Shop the fall collection ➔

I remember having a particularly epic blowout fight with my mom when I was 17. Her baffling words rang crystal clear in my teenage ears, “Just wait until you are a mom, then you’ll understand.”

In true teenage fashion, I rolled my eyes and stomped away in my Doc Martens, scrunchie in my hair and the mall on my mind.

What 17-year-old can even comprehend the gravity of that statement? All I cared about was cruising around in my 2001 Chevy Camaro (oh man, I miss those T-tops), chasing boys and wanting to be as far away from any parental reach as possible. The only thing I understood was that she was overprotective, uncool, and totally out of touch with reality.

The enormity of becoming someone’s mother is something you cannot prepare the woman with the swollen belly at the baby shower for. No amount of cute baby booties can prime you for those tiny feet that will be walking away with your heart soon thereafter. You can warn someone, even a teenager, but until that day when you met YOUR child, it is like deciphering a foreign language.

Thirteen years after that fight with my mom, I was in a fight of my own trying to deliver a baby after a failed induction. It took 72 hours in labor and delivery and one second of seeing my son to take me back to those words. Suddenly, as that baby cried and inhaled his first breath, I mumbled, “I get it now, Mom, I get it.” 

Years had passed, including 10 months of pregnancy, unwanted advice dispensed aplenty, many books on parenting digested, yet in that instant, I was connected to my mom and finally understood. It wasn’t enough to have read about it or listened to it; I had to feel it for myself.

I get why she was overprotective. My only mission in life now is to protect this boy (and now a girl, too). If I could throw these kids in a bubble forever, I probably would. They are what gives me life. And sometimes feels like death without any sleep, but I digress.

I get why she was uncool. Building a life around your children sometimes doesn’t leave time for much else, including yourself. Not giving her a pass on her poodle perm or the mom jeans (sorry mom still uncool all these years later and I have the pictures to prove it ha).

I get why she was out of touch with reality. Sleep deprivation, constant worrying about your child’s wellbeing and stress to provide for a family will do that to you. Your reality is now your family and your children and that is painstakingly more difficult than any virtual world out there.

What my 17-year-old self could never grasp my thirty something mom of two brain now cherishes. To that I say thank you mom. Thank you for everything you did when I was young and everything you continue to do for me as an adult. You never realize those sacrifices until you are sacrificing them yourself. 

There is nothing like being able to call your mom at 2 a.m. because the baby won’t stop crying and just having her on the other end doing nothing but listening and loving you.

Just yesterday I said something I never thought I would. I told my 3-year-old: “Just wait until you’re a dad.” Then I laughed and laughed because hopefully one day he will find out for himself, too.

Originally published on the author’s blog

You may also like:

To My Parents, I Get it Now

To My Mom: I Get It Now

When I Became Mom

Kelly Houseman

Kelly Houseman is a mental health counselor who maintains a private practice in Michigan. She is the mom of a toddler son and a brand-new baby girl. You can follow her career and family adventures on her blog Kelly's Reality or on @KellysReality.

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

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