Ambassadors for Honesty About Parenthood.

She was standing, staring listlessly at the merchandise on the children’s medicine aisle at CVS.

As I searched for Ali’s Ibuprofen, she turned to me and asked, “How do you know what to buy?  I mean, there are so many options.  It’s just overwhelming!”

I looked into her eyes for the first time.  She looked exhausted and despairing, and was carrying an equally tired-looking baby.

“What do you need it for?”

“Teething.  He was up all night last night, screaming, thrashing his arms, and absolutely miserable.”

She sighed and looked at the floor.  “I’m so tired.”

I saw the look in her eyes – the one I’ve seen so many times in other first-time Moms, and the one that I owned for the first six months of Ali’s life.

Fear.  Anxiety.  Despair.  Panic.

“Oh I’m SO sorry – that is the worst.  We haven’t started teething yet, but I expect it any day now.  It is not fun.”

She had already seen Ali, but she noticed Noah for the first time, sitting in my grocery cart.  “Oh – how old is he?”

“Eight months.”

Her eyes lit up, obviously thrilled to find someone else in her place in life.  She motioned to her baby.  “He’s eight months too!! When is your baby’s birthday?”

Her excitement over our commonness made me even more aware of how alone she felt.

We kept talking, discovering that our boys were two weeks apart, discussing about the difficulties of babies, and picking out a pain reliever.

As we were walking away, she looked me in the eyes.  “Thank you so much for your help.”

I hadn’t helped with the pain reliever thing that much, but I knew what she meant.

As I got in my car, my heart ached for her.  I wanted to do more – I wanted to run back, give her a hug, promise that it gets easier, it gets better, and that she will get to a place where parenthood is enjoyable.  There was so much more I wanted to say.

They get to be so much fun – I promise!!”

Just wait until the first time that he says ‘ub oo, Mommy’.  Your heart will somersault!”

We’ve all been there – anything you’re feeling right now, I bet I’ve felt it too!  You’re not crazy, you’re not alone, you’re not an unfit parent.”

It’s all a phase.  Everything is a phase – both the good and the bad.”

I remember the misery that infanthood can be – something that I mercifully didn’t experience with Noah (or perhaps was more prepared for), but certainly had my share of with Ali.  Infanthood is so different than you expect that it makes you feel completely isolated and inadequate.

I also remember that my saving grace through it all was the honesty and compassion of my closest friends and my Mom – both of whom were willing to boldly share their own struggles of motherhood and reassure me that they had experienced the same feelings.

Had they not been there, I would have despaired even more, thinking I was the worst mother in the world, and that I was somehow missing the Mommy gene that everyone else seemed to have received.

Because of their impact on me, and because I remember those feelings painfully well, I am determined to show the same mercy, compassion, and most importantly, honesty to every other new Mommy that I run into.

I want to be an Ambassador for Honesty About Parenthood.

No, babies and kids are not always easy – and not in a romantic, “oh this isn’t easy but it’s worth it” way – sometimes it’s so hard that it doesn’t feel worth it AT ALL and you wonder why you had kids.

Yes, you very well may panic after having a baby, wondering what you’ve done to your previously perfect life.

No, you may not feel immediately bonded and in love with your baby.  They may feel like a tiny, screaming intrusion.  But love will come.  It will grow in your heart until you are bursting!

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But most importantly? It gets better!  You will enjoy your child.  You will feel unsurpassed love for them.  You will “feel” like a Mommy.  You will get your sense of self back.  You will be able to think about other things than your new baby all the time.  You will be able to take a break and get away with your husband without worrying about your child the entire time.

It is worth it and you will love it!!

And also, not all Motherhood is created equally – your second baby may be a joy – mine was!  You don’t have to fear that having another will sink you into the depths that your first may have done.

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Or maybe you will struggle with a different phase than I did.  My hardest was my first newborn, but Ali’s two’s were more terrific than I could have imagined.  Your child may be hardest at two, and be a perfect newborn.  Either way, you will get past your stage of misery, and you will enjoy your life – and even parenting – again.

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Oh – and Mommy Guilt is a completely normal occurrence – a state of mind even.  If you have a moment of motherhood that you’re not feeling guilty about something, enjoy it!  And try not to let the guilt get you down.

Even if I’d seemed like a nosy freak that day in CVS, I wish I had done more.  I wish I’d offered to hold her baby for a minute to let her compose herself, and then reassured her that this too, will pass.  And, on a morning not too far off in the future, she will wake up thanking God for the amazing blessings of children that He’s given her – because that’s what I was able to do this morning.

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There are too many books on how to parent, but not enough on how it feels to parent.  If you want to be a blessing to someone today, don’t tell them how to fix their problem, just tell them that you understand where they are, and that you’ve been there too.


If you’re struggling with Mommyhood and need a friend, please email me at rachel (at) graspingforobjectivity (dot) com.  I’ve been there!  And it does get so much better – I promise!!

 

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    MamaHen says:

    You are so right Rachel. Every baby is so different and each stage is so different with them. What is overwhelming for some is easy for others and vice-versa. We all need to encourage each other so much.

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    so true-I always tell my friends that are first time moms…you can read all the books and be prepared but 99% of the time your kid isn’t going to follow any method. And thats okay! Your not a bad mom and your not doing it wrong…its just their needs are different than kid in the book.

    and after 2…i believe the no sleep thing just comes natural.

  3. 3
    Shelly says:

    I love this!! I was there, too, at one time and it felt overwhelming, isolating and at times even endless. I’m so glad you were able to help that woman, if only for a moment. Instead of the Mommy Wars, we all need to be doing more acts of kindness toward one another like this.

  4. 4
    Leanna says:

    Great post Rachel! Your honesty about your struggles is refreshing. Although I am not a Mom (yet still hoping even at 35) I actually saw a lot of the struggles with my Sister and felt them when I was left alone to take care of my nephew when nothing I did stopped him from crying. I know it isn’t the same because in the end I did get to give him back to his parents but I know that there are days my sister thinks she isn’t a good parent even now with an almost 3 year old. She finds support in my Mom and others who have been there. Everyone needs a great support system and it is wonderful that you are willing to be there for others.

    • 4.1

      Hang in there – I was 36 when my son was born. He is a very active 7 year now. My husband and I were married for 15 yers before he came along. He is our blessing.

  5. 5
    Sonya says:

    I admire you so much for how you reach out when you see a need. What a wonderful example you are for your kids.

    • 5.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you! It’s hard to teach compassion, and most of the time I think I’m doing a terrible job at it, but I do hope that Ali picks up on it.

  6. 6
    Shelly says:

    Very refreshing post! That whole baby/infant stage is sooooo my least favorite part of parenthood. It revealed my selfishness, inadequacy, weakness, impatience…I could go on and on. But, you are so right, it does get better and even so fun. I couldn’t imagine life without my two children, and I love them so much and being their Mommy!

  7. 7

    Thank you for sharing this. I do feel sometimes that I am not doing the right things for my son. But in the end I know I am.

  8. 8
    Julie says:

    I was not a fan of infanthood either…it is just so much harder than you expect. I also was so frustrated because I followed the “expert” guidelines and still my baby woke up in the night or got a diaper rash or … acted like a normal baby. Once I shrugged off the pressure and started reaching out, I enjoyed parenthood a lot more. But it still has its days!!!

    Been watching friends and family members deal with the much bigger problems of adolescence and it makes babyhood and toddlerhood seem like a dream.

    • 8.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh I am SO not looking forward to the struggles of adolescence. Did you have to remind me that it was coming??

      • LaPriel says:

        Depends on the kid and the parent. I have loved being a mother more as each of my children have gotten older. I have a boy 19, a boy 16, and a girl 13. My oldest was super tough from the age of 18 mos. to 13yrs. He was so much better after that. My second was so much easier and my third has been somewhere in between so far. So, it is just hard to tell. :)

  9. 9
    Darla says:

    You are the most wonderful and compassionate person. When I had my second child I was thrown into deep despair for the first week (mainly lack of sleep) After a calm, inwardly panicked call to the nurses in the maternity ward he went to the store at 2:00 a.m. for a mild sleep aid, took the baby and put me to bed. I had him. I’m glad the young woman in the CVS had you.

    • 9.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh I know those nights. I’m so glad your hubby knew exactly what to do and took over! Hubbies that can stay calm in the midst of a motherhood crisis are invaluable!

  10. 10
    Darla says:

    Him being my wonderful husband..not my baby! ha!

  11. 11
    Rachel says:

    Oh Rach, you are so right!

    Being so young when I had Joe, I had NO idea what to do and very little desire to figure it out. God blessed me with a wonderful and perfect baby that was happy to eat, sleep, and keep himself entertained. As he got older….that’s when the challenges began.

    Now Major, he was a zombie for the first 7 months of his life! He can be an ornery little baby. He doesn’t cry much but he has no desire to be held, snuggled, or otherwise cared for. BUT, I’m much more laid back and realize he just is who he is.

    You blessed that lady in CVS and I imagine she’ll never forget you!

    • 11.1
      Rachel says:

      They’re all so different, aren’t they? Which sometimes makes it harder, but sometimes easier. And yes, being more laid back with the second one definitely helps!!

  12. 12
    Kristi says:

    Fantastic post! I find myself more and more being drawn to moms who are real and tell it like it is. Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. I was the first of my close friends to have a baby, and I have a mom who never admits to anything being hard. It was such an exhausting, isolating time! It definitely does get better.

    • 12.1
      Rachel says:

      And yes, parenting is an emotional roller coaster – and unless someone is honest with you, I think it’s hard to be willing to be honest with others, because you think you’re the only one. It starts with one person, but then it can have a domino effect of honesty. That’s what I hope I can continue, since people were honest with me!

      I hope you’ve been able to find some great, close, honest friends since then – I was one of the last of my friends to have a baby, so it came a little easier for me.

  13. 13
    Tonya says:

    Rachel, this may just be one of my most favorite posts from you. I would love to link up on my blog and share it…if you are okay with this?? Everything you said was so true. I felt like I was reading my own story. Mommy guilt can be so overwhelming…I work outside the home and every day it consumes me. Am I doing the right thing? Will I regret not being home? I know she is okay but my heart is heavy. Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone!!

    • 13.1
      Rachel says:

      Of course you can link up!

      No matter what you did, you’d have Mommy guilt! I know how you feel, and the best you can do is to do what you feel is the best you can do! I’m sure you’re doing exactly that.

  14. 14
    Kate says:

    Beautifully written, Rachel! Gotta love brutal honesty, even when it hurts…and strangely, it is comforting to know that SO many others out there have and continue to suffer the same parenting struggles!

    • 14.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you! Yes, it is a weird thing – it’s not that I want other people to hurt, but knowing I’m not alone is so helpful in making it through the harder days!

  15. 15
    Trinity says:

    This is right on. I’m bookmarking it and will send it to all my friends with new babies…and maybe old babies too. Thanks yet again.

  16. 16
    Rachel says:

    Awesome post! Why is it that there are millions of mommies in the world but we all feel alone and like we are the only ones going through this stuff?? That’s why I love small group so much. We are all the same age with little kids, and it’s so nice to know our friends are going through the same things we are!

    Thanks for the reminder that everything is a phase. K is going through a big attitude/disobedience phase and I am at my whit’s end. I don’t know what to do with her anymore! Spanking seems ineffective, so do timeouts. Taking things away just makes her mad, not sorry. Ugh. I’m hoping this phase will pass quickly! We bypassed the terrible twos and threes with no major problems but four is giving me a run for my money!

    • 16.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh I’m so sorry – it’s so much worse when things are smooth sailing, then all of a sudden they’re not – you just want to ask “what happened??”

      I hope she gets better very soon! I’ll be praying for you!

  17. 17
    Marty says:

    Very well put. I think the hardest parts for me was the isolation and boredom of a newborn, neither of which I was expecting at all.

    And I’m all for jumping on to help with the Mommy Ambassador bandwagon, should you decide to make a more organized effort of it beyond scouting the baby Tylenol aisles in local pharmacies :-)

  18. 18
    Shiree says:

    Love this post! Someone just recommended the book Loving the Little Years to me. It sounds like the book totally applies to what you are saying here. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. 19
    lindsay says:

    Rachel,
    You rock my world! As a mom who shares your initial fears about going through the “depths” of newborn life again expecting my second child, thanks for reminding me that nothing you experience twice in life is the same way it was the first time. I’m hoping that this time I at least have a shred of a clue of what type of patience it takes to be a parent and I’ll adjust easier. Keep on writing!!

    • 19.1
      Rachel says:

      My second was/is an absolute joy!! He has been so easy to love, easy to care for, and just SO endearing. Ali is now too, of course – she just wasn’t as a baby (which was probably as much my fault as anything!). Your second will be so much easier purely on merit of you being more laid back because you know what you’re doing, and here’s to hoping that they’re also an easier baby, as well!! I hope it goes wonderfully! When are you due?

      • lindsay says:

        Due Jan 28th! So happy that this time I’m in the third trimester during Thanksgiving and Christmas feast season. Last time I was in the first trimester during the holidays and was nauseously taunted by all the lovely holiday food that I didn’t feel like eating. Thanks for your support, I’m making a deliberate effort to pay it forward tomorrow to another mommy–

  20. 20
    Katie says:

    I like to think I’m prepared for having a newborn since I’ve babysat so much…and kept church nursery…and read books…etc. etc. etc. But what I am dreading is the mommy comparison game. It’s already begun simply with being pregnant that my friends feel the need to compare every phase. And I’ve seen them do it with each other comparing developmental milestones of their newborns. And you’re right, I don’t want to hear their success/failure/remedy. I just want to hear that it’ll all be ok. Here’s hoping for more people like you who can simply be friendly and compassionate!

    (And I love the picture of Noah in the overalls!)

    • 20.1
      Rachel says:

      I was blessed with a great group of friends who only compared to help each other, not to judge and feel better about themselves. For instance, one of my best friends had a baby 3.5 months ahead of me, and it was SO nice to know what to expect and what to be working on by watching her and her baby. But I never felt compared to by my friends. So here’s to you finding a great group of friends!

  21. 21
    erin cox says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Your story definitely makes the case that God has created us for community — it is so nice to know that there are other moms in the same place that you are or are further down the road and can relate to where you are at right now. I will make the plug for ladies to join a MOPS group if they have one in their area — it has been so helpful and lots of fun!

    • 21.1
      Rachel says:

      I’ve never done an official MOPS group, but we have one at our church. I’ve heard it’s fabulous! Great recommendation!

      • LaPriel says:

        Oh, MOPS saved my life! We had a wonderful group in the Cincinnati area! One of the speakers once said “God gave us children to bring us to our knees.” She gave such a real, funny and inspiring talk that helped me a TON. MOPS was a bit of Heaven for me.

  22. 22
    Eleanorjane says:

    Great post and a great thing to do Rachel. My problem is the opposite – I feel I know too much about the horrors of parenting to want to do it. And it’s hard to connect with people gushing about the wonders and how you love your kids etc. I like older children, but am not at all keen on babies.

    My ideal would be to be 60 with a couple of well balanced grown up children to be friends with… But in order to get there, I have to do the hard yards… I’m thinking at 34 and 3/4 years old, I just need to jump in and take the good and the bad as it comes. Eek!

    • 22.1
      Rachel says:

      If it helps any, your own kids are totally different than other people’s. The same things that always annoyed me about other people’s kids I find cute when my own do it – it’s quite miraculous, actually.

  23. 23
    LaPriel says:

    Thank you. Thank you for helping a struggling mom. Thank you for being realistic. Thank you for understanding. It would be a very long comment if I told you about the many many times as a mother over the last 18 yrs that I have been in a store and needed a helping hand or helpful comment instead of some person’s callus stares/glares. I really can’t express it in words, but I know that you know what some days are like as a mother; how desperate a mom can feel for some kind support. I wish more women would show the kind of compassion that you did. I’m sure it changed her day and maybe even her outlook on life for the rest of her life!

    • 23.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes! You’re right – all too often we all need helping hands. I want to do a better job of looking for ways I can practically help other Moms, too – I am not good at that at all.

  24. 24
    Mindy says:

    I was so badly hoping that this mom posted a comment and said “That was ME!” I hope and pray that not only does she find this blog post, but that she will be able to find those people in her life who can surround her with support.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and posts like this make me look forward to motherhood, even though it isn’t the most glamorous job. Since high school I’ve wanted to be a stay at home mom and this helps me to remember even though it isn’t a “real job” like so many people think, its the most important and fulfilling job that I will ever have!

    • 24.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you, Mindy!! Being a Mom is both the hardest and most rewarding job you’ll ever have. It will help you grow as a person, and it will bless you tremendously all at once!

  25. 25
    Amy says:

    This was one of the best posts I’ve ever read. You hit the nail on the head! I too have been blessed with a truly easy second baby, but I remember moments with Jackson (my first) where I was truly lost. I was exhausted, scared, overwhelmed…you name it, and it was not fun. I look back and wonder how I did it.

    I think you were so kind to the new mother. Who knows…maybe she will read this and know that she’s not alone. We all need to support each other; motherhood is tough stuff, and it’s definitely not for sissies!

  26. 26
    LK says:

    And what an incredible Ambassador you are.
    United we stand, Mama Bear!

  27. 27
    Rebecca says:

    Rachel, can’t wait to see what you write about the ‘terrible teens’! The love may leave completely for a few years LOL! ;-) until they finally become friends. Thanks for sharing!

  28. 28
    Angela in Arizona says:

    Oh thank you for that post! And thank you for “getting it” and being able to write so beautifully what all of us feel – sometimes every day for a Season or Two. But you got it – they’re all phases! Someone pointed out that it’s easy to feel alone at this time, and yet so many of us are in the same boat! Here’s to finding a good group of moms (online or in person!) to help us while we’re in that boat!

  29. 29
    Miss Elisabeth says:

    Just wanted to say I LOVE this post!!

  30. 30
    Bekah says:

    What an awesome post, Rachel! I’m going to bookmark it so I can revisit it when I get to having “those days.” Even though I haven’t gotten there yet, I already feel encouraged!

    • 30.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you!! You will have those days, but there will be many rewarding days that will make up for them all!! … they just may not happen for a few months after your baby is born. But that’s okay! Just know that they will come!! OR maybe you’ll be one of those awesomely lucky first-time Moms that everything is dreamy and wonderful from day one – I hope so!

  31. 31

    I always try to encourage other moms, too, especially first-time moms. There isn’t enough honesty out there, and a lot of times (just like with all the shelter blogs), people’s lives look perfect on the outside looking in. I think MOST new moms struggle through some phase, and bravo to you for speaking out about it and REACHING OUT to someone who clearly needed it that day.

  32. 32
    Ashley says:

    AMEN!
    It’s so refreshing to read a post about parenting that isn’t fabricated and fake. Parenthood is hard. Anyone who says differently doesn’t have children. ;)

    P.S. If you ever write a book (which I highly encourage you to do), let me know. I’ll wait in line for it. :)

  33. 33

    You are so right! My first was easy! Easy delivery, easy baby, easy toddler, easy to potty train, easy to love. My second was harder. I felt so bad for not being instantly in love with her. She wasn’t a hard baby but boy has she been a hard toddler! She turns three next week and has been in the terrible twos since she was a year old, lol. We have struggled with getting her to eat, sleep, potty train and of course, tantrums! I only hope her fourth year is finally an easy one. And now with my third, she seems to be pretty easy so far. The love came quickly this time. I think I’m so desperately holding onto the fleeting baby moments because I know she is my last.

    I will say that many things about the baby time are easier with your second + children. First of all, you are more confident. You may not know yet how to deal with everything a baby might need but you do know how to take care of them. this makes the curve balks they throw less scary. You have an idea of what “normal” should be. And second, for me anyway, it was easier to see them as a little person, as what they will become. I talked to my babies a lot more. When my oldest was a baby I felt silly talking to her. I didn’t know what to say. My days home with her were boring. What can you do with an infant all day lol!! Oh how I long for boring days now ;)

    • 33.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes – knowing what you’re doing makes everything easier! And you’re so right about being able to talk to them and see them as a person – I was just thinking the other day about how much easier words came for me to talk to Noah than they did when Ali was a baby. It’s so much less awkward!

  34. 34

    I feel like there’s an unaddressed — and quite large — segment of moms that lie in the middle of the happiness spectrum. No one warned me, no one talked to me about it, and no one went through it with me. I was the first of my girlfriends to have babies, and I try to be brutally honest whenever a friend is going through it now or is about to enter parenthood. I also try to end every conversation with, “It gets so much better.” Thanks for acknowledging what most of us go through!

  35. 35
    Laura Wilder says:

    I was having a tough pregnancy day when I read this last week & just cried & cried because it was such an encouragement even now. I feel pre-mommy-guilt on nights where I can’t sleep because he kicks me so hard & I wish he would give it a rest. I also feel guilty every time I complain or don’t feel well but in really that’s just the truth. It’s not always easy & some days are just harder. I’m sure I’ll re-read this a lot in days to come. Thanks for the honesty & encouragement!

    • 35.1
      Rachel says:

      I’m so glad it was an encouragement!! Yes, Mommy Guilt starts early and doesn’t fade. But you learn to live with it, and even ignore it on a good day!! Don’t worry about feeling frustrated or impatient – we’ve all been there. I prayed every day for Ali and Noah to be born for weeks before they were – you just get so “done” with pregnancy after a while, even though it’s the most amazing feeling ever!

  36. 36
    Sarah R in Wisconsin says:

    Love this post! I so easily could have been that poor mother in CVS. I’m sure you saved her day, and good for you!

    I know I’ve written this before, but my son was a similar baby to Ali, and reading your blog helped me more than I can put into words. Ali is a couple years ahead of my son and reading about what Ali was into really gave me something to look forward to with my son. So thanks! I hope I can pay it forward to another mother.

    • 36.1
      Rachel says:

      I can’t stress enough how opposite my second child-bearing experience has been – it’s everything I THOUGHT I would experience the first time around and didn’t – and more! So don’t let your first scare you too badly!!

  37. 37
    Sarah says:

    Hi Rachel! I really enjoyed this post. It made me cry. Having a baby has changed my life and changed my perspective on a lot of things. Before I had a baby, I would have thought that the woman you describe would have seemed sad to me, but now I know that she could be me on any given day. Thanks for sharing this.

  38. 38
    Leslie says:

    Even though you didn’t feel like you got to say everything, I bet just your kindness, listening, and helping nature was just what she needed. What an amazing post! It needs to make its way to the left side of the page if it hasn’t already.

  39. 39

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! So true Rachel — so very very true!

    I remember the hugest difference between what I experienced w my first versus my second was knowing that it ended. They eventually stopped crying. They eventually slept. I eventually got to go out without a baby tied to me.

    With the first it seemed like it was going to be “like this” forever. When really, it was going by so fast, soon I wouldn’t even remember it all.

    I also love this line: “There are too many books on how to parent, but not enough on how it feels to parent.”

    HUGS girl!

  40. 40
    Amanda Heyser says:

    So true for parents of babies born with special needs! Thank you for the heart string!

    • 40.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh I can only imagine!! Babyhood is hard enough, without all of the fears and uncertainty of special needs! Thank you for commenting and adding that thought!

  41. 41
    kolawole aisha says:

    I’m overwhelmed! This so heart touching for me, I’m just 21 and got married in january. I’m pregnant now, with my masters program starting next year september, I’ve been scared and afraid. My husband is very supportive but sometimes I feel so scared and ask myself how I got to this point! Ure d best! This makes me feel so much better and less afraid of what is ahead. I hope I get people like u around here to help me. Thank u

    • 41.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh wow, that is a lot going on!! I feel for you – I’m sure the uncertainty and stress is getting to you! I hope that you find some awesome Mommies around you that can help and support you. But feel free to email me anytime if you have questions or concerns – I’ve been there!!

  42. 42
    Rebeccah says:

    I loved this post. So honest, but so kind. If we all reached out to someone who is struggling it would create such an amazing ripple effect! I’m past the baby years with mine but can still relate to some of those feelings…again, great post!

    • 42.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you! Yes, the feelings come and go as phases come and go, for sure. I’ve only hit the beginning of the iceberg of the feelings of motherhood!

  43. 43

    Having a new baby in the house is definitely a time for stress, worry , exhaustion but excitement too. Just crossed a different line in my house – delivering my first born to college! A lot of the same feelings, but not the exhaustion!

  44. 44
    Syl says:

    Absolutely! My hardest transition was my first. I describe it as an awful black whole that I wasn’t sure I would or could ever climb out of. I hated it and was overwhelmed by that feeling. It took me months to bond with my son… but I didn’t even recognize that the bond was missing, I was so overwhelmed. Fast forward five, almost six years and he is a delightful, bubbling person that I absolutely love having around. He delights me constantly. And the transition with the next two: WAY easier. I knew what was coming and I knew it would get better. There is strength in that knowledge. So, I too have become an Ambassador of honesty for mothering.

    • 44.1
      Rachel says:

      Me too!! It was just SO unlike what I expected that it was so difficult and guilt-filled!! And yes, I didn’t bond with my daughter for about 8 months. But then she was a delight after that! My second was a breath of fresh air, because I was really dreading doing the baby phase again!

  45. 45
    Judi says:

    This is a beautiful post, Rachel, I don’t know anything about children but I can appreciate sincere empathy and compassion. I know that is priceless.

  46. 46
    Christen says:

    You are so great with words, love this post! I think every parent should read it before they have their first child, and probably before each subsequent child :)

  47. 47
    Lani says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!! I didn’t have anyone to tell me this. And, my friends with newborns all posted on Facebook how wonderful life was with a baby. I had myself convinced that I wasn’t meant to be a mom. I cried. A lot. I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder, “what happened to my life? My body? My brain? My goals?” Parenting is hard. It’s stressful. It affects your relationship with your spouse. And breastfeeding? Yeah. That’s hard, too. My child is 15 months now and it is getting easier. Her laughs are a joy. My heart melts when she hugs and kisses me. But those first six months…whoa. So thank you. It’s nice to know that my feelings have been perfectly normal. And when I see new moms now, I totally want to go hug them. :-)

    • 47.1
      Rachel says:

      I was the same way – it was all just so shocking the first time around! Nothing like I had imagined. But thank goodness, it gets SO much better, just like you said!

  48. 48
    Lucinda says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. My first baby was so hard. I remember being so miserable for the first 2 months. I was alone, sick (chronic illness), tired, scared, etc. My baby was collicky and a night owl. My husband told me he worried when I told people how hard the first few months were that my daughter would later feel bad. But I talked anyway. I needed to. No one could have prepared me for how hard it would be.

    It did get better of course. My second was easier. They are 8 & 10 and wonderful. I would do it all over again. But yes, we need to be honest and let other moms know they are not alone and it does get better.

    • 48.1
      Rachel says:

      I completely know what you mean – and I’m so glad you felt comfortable talking about your experience while and after you went through it!! It SO helps to know that we’re not the only ones and that we’re not bad parents for feeling the way that we do.

      Thank you!!

  49. 49
    Liz Gossom says:

    I have a 3 1/2 yo boy, a 2 yo girl, another boy on the way, and a step-teenager. One would think that I would be well acquainted with the “it’s a phase, they will get through it, and so will you” pep talk, but yesterday I bawled my eyes out five different times about what a failure I felt like as a mother. It was awful. And today, it is better. That’s what I want to tell my new-mom friend, that some days you will cry A LOT. You just have to have *that day*, and go to sleep (hopefully) and get up again in the morning.

    • 49.1
      Rachel says:

      You are so right! I am constantly amazed at how temporal my emotions can be. If I’m in the middle of a bad naptime, the world is an ugly place. But two hours later, after they finally fell asleep and slept well, I’m a new woman! It really does pass so quickly at times.

  50. 50
    Jenni Chiu says:

    Agreed – not enough people talk about how it *feels* to be a parent. People want to offer solutions, but there is no one solution that works for everyone.
    Knowing you’re not alone (especially during the infant stage) means more than a lot of people realize.
    I’m sure you made her day a little easier.

    • 50.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you! Yes, most of the time, it just helps to know that we’re not crazy and that everyone feels this way at some time or another!

  51. 51
    Eva says:

    ug. mommy guilt sucks. i like to think that my kids are who they are b/c that’s how God made them, not b/c of how i messed them up. i hope this is true anyway…!

  52. 52
    Athena says:

    True not False! In the good and bad times I repeated “this will not last forever” During the good times it made me slow down and enjoy the beautiful moments. In the bad times it gave me faith and hope. I knew my 18 month old would eventually sleep thru the night (now he’s 4 and I’ve had many sleep-filled nights)

  53. 53
    Rachel says:

    Wonderful post. It’s so true – we need to encourage each other and assure each other that feeling this way is normal, and there is nothing that can prepare you for it. I am a single mom of an 8-year-old boy, and I felt inadequate and guilty for years before finally reaching a place in my life where I felt I could be the mom I wanted to be. It’s so inspiring to hear that others are trying to spread love and kindness to each other to those just entering this crazy phase of life that is parenthood. Thank you for the post!

  54. 54
    Courtney says:

    When I first read this post my son was a newborn, now 4mo old. I did shed a few tears for the simple fact that I had forgotten had hard it was (my oldest is 6 yrs old) being a mommy is so scary and I it can feel like we r just dropped down in a unknown land n have to figure it all out quickly!!
    And the reason I’m posting this now is I’ve always remember this post and while at walmart this week w both kiddos baby screaming 6 yr old now stop talking loudly and touching everything. A lady walked up to me and said, “you are a good mom, Hang in there!!” I said thank you n she gave me that mom smile (she looked to be my moms age) and walked away! I wanted to hug her for lifting me up at that moment. Because you are right we need to encourage each other often!

    • 54.1
      Rachel says:

      That’s awesome!! I love wonderfully kind strangers.

    • 54.2
      Laina says:

      That woman was so kind and I will remember that when I am out shopping, if my kids happen to be not crying and touching and running off. There could be a post on what not to say to the stressed out mom with kids in Walmart, just like what not to say when women are expecting. When you are trying to keep track of your shopping list, your budget, push a cart with one hand and hold a baby with the other, abandon your cart in customer service for the 2nd time to take your older kids potty, ward of requests to buy more junk that you will end up cleaning off the floor, worrying about loosing a kid, and having to choose your items in less than 2 seconds so you can keep your kids in the same isle, YOUR BEST PARENTING SKILLS are probably not on display. Please don’t judge fellow shoppers! Every time I take all 3 of mine shopping, ages 9 & 7 & 2, I say never again. Then the next time I feel so guilty for trying to leave them behind that I load them up and off we go. My kids love going with me, so even if I feel like the meanest mom in the world or catch myself getting very cranky in the store, I must not be so bad.

  55. 55
    Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I know you wrote this ages ago, but I just stumbled upon your blog today. I have a 13 month old and today was one of those days that was just totally emotionally exhausting. I know I’m not a bad mom, but most days I don’t feel like I have the “mom gene” that all my other mom friends seem to have. I miss my old life and feel selfish and guilty for it… I spent today wondering when this parenthood thing gets better, and when it will really feel all worth it. I feel crummy for even admitting that, but your post gave me hope that I’m not the only mom in the world who has felt this way. I always thought I’d have multiple kids, but now I’m not sure if I even want to go through all of this again a second time… I hope that changes! Thank you for helping me believe that I’m not the only mom out there who struggles and stumbles and has dark days.

    • 55.1
      Rachel says:

      YES, Danielle – I have felt all of that. And it was a total shock for me, too – I thought parenthood was dreamy and wonderful and everything that is shown on TV commercials (which I now HATE, by the way). You’re getting close to my favorite stage – from 18 months to 3 years old is really SO fun – they’re learning to talk, they say all sorts of adorable things, and you actually begin to have a two-way conversation. It gets much better!

  56. 56
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