down hurting, sleep deprived, plump, rearranged body. I was thick in the middle of the steepest most emotional learning curve of my life. The sacrifice and fear and self doubt about not knowing what the hell i was doing was both intensified by lack of sleep and angelically colored by the most complete and perfect love i had ever felt. Like a person swept by religion, i was taken and everything was new and remarkable. I was attempting to share. To connect.
I havent spoken to those women since and one of them was a best friend. It was a painful transition. But i had a job to do and being betrayed and put down about the way i chose to feel or experience motherhood was not on the priority list. I figured that nothing would make them understand until they have kids themselves. Maybe then i will try to reconnect and watch their eyebrows raise and eyes widen as the look of enlightenment washes over their faces.
Thank you for sharing. In the very early years of my 2nd son’s life I looked like I had it all together, but most of the time I was barely hanging on with my fingernails. It took SO much to admit I wasn’t coping and that I had PND, so much. I wasn’t brave enough to share with those closest to me and I really could have just done with a hug and to have had someone encourage me.
This has reminded me again of what that felt (feels) like and to be aware of other mum’s and being intentional about giving some encouragement.
Thank you. Just… Thank you.
This is so, so good. THANK YOU for saying that we need to have someone over, even when we don’t have it all together! Why oh why, do we always wait until we have our very best to present? We don’t need to show those few moments of our best, but instead show how we really are and what our blessed, crazy and messy life looks like!
Wait ’til they reach puberty! LoL LoL
You’ll feel those first years were a breeze!
And, yes, it’s difficult adjusting your life to a new person’s needs — example, I was a night owl, and I had to become (again) a morning person. Transition was very trying though…
Beautifully written, and just exactly what this tired out mom needed this morning! I actually just finished telling the truth, the whole nasty exhausted truth to my co-worker and friend…poor thing, she gets to hear a lot of my “truth”! The truth is that I absolutely love being a mom, I love my boys more than pretty much anything else, and I love my wonderfully supportive husband…who is such a team player! BUT, I’m tired, I’m exhausted, like the rest of you, I struggle to find the energy to be the best mom, wife, employee, friend, daughter, sister, niece, daughter in law…and on and on… every day…but the one who is struggling, drowning, is mom…mom needs rest, a break, time, silence, time…did I say that already?
Thank you Lisa-Jo, and all the other moms who share so freely here…thank you for telling the truth, and being the quiet presence that we all need, so that we know we are not alone!
Here’s to a wonderful day for all of us, and praying for a moment of silence and calm for each and every one of us!!
How beautifully true. I am the mother to a beautiful six year old girl, and when she was born I decided to stay home with her instead of going back to work. It almost broke me. I didn’t realize how much of my self worth was wrapped up in my job, and the money I brought in. I didn’t realize that living the stay at home mom life would leave me feeling worthless and isolated. I didn’t realize how many people would try and make me feel like that decision was the wrong one…or how hard it was to adjust to one income, a loss of friends, and motherhood. The hardest part was adjusting to a new mindset. I feel like a totally different person after 6 years of SAHMotherhood, but I feel more like myself. And I finally got the courage to go back to school. And my daughter loves having mom around. I wish I would have had someone explain that it is normal to go through all that. So I’m telling anyone out there who needs it, that it is. And it gets better. You will feel whole again one day. ;)
Reading this post was good but reading the comments are even better. Reading what other moms feel and go through each day makes it feel like your not alone. I am a 22 year old single mother, my baby just turned 3 years old. I signed up for a housing program before was conceived because I was ready to get out of the house. This program ment that you put in 30 hours a week in on building 10 homes, and S long as you accomplished that, you kept your home. I got to pick everything in my home, the lot, house plan and all. When I got pregnant decided it probably wouldn’t work, but I knew starting off that I would be a single mom and so I had to do it! The week I delivered was the week they broke ground on the house, so with a newborn I worked the 30 hours a week on my house.. After 4 weeks leave from work I returned to work. I cant tell you how I did it, working 40
Hours a week at work, 30 hours on the house, and still managed a newborn that was breasted. I think I was numb. Just before his first birthday we closed on our house and I have never felt so accomplished in my life. Then I started school. I have one credit to my generals. I am currently in the nursing program as well. I work oration days and nights, while going to school full time. It eats at me everyday that I am not all I can be for my son. I know that going to school and getting a career set is what’s best for us though and that he will benefit later. In the most of it all his dad took me to court because he thought I was a bad mom. He tried to take him away. The judge refused. He told me everyday how horrible of a mom I was. When all I have done since he was born was she’s blood sweat and tears for a good life for my son. Ps- he still lives at home with his grandma. Last night I finally broke down. The every other weekend dad is now getting married and they are telling gym son to say things to me like “I don’t like you” ibecause they want him to hate me so he will live with them. It’s hard being a single parent and doing the best I can afraid that one day they will turn my son against me and all the hard work I have out into making our lives better, will be shot!! I need help, I need prayers, I need answers. My son is my world, and I can say hands down the smartest 3 year old I know. He is happy, healthy, and an absolute blessing! I know he loves his momma
Wow. You are incredible. The best advice I can give you is to take it one day at a time. No one should be telling your son anything bad about you, one day he will appreciate all you have done. I will be praying for you.
One of my favorite parenting quotes is from Mark Twain …” Being a parent is an inestimable blessing and bother.” When you are in the blessing part … it is easy to forget the bother part and visa versa. Both are a part of parenting. I like being honest about the blessing and the bother.
Aaaaand now I’m crying.
Oh my goodness, YES! Wow! I can’t tell you what a relief it was to read this post. I love two boys with all my heart (3 and 1), but there are the days that seem so hard. so long. so exhausting. That I question myself as a mother. And worse yet, if I am the best mom for my boys. It’s not all sunshine and giggles, but those moments that are that way make it all worth it. Thank you for your honesty! Thank you for this post! Thank you!
Yes, I needed to talk with the honest moms. Really, I needed them to come to me, because I was just too intimidated, and just so barely-keeping-my-mascara-on.
ow, 13 years into it, I still need them. And I also try to share hope when I can. Which just happened this morning: http://shadowwonder.blogspot.com
I so admire what you are doing, Lisa-Jo. Keep at it.
I’m torn on how I relate to this post. I will be the first to admit that I am the one who goes to church with all smiles and praises about my kids, MOST Sundays. I am the mom who says I LOVE MOTHERHOOD!
BUT, at the same time, I have my days. There are days where I am calling my husband saying, “When you get home, can you watch them while I take a bubble bath, visit a friend, or just go for a drive?!” Some days my patience is worn from lack of sleep the night before. You see, I have a 4 month old and a 14 month old. Their daytime schedules are usually opposite on most days, so I rarely get any alone time during their naps. There are evenings where I am trying to get dinner on the table before my husband get’s home, but the youngest is crying to be held and the oldest is crying because her younger sister is crying! There are times when I go to sleep at night, and tell my husband, “Everything I do is on repeat!”
BUT, there are days where my kids make me so happy with their giggles and adorable curiosity of life. I wouldn’t trade this for anything! I do love being a mom. It was something I always said I wanted to be when I was a kid…a MOMMY! When I smile at church and praise my kids, it’s not because everything is perfect. It’s because the good outshines the bad so much. My kids are a mess, but I can’t imagine life without them <3 I don't know if we will have anymore children since having two back to back like this has been quite challenging. But I do enjoy most days with my kids. But we all have THOSE days where nothing goes right :)
I'm sure that's what you are getting at here too!
Yup, I think that’s the thing – we all live in the in between. We love our kids and can’t imagine life without them – but man, it’s such a relief to know that it doesn’t always come easily to all the other moms either.
I have a 3 and almost 5-year-old. Yes, the noise, the competition for attention, and each girl’s alternating neediness can be quite overwhelming. And getting out the door is definitely trying my patience :) My husband comes home and sees that I’m overwhelmed, but I also feel proud that I have purchased groceries and cooked a meal, even if that’s the only thing I accomplished that day. It makes me constantly question–“how can I possibly handle more children, but I’m not ready to say I’m done?” And I look at my messy kitchen that I’m too tired to clean up at the end of the day and wonder about the house next door with the perfectly clean kitchen (probably not, but I’ve never seen it!) It’s so hard to not get down about–“why can’t I handle this; and why can’t I keep my house perfect?” I know as they get older it will get better. Thankfully God does make each child precious so at the end of the day when my 3 year old is stroking my face while I’m trying to go potty and telling me how much she loves me just melts my heart. ;)
ahh… thank you so much for writing this. I love love being a Mom… but I am so lonely, and yet when the opportunity comes to get out I’m too tiered or don’t want to interact with others, don’t want to show my weary face. I talked about it a bit, being a mom feels like being a shut in on my blog – http://bit.ly/17tIQfF . Thank you for the nudge to have courage to get out, have people in, and encourage even if we are weary together.
A support system is great to have. Being a mom should not be about feeling lonely. I met a wonderful group of friends who have supported me, cried with me, lifted me, and don’t judge me. Every mom should find a mom friend or 10 like this.
I remember feeding my newborns and wondering… Where is the sunbeam that is sposed to be shining on me while I nurse? Where is the breeze that’s sposed to be gently blowing the gauzy curtains behind me while I hold them? Why isn’t the baby happily drinking from a bottle the milk I pumped earlier in the day so my husband could take a late-night feed so I could sleep more than 2 hours in a row?
I remember folding our cloth diapers for the last time (they’re finally potty trained) and feeling oddly sad the diaper wouldn’t be used again. I remember putting away tippy cups, high chairs, booster seats, Barbies and Legos. Relief and grief mixed together like some crazy Mama Cocktail that no one warned me was coming.
I remember the first time I didn’t get a mid-sleepover phone call saying “I miss you. Will you come get me?” And feeling displaced when Jr. High parents were no longer asked to organize Valentine’s Day parties. And when my High Schooler strongly suggested I stop chaperoning the dances, thank you very much. I remember being determined not to hover (no matter how much I wanted to) and allowing my kids to choose for themselves which college they would attend.
Now, a new empty nester (both kids away at school), I’m surprised at the things that make me feel emotional… When I notice I just folded the laundry into two piles, not four. When my signature is no longer required on parent permission slips. When I hear second-hand about the latest adventure, shenanigan, thrill… on social media rather than in person. When my heart flip-flop-flutters like a school girls’ because I got a text from one of the kids – no matter that its because they need money.
And so my husband and I lean into each other, and try to remember all of this is right, and good, and natural, and even necessary in order for them to become healthy adults. And we lean into God, because that works for us. And we try not to lean on them by being too eager for that next long weekend or holiday when they might come home for a visit.
And while this is not a sad story, it is a true one. It is this mom’s story… so far :)
Tenderly, beautiful truth here. Thank you so much for sharing Verna.
Oh my, the emotions this brings back. I don’t remember being so horribly tired, except after my 4th, and I just plain don’t remember that time as I was SO tired… but the loneliness when my first 3 were toddlers…that I remember. I was invited to join a MOPS group somewhere in there, but I had gone to a breastfeeding support group once right after my oldest was born. It ended up being a pity party, and sharing horror stories about breastfeeding. Then when I shared that my grandmother had 17 children the leader snapped, that’s what happens when you don’t breastfeed! (she actually did breastfeed for the first several) I was a bit afraid to go to another mom’s group then. Now I wish I had! I did go to MOPS when our younger two were of that age, but by that time I had 6 kids and the oldest was in high school. It just wasn’t quite the same being at such a different stage in life as the majority of the other mom’s. The last year I attended, there was a mentor whose oldest (and only) child was younger than 3 of mine! That was enough… Yes, being a mom is hard, at all ages I think. You just change issues that you deal with.
You always read exactly what is on my soul. Your words are so inspiring and true it brings me to tears…
So many women spend too much time fretting over always doing the right thing, the perfect thing, the thing that will showcase them the best, but it all comes down to what kind of mom do YOU want to be? Due to a tragic loss in our family, I learned while my kids were young to take ever moment and cherish it, to realize what a blessing my children are, to do the best that I can even if that means not meeting everyone’s expectations or requirements. I learned to pick my battles and I learned to demand respect from my children, I learned to be consistent in my parenting and discipline and I have such wonderful, well behaved, loving, considerate children and I take pride in having fun with them, loving them, holding them, reading to them. When times are rough, I think of those who have lost children and I never want to look back and think of how annoyed I was with my kids, etc. I want them to look back and think of what a wonderful childhood they had. That’s my goal. My house is always trashed and I remind myself that I can have a clean house when my kids go to college.
Would you mind if I shared this article and one of your pictures on my website?
Hi Cheryl, yes please, more than welcome to share an excerpt and then would you mind linking back here for the full piece? Thanks for that.
This lovely lady stopped me apologizing when she stuck to my floor in my kitchen. She assured me that everyone sticks to the kitchen floor sometimes. I went to her house…and I stuck to her floor. I was delighted to find someone that understood.
Thank you. Thank you so much for writing this. I read this with tears streaming down my face. It’s been a particularly rough week with very little sleep and I was so worried I was just feeling sorry for myself. It would be a much better place if we could all just tell rah other (moms) how we’re REALLY feeling without judgement and get REAL support from each other.
Please don’t use this article as a means to tell us all how bad it gets in teenage years and how we should be appreciating the young years more. You can be tired (exhausted) and frustrated and still love your child more than anything else in the world and that’s ok.
I just want to say thank you.
I felt so guilty for a long time for taking a couple years out of my busy career in HR and academia to be a mom. I had my baby in the middle of my graduate program, and returned to my research when she was two years old. I finally handed in four chapters of my PhD dissertation today, my baby is now five years old. I truly believe being a mommy makes me a better Sociologist and it has allowed me to specialize in Sociology of the Family. Every morning and every night I look at my beautiful child and think how lucky I am to be her mommy, she wears me out every single day, and whenever I look at her I am glad I took the time to give her the love and care she needs because I have never met a more articulate and caring child. Oh and did I mention I’m exhausted, and confused everyday…
WOW! So true..I just said yesterday after an hour of my 2 year old screaming, without any tears mind you, that I just want to give her away to somebody good and just disappear!! I know that sounds horrible but I think we all have days where we just wish someone else would take it for a day and we could literally “disappear.” I’m a nurse in mother/baby and the truth is what I always discuss with my patients…one, that being a new mom is the most rewarding, hardest job you will ever do, but you wouldn’t trade the world for it!
When your kids are grown and gone, and you have all the time in the world to sleep, and get your hair done, you suddenly find yup ourself missing the noise and the messes and the fun. At that time you will to remember the exhaustion, you will remember the love. As hard as it is try to relax, take a few deep breaths and lower your standards. Who cares if the dusting does not get done, or the dishes are still in the sink. No one
YES! I don’t remember feeling totally lost. (Perhaps because I was so sleep deprived?) But through all of whatever happened in the first two years, and worse, what happened when we added number two to the mix at the end of those two years…I walked around asking all the older mothers in my life “why didn’t you tell me?” …why DO mothers keep the hard stuff a secret? I vowed after my first birthing experience not to keep anything to myself…to the disgust of my mother. I tell everybody everything. They should know what is coming down the track. The good and the bad…and the lack of sleep!
YES!!! I do exactly the same thing. Yay for us truth tellers!!
I remember the words of a dear friend that were spoken to me about a month before my first baby was born. “If you don’t fall in love the moment you see him, that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Even parenting is a relationship…and relationships take time.” I remember how cold, how weird that sounded to me at the time as an expectant mom. However, after baby boy’s birth, those words came to mind and comforted me often. After two short months, I struggled majorly with postpartum depression…complied with a new role as a SAHM, leaving a job and co-workers whom I adored, a move across the country to an unfriendly environment and no close support system. I struggled…and That may be an understatement. Five months after baby boy one arrived, I discovered that baby boy two was on his way–bringing with him another round of depression. I didn’t know if I would make it. During my charade of fake smiles and pretend joy, people would say, “Hold on to every moment! It goes by so quickly!” I was just trying to hold on…and praying that it passed quickly! Thank you for this post. Maybe not all moms struggle…but for ones that do, the knowledge that you are not alone, that your feelings are shared by others is life-saving. At least it was for me.
It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one who struggles. What if we were real?
I remember being home alone, day after day in an isolated small town where I knew no one with my newborn daughter. The guilt of not feeling the rush of love for her made that time so dark. I didn’t know if it was my C-section or because I really was too young for motherhood. Whatever it was, I was sure it was my fault. It is really true: it meant everything to pour those feelings out to someone and have them say, “hey, it’s okay. You are caring for that baby and love will grow.” Still, I wish I could go back and stop beating myself up. Learned sooner to be comfortable with dirty floors. “Wasted” my time cuddling and playing with that newborn. To not worry so much that my family and friends would approve of how I did things. Internalized the encouragement and disregarded the well meant warnings and advice. Time just evaporates and it is definitely easier if you can learn to see people’s conclusions about you as a very small thing.
This was such a wonderful article! Thank you for bravely sharing your heart.
I strive to be a truth-teller every day as I interact with other moms, write on my blog, counsel younger women, fb, etc. Some people see it as complaining, but the #1 comment I hear from relatives, friends, and even strangers who read my stuff say, “Thank you for being real and sharing the crazy stories and your mommy confessions!” Thankfully, in the friendly little town I live in WY, people are very honest and down-to-earth. I’ve heard it isn’t that way in more “citified” places, where women wear lots of make-up and fancy clothes and feel they must look and behave a certain way. There is very little “keeping up with the Jones’ here” so I don’t feel a lot of pressure to look perfect, even at church.
Motherhood is incredibly difficult, made even harder when you have 4 in 5 years, like we did, and when you suffer from post-partum (I struggled with it after #4 because of the lack of sleep). There are days I have felt like I absolutely could not go on as a mother. Thankfully, God, in His mercy, always brought someone along when I was at rock bottom. One friend, who had also been through PPD, proactively reached out to me and paid for a teen babysitter to come to my home once a week for a few months to relieve me. Now and then someone sent us a pizza gift card. Even a letter in the mail saying, “I’m praying for you. God is with you!” gave me sooooo much encouragement. I was able to rebuild my health and overcome PPD over the last 3 years and I am thankful for that terribly difficult time because it gave me a heart of compassion for young moms. My friend and I started a thriving group called Pray and Play to reach out to lonely young moms in our community. The group is founded on being real with one another, sharing prayer needs, struggles, and just spending time in adult conversation while the kids play nearby.
The other day a younger mom friend of mine in another state was telling me on the phone how easy her pregnancy had been. She ended up having only 1 hour of labor, had a homebirth with no drugs of any kind, and loves being a mom. She was telling me all about how wonderful her 2 year-old is and that he’s so well-behaved, etc. I began to feel sorry for her. Maybe her life is mostly wonderful, but I found it sad that she had to notify me of how great her life is, knowing I have had endless vomiting during my pregnancies, long and painful deliveries, and very strong-willed toddlers. If she is looking for friends, she is not going to find any with stories of how easy motherhood is. Because no one’s life is perfect, I felt that she wasn’t being completely honest with me, or doesn’t feel secure enough in our relationship to say, “It’s hard! I haven’t had good sleep in many weeks!” Friendship happens the moment someone can say, “Oh? You too?” Until she pulls down the wall of “everything’s perfect” we will not be able to build a close friendship.
Because motherhood is both an incredible blessing and an enormous burden (as one commenter pointed out here), it is tough to find the balance between praising your kids non-stop to others and marveling in the joy of it, and exhausted moms venting continually about how hard it is and sharing their struggles. At times I have had to tell younger moms to hang in there, sharing my most embarrassing toddler tales and less-than-perfect mom moments, and at other times I have had to gently remind the older moms that we should strive for higher standards with our kids and not grow weary and discouraged in doing good.
It’s ironic to see how a few ladies felt the need, even after this article, to get on and tell everyone how wonderful parenting was for them. And then there were those who had to get on and tell everyone what horrible things await them in the teen years! I guess those comments are here to be proof of why this article needed to be written!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. My time at home with my daughter was also one of the saddest and loneliest times of my life. I felt alone in a world with a difficult baby. Thankfully things do get better. She is now a strong, healthy, happy and intelligent five-year-old. Being a stay-at-home mom truly is the most challenging and yet very rewarding job I’ve ever encountered. Thank you so much for helping us not feel so alone. Hooray for mommies. :)
Thank you for this post, Lisa Jo. In my struggling moments of weary-not-put-together motherhood, I recognize more and more my need for the Lord and His strength.
I cried through it while I was reading. So much truth…thank you dear, no one ever told me motherhood would be so hard and exhausting. Thank you I loved your post.
Thank you. I admit, I look at your put together self & wonder how moms do it with more than one!!!?!?? Haha! THANK you for sharing your heart, it means waaaay more than you’ll ever know. I read this tears streaming & toddler jumping around in his bed- should be sleeping. Always wonder how the other moms do it ;)
You’re the best, Lisa Jo. Thanks for being a cheerleader for all of us. And for the truth!
This is so true. I so appreciate your insights. Being a mother is incredibly difficult, but admitting that does NOT mean that we don’t love or enjoy our children. Thank you for your encouragement.
thank you for this post. it really touched my heart i am a 23 year old single mother of a 5 year old and 3 year old. every day we struggle. i never find time for myself even on my days off i work 40 hours a week and still come home to my girls fighting and bickering over something. i just recently moved to nd so i have no friends. i get so lonely sometimes and have no one to talk to but my girls, and half the time im like what are u talking about. it is not easy being a parent but it does get better it just takes time . i didn’t feel that instant love but i do love my girls more and more each day.
i remember saying to myself maybe i wasn’t cut out to be a parent. maybe im doing this wrong. and im not going to lie i miss having my freedom. and i miss laying in bed till noon. i miss having my friends by my side the ones that acually stuck around because after i had my girls the friends that i had in high school were no longer my friends. honestly it is very hard doing it on my own and it helps hearing other people look at me and say everything is going to be ok. everythign is going to get better. :)
I’m a widowed great grandmother now. I had eight children, who gave me 21 grandchildren, who in turn, so far, have blessed me with 6 great grand babies. I well remember the exhaustion and self-doubt I felt when my babies were small. They don’t come with instruction books. However, I will always remember the awe and overwhelming love I felt for each newborn as I held him/her for the first time. In fact, I loved each of them fiercely from the time I found I was pregnant with them.
Even with the exhausting, thankless, monotonous days and nights, and the sleep deprivation, the days become weeks, and then months and years, and those precious little ones entrusted to us are adults and we have plenty of time to sleep in, travel, or whatever floats our boat, and plenty of time to remember when we were all together in one house for all the special birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, etc.
Please remember, mommies, the days are long, but the years are short.
With tears in my eyes, and the never ending heartache for one and all. Thank you for putting the thoughts of many mom’s in the simplest of terms and spreading your message. Love this!
Loved this piece! Every word is so true and it is refreshing to hear a mother FINALLY speak the truth!! I don’t believe for a second that some people who commented ‘ they loved every minute’ of child rearing. LIARS!! I have found ever since becoming a mum that a lot and I mean A LOT of mothers are liars, the biggest liars EVER! They don’t admit how crazy it is, how crazy it starts and how the crazy continues and changes but still remains crazy! Yes, there are spectacular moments in having kids but if we’re being HONEST, they are moments, not hours or days or weeks. Luckily, these moments are worth their weight in gold which stops us from listing our kids on eBay for yet another day!
So for any mums out there who are struggling, the foggy, crazy, exhausted, frustrated madness you are feeling is completely normal and next time a liar tells you her kids are perfect angels, your words should be “bite me”!
Thank you! Trying not to cry whilst reading your plea for honesty amongst (new) mothers. The ‘all is well if you’re a new mother and don’t let anyone dare to tell otherwise or complain who chooses to stay at home (most babies here go to day care from 3 months ‘old’…) ‘-attitude is rampant in Belgium (Western-Europe). How many times my quiet ‘It is harder than I thought it would be…’ (Honesty!) has been met with ‘Well, YOU wanted to be a mother. You CHOSE this.’ (so don’t complain) My firstborn came 1,5 month early in januari 2013 and had to stay in hospital for 14 days and nights. That got us off at a difficult start (we had planned to have a homebirth with our two well known midwives), but all most people around me said was ‘You should be glad he’s alive.’ – Why, yés, but… I did grieve for these 14 days ‘away’ from my son, I still do. There are NO mommy groups in this country for babies older than 3 months. Nothing. There’s no place to go to for young mothers, even in our vibrant university town. ‘Everybody’ is at work fulltime, so you only get to see the mailman and elderly people walking their dogs (sometimes) during the day. It is very lonely indeed. But the feeling of not being recognized in this struggle, by family or friends, thàt I find the hardest. ‘What are you talking about? You’re at home with your baby. Vacation! Aren’t you bored? …’ Ruthlessly admitting to not having it altogether… Lisa-Jo, I think you just gave me a bloggig motto :)
So thankful I came across this post today…I so needed to hear this. My daughter is turning one this week–I can hardly believe it–and it has been the hardest and most wonderful year of my life. I feel like I am personally turning one. ;) I’ve had so many of those same feelings you described–this morning I sat in the cry room at church in my jeans and raincoat and tried hard to not compare myself to a mom with a teeny tiny baby who looked so put-together. I felt like we should get gold stars just making it to church after a long week of travel for Thanksgiving….ah me. but these are precious times too. I’m so grateful for mommies who are honest about this stuff. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Thank you so much for this. This really hit home for me since my 1st was born with life threatening food allergies & still has them @ 7 yrs old. I still struggle but Man, not like I did the first 2 years of motherhood. Nursing a tongue-tied baby with acid reflux while elliminating dairy, eggs, soy & nuts from my diet & learning how to cook without all that stuff & working full time.
Hi, Lisa-Jo Baker ! I really felt identified by this text. Thank you!
I am working on a small monologue about motherhood for a graduate course and would love to use some parts for the curtain raiser. Would that be possible? I would, of course include your page in my list of references. Let me know as soon as you can, as I must turn it in in a couple of days.
I really needed this today. After a complete breakdown yesterday- feeling useless and unable to even do anything right for the kids I take care of.. I needed to know I’m not alone.
I moved across the country for love, with my now 17 month old girl. We joined a little family here- with my boyfriend and his two boys (4 and 5) and I stay at home all day with two until the third is finished school.
I thought that I’d bond with these boys more than I have- and that I would pick up on the mothering they so desperately needed. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and there are days I wish I could just run away. I had no problem bonding with my little girl, I stayed in the hospital for weeks with her after she was born.. but I have to admit that was really hard and I felt like I was trying to force something with her. Which is the same way I feel everyday with the others. I love them like my own- but most days its on the job training. The stress can seriously be unbearable. I thankfully have a wonderful man who tries his best to help and seems to be in the same boat as me with them all in the hours he gets with them after work- as well as some of his family next door with kids of almost the same age. Its hard to walk over there and spend time with her- because I know how overwhelming it would be to have 4 kids in my house all day.. I don’t want to push it on her.
But now I’m ranting- sorry. Just a friendly reach out to other moms- and even step moms of younger kids.. it feels just as exasperating.
Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much.
I hope to provide something back and help others like you helped me.