I’ve been a mother for 16.5 years, and I still do things that shock me, experience things I never thought would happen, and every time they do, I think, “Am I the only one? I bet I’m the only one.”
I know intellectually I’m not. My brain is like, “Obviously, Janelle, you are not the only one. Don’t be silly.”
But my heart seems to ache a little, as if I could avoid mistakes or missteps or outright bad behavior were I a better person. A better mother. A low-grade saint of some sort, perhaps.
So, let’s just clear the damn air here.
And look, maybe you won’t do all these things – although I have because I’m something of an overachiever (don’t be jealous) – but there will come a time when you wonder am I the only one struggling so royally here? And the answer, my friend, is NO, and that is my fucking point here.
Okay fine here we go.
31 things you’ll do as a mother while vaguely suspecting you’re the only one
- You’ll have some bulletproof theory or plan to which you are staunchly devoted. And then you will abandon it. This may be conscious, or you may just forget it one day and be like OH RIGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO THAT.
- You will sometimes feed your kids super unhealthy food even though you know better, and when asked, you may low-key lie.
- You will swear you won’t co-sleep. And then you will. You will swear you’ll co-sleep and then not. You will swear that devil dust formula shall never touch your baby’s golden tummy, and then you’ll try pumping at work and be like: “Oh fuck this all the way to Christmas” and that formula will transform into manna from heaven.
- YOU WILL ADHERE TO A PARENTING PHILOSOPHY WITH ALL YOUR HEART THEN ABANDON THAT SHIT BECAUSE, well, a variety or reasons, really.
- You will forget birthday parties and realize your child has to go to school the next day and get reminded of how she missed it. You will make a solemn oath to put that shit in your calendar.
- You will put that shit in your calendar and forget anyway.
- Your kids will say things so fucked up and disgusting relating to hygiene that you’ll wonder where, truly, you went wrong in their rearing. For example, you may realize your kid doesn’t wipe “because it takes too long.”
- You’ll wonder if perhaps you aren’t even raising humans, but instead some weird version of formerly unknown mammal.
- You will go to the beach and not bathe the kids for three days and therefore the sand will stay in their hair and they will go through life like that.
- You will hook your kids up to television so you can clean the house or have them contained or simply can’t parent today.
- You will walk into a room fully intending to clean it, look around, and walk out.
- Same with laundry.
- You’ll wash the same load 4 times because it keeps mildewing in the washer.
- You will make vague, impossible threats.
- You will make legitimate threats.
- You will fail to follow through on both.
- You will cave after establishing legitimate punishments because you fuckin feel bad for some reason.
- After doing that a few times, you’ll be like, I really need to follow through on these punishments or my kid will grow up to be an asshole and I’ll lose all credibility and MAYBE THEY ARE ALREADY RUINED.
- You will sometimes cave to tantrums even though you know this is a horrid way of parenting. You will do this because the end of the tantrum in that moment is worth more than your child’s overall character.
- You will let your toddler scream in Target and not give a shit because you’re too old and tired.
- You will probably not tell the truth about how often you feed your kid shit food, cave to tantrums, release yourself from the bonds of parental standards, and/or not follow through on STEADFAST PUNISHMENTS.
- You’ll ruin a vacation by fighting with your partner.
- You’ll ruin some high-stakes event by yelling or being a nondescript asshole.
- You’ll know you are the asshole but find yourself unable to stop.
- You’ll say you’re sorry.
- You’ll try to be better.
- You’ll do it again.
- You’ll forget something super major that no way normal mothers forget. For example, the school enrollment deadline. Wait. Is that just me? Seriously. It might be.
- You’ll try to make it to two events at once, for a friend and your child, and you will not make it the child’s event, and that event will be your son singing in a school play, and you will walk in the door just as he says his last line, and then you will walk back outside, and cry until you can’t cry anymore, because you let him down and fucked up and knew better.
- You will wonder if you’re the only one who could possibly screw up like that.
- You will hope you aren’t, and rely on honest friends, and ignore the ones who say I WOULD NEVER.
And I think, at some point, that will almost be enough to convince us.
You know what comes out in 21 days?
MY MOTHERFUCKING BOOK.
Check it out, and preorder now to have it in your mailbox on May 1:
And don’t forget to email me a copy of your confirmation (to firstname.lastname@example.org), or a screenshot, so I can send you the chapter I had to cut called “I Can’t Even Be Fat Correctly.” It was very sad to cut, for obvious reasons.
BarbTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 13:55
Janelle, I love your writing and your attitude. You are so frigging real – so says the mom who caved and bought disgusting fruity loops today.
I have pre-ordered your book, and although I may have to hideout in the car in the garage to read it I am pumped!
MeghanTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 14:20
You are the best, somehow your posts are always just the thing I need to read in that moment. I can’t count how many times this week I have said to my three year old “If you listen to mommy, I’ll give you jelly beans!” Because they are her favorite since Easter, and screaming and ignoring mom are also her new favorite, and morning sickness and growing another human while working full time and taking care of the already born humans in the house is freaking exhausting. So bribery is apparently my newly adopted parenting philosophy ????
Exis007Tuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 14:34
I counted. I scored 25/31. I don’t have beaches nearby, so I get a hard pass with that one. Fuck sand.
JoyTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 15:56
I have enough sand to compensate. Miss 4 has super long, thick hair which is a nightmare to wash but she refuses to have it cut. So every day when she goes to daycare and plays “throw ALL the sand in the air!” with her little buddies her scalp just gets more and more encrusted and no way in hell am I washing her hair every night. So she sleeps with it in her bed, scratches it off onto the carpet, and – best of all, since her hair is very pale blonde – always looks like she has lice…
JennyWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 9:57
#33- Live near a beach and never ever take my children there, so they are the only deprived children who don’t get to go to the beach, because I don’t want to hassle with the f-ing sand. Or the sunscreen. Or packing up the picnic lunch that will eventually have the sand in it.
lauraTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 14:46
I did a lot of these but not all when my kids were growing up. That fact doesn’t make me judge you or others can can tick them all off but made me feel a little less like a failure. Thanks for keeping it real!
PS — my kids (24,21,21) are pretty all ok and functioning decently by the grace of all things holy.Still can’t figure that shit out.
KimanneTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 17:22
I particularly enjoy numbers 22-27 because that’s me.
Paula RichardsonTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 17:50
yep all of them or at least very close versions of all of them.
KarlaTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 20:46
#13 is my life this week. My dad was placed on in-home hospice last Saturday and my mind is all sorts of everywhere right now.
RachelTuesday, 10 April, 2018 at 20:54
The laundry that keeps mildewing in the washer! I thought I was the only one! ????
Betty TWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 6:17
#20 cracks me up because you say you’re “too old.” HA! I didn’t have my daughter until I was 43, an age you won’t see for quite some time! She’s nearly 19, and has somehow survived me doing almost all of the above(except for the sand, as we’re not beach people).
KerryWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 6:19
Yep! Almost every single one. In fact, I just did #28 and now we’re having to rearrange work schedules for next year because I don’t have before/after school care through the school because I was an hour late signing up. The looks of pity from the other parents is maddening!
Cheryl SolerWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 7:14
Yup. We’ve all done it.
HEre’s a few from me:
You’ll cry because you have to go to work and leave your precious baby at daycare. Then, on the weekends, you’ll look forward to going to work so you can get some peace and quiet.
You’ll try to help your 12 year old with her math homework. You’ll get pissed because she has the attention span of a gnat. You’ll yell, she’ll cry and the homework won’t get done. You’ll feel guilty for the entire night. This will happen on numerous occasions.
There are so many more. I deal with it by knowing that I’m doing the best I can at the time. If I fuck up, I apologize (yes, I apologize to my kid) and try to do better. And I love her beyond all measure and try to tell her that as much as I can.
SlowsnowSunday, 15 April, 2018 at 3:46
Amazing. I also apologize for my kids if needed (not on a daily basis of course) because one of the fondest memories of my mum’s screw ups was when she apologized to me for being unfair. Although I was a teen at the time and my job was to hate her, I knew I’d respect her my whole life. She now lives with me, with my dad, my husband and our 4 kids. She is of that generation that had to keep it authoritarian and silent so it meant a lot to me that she tried to battle that stupid tradition.
Sincere apologies to 0 y o to adult children are great parenting in my book.
Jesse BallWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 8:43
Number 13. All. The. Time.
And most of the rest of them too. Glad I’m not alone.
TracyWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 11:21
HAH!!! I am a dietitian and there are several days when my kids don’t even get close to a fruit or vegetable!!
Annie BeebeWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 14:59
32. You’ll walk your daughter in to her hip hop recital an hour late as her entire dance class is coming OFF the stage, because you forgot to check what time it started and
ass-u-me-d it started at the same time as the dress rehearsal the night before. You’ll buy her what turns out to be a cute but most disgusting and highest maintenance dog in history, who now requires two insulin shots a day, to make up for said mistake for the ensuing 8-10 years of your life.
SpiroWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 16:39
The “vague impossible threats…” I let that shit fly out of my mouth and don’t even know how I thought of it. The best is when my kid uses it on some doll she’s decided to discipline. I feel like a real winner then.
Btw regarding sand in the hair, bed, etc. I’ve learned I can clean out her bed with a little cordless vacuum to skip the bathing AND changing sheets. Winning!
Thanks for excellent honesty, Janelle.
JoanWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 18:54
Thank you so much for this post. Though we are very close to an empty nest at our house, this helps assuage so many regrets and do overs I wish I had. We need more honest advice/admissions like yours to new moms assuring them parenting is hard, hard work.
AmyWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 21:35
SO MANY of these, but especially numbers 11 and 21!
Tiffany.Wednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 23:05
I am with you on.every.single.one. Even the one under the photo.
Miranda CrownWednesday, 11 April, 2018 at 23:47
25-27 so many times I can’t even count…and everything else.
HeatherThursday, 19 April, 2018 at 22:21
Yes to nearly all, some I’m sure are still to come. Here’s my horrifying admission: I have, on more than one occasion, left my children in the car (locked) to run inside the post office and grab our mail. We live in a small town and I can see them the whole time, and I’m back in under 30 seconds…but still, what irresponsibility! I just can’t be bothered to find their shoes -which are inevitably kicked off- and put them on, get them out of their car seats, walk them through the parking lot and into the building…when I could be in and out before even one part of that process was finished.
MelSaturday, 21 April, 2018 at 18:59
Oh I have sooo done this.
And, another one from me:
# you’ll pretend to feel guilty about things that other mothers appear to feel guilty about when actually you just don’t give a shit.
Maybe that IS just me.