An open letter to experienced moms

Life October 8, 2013

An open letter to experienced moms.

When we’re young, we see our future parental life through rose colored glasses and make statements like, “My child will never do that.”  We wrinkle our noses at kids in pajamas with wild hair and messy faces at the grocery store.  We sigh and roll our eyes at crying babies on airplanes.  We naively believe in the family portrait painted in our mind of how our family will look and behave someday.

An open letter to experienced moms.

And then one day, by some miracle or another, we become a parent.

An open letter to experienced moms.

Suddenly the rosy tint of our mind’s eye fades away and it becomes painfully clear that we had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  With spit-up in our hair and zombie eyes, we look in the mirror and mutter, “Crap, this is hard.”

But then, at some point, I’m not really sure when, we start to forget just how hard it was.  We forget the middle of the night feeding battles and what it felt like to stand in the middle of the grocery store with a screaming toddler, strangers staring.  We forget the sleepless nights lying in bed wondering just how much we screwed up our children that day, guilt pressing down like a blanket.

An open letter to experienced moms.

At some point, the glass begins to get foggy again, rosy even.  And we say things like “My child never did that.”

We start to only remember the happy moments, the mommy victories, the well-behaved children.  Amnesia sets in as the screaming, crying, tantrum, I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-and-drink-all-the-wine days fade into some kind of oblivion.  And we start to offer unsolicited advice based on our selective memory instead of the truth.

An open letter to experienced moms.

So here’s my plea to the moms who have been there.  Don’t forget.  Remember what it’s like to be in the trenches, and then join us there.  Join us not with rosy advice, but with a battle helmet and a hand to hold.  If we want advice, we will ask for it.

In the meantime, tell us we’re doing a good job.  Tell us you’ve been there too.  Tell us that no, we aren’t the worst mom in the world.  Offer to pitch in and carry the heavy load of mom guilt.  Listen.

This is too hard to do on our own.  We need you to remember what it’s really like and stand strong with us.

Someday we will carry on the torch.  But for today Experienced Moms, we need you.

 

What stage are you in?  Pre-parenting?  In the trenches?  Out of the trenches?  What color are your glasses?  Have you ever had an experienced mom give you unsolicited advice?  
 
 
 
 

All photos from Flickr Creative Commons: Photo 1Photo 2Photo 3Photo 4Photo 5

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  • Jody October 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I’m “in the trenches”, although it is much easier for me now since mine are 16 and 12. I get enough sleep, and I get to shower and use the bathroom all by myself these days!! My glasses are still clear. I still remember the dead tired way I felt because I never slept for more than two hours at a time for the first year and a half with both of my boys. I remember how hard it was to get groceries with a cranky, squirmy baby or toddler along. I remember that it seemed like I never got to eat HOT food, because either I was feeding a baby, cutting food up for a toddler, or there was some urgent situation that needed my attention as soon as it was time to eat. I remember how much I worried, too. “Am I doing this right? He feels hot, is it a fever? What should I do?” and on and on. I also know that I wouldn’t change anything about those precious years. I was there for my kids, I did my best. We got through every situation that came up. I try to encourage other mothers who I see need a little lift; but I don’t give advice unless I’m asked.

  • Laura K October 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    My kids are 12 and 8 and I’m here to tell rookie moms this: If you love your child…if you wake up every day and try to do the best you can in the moment, with the information you have, then you are a GREAT mom.

    Please, please remember that your best will look different every day. Forgive your perceived missteps and move on. Best intentions and best efforts are all that any mother can offer her children. Your kiddos will turn out just fine.

    If all else fails, remember what my grandmother (a mom of SEVEN) used to tell me all the time: “Parenting is a roll of the dice. The worst mothers can end up with amazing adult children and vice versa with wonderful mothers. Never, ever take too much credit or too much blame.”

    Hang in there, rookie moms. Love up those babies and give yourself a break. You’re doing just great.

  • Megan Scott October 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    You are an amazing mom and I should tell you that more. I am so proud of what you are doing and how hard you work at it! Your children are a direct result and it shows- Also, a great post.

  • Kate Byers October 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    With a 2.5 year old and a baby on the way (Feb), I find myself in a new trench everyday!

  • Angel Haynes October 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    First, I can’t believe you used the photos of my perfect kids being perfect without my permission. Sheesh, Alysa.

    Second, for reals. The trenches can be deep and then don’t necessarily end, they just change shapes, attitudes, and shoe sizes. I love my young mommy friends so much and want to do whatever I can to encourage. I’ve received a ton of unsolicited advice from people with kids and without…so awesome when that happens.

    Great post, Alysa. You were honest without being condescending towards older moms which can be just as frustrating to us old ladies. 😉

  • Andrea Worley October 9, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Welp, having just spent the night waking up multiple times with a baby and a 3 yr old who doesn’t sleep past 6 am… today I’m in the trenches 🙂 Thinking this to shall pass, but trying to keep my perspective and remember the good things! Thanks for this post and this truth 🙂

  • Leonor October 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Do we ever get out of the trenches? I have a 19, 7, and 6 year old. You are so right how people say that their kids never did ________ . My mom is one of those!

    • YASHAZ October 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      One day they leave home and the trench gets too quiet…but you can catch up on your sleep. Take lots of pictures.

  • Missa Merickel October 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

    We are all so vastly different in how we think and process things. To assume that someone who laughs a lot and thinks their kids are awesome has forgotten that things were hard, is not really accurate either. My son was in the NICU for a week, had surgery at 5 months, my daughter came home from the hospital, on a period, with mastitis (Yes…period and mastitis in a newborn) and GERD to top it all off!! Threw up all over me and everything else for 4 long months! Screaming… miserable.. I lost in the battle to exclusively breastfeed her at 7 months. My kids are 4 and 2 now, and full of sass and their own ideas…I rarely get a full nights’ sleep….I clean up lots of messes…. my laundry is never done…someone is always asking for snacks….so I guess I’m in the trenches. But it feels pretty rosy to be in the trenches because my kids have always been, and will always be AMAZING, and laugh out loud hilarious! They’re not perfect, but they’re perfect for my family. Experienced Moms give me lots of advice and it is ok with me. We all see things differently, but there is almost always value in another’s perspective. Would we want Mom’s only to share the difficulty, grime and duty of parenting? Would that make us all feel better? No. Do we need 1 or 2 people with whom we can share the tough stuff? Absolutely. But honestly, bring on the glasses!

    • InspiredRD October 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

      I think we are looking at this from two different angles. I wrote this thinking about those who walk around with their nose in the air similar to the way they might have been before they had kids. Many moms in my community have been approached by women like this recently who give advice that isn’t really advice (more like condemnation). You’re right, the trenches are joyfully rosy too.

  • Ashley @ The Gypsy Dietitian October 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Love this. As a 26 year old, still looking to the “one days” of having children and still being on the side of “my child will never do that,” I’m strangely happy to see that it’s okay if he/she “does.” The sheer thought of even hearing the word “mom” exclaimed at me still scares me to death, but this reminds me that perfection is only a word, and really, there’s no such thing. Through your writing, I can only imagine that you are an incredible mom, even in “the trenches.” It is obvious that you are not only your children’s hero but your husbands too, and that is amazing.

    My mom is currently the mother of not only me and my fellow twenty-something siblings, but also to my 15 year old little sister. I see my mom in the trenches often as she looks at me with an exhausted yet completely contempt smile, but I know the joy that she holds seeing her children happy is second to none. You moms are incredible.