“Young moms these days think motherhood is so hard. I don’t get it. I don’t remember it being that difficult.”

I was somewhere between the Folger’s and the Cheerios separating my bickering sons when the elderly woman spoke up—probably in response to the “over it” look on my face.

Her comment caught me off guard. I smiled, nodded, and awkwardly stammered something about having my hands full before ushering my overtired crew of littles to the next aisle.

The woman’s words stung, but it wasn’t the first time I’d heard them. If I had a dollar for every, “Back in my day . . .” speech I’ve received since becoming a mom, I’m pretty sure my kids’ college would be paid for.

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I think most moms of generations past mean well, but I’ve often wondered if they really remember what it’s like to be raising young kids. How it feels to try so hard every day, yet still fall asleep with hearts full of doubt and guilt.

Every time I have an encounter like the one at the grocery store, I can feel pieces of my confidence chipping away as I question my adequacy as a mom. And each time, I walk away with the same thought playing over and over in my mind: I hope I never forget how hard this is.

Because yes, motherhood is the biggest blessing of my life—but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever, ever done. 

Someday, my little kids will turn into big kids, and God willing, they’ll eventually move out of the house and go on to live their own lives. 

But I hope even when that day comes, I remember how it felt to be here.

To sometimes feel overwhelmed. 

Lonely.

Frustrated.

TIRED.

I hope I remember to lead with empathy.

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When I see a young mom in the grocery store with a cart full of kids, I hope I’ll choose my words carefully and offer encouragement in a way that makes her hold her head a little higher.

When I meet a young mom who is maxed out, I hope I’ll think twice before asking her to join a committee or head a fundraiser when her hands are already so full.

When I see a young mom with a baby on her hip at the coffee shop, I hope I’ll remember what this kind of exhaustion feels like and offer to cover her latte.

And when a young mom is brave enough to confide in me about the heaviness of her heart, I hope I’ll realize she doesn’t need advice—she just needs to be heard and validated.

May I never miss a chance to tell her she is doing a heck of a job, and her kids are so lucky to have her.

Someday, someone will call me Grandma instead of Mommy. My role will be different then, and I know part of me will long for the season I’m living right now.

Even so, I pray I won’t let my rose-colored glasses taint my perspective.

Time has a way of blurring details and setting the sweetest parts of our memory on display, but I want to remember this season for all that it is—beautiful and magical, but also messy and challenging.

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Someday, I’ll be on the other side of the trenches like that chatty lady in the cereal aisle.

And when I am, I just hope I never forget how hard this is.

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