Shop the fall collection ➔

“You chose to have kids, so stop complaining.”

These words—it seems they’re everywhere lately. On the lips of skeptical strangers, in the comments of blogs, in response to my own writing and that of my peers. As if suddenly, in 2018, everyone has the new right to tell others what they are allowed to think and feel (and don’t you dare have a different opinion than I do).

I get it (kind of). No one likes a Debbie Downer.

But do you know what else no one likes? Keeping things bottled up with no release. Thinking that it’s just us; that we must be missing something, failing somewhere. Feeling inadequate when the rest of the world displays only their most beautiful photos. 

I don’t know that I’ve ever “complained” so much in my life as I have since becoming a mom. I also know for a fact that I’ve never had as difficult of a job, so there’s that.

It’s like saving your pennies to buy your dream car. You make the purchase, but a year down the road something breaks and you have to take your car to the shop and shell out beaucoup bucks to have it repaired. You wanted the car, you love the car, you don’t regret buying the car . . . but it really sucks having to pay to have it repaired.

It’s like going on your dream vacation. You’ve been researching maps, and restaurants, and attractions for months, and the day has finally arrived. Your plane touches down at its destination and you skip the whole way to the baggage claim—only to find that your bags have been lost somewhere along the way. You’re thrilled to be on that vacation, but dang, a lost bag really throws a wrench in your plans. It sucks, and if you’re anything like me you might have a choice word or two floating around in your head about it.

You’d probably feel the need to vent (“complain”) about each of these situations to a friend or family member (or random stranger in the baggage claim).

If you’re lucky, maybe they’ve been through something similar and have some words of wisdom to share with you. Maybe you’ll acquire some of your own words of wisdom during your journey and pass them when someone else finds themselves in the same trench.

That’s what this whole “complaining” thing is really all about. It’s about solidarity. It’s about acknowledging that something is hard, but realizing that you’re not the first (or the last) to go through it. There’s comfort in that.

Sometimes, “complaining” is less about choosing to be a pessimist, and more about reaching out for support and advice when we’re experiencing a force we can’t seem to tame alone. More about needing to be heard.

Parenting is hard. There are a lot of sleepless nights. There’s a lot of crap to put up with (literally and figuratively). There are tantrums and picky eaters. There’s a lot of touching from sticky fingers, and not very much personal space at all. There’s very little “off” time, and a lot of 24/7/365 on-the-clock going on.

There are the worries that keep you up at all hours of the night, and the hopelessness of not being able to keep the people you love most safe from all of the physical, emotional, and mental traumas of this great wide world.

There are the moments that you BEG time to speed up, and seconds that you wish would just slow the heck down. The days that drag on and the years that go by way, way too fast. 

There are teaching moments—so many of those. There are times when you give in, and times when you put your foot down firmly and don’t budge an inch. There are questions and doubts—so many doubts. Did I do the right thing? Am I raising good humans?

Parenting is a series of moments, many of which are really difficult. Life in general just so happens to be the same way.


It’s also really wonderful.

That dream car that broke down? It’ll get repaired. The bill from the shop will eventually be paid off. You and that car in all of its fixed up glory will find yourselves on a joyride with the radio up and the windows down, and you’ll wonder what could ever be better than that moment, right then and there.

That lost suitcase? You’ll find it. You’ll get to your resort and stop into your room just long enough to slip out of your travel clothes and into your swimsuit. Before you know it, you’ll be laying out on that beach sipping pina coladas and listening to the sound of the waves beating against the shore, sand between your toes and the sun beating down, warming your skin and your heart.

Such is parenting.

There will be living room dance parties, homemade birthday cards, and nursery rhymes sung in the sweetest, mispronounced words. There will be the twinkle of pride in little eyes when they do something grand; a twinkle that will be mirrored in your own eyes as you watch them. Awestruck.

There will be hilarious comments from the unknowing mouth of a toddler that cause tears to stream down your cheeks and your sides to split open in deep, full, belly laughs. That laughter? There is SO much of it.

There will be moments in the peace of an otherwise sleeping house when you stare down at your baby with tear-brimmed eyes because you can’t believe your luck to have them as your own.

There will be sloppy kisses that melt your heart, and hugs that you try your hardest to memorize the exact feel of. There will be mornings of disheveled hair, and rumpled pajamas, and sleepy eyes that make your heart swoon.

There will be tiny hands that fit perfectly into your own, and moments of pure joy that you long to bottle up and carry with you forever.

There will be instances when you’re positive your heart cannot possibly swell any more . . . but it always does.

Parents complain a lot—it’s true. Non-parents complain a lot too, about other things.

It’s partly our human nature, and partly our desire to feel understood. It’s how we process out all of the junk so that we can find the good again.

So yes, I chose to have kids, and I’d choose them a thousand times over in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days. But I’ll also continue to “complain” about how hard this momming thing is, when my heart is heavy and I feel alone.

I hope you’ll do the same. I hope the world doesn’t convince you to shy away from venting, because we all need that sometimes.

And during those other times, when life is just so darn good; I hope you’ll celebrate every sweet, savory moment of this incredible journey.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading

They Love Each Other (and Sometimes They Don’t)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler girl lying with big brother, color photo

When I was pregnant with his baby sister, Forest kissed my belly and talked about all the wonderful things he would do with this little girl he already loved so much. His plans changed, however, after she was born, and the thing he wanted to do the most with her was place her gently in the trash can. Some mornings he would kiss her softly, other mornings he would walk into the room where I’d be nursing her and say, “Her doesn’t look precious to ME.” Two and a half years later, Forest’s feelings toward Grace remain about the same....

Keep Reading

As a Mother, I Matter Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in living room

“What’s more important than me, Mammy?” my daughter asked. I looked at her, and she was looking at me. Her question wasn’t harsh or accusatory, it was curious. She was curious. We were in the kitchen, I was at the table working, and she asked me to help her find something. I told her I was finishing up some important work and then I would play with her. This is when she asked me what was more important than her. I bit my tongue to stop the words that wanted to rush out of my mouth. I wanted to proclaim...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading

My Daughter is “Extra” and the World Needs More People Like Her

In: Kids, Motherhood
girl jumping

She is . . . extra. She just is. All the time she is extra sad, and then extra “OMG, Mom-that-was-so-epic-let-me-tell-you-everything.” Extra energetic, then extra I’m too tired to help with any family chores. Extra hungry, then extra refuses to eat the food she just asked for because she’s full. RELATED: In Defense of the Wild Child Extra loves to show how much knowledge she has, then extra doesn’t want to do her homework because she’s too busy “being.” Extra defiant, then extra brings home adorable “I love you, Mom” art from school. There is no middle ground with this...

Keep Reading

Teach Your Kids to Be Kind to Those Who Are Different from Them

In: Kids, Living
Little boy with Down syndrome in pool

On the eve of Zeke starting kindergarten, I have many hopes for my youngest child, mostly that other kids treat those who are different from them with kindness. Or maybe with a slightly sassy, “SO WHAT?” to those who may be being unkind. This summer while on vacation we were having a great time swimming at a pool. There are few places that top a swimming pool in Zeke’s mind. He is SO happy in the water. Zeke was playing in the kiddie pool by himself while I sat at a table nearby. As he played, kids would enter the...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Are Exhausted by the Start of the School Year—Go Easy On Them

In: Kids
Child with tablet on couch

In the first weeks of school, your child has been a rockstar.  They have faced brand new situations—daily—multiple times a day. New people, new friends, new teachers. New schools, new classrooms, new procedures.   They have remembered a billion things. Which bus to ride. Which room to enter. Which hall to turn down. What their schedule is. Which class is next and what book they need for that class. When to be quiet. Where to sit. How to sit. Where the bathroom was. Where to line up. What the directions were. Thirty or so new names. They have been quiet for...

Keep Reading