10 Things to Expect From Motherhood


As far as parenting journeys go, mine is still in its toddler stages, literally and metaphorically – three years and counting. I know I have many more years ahead of me, where I will undoubtedly learn more than I ever bargained for. However, even in three short years of imperfect parenting, these 10 truths keep coming back to me…

1. You will feel guilty. No matter what you choose to do – breastfeed or bottle feed, sleep train or not, go back to work or stay at home – you will feel guilty a lot of the time. You will question your choices, because other people will, whether out loud or in their minds, which will in turn, make you feel guilty. I’ve learned to accept my choices, whether they’re ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they are the choices made for the good of my children, for our family. Guilt comes with the territory, I get that now.

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2. You will get angry. Anger – a dangerous, terrible emotion, especially when it’s directed at your children, your spouse, and yourself. You will also find that you may get mad at complete strangers, such as that impatient driver who cut you off. Or the lady in front of you at the checkout counter at the grocery store, for moving too slowly. Personally, when I find myself on a short fuse, it’s because I’m tired. Fatigue does not do you favors. I can’t give you advice on how to squeeze in more down time or sleep, I can only tell you that you should.

3. You will feel incompetent. When I had Monkey, I felt like a bumbling idiot all the time, and half-expected someone to come knocking on my door to tell me to give my son back, because I was doing such a terrible job as his mother. Three years in, I know I’m not terrible. But I have moments of perceived incompetence. No matter how many pats on the back I give myself, I still feel this way.

4. You will get competitive. When you have friends and relatives who have children of the same age, forget trying to avoid competitiveness. Yes, you may say, but I don’t brag! However, you’re silently pleased when you find out your daughter walked way before your best friend’s son, or that your boy scored higher on his English test than your best friend’s child. It’s inevitable.

5. You will be resentful (sometimes.) If I said I don’t think about my time pre-children, and how carefree and fun it was then, I’d be lying. I’d also be lying if I said I am absolutely 100% not resentful. Sometimes, I am. I resent that I have little time to myself. I resent that I have barely slept since 2009. Sometimes. Just sometimes. I do not however, regret having children.

6. You will be joyful. I do not regret having children – how could I? Everyday, they make me joyful. Even through the challenges, there is much to be happy for. The smiles, the hugs, the hand holding, just being with each other, being family – pure joy.

7. You will be more appreciative. When you become a parent, you appreciate your parents more (hands up, if you’ve thought about calling your mom to apologize, and thank her) . You appreciate your spouse more. You appreciate yourself more. You appreciate the extra 10 minutes you get, any time of the day. You appreciate coffee a lot more. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what I mean.

8. You will be wiser. You will learn to pick your battles. You will learn when to give up, and when not to. You will learn that love is deep. You will learn that fears abound in every corner and there is nary you can do about it. You will learn that your heart is so much bigger than you thought possible. You will learn that you have it in you to fight for your children.

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9. You will be humbled. Parenting is a truly humbling experience. I thought I knew it all, could do it all. I know now, that I don’t and I can’t, and it’s okay.

10. You will be loved. My children’s love is pure. When I look into their eyes, when they put their chubby hands around mine, all there is, is love. And that is all.

About the writer


Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison shares stories of motherhood on her blog, Writing, Wishing, and her writing has been featured on Everyday Family, Mamalode, DrGreene.com, and The Huffington Post. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins). You can find Alison on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.


Taylor Guynn 2 years ago

I just want to say "thank you" for this website, and this article. I don't have kids yet, I've been avoiding having them for years because all I think about when imagining parenting is my epic failures, my child hating me because I can't do anything right, the lack of sleep and money….all the bad stuff. Reading the things you write make everything seem REAL and far less daunting. So many articles are all about perfection and they make me feel like scum for ever having a doubt or worry, whereas your articles make me feel like it's going to be okay. I really appreciate it, and I thoroughly enjoy this site. Keep it up.

Pat Hoyle 3 years ago

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MamaMandy 3 years ago

Except for the coffee part, this was spot on. I have struggled a little or a lot with each of those. It was fun to read.

Meghan 3 years ago

Resentment is not being able to take a completely uninterrupted shower by myself since 2009.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Oh Meghan. I get it.

Mercy 3 years ago

All true. I definitely appreciate my coffee. :)

    Alison 3 years ago

    Hah! I know, right?

Bridget 3 years ago

Great post! I agree on all counts:)

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, Bridget!

Megha 3 years ago

Hello, I am Megha from India. I am a mother of a soon-to-be one year old baby girl and I can’t tell you how happy reading this post makes me feel. I am just so glad to know that I am not alone and almost every mother feels this way. Thank you.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Hi Megha! I’m so glad that you can relate, and this helps. Motherhood is hard, it’s always good to feel like you’re not alone. And you are not alone.

Galit Breen 3 years ago

Love this post, love seeing you here! xo

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, sweetie!

Wendy 3 years ago

Beautiful and pefectly stated!! My oldest will be 20 soon and I can tell you I CONTINUE to appreciate my parents as my children grow, and grow up. I’m not sure if that will ever stop. I know the exaustion only gets worse. 😛

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, Wendy!
    I hear the teen years will really make one call their parents and say sorry :)

Kim Foster 3 years ago

It’s the mix of good/bad that says it all, here–guilt and resemtment right beside joy and wisdom–and that’s the beautiful yin and yang of motherhood! It’s a complicated, layered thing. Great post!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Yin yang – that is absolutely a perfect way to describe it.
    Thank you!

Nicole(Whole Strides) 3 years ago

All of it happens. So many years past babyhood, and it’s still coming in cycles. Just when I think I’ve conquered the beast, I make my way back through it again. It’s exhausting sometimes.

    Alison 3 years ago

    It is absolutely exhausting. Which is why we need mommy only timeouts :)

JD Bailey @ Honest Mom 3 years ago

Great list. I am surprised by how I feel competitive with family – like my kids vs. my nieces and nephews. My niece goes to all these dance competitions and takes a ton of classes and is only a grade older than my daughter. I regret that my daughter dances at the same studio, because my daughter isn’t as involved and it seems, perhaps, not quite as talented. Every time my SIL talks about my niece’s latest fabulous dance competition I want to scream, “My kid is a great dancer too!!!” But I don’t. Somehow. 😉

    Alison 3 years ago

    Nice restraint there!
    I used to get compared (not always favorably) to my cousins. It wasn’t cool.

Jenny 3 years ago

You know what I love most about this post? That it gives the good AND the bad — but ends on the good. I can fixate on the poopy parts about parenting with the best of them, but deep down I’m such a softy for my kids, so I really loved reading 6 through 10.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you Jenny! That’s how I have to approach my days – I know that it’s a slog sometimes, but the days always end with the non-poopy parts, and I have to hold onto those.

Elaine 3 years ago

SO wish I had this list 9 years ago… 😉 All “about to be” mothers should read this one!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, Elaine!!

tracy@sellabitmum 3 years ago

All very very true my friend. xo

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, my friend. xoxo

Amanda Martin 3 years ago

I so needed this today, thank you! I think I ticked off all of these: guilt, anger, incompetence, resentfulness and joy and love and some of the others too. The thing that amazes me is how rage and love can coexist. I can be nutty-mad at my children for absolutely nothing just because I’ve had three hours’ sleep in a week and then the youngest (2) will come and pat me on the arm when I’m sobbing with guilt and frustration because I yelled, and everything is okay again. I’ll never know how kids and parents survive the first five years though!

    Alison 3 years ago

    The tumult of emotions we go through, just day to day, it’s amazing isn’t it? Children are so forgiving, fortunately.

Kim 3 years ago

I just adore this!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you, Kim!

Jenni P. 3 years ago

Oohh… Numbers 3, 4, and 5 fit me.perfectly! Incompetent, yes. My first and only baby thus far will turn 6 months old in a few days. When I was planning to return to work, I picked out breastpump. My insurance company would pay for the PISA but I had to choose whether I wanted the tote or the backpack. I stood at the store for at least 15 minutes like a drooling idiot and couldn’t decide. It’s not a life-altering decision. Same with sippy cups yesterday. I was trying to pick one out in the store and there are literally hundreds of styles. Again, not a life-altering decision. So, just as I was about to cry for an adult another mom came over and gave me some great advice. I can make major decisions okay, but smaller ones? Forget it.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Sometimes, it is the small things that kick us in the gut, because to us, it matters, it really matters. One day at a time, Jenni. One day at a time.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes 3 years ago

Yes, to everything. The guilt especially. Thank God there is the love.

    Alison 3 years ago

    I don’t think I’d survive without the love.

Callie 3 years ago

I struggle so much with the anger and resentment. Sadly, those are more than just occasional emotions for me.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Callie, know that you’re not alone. I hope you can reach out for help and support. You DON’T have to be alone!

Crystal 3 years ago

This is such a great post and so true. It’s been 22 years since I slept like a normal human being. No matter their age, they are always your babies. And always keep you on your toes!

    Alison 3 years ago

    22 years? Crystal, I was hoping to be able to sleep again in like, 5 years. Guess not. :)

Robin 3 years ago

This is absolutely perfect! Thank you!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you Robin!

Falon 3 years ago

So true! I think I feel all 10 of these every single day at some point in the day. But my kids love me nonetheless (for now). They have the rest of their lives to figure out how badly I messed them up.

    Alison 3 years ago

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t mess them up. :)

Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) 3 years ago


And you will wonder what the heck you ever did with your time before you had kids.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Hah! Very true, Leanne. I remember when I used to say I was ‘busy’. I did not know what busy meant, obviously.

      carrie 3 years ago

      What about when you used to think you were tired??? Hahahahaha

        Kate 3 years ago

        Hahahaha, yeah. Being a zombie for the entire first year pretty much cleared up that misunderstanding for me.

        Alison 3 years ago

        OMG, I know, right?? Clueless.

Shannon 3 years ago

Aaagggggghhhh. . .that guilt! Thank you. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who feels guilty all the time.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Shannon, you’re in no way alone with the guilt. It’s all of us. ALL. OF. Us.

rutimizrachi 3 years ago

This is really wonderful! My “baby” is 18… so I could add a ton of stuff. But I’d rather wait and see how you write it in a few short years. (Yeah — I know it’s more than a decade. But it is amazing how fast it goes. And how wise you get.)

Keep writing. You are a pleasure to read.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you so much!
    I definitely will add on to the list – I know there is so much more out there. Sort of scared but excited. :)

ilikebeerandbabies.com 3 years ago

Good lord, the guilt!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Like, can we take a break from that already? right?

Maura 3 years ago

I still struggle with # 6 & 7, but generally agree with most of this, especially #1.

    Lauren 3 years ago

    Me too..I’ve learned to force it. Eventually, it will come naturally. I started doing it when I realized my kids were miserable too. It was a horrible day..everything was going wrong. Not just the day, but my entire life. So..I turned on some music..and we danced. We just danced and danced. For the first time, in a lonnng time, I fell in love with my kids. The joy in their eyes..the pure happiness. Even though it was just for a moment, I felt joy. And I was so appreciative for that and for them

    Alison 3 years ago

    Maura, it’s not everyday that we find joy and appreciation – mothering is HARD. I hope you do though, by looking at all the small moments, by looking at the children who you love deeply.

Kristina 3 years ago

I can honestly say I have NEVER been resentful towards my child (15mths) at any time. There was a scene on HIMYM a few weeks ago where Lily was saying that sometimes she just wants to run away. I cant understand that. Maybe its because I had to work so hard to get pregnant in the first place. I dont know. But definitely I have a ton of resentment towards the hubby, mostly for not helping me around the house more or for not making enough money so I could stay home. But never once towards my son have I ever been resentful. Now guilt thats definitely another story…. guilt is the absolute worst part of parenthood. I cannot seem to escape it. I feel guilty over every choice we make. It causes me tons of anxiety and now I have panic attacks. So yeah… guilt is not my friend.

    Jessica 3 years ago

    That sounds normal….just wait until your little sweet pea is 15!!!

    Alison 3 years ago

    Guilt is a heavy one for all of us. I hope you find a way to get around it – motherhood is hard enough!

    I’ve never been resentful towards my children – just my situation where I feel like I’m doing all the things and I don’t get time off etc. Never towards my kids.

Angela 3 years ago

The anger… I was already a short fuse, and then having a child, then getting pregnant 9 months later… and now pregnant with no. 3 when the first two are under 4 years old… I have found that when I feel like i’m getting snappish I’ll stop and just yell. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH kind of thing. The kids think it’s hilarious and they’ll join in, and then all three of us are in the middle of the living room yelling, and then all the frustration turns to hilarity, because it’s so ridiculous.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Humor is a great diffuser! Good luck with #3, Angela!

Observacious 3 years ago

This list is absolutely perfect.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you!

Southern Angel 3 years ago

My baby is now 13, my oldest has his own baby now and I still feel incompetent and guilty. Guilty that my oldest made a baby with a girl who was toxic to him and herself and this baby was the best thing about the whole relationship. Guilty because I had hoped to scare him away from sex without marriage and being tied to someone you can’t love. But the baby, is the one thing that saved my son’s life. When we lost my mom and his world seemed to just be falling in this child came when my son needed to be loved unconditionally, smiled at because he entered a room , and feel as if one thing in his life, though under less than ideal circumstances, has meant something. Guess what as a grandma none of the above goes away either.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. This mothering thing, it’s not for the weak, is it?

Theresa 3 years ago

Great list, I can relate to pretty much all of it. The resentful part is the hardest. The anger you might feel and the inability to show it for fear of appearing unmotherly and ungrateful for you family.

    Alison 3 years ago

    Thanks Theresa.
    Yes, the anger. So many don’t talk about it for fear of being judged. And it gets repressed. Which means it gets worse. Sigh.

Kristen Mae 3 years ago

Yep. It’s all true. The weirdest part is the ‘incompetent’ feeling that coexists with the ‘wise’ feeling. It seems like they should be mutually exclusive, doesn’t it?


    Alison 3 years ago

    It’s like living two lives in parallel – some days, I think I am so rocking this, the next, I’m feeling like an utter muppet. :)


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