These aren’t the best days of my life. You go out of your way to tell me they are. You tell me in the grocery store as I wrestle through with my toddler, you comment on my Facebook status when I complain of my exhaustion. You remind me that it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

I am living in the fog of sleepless nights with newborns. I am in the midst of the toddler years, dropped into a war zone with no training on how to defuse a bomb. You seize any opportunity to remind me to count my blessings when I can’t remember which side the baby last nursed on.

It’s obvious something must change between where I stand now and where you are. Let me remind you of what you may have forgotten.

I spend my days wiping poop out of folds, and I have three daughters, so we’re talking about a lot of folds. I have a clogged milk duct that I have no choice but to nurse through. My body is in this weird gray area where 95 percent of the time it’s teetering on starvation, but I stress eat enough peanut butter while standing up in front of the pantry to keep it soft and flecked with cellulite. I am a walking stereotype, made up almost completely of coffee and wine and an insufferable share of self-pity.

I am in the epicenter of young motherhood and I can’t see my way to the calm. I can’t see ahead to the quiet halls of a nest gone empty. I know that a great sense of achievement and heartache await me, but you’ll have to forgive me, I’m in quicksand with babies strapped to my body and I’d like to use your loneliness as a rope to climb out of this. I’d trade one of my twins for five minutes uninterrupted, and you’d give anything for a text from your daughter. You think I’m squandering this, I think you have selective dementia.

Right now I remember not being able to hold all three of my crying children when they need me, because God gave me a big enough heart, but not strong enough arms. And I remember losing my temper. I feel the sting of my impatience as much as my toddler. Time has yet to dull my feelings of failure and erase my shortcomings.

These are not the best days of my marriage. They are strong ones. Man, do we make a good team. But I’m Michael Jordan, my husband is Scottie Pippen and we are just trying to make it to game seven. Dribble. Pass. Shoot. Change. Feed. Rock. Same thing. Nice play, Scottie, but please . . . don’t even think about touching me.

I don’t see my husband anymore, not fully—there’s his shoulder I nudge in the middle of the night to comfort a crying infant, a nudge that forcefully says your turn. There are his hands to pass a baby to, and his voice that I need in place of my own to discipline a child I gave up on two hours ago.

How presumptuous of you to assume that every morning I don’t lift my babies out of their cribs knowing that tomorrow they will be just a little bit heavier. They will do a little more and need me a little less. I don’t need you to remind me to savor these moments, the magnitude of what I’m in the middle of is dizzying.

Don’t tell me that these are my best days, because those comments come loaded with guilt and pressure. Guilt, because if they are, why am I unhappy? And the pressure to make the most of them. Pressure that will have you loading up the minivan to make memories that you’re filtering for Instagram before you even pull out of the apple orchard. Memories that are far too much work for children to not even remember. Can we save these elaborate trips for the school-age years? So I will at least get credit for my suffering.

Parents need your extra set of hands, your affirmation that whatever they’re feeling is OK. They need your trays of lasagna. They don’t need your romanticized take on parenthood, presented from a comfortable distance of 15+ years.

What sort of life am I left to live if I believe that this is the sweetest it will be? These days are significant. There is magic in them. But they are not my best. Those lie ahead of me, and behind me, and they are scattered between the then and now. There are proms, graduations, and grandbabies; I can’t wait to watch their lives unfold as mine comes back together.

Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Scarlett Longstreet

Scarlett Longstreet is a stay-at-home mom, retired bartender, and wife. She lives in a suburb of Detroit with her husband and girl gang; toddler plus infant twins. You can follow her on Instagram

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading