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Dear Exhausted Mom of Littles… (what I wish I could go back & tell my 23-year-old self)

Dear Exhausted Mom of Littles...

In January, we celebrated my oldest daughter’s 10-year-old birthday and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned in the last 10 years. I’ve also been contemplating what I wished I could go back and tell my then 23-year-old self.

There’s so much I could say. So much I’ve learned. So much I wish I’d done differently.

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Before my first daughter was born, I went into motherhood thinking I knew a lot about parenting and caring for babies. In truth, I did have a lot more experience than many people: I’m the second of 7 children, I spent many hours and days while a teen babysitting for a number of large families of little children, and after my husband and I got married, I worked as a mother’s helper/nanny for three different families — all who had young children.

I had changed countless dirty diapers and soothed many a crying baby and child. I had helped potty-train. I had cared for sick kids. I had cleaned up throw up. I been spilled on, wet on, and spit-up on.

So I thought I was pretty well prepared and realistic. I didn’t expect motherhood be a walk in the park and fully expected that many days would be tiring and hard.

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But the day Kathrynne was born and we brought her home from the birth center, all that former confidence grew legs and walked right out of my life.

I felt so scared. What if I don’t feed her enough? What if I don’t lay her down in bed right? How do I know if something’s wrong?

I felt alone — especially since I didn’t know any other young moms in our area. Am I the only one who feels this way? Do all the other moms know instinctively what to do?

And I felt overwhelmed. Am I ever going to get in a shower again before noon? Will I always feel this tired and worn done? HOW ON EARTH DO PEOPLE HAVE TWO KIDS??

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If you’re a young mom right now, I want to tell you what I wished I could go back and tell myself when I was a brand-new mom:

1. You are not alone.

No matter how incompetent or unskilled you feel for this motherhood thing, I can promise, promise you that you are not alone. There are an army of other moms in the trenches with you. And none of us have it together.

Some of us may hide our struggles out of fear. Some of us may be more skilled in certain areas. Some of us may naturally have more energy or capacity.

But none of us have all our ducks in a neat and alphabetized row. We all have areas we fall short in. We all have times when we feel like we’re not doing a good enough job. We all have times when we struggle with “mom guilt”.

So, instead of trying to hide your struggles, be honest with those closest to you. Vulnerability breeds strong friendships like just about nothing else will.

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2. You’ve got what it takes.

I know it doesn’t feel like you’ve got what it takes. You feel scared and unqualified. You’re overwhelmed.

Your heart is walking outside your body. You worry that you’re not doing enough. You wonder if you’re seriously messing up your child.

But I’m here to tell you: you’ve got what it takes. You can do this.

You were uniquely gifted and equipped by God to be your child’s mother. God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies those whom He calls.

Cry out to Him for the strength, the grace, the patience, and the energy to carry out this calling He’s given you. He will never, never, never leave you or forsake you. And His grace is always sufficient.

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3. You won’t be this tired forever.

You’re tired of your child crying. You’re tired of waking over and over again in the night. You’re tired of doing the same things again and again.

You feel flabby and lethargic. You look in the mirror and barely recognize the woman staring back at you. You wonder if you’re ever going to be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. You wonder where all your energy went.

Trust me on this: you won’t be this tired for ever. Even though it feels like you’ll be waking up every two hours for the rest of your life and propping open your eyeballs with toothpicks to make it through the day, it won’t always be like this.

So don’t stress over tomorrow or two years from now. Get as much sleep as you, accept any offers of help, do whatever it takes to get some shut-eye. And just power through, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel — and it’s called kids who sleep through the night!

Also, please know that just because your 12-month-old doesn’t sleep through the night yet even though you’ve read all the books and tried all the tactics, you’re not a bad mom. You just have a child who struggles to sleep.

Don’t beat yourself up over it. Do the best you can, keep experimenting, and know that someday soon, your child is going to figure it out.

For now, just do what you need to do to make it through — even if not everyone thinks it’s the “right” thing. You are your child’s mother. Trust your gut.

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4. You don’t have to do it perfectly.

Really, you don’t. Just stop trying already.

I know you feel like you don’t measure up to Sallie Sue who arrives early to church every Sunday morning looking like a model with her three kids under 4 all in hand-smocked outfits and intricate braids in their hair. I get it.

Maybe that’s what gives Sallie Sue great joy and fulfillment, but take a deep breath and know that it’s completely okay to walk to the beat of a different drum. You’re not Sallie Sue. You’re YOU. Be you — and embrace what’s best for you and your family.

You don’t need to apologize for it or explain it. Just be you, bravely.

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5. You are going to work yourself out of a job.

Right now, it’s completely impossible for you to imagine not changing diapers, wiping bottoms, taking little people potty, not constantly hearing “Moooommmmy!”, not having to cut everyone’s food up, not having to buckle everyone in when you get into the car, not having to give baths, get everyone dressed, and help little people brush their teeth.

But there will come a day — and it will be sooner than you believe it will be — when you start working yourself out of a job. When those little people get a little bit bigger and they start learning how to do things for themselves.

It’s a S-L-O-W process, but looking back, it seems to happen in the blink of an eye. And all of a sudden you wake up one day and your oldest is 10 years old and she’s taking over the family’s laundry, helping with the cooking, cleaning bathrooms, and asking what else she can do to help you.

That day is coming. When it does, all these years of doing what seems like the same thing over and over again will pay off… and you’ll realize that those little people are turning into capable adults who are contributing to the family in significant ways.

In ten years from now, you’re going to look back a deeply fulfilling and happy feeling knowing that all that hard work, sleepless nights, and exhaustion was worth it.

So, as much as you might want to some days, don’t give up! The best is yet to come!

This post was inspired by my friend Beth’s post: Dear Mom in the Tunnel

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102 Comments

  • Elizabeth says:

    When our son-in-law often laments that they wish they had done a better job with the first one…I remind him that by the time we learn our job, we are out of a job!! And hubby and I are first children…and in some ways, first children usually are more independent and somehow survive the mistakes their parents made. I think if we are honest, we all have regrets for not doing some things better, more reasonable, more patiently, etc. But if we try our best and we do all we can to love our children well…somehow GOD covers the mistakes and all is well.

  • Tasia Boland says:

    I love this. I have a 2 and 4 year old and although it is getting easier than the newborn stage the days are routine and the demands are constant. Thank you for reminding us that this stage really will end and how important our actions with them now will shape who they become! Great encouragement for all us Mommas out there!

  • This is really beautiful, honest, and kind . . . but it makes me sad. My little ones are two and four, and the third one will be here in a couple of months. All I want is to be able to enjoy this limited time with them, but work is so stressful. It follows me home and taints my time with them – making me more tired, less patient, and often quite preoccupied. I’m trying to build a better life for my family, but it doesn’t happen overnight, even though they seem to be growing at an alarming rate. If nothing else, I will try to remember to just be present with them instead of worrying about doing everything perfectly.

    • Can I just encourage you? Just do the best you can do and don’t stress over what you can’t do. I love your heart. {Hugs!}

    • MichelleN says:

      Harmony, I know it is hard but you have the right idea. Leave work at work. Be in the moment AT the moment. Hang in there and breathe deep, Mama. You’ve got this. We all do. We just don’t realize it until much, much later. 🙂

        • Lois says:

          I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this post. Wanted to cry because I often felt like such a failure thanks to that darn “Sally Sue”! Then I laugh because, you now have a 10 yr old! We moved back to my home state of FL from TX chasing jobs with 3 kids. After a few years, we moved back to TX. With 1 kid! My oldest daughter moved in with her boyfriend because she didn’t want to move back to Tx and my son joined the Army. A year later, I went back to FL so she and her husband could hand me my first grand-child! Not long after that I took a job that I had to cross a ferry to get to. Thirty/forty five minute commute for a 13 mile drive. I loved being able to read or write letters while I was riding. One day though, I got to thinking about when my kids were small and I just bawled all the way home, wishing I could turn back the clock! I’m now living with my youngest (single mom) daughter and her 3 kids because it was just so much easier to join forces so I could babysit while she works. I’ve been raising her youngest since he was born (turned 5 yesterday) and this summer that oldest grand will be handing over his first born – my first GREAT GRAND, who is just over a month old right now! I’m 65 and since losing my kids’ dad 20 years ago, all three have been telling me for years what a great influence I was in their own lives, how my family values and living through hard-ships have helped them with theirs. I look over my shoulder to see who they’re talking about sometimes, but it’s so nice to hear whether I believe them or not. They are all great kids and great parents to their own kids so maybe it’s a little true? DON’T BLINK! Enjoy your time with your kids every minute you can! That time is gone before you know it and you can’t get it back. Just BE and as we said in the ’60’s “Don’t sweat the small stuff”! You DO have this! And besides, you all have the internet and BLOGS. I never did! LOL!

  • Alexis says:

    Thank you, thank you! As a mom of a 21 month old and a 5 week old this is exactly the encouragement I needed tonight.

  • Beautiful, encouraging post. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to see your point #5 – my eldest (4 years old) is now potty trained, can dress himself, set the table, empty the dishwasher, and buckle his own carseat! It’s made such a big difference in making things manageable.
    With three boys (4, 2.5, and 3 months old) it’s still exhausting. But praise God for His sufficient strength even in my weakness!

    • Way to go, mom! You are doing an amazing job. And in a few more years, you’re going to have some incredible helpers in your home. Keep on, keepin’ on!

    • Sarah j says:

      I have 3 boys at the exact same ages! They are completely exhausting and so much fun.
      I feel ya on the oldest having responsibilities. His chores include feeding the dog and emptying the silverware from the dishwasher. Such a help!
      Just wanted to encourage you as someone in your exact same trench! 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you! I have 5 littles between 7 years and 1 month old, and I’m a full time student on top of it! My newborn is rocking in her swing right now and I’m trying to squeeze in some of my assignments before she wakes up. This was just the encouragement I needed today! 🙂

  • Sally says:

    This is the absolute best encouragement I have yet to hear for this struggle. I couldn’t have said it better. My eldest just turned 10 last week and I was thinking very similar thoughts. Thank you for writing my heart.

  • Jen says:

    Thank you for listening to God prompting you to write this tonight. It as an especially challenging day with a whiny two year old and 9 week old twins who I assume are moving into a growth spurt based on their incessant nursing/crying pattern. I never made it out of my pajamas, no one’s hair got brushed and the laundry from Monday is STILL piled in the living room.

    • You have a 2-year-old *and* 9 week-old twins?? I’m pretty sure you get a pass on just about everything right now except keeping everyone fed and trying to get some sleep and maybe some laundry washed/dried. You’re my hero!

      Praying for sleep and strength for you tonight. {Hugs!}

    • Whitney says:

      You are defined as super mom just by having a 2 year old and twins! Hugs to you!! You’ve got this. It’s just a season we’re in (I have a 12 week old and five year old) and it won’t last forever….that’s my mantra. We are in it together and you aren’t alone!

      I would probably be the Sally Sue just by my appearance…Moms at my son’s preschool are always commenting on how cute and put together I always look. Well, guess what? I have to do that for me! It makes me feel good about myself. I suffered horrible postpartum depression with my first and had bad baby blues with my current, but not full on depression. I have to take those extra ten minutes in the morning to look presentable, even if I’m not going anywhere. Us “Sally Sues” may look like we have it all together, but we don’t, I assure you! Hugs to all.

  • Tami says:

    Thanks for your article. Very true, and as one who started parenthood in my mid 30s, I’m a wife and mom with young kids, but not a “young mom.” That poses some challenges and exhaustion is the norm, but the joy of motherhood is amazing and such a huge blessing. Thanks again for your article.

  • Beth Sheppard says:

    My oldest is 19 and boy did I do things differently when she was little. I was scared, overwhelmed and paranoid about everything! Then more babies came, four more . I still have a four year old here and man am I hanging on to her so tight because the daily grind is hard but the years fly by. I miss all those days and mom’s you are going to want them back. Hold them close and let all else go, just love well, everything else will work out. And Crystal you are amazing.

  • Ruth says:

    Boy did this come at the right time , I have a two year old very active n one due any day now. I was crying today wondering can I do this again . I wish I was able to get up and go. I need time to myself I’m tired cooking cleaning etc n pregnant at the same time. I cry out to Jesus often for strength patients n agape love for my family . I don’t want to be that mom who’s always tired and angry I lovey family I just need help.

    • Lisa Guyer says:

      Ruth, you will get thru this. Those last few weeks of pregnancy can play nasty tricks on your head. You are exhausted and overwhelmed and you can’t move, can’t sleep, you can’t breathe. Don’t let this stage make you feel like you won’t ever be able to go again. Go back and look thru pictures of your first baby’s birth and newborn stage. You will remember with fondness how great it is. I have 6 kids now but I have a picture of myself that was taken a few weeks after my first child was born. I’m sitting on the couch with my head in my hands exhausted. My husband is next to me playing with the happy baby. I was SO tired. But your second baby will be easier in many ways just bc you are a veteran mom now. Also, seek out people who are willing to help you. If someone offers help, don’t politely refuse them. Swiftly accept!! I know how tired and run down you feel but take heart…..you are a wonderful mother and you will be blessed as you continue to persevere.

  • Mandi says:

    I encourage any mom who is in this chapter of their life to seek out a moms group. I have been part of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group for 5 years now… makes a huge difference in my life.

  • Leah says:

    You guys look SO YOUNG in the first picture. 🙂 Beautiful post!

  • Ashley says:

    Nodding my head! Our oldest turned 10 in December. Whoa! When did that happen?

    We also have 8, 6, 4 and and a one year old, but would you believe that life is SO much easier now than it was with two littles?! Amazing!

  • Zan says:

    I am sitting here crying as I read this. I really needed this post tonight. As a mom of 3 littles, (4, 2, & 7 weeks) I struggle with everything you mentioned. Today was the first time in 4 days I remembered to comb my kids hair. Just tonight, I had to make a decision of not having to explain myself to others. I stay at home and hubby is gone all day and travels a lot. But God is good and never gives us more than we can handle! Thanks.

  • Amy says:

    Crystal, this is so what I needed to hear tonight! I have three little boys ages 4, 3, and 11 months and definitely feel like I am in the trenches! Your words were so encouraging! Thanks again!

  • Suzann says:

    Great post!

  • Brenda says:

    I have a 17 month old and a 5 month old so my days are exactly as you describe. I really needed to read this today. I do feel like I will be at this stage forever but I must remember that I won’t be.

  • Yvonne says:

    ‘Cry out to Him for the strength, the grace, the patience, and the energy to carry out this calling He’s given you.’ – Amen! What an encouraging post. Thank you.

  • Ada says:

    What an encouraging, needed read! My girls are 7, 5(birthday was yesterday!), and 3… And #4 due in August. Since New Years we’ve had the flu, respiratory viruses and ear infections (and they are never sick!). I’ve hit a new level of exhaustion, but my big girls are growing up so fast! I’m thankful for the helping heart I see in my oldest! The past few weeks I’ve been asking God how in the WORLD does he think I can handle another little bundle of joy. Motherhood reminds me daily of my dependence on Him!

  • Yes!!! The sleep part! Not only does my nearly 11-month old not sleep through the night, but the sleep deprivation makes me feel crazy on some days! The worst is that I feel less patient than I want to be. Since I work full-time, I put so much pressure on myself to maximize the moments at home with my littles…. But the sleep (or lack thereof) thing is take a toll on my patience and energy to do things like play on the floor. The mom guilt feels awful on some days.

  • Valerie says:

    I just loved this post. Exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you Crystal!

    God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies those whom He calls. This sums it up perfectly. Have a blessed day!

  • I woke up tired this morning from a tiring day yesterday so I want to thank you for encouraging us! I know this is a special time in my little ones lives and so I want to be all, but lately it has been so hard and I’m just so tired. But really, thank you for taking the time to turn around and encourage those of us who are behind you in the little stage!

  • heidi says:

    As a mom of nine, I have often been asked, “How do you do it??” Answer: One day at time, ALL by God’s grace. I also encourage young moms that “the littles” stage is the most physically demanding time. It was MUCH harder to have 3 under 5yr than when #9 was born and my oldest was 16. Kinda like transition in labor…really tough, but pretty short. And so worth it for the results at the end

  • chelsea says:

    I could have written this word for word, and my oldest is only 7. But the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly, as she is so capable of helping me with her three younger siblings in ways that I never dreamed possible.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this post. I am going through a “season” right now with my little girl and it is nice to know that others have gone before me. It is encouraging. I have been following you for years and never commented. Thanks so much for sharing all you do.
    Stephanie @ Managing a Home

  • Lisa Guyer says:

    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:11. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” God is a Good Shepherd and I take a lot of comfort In knowing that He knows that the mother sheep need extra care and tenderness when they have young kids. I believe He knows that motherhood is a trying task, but what better way to go thru your day than to know He is keeping an extra special watch over you and your needs. Praise God for that!

  • Nichole says:

    http://gospelcenteredmom.blogspot.com/2014/10/how-to-enjoy-every-moment-when-not.html?m=1

    Article I read while back ago.

    How to Enjoy Every Moment when not every moment is enjoyable.

    • Heather R says:

      Great article! It is so true we have to enjoy the moment/stage our kiddos are in now.

      Much to my husbands dismay I still snuggle with my soon to be 6 year old before bed. It is only for 5 minutes or so after we read our book. I know they day when she tells me she doesn’t want to snuggle any more is right around the corner. So, I will soak up these moments now!

      • Amy R says:

        I laughed at this! My oldest son is a strong, confident, talented 15 year old. However, I think it would break his heart if I didn’t stop in for a few minutes before I went to bed (He now stays up later than me :)) for a little snuggle time. Those moments are when I hear his heart. We talk about the girl he likes, the test he feels like he may have bombed, whatever is on his mind. He is now and always has been my buddy, and no matter what issues we’ve had to deal with during the day, that time is precious to us!!

  • Heather says:

    Thank you, Crystal, for this post. I will do my best to believe what you said. I have just one child, a very willful 22 month old girl, who still will not sleep through the night or cooperate with potty training…and I have quite a few people in my life telling me all the things I’m doing wrong or have done wrong to make her this way. I will bookmark this and re-read it again each day for encouragement and hope.

    • Heather R says:

      As my parent educator says, put your blinders on (think of the side blinders they use on horses). Focus on your kiddo and ignore the rest. You are the only one who truly knows your willful 22 month old.

      I have a soon to be 6 and a 29 month old. Both are willful, stubborn, defiant, whiny kiddos. But they are also kindhearted, sweet, entertaining, independent, empathetic, and great problem solvers. No one, not even my husband knows them they way I do. Yes, they can wear a mama out but they are a joy.

      Side note* My 29 month is still not sleeping through the night (there are a few but then she is up at 4:45). It usually is because of a growth spurt (physically or mentally). I haven’t started potty training the 29 month. I know she isn’t ready and she is to willful to push it. So, your not alone!

    • Sarah says:

      You are not alone! My now 20 month old stopped sleeping through the night at 13 months old and we cannot seem to fix it. I am exhausted and have resorted to sleeping on the floor of his room because I just can’t bring myself to drag myself out of bed over and over and over going into his room. His doctors/nurses at the peds office just keep telling me to let him cry…which I am not comfortable with because of his personality and how upset and broken hearted he sounds when he wakes up (we did let his older brother, now 4, cry it out because he was much more independent and did not cry the same way the little one does). Also, your little girl will potty train when she is ready. Don’t feel like you have to do it by a certain age. My 4 year old refused to even try to use the potty until well after he was 3. You are doing a great job. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Take it from someone who is in the same boat and spends too much time beating herself up about not being perfect. Enjoy your baby while she is still a baby.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the realistic, encouraging words that God led you to give to all those out there that needed to hear this, including me! I’m a mom of an almost 13-year-old daughter and nearly driving 15-year-old son. We moved 3 years ago out of a home that the kids had basically only ever known. Along with packing the house, I had to pack the memories, too. It was good to move, but hard to leave the memories of all their childhood. We visit our memories often and have alot of bittersweet moments recalling them both from parent and child perspectives.

    I’ve just started my own blog, and if you don’t mind, I might piggy back off your post.

    It’s really heartwarming to know there’s another firmly-rooted, outspoken, Christian mom putting herself out there and giving us all a little insight and perspective that much-needed.

    God bless you and your family!

  • Dee Wolters says:

    So true! Thanks for sharing! I am on the other side of the littles: my kids are 24, 22,19, 18 years. But I so remember the days when they were 6,4,1 and newborn. Those days were long- seemed like I would feed and clean up, then turn around and it was time to do it again, and again…There was never time to do anything I wanted to do.

    And now? I am just a few months away from becoming an “unemployed homeschool mom” as our youngest will graduate and move to college in August. The house is pretty quiet, clean and the refrigerator stays full longer. The children are spread around the world (literally) following their career and education paths.

    I am thankful for the hours I was able to spend with my kids when they lived at home and look forward to visits now.

    So, Mama of the littles: cherish the moments! Snuggle with them. Bake cookies and read stories with all of them cuddled on the sofa. Take them to the park. Love them well.

  • Thank you for taking the time to share this encouragement. When you haven’t slept a full night in a year, it can seem hard to believe that you will again! My youngest is 12 months now and just starting sleeping through the night a week or so ago. It took her longer than it did with my older two, and while I have learned not to stress over sleep, I was starting to feel pretty tired of being tired!

    I completely agree that vulnerability breeds strong relationships. I try to be consistently open with people about how hard things can be and areas I am struggling with. It’s a beautiful gift to have friends who understand and who can walk alongside you.

  • Ashley P says:

    Thanks for this. I’m 2 months away from delivering baby #2. Two boys in 2 years. What on earth was I thinking! (Actually, I wasn’t thinking anything. This baby was a total surprise!) It’s a tough season right now. I work days and hubby works nights. We hardly see each other. He gets maybe 5 hours of sleep a day because he’s home with our son. I don’t know how he’s going to manage to do that with a toddler AND a baby. But God knows. It will work itself out in time.

    I just have to keep reminding myself that we’re not in this alone. God is with us. And we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Even if it’s still a lot of work. 😉

  • Vanessa says:

    Thank you for this post, Crystal! Right now, home watching my 11-month-old, our first, sleep through a fever, I am scared that I won’t do this right…..but this post proved to be so comforting. God has equipped me for this task!

  • Cate R. says:

    Thank you for this. I sometimes wonder what I’ve gotten myself into with motherhood, and this season of super needy little people. I am sure I will be interrupted 384 times before I can finish writing this comment.

    As someone who was abused and neglected as a child, and spent a good chunk of life as a young lady doing drugs, being promiscuous, and and dreaming about doing something that the world deems important (not motherhood), I guess it should come as no surprise that what I’m doing now (full time mom and wannabe homeschooler) feels impossible sometimes. But for someone like you, who would appear to be more than prepared for the task at hand, to acknowledge how difficult this is… it’s validating. So thank you. And I will keep being authentic about my struggles even though it doesn’t always go over so well, as people seem to be offended for some reason by the idea that things aren’t always going pretty and perfect.

  • Kellie says:

    I wanted to say while I read this I teared up. I wanted to cry full blown let it all out cry but I can’t because I’m at work with cubicle neighbors all around me. I feel this article was directed towards me 100%. I had my first child at 23 years old and my second at 26 years old ( a 4 years old and a 10 month old). Not a single day goes by that I’m let feeling I could do better, I hope im not messing up my children, and is this going to be like this forever? I remember the days I didn’t have to battle two children to sleep, or do the daily fight of dressing the children which I’m very fortunate I share half the struggle with my husband. Every night in the shower my only true alone time to myself is when I talk to myself & pray, remind myself to enjoy this stage because it’s not going to last long. I have to remind myself before I know it time will fly by and they will be grown and I’ll be wishing these days of them calling me mommy and giving me snuggles back. I pray for my patience and remind myself to take everyday one step and a time that what I’m doing right now that at times it can be frausturating and exhausting but is all worth it. Thank you so much for posting this article, you may not of known you were talking me but you were and I appreciate the reassurance that I’m doing okay.

  • Kathleen says:

    THIS is exactly why we chose to have children when I was at 25, 30, and 36! I currently have an 11 yr, 6 yr and 9 month old infant and God blessed us with perspective! I am such a different Mom to my 9 month old than I was “back then” with all my 25 year old vim, vigor, and second-guessing. I suggest to ALL Momma’s who are debating having more babies in your late 30’s…do it because it’s way easier with this God-given thing called: experience and perspective!!!

  • MaryEllen says:

    First of all…wow, I’ve been reading your blog a long time! It feels like just yesterday I was looking at pictures of your kids when they were actually that little!
    Second, the working yourself out of job part…I’m just beginning to see that light at the end of the tunnel. It feels like my kids don’t do ANYTHING around here, but like you said, it all happens in the blink of an eye. We got in the car to leave the other day, and as I thought back over the morning I realized that while I showered and got ready my 7-year-old had 1. fixed breakfast and fed the other kids, 2.got the baby’s socks and shoes on her, 3. cleaned his room, and 4. Put in a load of laundry, realizing he was going to need a certain pair of jeans that evening that weren’t clean. I’d hardly say he doesn’t do anything! Somewhere along the way the kids DO learn what we’re teaching them. It just happens so slowly and subtly we don’t even realize what’s happening. (Thanks for the reminder, because when we don’t see massive results overnight it’s easy to think nothing’s happening!)

  • Marianne says:

    This is just the encouragement I needed today. Like you, I’ve worked with kids for a long time and as soon as I brought my firstborn home two weeks ago, the courage and confidence I had grew legs and walked out the door. Thanks for reminding me that we aren’t alone and that vulnerability breeds close friendship. I like to appear I have it all together. Being honest and open has certainly formed new and unlikely friendships that I am so thankful for. Thank you for writing this!

  • Diane says:

    My children are in their 20’s, but I can still relate to so much of what you wrote. I wish someone would have shared these words of wisdom with me when I was young mom. I’m so very grateful to God that my kids turned out to be awesome young adults in spite of my imperfections. I plan to make a copy of your post and give it to my daughter when she becomes a first-time mom.

  • Amy B says:

    Thank you for this post Crystal! I teared up a little, and this is just what I needed to hear this morning. I am mama to an almost three year old and an eight month old, and sometimes I can’t wait until I work myself out of a job, but I’m trying to treasure the time when they are little and think mama is the best 🙂

  • Heather c says:

    Thank you thank you crystal! I love your blog and still feel so lucky to have found it 5 years ago as a first time mommy. Your honesty and willingness to share about your family has helped me and I’m sure many others immensely! This is so true and even though I’m only half way to the ten year mark I still find myself looking back and thinking why did I stress myself out so much. :0) life just goes by in the blink of an eye with small children and as soon as they’re not babies anymore I’m sure I’m going to wish they were. Hugs and happy birthday to your beautiful daughter!

  • Erica says:

    Thanks for this – it really hit home. I have 4 little (and not so little) ones). 13 yrs, 11 yrs, 5 & 3. I thought I had it all figured out before #4 came, I was so sure of myself – an experienced mom who knew what to do when and how to do it. God must have been chuckling at my bravado when he sent our little “surprise”. I have never felt more like a rookie than with this kid! Cherubic cheeks, masses of ringlets, big brown eyes – and the worst temper of any of them! Strong willed, tantrums that could wake the dead, soooo stubborn. But when he’s happy he shines like the sun and melts your heart.

    We’re getting through it slowly, he’s just needs very special and specific guidance, and apparently he’s an angel at preschool – they told me they want a whole class like him.

    So I’d like to encourage those who feel like they aren’t supposed to have “new mom” moments because they’re not new moms. Every child has something to teach us – mine taught me humility!

  • Jessie says:

    Thank you Crystal for this post. It really hit home for me. I’m 6 months pregnant with my first child. It was not a planned pregnancy nor did I have the desire to become a mom yet…honestly, it was because of fear that I can’t handle all the work and sleep deprivation that comes with it! I feel like I have no energy as is, let alone with a newborn! I know it will be a lot of work but I’m sure it will be worth it. I’ve come to accept my baby but I have to admit that it scares me a bit. Your post was encouraging because as you said, we are not alone and I won’t feel tired and overwhelmed forever. Thank you!!

  • Thank you so much for this post! Having two kids less than two years apart has made me more of a grumpy mom than I’d like to admit to. It’s wonderful to hear the reminder that this is truly just a season of motherhood. Thank you! 🙂

  • Love this Crystal! (Your kids have grown SO fast!)

    This morning I woke up to a very grouchy 18-month-old with a cold. I felt tired before evening getting out of bed. Two verses came to mind: “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” and “Do your work heartily, to the LORD.” They blend together so perfectly. Rest in the love of Jesus, and do what He has called you to for His glory, even if it means your shirt becomes a sad baby’s kleenex.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for not saying, “Enjoy this time, it goes by so quickly!” While it’s certainly true that the years fly by, this is not what the exhausted mom of a toddler needs to hear. It is simply not possible to enjoy every single moment with an infant or toddler. I think you really nailed it with this encouraging post, that it will all be worth it in the end.

  • ClareC. says:

    Love this post, Crystal! I’ve been reading your blog for many years now and this is why I appreciate you. You are such a wonderful cheerleader and encourager to your readers! I’m the mom of 3 high schoolers and 1 fourth grader and I couldn’t agree with you more. My favorite piece of advice to give new moms is to make parenting decisions from what your heart is leading you to do… along the same lines trust your gut, I guess. 🙂 Blessings to you and your family.

  • Heidi says:

    I definitely agree with this, except my oldest is 17 and I am still tired! I have 5 boys from 17 down to 7 and I am completely exhausted every single day. *yawn*

  • Kelly A. says:

    Beautiful…thanks.

  • Crystal, this is great encouragement of for moms of all littles as well as moms of littles and bigs, as is my case. I followed you over to moneysavingmom.com from your first blog. I remember praying for you when you first had Silas as you shared some of your struggles of having all littles, and thinking how similar our families looked then. It has been fun watching your family grow, as well as watching you grow in grace, humility, and boldness. A side note: I loved the pictures of your girls in the matching green, yellow, and blue flower shirts – my oldest two had the same shirts at about the same age. Great memories.

  • Jenni says:

    Amen and Amen! This is such a good post Crystal!

  • Carla says:

    I had such a fairy tale perception of what it would feel like to be a mom. That my only emotions would be those of pure joy and delight. One thing I wish I’d realized in the beginning is that there would be moments when I wouldn’t like being “mom.” And that’s ok. Those feelings are normal and don’t define me as a mom. It just means I need a break and some time to regroup. Because the truth is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Along the same lines, there’s been moments when I have felt angry with my child. I always love them, but at times I don’t like them and have to remind myself that this exasperating two year old REALLY is my sweet little boy. He’s just having a moment. And that moment will pass. I know, because my five year old has passed through some tough phases. But we survived and today he told me about ten times how much he loves me. So, when you think it’s rough and you’ve totally messed up at this mom thing- that’s not true. Those feelings of frustration are normal and the phase will pass and you’ll find you haven’t messed up so badly after all.

    • Kristin says:

      Thank you for this. You have no idea how much you just helped me with this comment. I really felt the guilt when i dont want to be mom. To know that this is ok and others face it to makes a world of difference in my life. So thank you for sharing this post. God bless you

  • Suzanne says:

    Crystal,

    How I adored this post! Such great wisdom plus it was so much fun to see the old pictures from your former blog — I remember them when they were freshly posted. 🙂

    What you say is so true. I remember being so tired, overwhelmed, worried when my two children were little with so much of the worry stemming from how hard I was on myself with regards to my mothering skills. Fast forward many years and it is a joy to see them with their own children. I actually miss them being little and I realize now that I did a great job raising them, even if it didn’t feel that way when I was in the middle of it all! I hope everyone reading your post today realizes that time is fleeting and before they know it those little ones will no longer be so little.

    I think support is key and if all these lovely mamas don’t find a good group of other moms to strengthen and encourage them, they should keep looking until they do! It’s so important to find that support but it can take awhile.

  • Brenda says:

    This is excellent and doesn’t just apply to young moms. I was 40 when I had my twins and felt all of these struggles! (Which means I’ll be 50 when I’m reflecting back like this–that’s hard to believe!)

  • Heather says:

    aw, I totally remember reading your blog when your kids actually were that big! Didn’t seem that long ago!
    Thanks for your encouragement. I have two toddlers and one on the way and feeling really, really NOT up to the challenge of adding the third right now. #3 and 5 especially were helpful right now.

  • I was blessed to grow up in a single parent household, and both a sister close to my age and one 14 years younger than I. This helped me get experience not only in helping my mom, but in realizing that being a mom is not an easy job. Not too longer after my baby sister was born, my other sister had her first child too. She was also a single mom for a while before she met her husband and had two more wonderful kids. Back when my sister was a single mom, I helped her a lot too being the older sister, and feeling responsible to help out. I have to admit, I loved helping her adjust to being a parent for the first time. We were both young (17 and 19) and were still growing up ourselves. I say that I was blessed for this (having her daughter honestly brought my sister to a place she needed to be, because the place she was heading at the time was not a good one – and she is one of the best moms I know), because it helped put a lot of things in perspective for me when I had my daughters. I was very lucky to be married for a year before we had our first child, and growing up how I did, I had a unique perspective on mom-hood. I had it easy compared to my mom and sister, I had a helper and I still have that helper, in my husband. Things were not easy, in fact my oldest was the hardest of the two, but I had strong help in my sister who was onto number two when I was just getting married myself. As hard as things can seem sometimes, I look at where I could be, and know that I am doing okay and the best I can.

  • Thank you! I NEEDED this! I have two littles and I’m glad to know there IS light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂 I also know I will actually miss these days one day. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for these words of encouragement! Got a little teary at the end 🙂

  • Heather says:

    I just turned 40 and pregnant with our third child. These words encouraged me as I am five years out from my last baby. Good reminder for even a “seasoned” mom, as I’m excited to welcome our little coconut soon.

  • Valerie says:

    Oh my! I’ve been reading your blog since ~2008, and this is my favorite post you have ever posted! I have a 7 month old, and it’s just so hard! Thank you so much for the encouragement! This particularly is the part that most spoke to me– recently I have just been feeling so tired and hopeless, that I will always be so tired, always be up every 2 hours, things will never get easier… (obviously I know that kids grow up, but it’s hard to see that through bleary, sleep deprived eyes!)

    “You’re tired of your child crying. You’re tired of waking over and over again in the night. You’re tired of doing the same things again and again.

    You feel flabby and lethargic. You look in the mirror and barely recognize the woman staring back at you. You wonder if you’re ever going to be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. You wonder where all your energy went.”

    Also… HOW DO PEOPLE EVER HAVE TWO CHILDREN??!

    Thanks again for sharing .

  • Yes! This post was SO good and I found myself nodding often as I read it. I especially loved how you said, “For now, just do what you need to do to make it through — even if not everyone thinks it’s the “right” thing. You are your child’s mother. Trust your gut.” As ladies, so often we feel pressure and guilt if we aren’t doing things like someone else and we often subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) put pressure on each other to do it “our” way too. It can feel overwhelming, especially if you are new mom.

    Our oldest is 6 and I’m finally starting to experience what you said about it getting easier. It’s been so encouraging!

    Oh, and I’ve been following you since almost the beginning of your blogging and it was fun to see those old pictures! I was surprised at how many of them I remembered. 🙂

  • Wow! What a truly inspiring post that I needed to read today!

    Four months ago I gave birth to a surprise child and boy did it rock my world! Never having dreamed of being a mother, it’s been a rough ride. But I’m so thankful that the Lord’s been with me through it all.

    I highly agree that experimenting is a huge part of mothering a newborn – I’d compare it to learning how to dance with a new partner!

    Thank you for encouraging us, Crystal!!

  • April says:

    “Just be you, bravely.” Love, love, love it!

  • Jill says:

    Great post! Though I’m not a young mom (at 38 and due w #5 in just a few weeks) soon to have 5 boys 5yrs and under is overwhelming at times. I definetly under schedule our lives bc nothing ever goes off without a hitch 😉 so fun watching you in this stage and knowing we’ll get there someday-not rushing time, but excited abt future indep. Of some tasks!

  • Kristina says:

    why didn’t I find your site before my daughter was born? I struggled for 2 years with so much anxiety and have learned so much from you!! You’re a blessing to us. Keep up the great work!

  • Amy says:

    So true. My third little one is 7 months old and the days are sometimes very hard. But as I see my oldest growing up and becoming more independent, I can see the light at the end of that long tunnel. It gets a little easier as they get a little older. But I want to snuggle and hold on to these little years while I can.

    Could you write a post like this about homeschooling, Crystal??? I’m at the beginning with my oldest. Me and my husband both went to public school and sometimes fear rises up within me that I can’t give him what he needs even though I know God has called our family to this.

    Thanks,
    Amy

    • Mothering4Him says:

      Homeschooling! (I didn’t see anyone respond to you, so I’ll try and be an encouragement!) First…Congratulations on your decision! There is SO much to say on this topic. When my first child started kindergarten, I had just given birth to my 4th child. It is hard! But what a joy! As a former public school and Christian school teacher, I can say first hand that I have nothing special up my sleeve. They didn’t give me magical teaching powers at college. And I will NEVER love your child like you and your husband (and God) can. So you don’t need to feel underprepared! If He’s called you to homeschool, HE will give you ALL you need to be successful! The best advice in a nutshell I think I can give you is this…KNOW why you are doing this (ie. calling from God), because you will have days of doubts. I do even as an experienced educator. (We can’t blame the 2nd grade teacher for this and the 7th grade teacher for that.) You will always find good and bad in ALL forms of education that will flip your thoughts back and forth. You need to be grounded in why you homeschool for those hard days! Then dig in and enjoy! (Your children are not missing anything of significance when you homeschool! There are numerous activities to involve them in for “socialization”.)

  • angie says:

    God is good! Today was one of those days that you feel miserable and that you want to give up but at the same time to feel the worse mom of the earth and then I read this post. Thank you so much for your obedience to the Lord because it worked, I now feel better and want to continue in Faith one day at the time. God bless you!

  • Cristy says:

    Great post! My daughter was born after 10 years of infertility. 17 months later, her twin brothers were born. Yes you can survive and it does get easier.

  • Alauna Williams says:

    Well said. From one mommy to you and all the other mommies… I salute you! Very beautiful family pictures. Our children are the ones who grade us on parenting and make us want to do, to give, and to love. I love my kids. It is hard. But only because I want them to look me in the eye when they grow up and tell me that I succeded in making their world matter in a special way and that they always felt loved. We learn and we grow. But you know now what you didn’t realize then. You always are mom. Everyday can still be special and can still include love and laughter and memories even when they are grown. It matters just as much now as it always did then.

  • Monique says:

    I’m 27 years old, I have 2 kids, my son is 3 and my daughter is 13 months. Lately for the past few weeks I’ve been over whelmed which is something that happens to me from time to time but I get past it and move forward and take it day by day. But lately it’s like a constant EVEYDAY battle. My hair has been falling out, I read it’s due to stress. And now that I read Ur article I think it actually is stress, at first I thought it was just me that it was just in my head but I am stressing more then the usually and Ur article made me realize that and your article made me also realize that I am going to be ok, not to carry the hole world in my shoulders (my husband says I tent to do that a lot) he try’s to help don’t get me wrong, but he doesn’t do it like mommy does so I tented just to do it my self :/ I know I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it…thank you. thank you for making me cry at 11 pm at night while I’m in bed and my kids are asleep. I hold my crying in, I don’t like crying in front of them so I try to wait until they are asleep but by that time I’m to exhausted to cry about what I wanted to cry about 5 hours ago lol. ( I cry when I’m overwhelmed) did I mention I’m a SAHM. Thank you for reminding me to turn to God and pray. Just a prat. Thank you for the honest truth. Thank you for your words. Thank you! Seriously from a mom that REALLY needed to hear this.

    Ps I wish I could hug you right now for writing this. It spoke to me in So many levels.

  • Pauline says:

    Such a beautiful article as always, and just wanted to add…you don’t work yourself out of the job! As the kids grow, so do their needs for attention still, and often, just a presence of you, close by. They alight in and out until they can fully soar, yet always they’re welcomed home, forever will be, not all my chicks out of the nest, yet nearing, and in no hurry am I.
    In addition, the work grows, you’re adding more family, in terms of boyfriends/girlfriends of your kids, future spouses, and grandchildren down the line, so the hard work of your littles’ today, is a steady preparation for work that is escalating. In the midst of raising the littles, is the reminder of how each day, one must play…it’s what I miss most having small ones around~each day stopping the work, to sit, pretend, belly laugh, etc.

  • Alicia says:

    Did you write this to me?!?! You’ve spoke straight to my heart. I needed to hear this…my days have been so long lately. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone! Thank you!!!!

  • Alicia says:

    Thank you for writing this and telling me exactly what I’ve been needing to hear!

  • Kellie says:

    I wanted to comment here because I really appreciate this post. Confession: several years ago, I think when I was pregnant with my 3rd (I now have 4), I was about to unfollow your page and blog. Not because of you, but because I just could not get over my own unfair comparisons. We have very different personalities, and I felt like I just could never measure up to the bed-making and the early morning makeovers and YARG it was all just too much! But then I saw part of a post when you were discussing routines, and you mentioned that it took you I think you said about 14 months postpartum (I’m unsure of the number, but I think it was around there) before you felt like you could really get back into the bulk of your previous routines. This really resonated with me. I realized that I had either been pregnant or nursing nonstop since having my first, since I always got pregnant at 14 months right around the time I was starting to wean (or at least nurse less often). No wonder I was a mess! LOL Now I am 14 months postpartum with my 4th and final child, and I am seeing the light at the end of this 7+ years long tunnel and how this all will start to fall together someday when I am sleeping again and the kids continue to gain independence. I have forgiven myself for feeling like I was failing when really I was just flailing, just trying to survive, like most moms do! 🙂 Thank you for these reminders, and for often pointing out that what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for everyone (and then still putting it out there for whoever it might work for)!

  • Megan says:

    I have this book-marked on my phone for days like today when I am exhausted and feel like everything I try to teach my kids is all for naught…that life is an endless cycle of laundry and potty training and food thrown on the floor and tantrums. I have a 31 month old, an almost 15 month old, and another one due to arrive in June. There are days I wouldn’t trade being home with my kids for anything in the world. And then there are days like today. Thank you for writing this article, so I can refer back to it on days like today–it gives me hope that I’m not alone in this.

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