Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

How many of you have been in that tug-of-war phase of life where every single one of your Mommy friends are either pregnant again, or they’re trying?

I’m there now. My son is almost two and the chaotic dust has finally begun to settle. Good days outweigh the bad and I’m actually sleeping through the night. Life is generally manageable. The last thing I want to do right now is throw everything into upheaval once again by adding a new family member.

Of course, their are hundreds of reasons for having multiple children. Despite my complaints of how hard that first year was, I occasionally catch myself gazing wistfully at other people’s babies and reminiscing about those sweet first months. Baby Fever is creeping in.

So why am I holding back? Why wait another year or four? Well, for the first year of my son’s life, I was buried in a dark hole of post-partum depression. Luckily, thanks to a group of supportive and unfiltered friends and family, I made it through.

Did my support system tell me I was looking great? That everything was going to be fine? 

No. They told me on my son’ 1st birthday that I looked way too tired and haggered – as if I were still the mom of an infant. Rude? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. 

As my beautiful son approaches his second birthday, I think back on the conversations that were both wake-up calls and saving graces. They were all tough conversations. Taboo conversations that sprang out of the shadows during my weakest, most desperate moments. The following three uncomfortable conversations may have saved my life, my marriage, and my sanity.

1. Those violent urges.

My son was about ten months old, still nursing, still not sleeping through the night. I was at a friend’s house for a “play date” (code word for “Our kids entertain each other while we gossip and drink wine”) complaining about how exhausted I was. “I just don’t know if I can do this another night, let alone several more months!” I cried. “Getting woken up by his screams in the middle of the night, my arms and legs going numb from sitting still in that rocking chair for hours, struggling to keep my eyes open. I don’t know exactly how to say this but sometimes I just get this horrible feeling…”

“That you want to football-toss your child across the room?” My friend finished for me in a matter-of-fact tone.

I looked at her, stunned and momentarily speechless. How could such ugly words come out of her? She was the picture of the perfect mom.

But she was right. She was so incredibly on target, giving me the words that I had been terrified to express myself, fearing the thought made me a monster. I loved my baby. I had Mama Bear instincts and protected him fiercely. Yet a terrifying intruder – my own sleep-deprived self – sometimes crept up in the dead of the night and threatened to hurt my son.

A few months later, a mom friend was opening up to me about how depressed she had been after the birth of her second child. Like me, she never slept. She was exhausted, overwhelmed, and haunted by intrusive thoughts.

“I had to hide all of the knives in my kitchen,” she admitted, shame and embarrassment clouding her face. “Sometimes I’m afraid that…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. But I knew.”

“You’re afraid you won’t be able to stop yourself from hurting someone,” I finished for her.

My friend’s eyes widened, just as mine had, and she broke down in tears. “Oh, my God. Yes. You too? I thought I was alone. I thought I had really lost my mind.”

If you’re not a mom and you’re reading this, you probably think my friends and I are a group of lunatics. But if you’re a mom that doesn’t get much sleep, I think you get it. I think there are more of us who have felt this way than not. And trust me, once you’ve admitted it and realize you’re not alone, that unbearably heavy weight of a dark secret is lifted. We are not crazy. We are not alone. We are parents.

2. Hating our husbands.

Yes, I said it. I know it’s inappropriate to air marital laundry outside of the home, and I’m not suggesting you should constantly complain to anyone who will listen about how lazy/unhelpful/absent/clueless you feel that your husband has become.

But.

Those smiley, cutesy family photos that are plastered all over Facebook? Those are fleeting moments in a new parent’s life. The exception, not the norm. How do I know? Because marriages often suffer with the arrival of a new baby. A marriage counselor once told me that 90% of her clients were exactly my demographic: new parents, usually going through another huge life change such as moving or changing jobs. The more I told her about the grievances I carried against my husband, the more understandingly she nodded. “He works late and doesn’t help with the baby at night.” “He doesn’t ask me how I’m doing or feeling.” “He still expects me to cook and clean because I’m home during the day.” She’s heard it all before, and she’s helped hundreds of couples through this dark period.

I tested out her statistic and confided my marital woes to a trusted circle of mom friends. “My husband and I considered getting divorced a few months ago,” I stated bluntly during a playdate. All three of the moms in my living room looked relieved. “What?!” “You guys too?!” “But you seem so happy!” “It’s so good to know it’s not just me.”

Call it hormones, call it nagging-wife syndrome, but at some point during that first year, you’re going to want to exile your significant other to Siberia. The good news? Time and yes, some relationship counseling, brought our marriage back on track. 

3. We neglect our kids

I’m not proud to admit it, but it’s something that I appreciate moms being honest about: sometimes we need a break from our babies. I have walked away during tantrums instead of consoling. I have sat Baby Smoosh in front of Dora the Explorer so I can take a shower, or simply because he’s cranky and I can’t deal with his screaming anymore. I have let him play by himself while I do work – even if he starts to tug on my leg and plead with me to play cars. Again. I’ve even left him with Daddy for a long weekend so that I can have girl time with friends.

Pre-Baby, I vehemently insisted I would never do these things. Only Bad Moms do such neglectful things to their kids. And they should never talk about it.

As women and mothers, we want the public to see us as strong, capable, loving, and attentive to our family. So we put on a front and brag about all of the Mommy and Me classes we’ve enrolled our children in, the amount of books we read to them each day, the merits of attachment parenting. We puff ourselves up in order to prove how devoted we are to our kids. 

In reality, most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum – we dote on and spoil or kids with attention some days, and other days just need to get away from them. 

We do our best but we all need a break sometimes. The best part of realizing this is that instead of feeling guilty or selfish for ignoring Baby Smoosh for a few minutes, I try to indulge in it, and ultimately am recharged for the rest of my long day with him. 

Chances are, you constantly carry around “Mom Guilt.” Maybe you fed your kid Cheerios for dinner for the second time this week or forgot to pick him up from school. Mom Guilt is a heavy and in most cases an unnecessary burden. My advice? Confide in someone about your Mom Guilt Incidents. Most likely, they’ve done the same thing, and you’ll both feel weight lifted from your shoulders when you discover you’re not alone.

If you are a parent, you are never alone. Someone has already traveled the road you’re navigating, no matter how treacherous is may seem. And more importantly, someone is struggling right beside us on that same road. We just need to open our minds to the idea that neither of us is perfect, and that our imperfections actually bring us closer together.

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

Jessica Mautone

Jessica is a first-time, Stay-At-Home mom who loves to write as an outlet for the stress that comes along with raising a strong-minded little boy and two yappy dogs. Credit for her creative inspiration goes to good wine and frequent travel. 

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Daddy, Am I Beautiful?

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Daddy holding preschool-aged daughter, color photo

“Daddy, do I look beautiful?” I heard my daughter ask my husband from the other room. I barely heard what she said as I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, but her words struck a chord in my heart. My sweet girl, all dressed to go out, asked for her Daddy’s assurance that she was beautiful, that she was admired and special. It hit me in that moment: this pure and built-in desire we all have to be loved, admired, and wanted. Just as my sweet girl wanted her Daddy’s approval and assurance of love, I so often cry...

Keep Reading

Sensitive Sons Are Strong Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy pets kitten held by another older boy

My son has always been timid. When he was a baby, he cried when he lost his pacifier in his crib. If I laughed too loudly, he might burst into tears. Once, he was asleep in his bassinet as my husband and I turned on a movie. The MGM lion roared, and he woke in a panic that seemed to take forever to calm. Now, at five years old, my son wrestles, runs, fights, and screams at the television. He pretends to fight bad guys and save me and his twin sister. He thinks he is the king of the...

Keep Reading

Wrestle Like a Girl

In: Kids, Motherhood
Girls wrestling team huddling on the floor

I’m a wrestling mom, but I’m a new breed. I’m the kind with my little girl on the mat. Sure, I support our son out there, and I scream like a wild banshee with the rest of the crazy parents, and I’m in awe of the athletes these boys are. But then steps out our daughter. And it’s different. She decided to join her big bro at practice years ago when word was just starting to spread about the possible emergence of girls’ wrestling. She was only in kindergarten, but I think my husband might have already been thinking college....

Keep Reading

I’ll Hold on To Moments of Childhood with My Preteen as Long as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Smiling preteen and mother

This Christmas season, my husband took our laser light projector and aimed it at the Australian bottle tree in the front yard. It shone like a thousand red and green fairies dancing through the branches. The first time I saw it, I gasped with glee. Christmas came and went. Much to our 6-year-old’s disappointment, we took down the decorations and boxed them in the attic until next year. I noticed that my husband forgot to put away the light projector though. One Friday night, recovering from a stomach bug, we decided to watch Wonka and fold laundry. We bought into the...

Keep Reading

“Tell Me Another Story, Daddy?”

In: Kids
Man reading to young son

“Tell me another story, Daddy?” I had heard these words since we had finished supper. My 5-year-old son loves hearing stories. He loves to put himself in these stories. He doesn’t just watch Paw Patrol, he’s in Paw Patrol. He is a Kratt brother. And he loves hearing stories about his favorite adventurers with him saving the day alongside his animated heroes. While I absolutely love telling stories to my son, there are many days when I don’t feel like it. When I want to say, “No, Daddy is tired. Why don’t you go play with your toys while daddy...

Keep Reading

Getting Glasses Can be an Adjustment

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Pre-teen wearing glasses

On their last break from school, my daughter and son happily enjoyed a nice week of catching up with friends and having a relaxed schedule. I was careful to avoid overloading our schedule so we had a nice balance of days out and days being at home. As can often happen on a school break, I used one day as our “appointments day.” We had our routine dental checks and eye exams booked. The morning went smoothly with the dentist, and then it was time to head home for lunch. Next, we popped back out to do the children’s eye...

Keep Reading

To the Fifth Grade Parents: Thank You

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Arcade style photo machine, color photo

To the fifth-grade parents in my community: How are we here already? The end of fifth grade. The end of elementary school. It feels like yesterday we saw each other at kindergarten drop off, some of us through the tears of sending our first baby to school, some seasoned pros, and a small group of us with a touch of extra worry in our mama hearts—the special ed mamas. Among the many things I worried about sending my kindergarten son to school was how your children would treat him. Would they laugh at him like they did at his Montessori...

Keep Reading