Dear Seasoned Mothers: Tell Me This Is All Normal

by Emily Holweger

Dear momma who is further down the parenting path:

I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at laughing off most of the parenting chaos. I can chuckle when the baby empties the dog’s water dish onto the floor for the second time. Or when the 4-year-old knocks on my bedroom door after being put to bed—again. Or when the second-grader decides he does indeed want me to make his lunch—five minutes before the bus arrives.

But there are times the laughter won’t come. There is the third time the dog dish is overturned, and I want to send it sailing across the room and watch it explode into a million tiny pieces against the wall. There is the

unrelenting arguing from a child who I know, I know, has been blessed with a God-given talent for litigation. There are the eye-rolls and sassy remarks and sibling rivalry and mess and bickering and chaos and loud everything.

There are stupid arguments over nonsense that lead two grown adults who love each other to want to put a pillow firmly over the other’s face, and hold it there perhaps a second too long.

There are long stretches of tedium, monotony and boredom that lead to discontentment and irritation—February in Indiana, for example.

Dear mother of older kids, please tell me this is normal. Please tell me you’ve been there, or rather here. Please let me know it gets easier or comes with softer edges. Reassure me that I’m not the only mom feeling

these feelings.

There are hours and days and weeks when I’m confident every woman/wife/mother is doing it better, easier, smarter. They have kids who listen and obey. They don’t argue over trivial things with their spouse. They don’t freak out and slam doors when they’re just so done with all of the noise. They don’t fret over the budget.

There are times I feel so wholly and completely inadequate, fed up and frustrated. Dear mom down the line, please remind me that your own kids didn’t listen all the time, that they didn’t obey. Tell me you’ve argued and bickered and wanted to run for an island—alone.

Tell me it gets better or easier. Actually, please tell me both. Encourage me, or humor me, if necessary.

Tell me your kids’ mug shots did not end up on the post office wall, and they’ve become productive members of society, or that lessons learned in the chaos led you to strengthened family and marriage. Again, both.

Because there are these other women, these other wives, these other mothers—social media tells me their houses are clean. Their laundry is done. Their fridge is stocked. Meals are prepped, and they’ve laid out a week’s worth of Pinterest-worthy outfits to wear for work or play. In these moments of depleted confidence, I envy these women. I dare say I dislike these women. Because I want to be these women.

Dear wise mother further along, please remind me these women don’t exist. They are unicorns—beautiful in theory and so real in our imaginations that we might often think we’ve actually spotted one. Remind me they are not real. Reassure me that I, like all women, possess some of the characteristics I so admire in these women. Encourage me to work on the traits I wish to possess.

For the mothers who are even newer to this mothering life than I am, please let me encourage you. If you are loving your babies and feeding them regularly and sending them to school and keeping them safe and tucking them in and guiding them emotionally and spiritually and helping with homework and kissing boo-boos and loving your spouse and doing your best, you are going to make it. At least to the point where your oldest child is 8 years old.

Beyond that, I’m still waiting on confirmation from the other mothers further along.