New Mom Guilt: Why You’re Not Failing as a Mother

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from women saying they feel overwhelmed by motherhood. Not in a dangerous way, just in an “I totally suck and I don’t know how I’m supposed to manage all this” kind of way.

To this I say, you’re not supposed to.

If you think about it, if you had a baby thousands, if not hundreds of years ago, you would have had your mother, all your sisters (all of whom were probably lactating), and your nieces all taking care of your baby. They would help with food preparation, show you how to manage, and make sure your baby wasn’t eaten by a bear. Your kid’s feet probably wouldn’t have touched the ground until they themselves would be able to carry around an infant.

Back then the point of a child was to have free labor in the fields and someone to take care of your old ass down the road, and not much more.

As for the past generations that like to tell you that they raised six kids on their own and did it without a washing machine? Well, sort of. Keep in mind child rearing was viewed pretty differently not that long ago and you could stick a toddler on the front lawn with just the dog watching and nobody would bat an eye at it – I used to walk to the store in my bare feet to buy my father’s cigarettes when I was a kid. As a mother, you cooked, you cleaned, but nobody expected you to do anything much more than keep your kids fed and tidy.

The Good Old Days.

My grandmother used to tell the story about how she forgot my mother at the grocery store in the early 40s. She walked up to the store with my mother sleeping in her carriage, parked it outside with all the other sleeping babies (I’ll let that sink in), went inside to do her shopping, then walked home forgetting that she’d taken the baby with her. She quickly realized her mistake and walked back and retrieved my mother who was still sleeping outside the store.

There were no flashcards, there was no sign language (unless you were deaf), there were no organic, free-range bento boxes – your job was to just see a kid through to adulthood and hope they didn’t become an idiot.

Hey, I’m not judging, and I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but I’m just saying that we are part of a generation that considers parenting as a skill. Like a true skill that needs to be mastered and perfected and if we don’t get it right, we think our kids suffer for it and that’s hard shit to keep up with. That’s not to say other generations didn’t have it tough or think parenting was important, but there just wasn’t the same level of scrutiny that could be liked, tweeted or instagramed all at once.

You are in the trenches when you have a baby.

To the untrained eye it seems pretty straightforward and easy – you feed them, you bathe them, you pick them up when they cry – but it’s more than that. It’s perpetual motion with a generous layer of guilt and self-doubt spread on top, and that takes its toll.

Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure, is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster – it’s fucking hard.

We live in a time when we can google everything, share ideas, and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both) so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Basics and Gravy.

Your job is to provide your child with food, shelter, encouragement and love, and that doesn’t have to be solely provided by you either – feel free to outsource because they didn’t just pull that “it takes a village” proverb out of the air.

Mommy and Me classes, homemade lactation cookies, and learning Cantonese is all gravy, and if you can throw them in the mix once in a while, good on ya, Lady.  I have about 9,000 things I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I think I’ve done four of them which is fine by me because those are above and beyond goodies, and not part of my just-scraping-by norm.

It’s an amazing and exciting time to have a baby right now, but always keep in mind, no one has ever done it like this before – you are pioneers that have to machete through the new terrain. Chin up. Hang in there. And remember, you’re doing a great job.

Related: How Babies are Just Like Cake

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  • You’re absolutely right. You wouldn’t be able to get away with half of the things people did only a generation ago. Leaving your child at the store would land you in hot water today.

  • AMEN. Thank you so much for this. The phrase " knitting on a rollercoaster" will be staying with me for a long time, I think.

  • I m sixty now but I clearly remember the boredom, the isolation the constant mess around me as I so caled raised’ three kids three and under., giving myself a hard time about everything and trying to be perfect…. here’s my advice unasked for… do . anything you can to enjoy yourself and to make it easier on yourself.. you should do whatever you enjoy….. it is no picnic..

  • This is wonderful. And I’m relieved that there are other women out there that feel this way.

    But let’s look at it with a different perspective. Any sanctimommy who feels you’re not doing enough, doing it right, or screwing it all up can completely ruin your life with one call to CPS. Warranted or not, and more and more often these days, completely unwarranted.

    Because women are people and people are jerks.

  • Great post. Yes, grocery stores "back then" only had groceries, not miles of lawn, house hold, clothes, candles, movies, toys, etc. etc. to make going to the grocery take forever to walk through and say "no" to 10 things the kids want. And, like you said, moms were the ones who were talking care of the kids and not much more…not expected to work, exercise, know the latest greatest fad meal, take 3 year olds to practice because they won’t get to play if they aren’t amazing by 7 years old, etc., etc. Life is exhausting, never much actual fun, because I’m always trying to just "keep up". We need a movement to reverse life, back to basics, stop the non-stop motion of life!

  • I really really needed this. I have a 4 month old. I feel like if I’m not constantly entertaining him or showing him new things, I’m not doing things right and he won’t be as smart as his peers. The anxiety that that causes! I was just talking to my mom the other day about this and she said "God gave Maddox to you… To your personality. No one expects you to be different just because you’re a mother now. You’re probably wearing him out with all that stuff you’re trying to do." Amen to that…

  • Omg it is fucking hard. I feel like such a failure all the time. Like I need 20 more hours in every day and to learn to live without sleep in order to work and take care of home and be the mom the rest of the world already is. So much pressure it’s crazy. And I almost hate talking to other moms because of the judgmental look of shame they give you. God forbid you admit you were too tired to cook so you fed the kid fast food. You might as well say you fed them poison.

  • I let my child lick the floor while I was at my older son’s music program. The other moms thought I was nuts. I thought "Hey. He’s happy. His shots are up to date. I can actually enjoy the show!"

  • Thank you, thank you for this post. I’m a first time Mama flubbing my way through with a 7 week old in a haze of sleep deprivation and wondering if I’m looking after him right. I’ve been down with maternal guilt because I’m unable to breastfeed my baby and it’s only made worse in an age where everyone tsk tsk’s at mothers who formula feed. Less judgement, more support for each other I think.

    • I could not breastfeed either. My daughter didn’t want to be “restricted” like that, i.e. She didn’t want to be held that close for that long, and when I finally made the switch to formula both our lives were so much better! It’s NOT the end of the world! My daughter is now a VERY healthy nearly 3 year old. She survived and thrived. Good luck mama.

    • Hey don’t worry about it not every mother can breastfeed. It’s hard my little one is 5months old now. She never sleeps unless I hold her. She never really has since birth. It’s exhausting. But it gets easier. There are upsides to not breast feeding like it doesn’t take you 45 mins to feed. Some days I swear all i Do is feed her. So nothing gets done but just do the best you can and seek help. It’s necessary. My husband was home with me for weeks and we took turns sleeping. But anyone who can help is so needed whether they watch baby or just help with house hold chores. I don’t have many people who can help so when someone can I accept it. Hang in there. Hopefully soon your little one will sleep more.

  • Fantastic and so true. I love your humor…which as Parents we desperately need to keep! There is so much pressure in our current society to "parent" properly, we have set up such high expectations that many times we doom Moms/Dads to failure and feeling inadequate. Yay for speaking some truth!

  • I love this! My first child is due in 8 weeks and your blog is proving not only to be laugh out loud hilarious, but also very calming. 🙂 Thanks and keep it up!

  • Not only is this article absolutely adorable and humorous – as a psychoanalyst I would recommend it to every mother as they leave the hospital with their precious bundle (or in the case of those with home births perhaps it could be air-lifted). As a writer, I would recommend that the author, write a query letter and get a book published ASAP! 🙂 Just wonderful down to earth advice – desperately needed by many today.

  • Thank you.

    I needed to read that – for someone to tell me that it’s okay to not be perfect and to just keep at it and keep trying my best.

    It’s been a tough 5 months and some days I just want to scream. Your post put things in perspective.

  • you need to start with good english first. "I’ve got emails" not "I’ve gotten emails" – that would help. Sorry but it’s very bad english to say "gotten". Otherwise, great article.

  • "Hey, I’m not judging, and I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but I’m just saying that we are part of a generation that considers parenting as a skill."
    Frankly I found your take on it a bit naive. Mothers since time began have strived to keep abreast of the latest scientific methods for raising their babies the best way possible. Since print and radio were invented they read the magazines and listened to the radio shows gathering parenting information. Prior to that they listened to the best practice accounts from other mothers.
    It is arrogant to believe modern mothers are doing it any differently. It is merely the technology and fashions that have changed.

  • Absolutely needed to read this! Thank you for your honesty and taking the sheild of disbelief and rediculous expectations down .

  • Wow!!! Thanks so much for putting it all in perspective. What a great blog. I know I feel less guilty after reading this. I too have many pins on Pinterest and have probably done 5 and yes I have a bag of stuff waiting for me to start my kids scrapbooks and no I have not yet started but I am hopeful that 1 day I will and in the meantime I am sure my kids are glad that instead of scrap booking I am doing stuff with them. Thanks again for the great read

  • I was so grateful for this blog when I was pregnant and am now so grateful for it as a Mom. As much as the Internet allows us to be OCD nowadays, places like this provide a sigh of relief for those crazy moments. Thanks for your humorous honesty! 🙂

  • While i’m proud that amongst other things I make my own baby wipes and cloth diaper twins….I also spend time bouncing them in their chairs while they joyfully watch the ceiling fan and I look at FB or watch TV. My boyfriend calls the fan their 2nd mom. lol

  • I’d like to add to this that the past generations that would have done it all "without a washing machine" would have done the single or couple-with-no-kids life without a washing machine too, and also wouldn’t have had much choice about whether or not to have six children. We are about the second generation of women who have the option to have an easy (comparitively) life with a dishwasher, fridge, laundry machines, etc., not to mention the opportunity to have a fulfilling career, whereas life was hard for any woman in the past. And so it makes us a feel a little crazy when we choose life with kids.

  • Oh man, we all need to read this. We live in pressured times when we’re often isolated and having to get out and work to keep a roof over our heads. There’s always so much to feel guilty about. It’s so good to read this refreshing, down-to-earth post and know that I’m doing a great job, no matter how often I feel like I’m failing. A sincere, heartfelt Thank You. I wish all mothers could read this and see more like it.

  • Love this article but can I just say, parenting really is a skill. I do fostering and come into contact and work with parents who just don’t have the skills. I have come to realise, It truely IS a skill to be learned, and if you don’t have good role models to learn it from, you just may not be able to parent well. It’s just a sad sad part of our society. Hopefully the cycle can be broken (or fixed in some cases) with the children we care for, so they can then go on and be ‘skillful’ parents who are invested in their children! 🙂

  • All my kids are grown up now, each one incredibly awesome in remarkably different ways. My advice is to lower the bar that means you ‘nailed it’. Lower your marker of success all the way to this: your kids & the place you provide for them made it through the day with no loss of life or limb. Be really really grateful for this at days end, grateful to your overwhelmed self, your family, friends and God. Ask for an equally winning day for tomorrow. When a bad bad day happens just chalk it up to a spectacular marvel of failure and again be thankful everyone is still here. Try again tomorrow. O:-)

  • well, some of this I agree with but I am a baby of the 50’s and my mom canned all the food we ate since we were dirt poor. Dad would bring produce home that was from behind the grocery store and it had to be canned that night. So mom would stay up all nite. She taught us to read, dad taught us poetry and math and science and they both had long chore lists and worked alongside us teaching us how to work. Mom did not have any relatives to help. So, in many ways I do not see a difference except in those days there was no order out nor did they go out to dinner more than once a year since they were too poor. But they had 4 biological kids and 2 adopted. We spent hours in the summer at the beach and mom packed sandwiches. We had to earn our own money for clothing and shoes so we worked strawberry picking through the summer. Life was not easier that’s for sure. But I do think life had less distractions and less busy-ness and most moms were home so the neighborhood kids could all play together. Now poor moms need to set play dates and take their children to all the latest educational experiences. Our educational experiences were at the dinner table with dad reading poetry, talking history of the world, and reading the Bible also. Just saying.

  • So I was a little slow to get the new nappy on my 7 week old fire-trucking son and he may or may not have accidentally drunk a little of his own urine when he sprayed all over himself. I sent a text to my friend who’s a nurse and a straight shooter asking if he’ll be ok. She wrote back saying she’s pretty sure her son has eaten a little of his own poo, and so far, he seems fine. Parenting at its finest.

  • As a mother from the days when we didn’t have seat belts and our babies always slept on their tummies, I loved reading this!!! Thank you so much for speaking to the mothers of today about their abilities as moms, there is a lot of shit to do nowadays and my hats off to moms of the present!

  • Due to recent health issues I’m having, we’ve had various family members helping care for our newborn and toddler. I feel so bad for both of them, but especially wonder if the newborn will know who her parents actually are??? But, I got to thinking the other day that the norm used to be that extended family lived together (or at least very close by) and helped care for each others kiddos, so mine will be okay.

  • I don’t know you, but I love you! Come to Georgetown! The floors won’t be clean, but the tea will be hot….maybe.


  • I wish I’d been able to read something like this 20 years ago when my daughter was a baby. I was newly married, quite young, living 5000 km away from the nearest relative and totally lost. People were always trying to give me advice. I think if I’d followed my instincts better, I wouldn’t have always been filled with doubt about whether I was doing a good enough job. Hey, my kid survived. She’s 20, in university…I can’t have done too bad a job, right?

  • I remember when our moms would say "Go play. Come back for dinner when the street lights come on." My mother used to lock us out of the house. We played hard, did dangerous stupid things that required stitches and sometimes resulted in broken bones. We were only just starting to be educated in "not talking to strangers" and no one worried about us playing in our front yards. Today, there is a culture of fear around kids. Fear they’ll be kidnapped, fear they’ll hurt themselves and someone will accuse parents of neglect or child abuse. And yes, fear that we’re not good enough as parents. But lets face it, the nuclear family here in America is about ready to implode. It’s not a sustainable unit because it really does take more than one or two people to bring a child up ‘right’, and most children grow up far away from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — the support system that nature and society created for humanity.

  • Wow. I LOVED this post. I am single mom of a 4 and 6 year old. I did this on my own because Mr. Right appears to be woefully lost in traffic. I always feel I am doing it wrong, that I suck, and that as a result my kids will spend a lifetime in therapy. I am glad to hear I am not alone in this and that maybe I am actually doing a pretty good job.

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    One of the reasons we decided to move back to the Netherlands was to face less pressure to be perfect parents raising perfect (or rather uber-perfect) kids. But still, the reality of being a stay at home mama with two littles and minimal if any outside support can be ugly. Even if they are the coolest littles I know.

    (and yes, I blog about it, too. What else would I do to fill all that free time?)

  • This is awesome. And for those that are getting upset about anything that was said in here, clearly isn’t seeing the humor behind it. Times were different 30-60 years ago! Kids were a blessing and were treated much differently than they are now! You know those adorable pictures of your father or grandfather all bundled up in a snow suit with everything covered but his eyeballs? Yea, that doesn’t happen anymore because Lord help us if a child gets a bit chilly! And the pictures of your great grandmother with peas mashed on her face? Again, doesn’t happen because well peas can have some kind of horrible deadly dirt disease that will be the demise of your baby’s chance of getting into Harvard. Okay totally made up but I’m sure there are moms out there that get my point. I have three children, 3, 2 and 5 months. Yup, 3 kids 3 and under. I get looks like, "Whoa how do you manage?!" Well what do you mean? That used to be the norm! Do my kids do totally awesome toxic free, organic and free range art projects made from only the finest materials bought from the art supply store? Nope, but they make the most awesome macaroni creations from plain white pasta and then have that same type of pasta with sauce for dinner. They play with acrylic paints, they run around in the rain and get completely full of mud. They live. Obviously I don’t leave them in the front yard with just the dog and they certainly get put down since I live 35+ hours from the nearest family member. I wouldn’t trade my life, my kids, their childhood and the way I raise them for anything in the world!

  • I love this. And am so darn guilty of feeling jealous of all the bloggers who seem to be making all the things while cooking everything from scratch using stuff they grow while going on fabulous outings and vacays and sometimes also working full time. So I get all aspirational and then fail, then the cycle begins again. It’s exhausting!

  • Thank you SO MUCH for this. I have a rambunctious 2.5 year old boy and a full-time job (with a 2+ hour roundtrip daily commute), and while we’ve settled into a routine, some days are tougher than others and every day is draining. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling, and reassuring to have it all put into perspective. I love this!

  • Thank you, so so much. I needed to read this today. I was nodding my head along with every line.

    We’re not in this alone, despite the fact it’s so easy to feel this way. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  • Sorry, people had babies because the didn’t have birth control, not because they needed help on the farm. It’s plane stupid to think 100’s of years ago people would have so many children for this reason, when A. pregnancy, childbirth and caring for an infant is risky and expensive, and B. By the time a child was old enough to help, it would have been less expensive to hire help than to raise that child. And the only reason why parents are stuggling to raise their children is because, first we are so far removed from the meaning of family and relationship connectedness that we busy ourselves with unnecessary time consumers like electronics ie. TV the big one, instead of the park; cellphones, instead of face to face conversations etc. etc. that we neglect forming a social network of friends, family and neighbors who can help when we are in need. And second, there is a wierd type of comptition people engage in called "keeping up with the Jones’", that cause people to feel inadequate in their abilities to provide for thier family (emotionally and physically), and to judge others harshly.

  • As a single mom struck at work at 4:54pm with at least another hour to go, looking forward to but also already exhausted at the idea of this weekend with my toddler – I appreciate this.

  • Amen!
    It’s taken me having five kids in four years to realize everything you’ve written down and I still struggle with feeling like a failure. It really is just about the simple things 🙂 What a wonderful message just before the Holidays. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • This is perfect. I just yelled at my 20 year old for being a total selfish college kid. And I didn’t feel bad while doing it. Now I can laugh because she’s lucky she doesn’t have to worry about me leaving her at a grocery story ‘parked’ outside with all the other 20 year olds. 🙂

  • This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you. My kids are 6 and 9, and I still need this reminder…like, daily. I have pinned this because I know I will want to share it with frustrated, frantic new mom friends many, many times.

  • As a mother in the 70’s who had no support from family, that worked part time and part time from home while raising my children with a father that worked at nights…I can tell you that you are not the first.
    I agree that Motherhood is fucking hard and it is changing all of the time., that is why I do my best to support my daughter all that I can.

  • I think that every generation of moms have felt this in their own way, relative to their cultural norms and expectations from themselves and from others (mostly women). I know my mom was very concerned with getting the parenting ‘right’, and that was in the fifties on into the seventies. She didn’t have available extended family to help. I raised my kids in the eighties, nineties, and currently have my youngest, 16, still under my roof. I had little family help and for twenty years have had no parents to pitch in. Even though my mom and I are from older gens than you, we are/were just as concerned with viewing parenting as a skill. We both had the pressure to ‘get it right’ by society. It is just plain hard to be a mom. But at the same time it is so wonderful.

  • You are not the 1st generation to consider parenting a skill that requires mastering. Dr. Spock did that to millions of mothers in the late 60’s / early 70’s. When women were made to feel inferior if they left their careers for motherhood when they fought so hard to have the privilege of working outside the home, and working moms were seen as selfish and uncaring (and still expected to do all of their "housewife duties" with no help from hubby). Back then, autism was actually seen as a result of un-nurturing mothers. You have choices, respect, and tons of support mothers in the early 70’s did not have. You think you have pressure to be a perfect parent??

  • Thank you! I read this while sitting at my 4 year old’s gymnastics class. I’m feeling less guilty about delegating my kindergartener’s " just do a little every night as a family" homework to the babysitter.

  • Best advice I ever got was from my sister in law (4 kids, age range of 9-18 at the time). She lives two blocks from us so when I was pregnant, I told her that I was going to be calling her all the time because I had no clue what I would be doing. She looked at me and said, "If you do something wrong, the baby won’t know it. All you have to do is love it."

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am almost crying tears of relief now as I take car of my three-year-old twin boys and their five-and-a-half-year-old brother. God help me, I feel like a drill sergeant most days as I bark orders like "get down off my counter; whoa, stop peeing on the floor; and stop hitting your brother over the head, dammit!" I have just been through two weeks of whining hell (who said the terrible twos were bad, because the whining threes are really killing my last nerve!) and I’ve about had it. I am clinging to the girls’ night out I have planned for this Friday and to the fact that my parents are travelling 3,000 miles to visit me in two weeks, three days, 15 hours and 20 minutes, hopefully relieving me of some of my motherly duties! Your post cleared my head (I would have cried except I’ve no time to at the moment)! So again, thank you for putting it so succinctly. Ain’t that the truth, amen and all that! 🙂

  • I found this article extremely offensive. I raised six kids in the 70’s and 80’s and often felt overwhelmed and unprepared. I had no extended family to help me. I home-schooled and was a soccer coach and girl scout leader. I cooked everything from scratch. I took the kids out hiking, to concerts, dance, gymnastics. It was scary. I think whatever generation you are part of, parenting can be really scary, but it is also the best thing I have ever done in my life.

    • “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what." In the words of Stephen Fry.

  • Great post! BTW, my grandfather also forgot my dad in the stroller outside a bakery soon after he was born and had to go running back!

  • This is such a wonderful post. This is something that needs to be said all the time all over the place. This is the kind of thing that should come attached to every baby until we can understand it as part of our cultural norm. Those "yeah I have kids and a full time job" pins going around are so hurtful to overwhelmed moms who already feel like they’re the only one. I hope this gets pinned all over the place.

  • Seriously? Who the hell is trying to do all that extra crap? The job is as follows: love baby and keep alive. This entails: holding and going for walks, keeping clean, and feeding. Outside of that it’s all bull crap. Scapbooking? Pro-biotic supplements? Who the hell are you people working with? That’s not raising a kid, that’s self-destruction. Just keep the kid alive for God’s sake. Anything else is unnecessary and anybody telling you to do more is not the kid’s parent – therefore completely meaningless. If anyone gets some solace from this little quip, great. But anyone seriously trying to do too much is not trying to raise their kid, they are trying to make up for everybody else’s mistakes in this world and that’s a recipe for disaster. Get a grip and forget everything you’ve been told. Just keep the kid alive and smile. From – a dad.

    • Absolutely! and when the kid is old enough to have homework, support the teachers and insist he/she gets it completed. Don’t make excuses for your kid (or over program him/her) – one of the saddest things to me about the new generation of parents is that they seem to quit parenting once the children begin to assert themselves because life becomes a bit contentious. Suck it up! Kids need consequences…life has consequences, and you’re not going to go to college with your kid!

  • The last person that told me i wasn’t doing this parenting thing right with my 23 day old daughter got a fiery wrath brought down on them in the middle of the grocery store. And the only reason i was able to flatly say go fuck yourself and take your views with you was because of your article.

  • And right as I enter the eighth month of my first pregnancy, with my whole family (I’m the oldest of all natural grandchildren on both sides, so the whole family’s losing their damned mind on this one) flocking in and out of every waking minute, and now my REM cycles, too, it’s nice to hear for once "Screw it all, chin up, and tell ’em to go to hell." (PARAPHRASED!)

  • Thanks for all the honest info you post in your blog. I’m pregnant for the first time and love reading through all your old posts. I really love your blog and nominated it for the sunshine award. Happy Thanksgiving! ~Angela

  • I am right there with you. I don’t think of myself as a "muddler" but I do cut myself some slack when we have to have a "picnic dinner" (i.e. the kids watch the tube while I finish homework) or my 3-yr-old spends an afternoon in her room just playing while I work on Linear Algebra. No one can do it all. No one can be perfect. We are all doing the best that we can. So, let go of the guilt, mamas!!
    Great post!!

  • Thank you! Got a little teary-eyed because it is so perfect! Went through this when we agonized over sleep training and finally decided to do it. I got eaten alive on Facebook for it! My carpool buddy (who is about 60) told me that in her day, it was just called, "putting your kids to bed." That helped me put it into perspective, though it was still hard. I just want to be perfect. Thanks for the brilliantly stated reminder! And whoever said that now they will let their kid eat off the floor under their high chair, I’m right there with you!

  • So, so true! I had 3 under the age of 4 and no matter what, there was someone ready to tell me what I was doing wrong. Thank God I read somewhere to ignore and follow your instincts. And remember everything said in this wonderful piece about hundreds and thousands of years ago.
    Do the best you can and start over with that every day. And realize that keeping them alive and mostly unhurt IS a BFD. My 3 are in their 30’s now and I love the way they turned out, even if one of them can only play the radio.

  • I almost fainted when I was reading this and after.. were you writing this to me, like a love note? No. Could it be that 100s or 1000s of other moms feel like I do.. sometimes resentful, sad, wondering.. and then end up on anti-depressants because, well, ONE PERSON CANNOT DO IT ALL?? No can’t be.. thank God for you.. I’m reposting this all over the Internets. XO!

  • You hit the nail on the head and let’s not forget technology! For all you teenage moms out there, no one EVER has dealt with cell phones, Facebook, XBox or the internet. Yes, we are pioneers.

  • This brought me to tears cause i tried so hard to be perfect mommy. My son is six now and i have relaxed a bit but only because I suffered a physical breakdown when he was 2 1/2. It wasn’t all him (and his lack of sleeping) but a difficult marriage and sick animals to care for.. I have not grieved and probably never will over this (prob cause I don’t have the time) but know how hard it is on moms who are segregated away form everyone when in the past family were there everyday…

  • Just had a "UGE breakdown yesterday and a friend sent me this post. I love you. Thank you. My Grandmom used to tie my Mom to a tree with a huge ribbon, she could wander about 6ft but no further. While my grandmom was inside making homemade rootbeer all day. I’m sure she had a water bowl and food bowl out there 😉

  • Beautifully said. Thank you. I think so many mom’s need to hear this because NOBODY is perfect, but we all somehow feel like we should be. So thank you, thank you, thank you. =)

    • Joules from Pocketful of Joules
  • This post is one of my all time favorites, for sure. I remember my friends running to the pub up the street buying beer for their Dads when they were 7 years old. And me playing outside (not in a yard, mind you, I grew up in an apartment complex) with my friends until parents started yelling out of the windows that is was time for dinner. Being a mother today is very different from being a mother then, with a lot of extra pressure added, and it is nice to read a smart funny piece that takes that pressure off. Thanks!

    • Really? How old are you? Where did you grow up? I can appreciate this article, it is one that even my generation can relate to and I am 50! Sure, we didn’t have social media but in many ways this it is a positive force for support for your generation. We just had to go on believing we sucked at parenting! This article talks about people growing up in maybe the 50’s at the earliest.

  • OMG. Brilliant post. (standing up and clapping) This is so true. We’re really flying blind as new parents, even with every "parenting book" in the world (all of which seem to portray parents with limitless patience and children who actually respond to the "gentle, reasonable" approach).

    Loved this. With a "yikes, did I just do that?" parental passion.

    Susan at

  • I don’t know which I loved more; your message or your writing style. I could’ve read the whole thing just for the "knitting on a roller coaster" comment. Thanks for taking the time to write such a warm, humorous, right-on-the-money affirmation.

  • This is great! I had similar thoughts after watching the documentary Babies. I thought, many moms in other countries are not holding their babies constantly and one of them is even playing with a thick, pointy stick for a period, and they are all happy and seem to develop at the same pace. It’s hard to keep this in mind during the day to day crap though… so thanks! 🙂

  • Great post and very insightful. I think you have made a lot of excellent points about how it used to be done and how we do it now… very different!! We are so hard on ourselves as moms, but the truth is we are moms who have never had to raise kids this way. Pioneers, indeed. You have hit the nail on the head! Also, just a little constructive feedback, and maybe its just me but.. I could have done without the F bomb 🙂 If you deleted that particular word it would not detract a single thing from your message… and I could have shared it on facebook with all my mom friends, because this was an excellent post 🙂

  • Thank you. That’s a reminder I think we all need sometimes. I think moms spend waaaaaaay too much time comparing ourselves to each other and it just makes your head hurt. Then again, that’s why there’s cake vodka.

  • Thank you for this post! It was great timing as I have just finally settled my 13-day old daughter after several long hours of fussing. Thanks for reminding me that I am not failing!

  • Perfect post….especially since I’ve just spent the weekend with my mother-in-law who apparently raised four children, in a one bedroom apartment in Spain, without running water or electricity BUT "who always had a super healthy meal on the table that everyone enjoyed" (quote from my husband/ maybe soon to be ex-husband).

  • THANK YOU for this! You’re so right, about everything. I was one of the women who emailed you (for my friend E!) and this post is just perfect. Perfectperfectperfect. In fact, if I could marry you, I totally would. I’m just really happy this site exists!

  • thank you for this! i’ve had some hard days with my daughter recently and it always helps to know that others struggle like i do, that it gets better and that we need to put our lives, struggles and challenges into perspective!!

  • Awesome post! I raised 4 kids and I see all the new moms going through so much unnecessary hell and people criticizing them and then they have so much more demand on themselves to be super moms.Trying to get their kids into all these classes and play dates etc etc…it’s all so exhausting. To all the new moms…..take things in stride, we all muddle through and you will too!

  • No, you can’t do it all. BUT, you’re doing a fantastic job regardless of the piano lessons, T-ball, youth programs at church, homework about scientific things you’ve never heard of, bloody boogers and things stuck in the ear, stray frogs in the laundry, mothers-in-law that refuse your requirements, Dads that sneak beer, etc., etc. etc. You’re a Mom and as non glorious as you feel sometimes, it is the most rewarding job in the universe!

  • AMEN! Thanks for this blog post! It does take a village & I don’t live in the village anymore! I also love the picture you chose. 🙂

  • Great post! I’m always reminding myself that "it takes a village" and that there is no humanly way that I can do it all.

    Thanks for always keeping it real. We need more voices and messages like yours.

  • Thanks for this – I don’t have kids, but my sister has a 6-month old and she is constantly being told what she is or isn’t doing correctly. It’s SO annoying. When I have kids, shit’s going to hit the fan. My response to everything will be "Good God, go away. I don’t care what you think."

    • Dude! I’m a hippie on Pinterest and I struggle just as hard as every other mom and worry just as much. Even if my ideals look different from yours they are not. We all want the same thing for our kids, and we all live inside the greater culture of our Western world where it’s hard — whether you’re trying to grow organic food while Waldorf home-schooling your kid and sewing their clothes, or trying to survive the neighborhood playgroups, not make anyone late for school, and just get the clean laundry pile to stay on the table (rather than on the floor around the folding table).

  • I love you…

    So, letting my 13 month old daughter eat her discarded dinner leavings off the floor because it is THE ONLY WAY to get her to eat peas (or any green veggies) is okay. Nice. I feel better. 🙂

    • oh we do that also! We call it floor food. "Your baby won’t eat? Airplane noises won’t work? Try floor food! Take that food and toss it on the floor! Watch it magically disappear!" ( please read this in one of those infomercial voices. ) whatever works. 🙂

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