If I had known…

115 Comments

mother-child

If I had known what sleep deprivation really felt like before I had kids…

If I had known the full measure of bodily fluids I’d have to clean up throughout my children’s childhoods…

If I had known how much the sound of “Mama? Mama? Mama?” could grate on my last nerve after hearing it for more than a decade…

If I had known that sometimes I’d take an extra long time on the toilet, just to have a few minutes to myself…

If I had known that those few stolen toilet moments would almost always be interrupted by tiny fists knocking on the door anyway…

If I had known how often I would have to repeat the same directions and corrections over and over and over and over…

If I had known that every “expert” remedy for whining, crying, moping, disobedience, disrespect, and laziness would be completely ineffectual half the time…

If I had known that loving your children doesn’t mean liking them all the time…

If I had known that I would sometimes cry in the shower because there was no other place to vent alone…

If I had known that I’d be so “touched out” by the end of some days that the thought of getting busy with my husband would repulse me…

If I had known that I would never be able to truly, fully concentrate on anything ever again…

If I had known that it doesn’t get easier as they get older, just hard in different ways…

If I had known I would feel terrified almost every day that I am failing at motherhood in some way…

If I had known how truly unrelenting parenting was going to be…

I would have had my children anyway.

Because if I hadn’t…

I wouldn’t know how miraculous it feels to have a human being grow from a tiny speck to an entire person inside your own body.

I wouldn’t know that the smell of a newborn’s head is the best evidence that there’s a heaven.

I wouldn’t know the magic of having a baby fall asleep in your arms and never wanting to put them down.

I wouldn’t know the unmatchable thrill of watching your child walk, use the potty, ride a bike, or read a whole book for the first time.

I wouldn’t know how the sound of your child’s laughter can lighten even the heaviest of days.

I wouldn’t know how an innocent, wide-eyed stare can melt you right through the floor.

I wouldn’t know how awesome it is to witness the daily, gradual unfolding of a person you helped bring into the world.

I wouldn’t know the pride of seeing your children navigate difficult situations using the tools and qualities you’ve helped instill in them.

I wouldn’t know how much pure, unbridled joy there could be in seeing your children triumph.

I wouldn’t know how much unexpected, humbling grace there could be in the constant struggle of trying to be a better parent.

I wouldn’t know how the act of parenting your own kids can help heal your own childhood hurts.

I wouldn’t know how losing myself in motherhood would result in finding a deeper, stronger, realer version of myself.

I wouldn’t know the warm, sweet fullness of being loved as only a mother can be loved.

I wouldn’t know the raw, fierce power of loving as only a mother can love.

And I wouldn’t know that the pain and pitfalls of the path are ultimately outweighed by beauty, joy, and wonder of the journey.

If I had known what motherhood really was like, I’d have done it all over again.

(I’d just have slept more when I had the chance.)

Comments

      • 3

        Michelle Padgett says

        Thanks for this. Sometimes I question myself. I take the extra time on the toilet and bawl in the shower ALL the time. My patience is thin some days and wonder if I am making the right decisions. It’s so hard but I wanted more than anything to be a mom and never thought it was going to happen for me. My daughter’s father didn’t feel the same and so I have gone through pregnancy and her entire 5 years as a single mom. It’s amazing to watch her grow and do new things every day! But I am scared I will ruin her cause I only get one shot to get this whole thing right! and there is only ME! WOW love this post. I think I’ll be printing it out and posting it to the fridge and by the bathroom mirror! THANKS!!

    • 6

      says

      I hear you. I wrote this on a day I needed to hear the ups, too. I honestly started asking myself the “If I had known” questions, and then decided to answer them to find the ups. It was quite cathartic. :)

  1. 11

    Amanda Martin says

    Ah, you see I read this and stop at the middle bit and think, I probably wouldn't have done it, if I'd known. Nothing has made me hate myself more than being a parent and feeling like I'm failing, every minute of every day. Sigh. Beautifuly written, though.

    • 13

      says

      Oh, Amanda. ((Hug)) I’m sorry you’re in a dark mommy place right now. Seriously, I think most of us feel like we’re failing at least a good portion of the time. Does it help to know that you’re not alone in this?

    • 14

      JustMe says

      I have five sons. I purposely had them 6, 5, 7, and then 2 years apart because I wanted adequate time with each and every one of them before starting school (the one who is 2 years apart was because I was getting older and wanted to try “one more time” for that girl. lol) At any rate, I suddenly found myself with two little girls, a 10-year-old and a 5-day-old. They are my nieces who were removed from their parents’ care, and we will now be adopting them.

      My sons are now 22, 17, 11, 3, and 1 – the one little girl who was 10 just turned 11, and then of course there is the newborn who is now 5 months old. Both kids have issues. The older girl has behavioral and social issues that are attributed to some type of high functioning autism, and the infant has jerking motions which may be seizures (she’s being evaluated still), and she is behind on her milestones a bit. The older niece causes a great deal of stress in our home, and a great deal of tension between my husband and I…a GREAT DEAL! It’s okay, though, because my husband is awesome…well mostly. lol He has loved me relentlessly for 24 years, and we will get through this.

      With that being said, I have experienced every bit of what was written, both the negative and the positive. By the end of the day, I just want to crawl in my bed and sleep, but I can’t. I have to clean up the day’s mess, I have to prepare the kids’ clothing for the next day, I have to change diapers and then get babies back to sleep, etc. I just told my husband I needed a “%#$%#! break, a real break, not just a few hours. I need one full night of sleep without a baby crying or any other interruptions…just one good break! I want one day where I’m not making one child happy, only to hear another screaming for something two minutes later…and this goes on and on, day in and day out! I am exhausted beyond belief. I do nothing for myself – my hair is shit, my nails are shit, my clothes are shit, and I’m lucky if they give me the time to take a shit! My showers are quick…hold on, baby screaming…brb!

      Anyway, I struggle to remember everything…appointments, paying bills on time, adding lunch money to my kids’ accounts, picking up stuff they keep reminding me they need, taking out something from the fridge for dinner, etc. When friends call me, it’s always a short call because they hear all the kids in the background screaming and don’t want to hear it. I actually have no friends face to face – just friends who call from time to time or say hello to me on Facebook. I have maybe 20 minutes of adult interaction with my husband each night. That’s the extent of my social life.

      I struggle with work and getting it done on time, or just getting it done period (I work from home as a medical transcriptionist). I struggle with everything! Nothing is easy…NOTHING! I can’t do anything at all without being interrupted…ever! ha! My 3-year-old is messing with me right now. He’s purposely turning the lights on and off in the dining room to get my attention…I swear this kid never sleeps!!! Good grief kid, “just go the fuck to sleep!!!” Love that book…

      Sometimes I cry in the shower because I feel like I am failing both of my nieces because I cannot “fix them” completely no matter how hard I try. I feel I am failing my own children because I am spending so much time with my nieces. I am so tired some days that I truly think to myself, “I cannot do this anymore.” I think of the story where the man went out for a loaf of bread and just never came back! I then put my big girl pants on and get to it! I get frustrated when things do not go right or as planned, I get anxiety when my house gets too messy, and I get overwhelmed when all of them are barking at my knees at once. I stress over little things, really flip out over big things, and most days I think I suck at being a parent.

      However, I then look at my 22-year-old who is a pharmacy student and doing great. I see my 17-year-old take initiative and do things on his own without me having to hound him, I see my 11-year-old come up to me and say, “is there something I can help with, mom…I know you are stressing and need some help.” I see my 3-year-old put together his blocks, colors, and ABCs puzzles with pride, I see my 1-year-old saying words and beginning to understand more, and I see my two beautiful nieces improving due to all of my hard work with them, I see them all smiling and playing, I hear their laughter that lifts my spirits, I feel them hugging me (all at once sometimes lol) and it washes away all the exhaustion and “fed-up’ness!” I see how much they need me to be strong for them, I see their beautiful eyes looking at me with love, and their sweet smiles reacting to me letting me know they are happy, and after reading this I think, HELL YES, I would do this over again in a heartbeat. I can assure you that the day will come too soon where I am weeping because all of my children are grown and gone…and I do not look forward to that day at all! It’s probably going to kill me, literally!

      I don’t know your personal situation, but if I can do what I do, surely you can, too. We are women. We were built to be tough, loving, nourishing, and all the other great attributes only a good mother can have. God intended it that way…we aren’t perfect, nooooo, not at all; but we are pretty bad ass and manage to get ‘er done. Good luck to you. I’m sure you didn’t really mean it…you’re a mom, and we all have really bad days that make us say things we don’t mean ;)

  2. 20

    says

    How old are your kiddos? Because… It does get easier. I promise. Yep, even in the teen years, it's tough. Mine are 17 and 13 and it's still hard… but as she said, it's hard in different ways. Each stage has its own challenges.

    If you CARE if you're failing… you're not failing. You'll make mistakes. We ALL make mistakes. Trust and believe me when I say, I have probably effed my kids up. Seriously. They're both seeing counselors. (I have PTSD. It HAS affected my kids. How could it not?) But they know that they are loved beyond all reason, and I do see glimmers of hope, that even as screwed up as things get, they are good kids and they will grow up and raise their own kids differently… And they'll make their own mistakes. Because that's what we all do.

    Take care of you, Mom. Do your best, and hold on to that. (hugs) you'll make it. Believe me, if my parents survived raising me… if I survive raising mine… you can do this.

  3. 24

    Sharon Jacksack says

    Spot on Annie. Of course you are fab! And I totally get the more sleep part.

    Wait Til the kids are driving – that’s a whole new level of worry.

    The day that your SECOND daughter gets a boy to ask for her number – it seems normal and expected when it’s the first, but the second came out of the blue like a thunderbolt.

    There are so many awesome moments coming in the teen years. Something for you to look forward to!

  4. 28

    Nichole says

    Thank you…I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed this today. I love my son more than anything and don’t regret a thing. I just all of a sudden feel like I don’t know who I am anymore and am trying to be a wife, mom, nurse and many more things..all while trying not to screw up my kid! I know sometimes I will do things wrong, and other times I will do things right. I’m hoping I do more right than wrong. Thanks again for this, it is beautiful!

  5. 31

    says

    It’s better that we don’t know before we become parents! There are plenty of words to describe the horror, but not words enough to describe the joy.

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