Honey, you’re fine.

August 29, 2014

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Every time I try to write something about anything, I always end up saying the same thing: having young kids is hard. I could try to write “The Very Best Enchilada Recipe Ever” and would still end up writing, “Enchiladas would be great if I was able to sit down and eat because having young kids is hard.”

Of course having older kids is probably hard too, but right now I’m choosing to believe having a child over ten years of age is a lot like having an older dog; lots of sleep and occasionally letting them out to play.

Please don’t ruin this for me.

It is so boring after a while, this constant complaining about parenting. I hear myself night after night, slumped over a pile of pillows, driveling on about how little I’ve accomplished. How I haven’t gotten my hair cut in two years. How there is never, ever any point in really cleaning the kitchen floor.

Sometimes I think: Could I be more cliche? Could I be more “dreary housewife?” The only thing separating me from Debra Barone is a floral bedspread and bad lipstick.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being tightly wound in motherhood. A lot of people read it and had suggestions for me. Everything from therapy and prayer to essential oils and diet pills. I do appreciate the suggestions, although I think most of us just want to be validated. Most of us just want someone else to agree that yes, this is hard and yes, it’s okay to lock yourself in the bathroom for three minutes to play flappy bird.

Yesterday I took my two young kids to be with friends, splash in a pond, and generally breathe in air that doesn’t smell like regurgitated peas. I try to do this pretty often, meet up with friends who also have young children. We all pack up our things and get in and out of our cars with bags of diapers, snacks, and water bottles and try to visit. Of course we never actually do. Or at least we never visit like we intend to do. Instead, we spend three hours chasing each other’s children, handing each other wipes, and repeating these three words: “Can you share?”

The kids ignore us until we try to have intelligent conversation or speak more than seven syllables.

A “conversation:”

Friend A: How is it going working part time?
Friend B: It is going pre–
Friend A: Guys, please stop pushing.
Friend C: I think Eva is eating a rock.
Friend B: Is this poop on my arm? This is definitely poop.

I leave exhausted, wondering why I ever leave the house with my kids at all. Then I sit on the couch and remember my friend Laura breastfeeding her sweet newborn and my friend Bethany play-chasing her daughter. I think about my friend Mo pressing her face up against her baby girl and then I start to weep. I cry real, happy tears because even though it is hard, at least it is hard right next to each other. Even though when I take my three-year-old to Target and he accidentally knocks over a table of notebooks and then runs like Batman into the next aisle, a retired grandmother of four will say, “It’s okay, I got it.”

Over and over I am reminded that despite the angry stares in restaurants when your baby is crying, there will always be another mom nodding and saying, “Honey, you’re fine.”

I’m not saying anything new. I don’t intend to. For the next ten, twenty, thirty-five years I will say it again and again so I never forget that while it is hard, it is okay because we are not alone. When you are standing in the middle of your bedroom with one sock, two pacifiers, four bedsheets but no idea why you came into the room in the first place: you are not alone. When you wipe up all the bananas off the kitchen floor only for your toddler to spill an entire cup of lemonade on the living room rug: you are not alone. When you try to make that baby latch but she just will not latch: you are definitely not alone.

When we say, “I can’t,” there is always someone else saying, “You can, because I am too.” You might not know them right away, but you will find them. You will see them on the playground, at the grocery store, hunched over in the back of their minivan trying to change two sets of poopy diapers. And even if you never speak, you can know there is at least one other person trying to make it to bedtime.

One other person trying to raise a human while staying a human. Another tired mama trying desperately not to be Debra Barone.

Strangely, it is always a comfort.

***

53 thoughts on “Honey, you’re fine.

  1. Jess Nail

    Love it. I can completely relate and I hate that I find myself complaining when I ultimately know how blessed I am. I certainly don’t have any advice to give because if I did, I would hope I would follow it myself. Just know that I am giving you mental knuckles in solidarity!

    Reply
  2. Kimberly

    My daughter got in a really bad accident on Tuesday and the local media aired it and people said some horrible things about me. But the love and support from my friends has been overwhelming. It’s very much, we’re in this together. And I wish we could feel that community more, not just during tragedy (my story has a happy ending, even with a very high hospital bill) but our daily life.

    Reply
  3. Mattie

    Let me know the next time you’re in lanc or lititz, Id be happy to give you a trim :) you’re doing a great job Kate, thanks for all the entertainment!

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I appreciate your candidness because it is so refreshing! I totally agree with it all and i just wish as moms we could scrap the rainbows and unicorns idea of motherhood and just tell it like it is. Thanks Kate!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      scrap rainbows and unicorns- brilliant title for another blog. We can ALL tell it like it is….we just gotta quit grasping the pearls in shock……

      Reply
  5. Lindsay M

    I love your blog. I’m 32 weeks pregnant with our first, and this pregnancy’s been super hard on my body (and how fast I’m getting my thesis done and how clean our house is and how often I’ve actually cooked dinner)… and sometimes I think “oh gosh, it’s just going to get harder when I have another human being that I have to consciously take care of instead of just take care of in-utero…” But, then people like you remind me that 1) yes, it’s hard, but 2) it’s worth it… and then I’m okay with the whole thing. Overwhelmed perhaps…but fine.

    Reply
  6. Caroliner

    Your post reflects a sense of community and validation that all moms (all parents) want to feel. To be understood. We are not asking to have a problem fixed, nay, we are asking to be acknowledged and perhaps understood that parenting is hard, but rewarding and there are days when we complain and it feels never ending but then there are days that are really kinda awesome. It’s a balance and validation is an important part of that. Thank you for this post.

    Reply
  7. Katie

    haha. yes to all this. One time after a friend-playdate I got in the car, my phone rang, and it was the friend I just left. She and I were like “DUDE-lets finish our conversation now?? cuz we totally had 55 half-conversations and never finished any of them”. It was wonderful.

    Reply
  8. Katherine

    Soo right there with you! I have a 18 month old a two year old and a four year old…. Life is HARD. It’s so mentally physically and emotionally exhausting. My two year old peed himself in homedepot the other day and I literally said to my husband “oh well, nothing I can do about it let’s finish getting our stuff!!” (All while 4 yo is whining and 18 month old is screeching at the top of her lungs), but you know what?- this life we are living is real, raw and BEAUTIFUL. We need more people to walk beside, to trudge through the trenches with. :)

    Reply
  9. Mary Plautz (@maryslastchance)

    One night after the kids went to bed I ran to Target for wipes and milk and on my way out I passed a woman changing her baby’s diaper in the back of her car. I came home and tried to tell Christian how much my heart went out to this woman, changing a dirty diaper in a Target parking lot at 9:00 pm, how much I wanted to give her a hug or a star sticker or say “you don’t know me, but we are the same person.”

    You are an amazing mother, and you do an amazing job of writing the feelings in every young mother’s heart. All of the applause to you.

    Reply
  10. Meagan Wolpert

    I just found your blog :) And this one post has me hooked:) Love seeing “real” posts of how parenting is. Yes it is the most wonderful thing in the world but it is also hard! Its nice hearing others that have the same struggles you are going through because sometimes you don’t hear it and you wonder if you are all alone.

    Reply
  11. Heather

    Also – having your children (all of them) out of diapers and able to keep pace (relatively) with you on a walk, etc., let alone possess the facilities to bargain with you, is transformative. A whole new life, really.

    Reply
  12. Jessica N

    Amen! It’s soooo incredibly hard and no one can understand that until they are actually living it. I just had my first 8 weeks ago and damn it’s hard. I call the day a success when I get to shower (and that makes me kinda depressed too). And just feel the worst when my baby starts crying in a restaurant or store. Like all eyes are on me. I’m with you- hoping that it gets easier! Because most days I’m an emotional wreck and want to give up, but then of course my baby smiles at me and I know it’s worth it.

    Reply
  13. girllikethesea

    Yep. Right there with you. Sometimes you can’t let the feeling blessed part sink in till all the kids are sleeping. Being a full time stay at home/homeschooling mom to a 5, 4, and 1 year old (all of whom are terrible sleepers) is some challenging stuff. But I’m glad I get to grow with them….something I can’t say about my own childhood with my parents.

    Reply
  14. Julie

    Hi there! I read this on the Huffington Post site and had to come over to comment. What a wonderful post which brings back so many memories! Parenting is SO hard and anyone who disputes that has not been here. You sound like an awesome mama…being present for your children but allowing yourself to vent and connect with other moms. You obviously realize how blessed you are; hope you also realize that you DO NOT have to be supermom or perfect all the time. I know you know this and do not need this advice, but as a mom who just sent my youngest (my baby!) to college I cannot stress enough to treasure every moment (I know, how cliche)….because the time goes faster than you will believe. I teared up reading about your babies because I can’t believe I am done with all that! :) Hang in there, it does get easier. And I will enthusiastically take on my new role as “that older mom” who warmly and sympathetically smiles at the sleep-deprived young moms in Target trying to control a toddler tantrum while her baby is spitting up! Blessings to your family.

    Reply
  15. stef

    again with the tears.

    you get me. or maybe you just say what we all know.

    conversations will happen in a few years. the side by side chasing of babies is strangely bonding because we are together in this. just hearing “yes, she does that too!” or “i feel the same way” is all we need sometimes.

    it’s okay not to clean the floor tonight. well, that’s what i tell myself.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I was JUST thinking about this stage this afternoon, because tomorrow night we’re headed to a BBQ and I was thinking about how the kids will be able to just disappear into the crowd and I know they’ll be running around with kids their own age (they’re 5 and 7) and I’ll see them run by every 20 min or so. And then I was remembering the playdates where, yes, you get out 7 words, if you’re lucky and it’s interrupted by intercepting a toddler or answering a ‘why’ question or helping a baby and literally conversation was impossible. And I thought “Wow that is OVER!”

    So the point of this isn’t to rub it in your face that I don’t have to do that, it’s not even to say ‘hold on, it’ll get better.’ I guess it’s to say “Yes, that stage totally sucks!!! I’m so glad to be out of it!” When I had kids that age nice ladies at church would say “I guess you have your hands full!” and I would think “Do I? Isn’t this just how it goes and I should be more on top of it?” and now I know: “No! Toddler plus Baby Equal CrazyTown and the fact that I got anything accomplished is astonishing.”

    Lastly: I remember a friend and I at that stage talking about how people would say ‘enjoy it’ and we wanted to remind each other later that, no, it sucked, and we would not be missing the toddler/baby combo and I DON’T. (Now this five plus age…that’s Sweetness but I’m kissin’ that other stuff Goodbye. It was a means to an end.)

    Reply
  17. Emily

    I needed this. I’m choosing to believe the season of motherhood I’m in is building my character, but helps knowing that others understand and are in that same space.

    Reply
  18. myselfishexistence

    This. Every single word. Please write a zillion more posts like this. Even half posts, because I’m sure if you are like me you got interrupted approximately seventeen trillion times while trying to compose a coherent thought. (And I just realized how much I like grandiose numbers tonight).

    Reply
  19. techgirl85

    Yes, to all of this. Thank you! I needed to hear this today. I have felt so alone lately (I have a 6th month old and I am living in an area without any friends right now) but this was just the reminder I needed that I am never truly alone and that there are other moms out there dealing with the same or similar issues. Thank you! Hugs!

    Reply
  20. Holly.

    I have literally been practically bawling my eyes out for days between my 2 year old sudden turn to the dark side, and my teething baby, and the other things going on in my life, and I actually have gotten put down for asking for help, some times, as a mom, we need someone to tell us it’s ok to freak out and feel like everything just sucks, and you are completely overwhelmed, sadly, most of the time, it just gets judgement

    Reply
  21. krystyl olson

    How moving .. this actually made me cry!!
    For the most part, the women in my life sympathize when I share a struggle I have with the kids (I feel very, very lucky that usually it’s a little frustration I have, or a pet peeve) talking about it makes me feel better, and unites us mothers and as women. HOWEVER I do know of women (I have a family member in fact) who always seems to Rebut with “Well, that’s because___” and commences to criticize my parenting … (without offering advise ) IF SOMEONE SHARES WITH YOU something that is bothering them, embrace it, and if you think you have advice that might help offer it (if it’s appropriate) DO not criticize. that person is choosing to open up to you …. it’s a vulnerable thing, to admit we are in fact, no super-moms. We are simply Moms. and thats enough.

    Reply
  22. kim (@thewannabeyogi)

    10-year-olds ARE amazing. Mine makes and delivers coffee to me in bed. But you may not have to wait that long — age 7-8 is when my breathing became less shallow.

    Reply
  23. Amy

    Thank you for this. After having a rough weekend with a teething baby, these words brought tears to my eyes knowing that others are going through the same season as I am.

    Reply
  24. liz

    yes. this! and it makes me wonder, organizing meetups with other new parents while our babies are relatively static, ie not crawling, that perhaps we should be building up a cache of paralinguistic cues or gestures that enable those conversations down the track? maybe we already are?! thanks for the validating post.

    Reply
  25. Nicki Hawes (@TandJeansNicki)

    This is EXACTLY why I come to your blog. You articulate what all young moms feel so well, and I crave that validation. Keep it up! I will always be back at the end of a long day when I’ve accomplished nothing but feel like I ran 5 marathons, and your funny, validating posts will be just what I need (plus that dark chocolate hidden in the freezer-how’d you know about that?).

    Reply
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  27. Lisa

    I love this post. As most of your posts. I just want to say this. For all the times you feel overwhelmed and stressed and like you’re not accomplishing anything: it’s not true. I’ve been reading your blog since I was pregnant with my daughter, for over 2 years, and I’ve cried so many tears of laughter and emotion. Your love for your two beautiful children exudes from your writing, through the tiredness and BFing issues and spilt lemonade. We’re all one in this, and we’re all doing a wonderful job. Thank you for all you do, and “being a caring mom” is accomplishing so much!

    Reply
  28. Sarah Kate

    It is true. It’s hard & there is no magic cure or any one thing that works for everyone. And, you are right, we are so not alone in this world. At times we tell ourselves we are because it can be too tiring to think beyond that mental space. Then I remind myself, “don’t beeline everything you think.”

    Reply
  29. jacquie

    There is so much I wanted to say about this post, but ultimately it’s boils down to: you are brilliant. Thank you for writing the exact words I’d want to (if I wasn’t so tired from mothering my desperately wanted, but completely exhausting newborn). Much love to you.

    Reply
  30. Megan

    Your blog is lovely and thoughtful and is making me cry! I found you when researching Montessori beds and sleep teaching a one year old, and while I lay here next to my baby who can’t nap without my presence, have thoroughly enjoyed finding your gems of inspiration and honesty. I’ve passed some of your great quote compilations onto my 21 year old stepdaughter who is at the beginning of it all and needing the same inspiration that we are still seeking and offering at mid-life. Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Cheryl

    Great post!! I remember the dark days like they were yesterday. I have 3 including one with a disability called Angelman Syndrome. I often wonder how I survived. I promise it gets easier. It even gets pretty amazing. Just got back from a trip to London with my 14 yr old daughter. It was perfect, hiccups and all.

    Reply
  32. Sandy

    I wish I could make a friend group in person and let everyone vent and have the kids in another room or out back. Have you ever seen the “baby i’m sorry” blog. Could make you laugh.

    Reply
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  34. Dara

    I’m trying to take comfort in this. Been hard as of late because my 5 y/o has been bad at school and home and I never go to play dates because of the stress of it. At the place now where I have to decide: cancel my youngest son’s physical therapy in order to afford psychologist appointments with the oldest. Hard not to feel like I’m not alone but sometimes I just wish I knew what it was like to have children without the need for therapists to help them grow.

    Ok sorry for the woe is me moment. Just one of those days…thanks for posting this :)

    Reply

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