Since becoming a mom… scratch that, ever since I was first pregnant, I have officially moved around my pet peeve list for a new number one. No longer is that spot hosted by the word “supposibly” instead of the actual word “supposedly.” The new winner is the phrase “just wait until…”

“Just wait until your belly is so big you can’t tie your shoes.”

“Just wait until your feet grow two sizes.”

“Just wait until the baby is here and you never get a full night of sleep.”

“Just wait until the terrible twos.”

“Just wait until they are teenagers.”

“Just you wait…”

Do I ever have anything to look forward to or is motherhood a series of dreading the inevitable challenges? Call me crazy, but when I was still able to tie my shoes just fine, I was happy to enjoy the pregnancy glow and feel the new life tumble inside me. When my feet did grow after pregnancy, I got new shoes! (I choose to ignore the part where my feet look like small yachts attached to my legs.)

To be fair, sometimes these things came in response to a complaint. A common scenario would be to express, “I’m so tired!” and that would be followed by, “Just wait until the baby comes!” From this I tried to remember that I prompted such a reply, and it would serve me well to stop complaining.

I am trying to learn how to graciously respond to these nuggets of “wisdom.” I try to realize that in addition to knowing the difficulties, these seasoned mothers also know the joy that motherhood brings. If it weren’t for the random smothering of hugs and kisses, who could put up with all the attitude? If it weren’t for midnight snuggles, who could handle three hours of sleep? If it weren’t for the newly expressed “I wuv you, Mama,” who could keep their cool while her child thrashes about in a tantrum?

Tell me about the joy.

If you want to get to know a mom, ask her about her children, not because they define her, but because even the most introverted mom will offer something in reply. We can’t help it. We are so proud of these people we are shaping and molding to become effective contributors to humanity. So when someone offers a “just wait” statement, I challenge myself to ask about her motherhood, and pry about the good instead of the difficult.

Tell me about the joy.

If there was one thing I would never have tired of hearing when I was newly pregnant, it would have been how much I was going to love and adore my baby. And if there is one thing I would never tire of hearing in motherhood, it’d be about the joy that lies ahead. The look on her face when she scores her first goal in soccer; the excitement behind his eyes as he tells you about his first day of camp; the pride you feel when you watch your children accomplish something as simple as learning how to tie their shoes or spell their names.

Tell me about the joy.

Mothering is hard. It is a daily demand of time, energy, and patience. The opportunities to commiserate are enticing, and sometimes it’s our right to indulge them. Call your closest mom-friend, tell her you’re on the verge of leaving your children on the curb during bulk trash week, and let her tell you she’s tried that already to no avail. But after you’ve done that, tell her how adorable your child is when he scrunches his nose up in disgust, or how hilarious she is when she randomly yells the word “meatball” for no reason for a good three weeks. (True story.)

And when someone tells you how hard pregnancy is, or the first year, or the terrible twos, or the hormonal teen years, remind them of all the good that goes along with it. Tell her about the joy. 

Christen Bell

Christen is a wife and mother of two who lives in central Pennsylvania. She is passionate about her corner of the world, which includes family, running, reading, and writing.