You Are Doing a Good Job.

Joanna Goddard and Anton

Last night, Anton and I…

…made funny videos and ate ginger cookies. Afterward, he put his pajamas on, and I gave him an extra-long cuddle because he’s had a hard couple weeks — friend stuff, school stuff, you name it. I wished I could hold him in my arms all the time; or wave a magic wand and make everything okay.

Then I got into my own bed and stared at the ceiling. Parenting; it’s not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes I walk around, and everyone seems to have it together. Families glide down the sidewalk with giggling toddlers and chatty preteens. But then I actually talk to friends and neighbors and realize all families are dealing with something. Remember that old saying? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” My friend, who is a child therapist, says her inbox is full.

Anyway, all to say: YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB; YOU ARE A GOOD PARENT WHO IS TRYING. A reader once said, “Bless you, new moms. If you’re trying, you are doing a great job.” And I think that is true for parents of kids of all ages. I don’t know who needs to hear it (other than me!) but I’m giving you a pat on the back and sending a hug and gazing at you with admiration. I love you. xo


P.S. Home as a haven, and what makes your child laugh?

  1. Cynthia Miller says...

    Parenting IS hard. I read somewhere something about it being sending your heart out to walk around.
    My oldest just graduated high school and is off to college in the Fall. I have to hope that what I’ve taught her sticks and she’ll get through the dumb mistakes she makes safely, the way I did!
    And my youngest (9) got some extra hugs this week for some stuff he’s had going on, too!

  2. Dear Joanna,
    thank you for this post, this is just what I needed this week. Not only because of everything right now. Yesterday my 10-year-old son had an accident on his way home, he was hit by a delivery truck, thank goodness he got away with some scratches on his elbow, his bike is off much worse. I feel as if all this shook me more than him himself, maybe because as a mother, you think about what could have happened all the time, and my anxiety doesn’t help either. You are so right: Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart.
    Shoutout to all you mommys and daddys out there.

  3. margaret says...

    Nagging is such a negative term! Kids really need boundaries and they need to have those boundaries reinforced frequently. If you’re sometimes delivering these boundaries in exasperated tones, maybe its because children are exasperating! Not because you’re not awesome. Agnes, I just want to give you a hug. I bet you’re already doing a really great job, even if you have multiple moments of human frailty every single day.

  4. Karrie Jenks says...

    Just catching up on your posts, I love this. Thank you. You are doing a great job, too. I think it is important to recognize that all families have tough issues happening at different times. It’s not easy. Sending hugs, I love you too!
    XO
    Karrie

  5. Faye says...

    Thankyou, ❤️

  6. RC says...

    I have two kids, 7 and 3. This morning was a mess–everyone running late, toddler meltdowns, etc. And then my 7 year old spilled a large glass of chocolate milk all over the couch right before we had to leave. It was the last straw and I just snapped. But then my 3 year old stopped, looked at me, and said: “It’s okay, mama. Accidents happen.” So true. Sometimes we do the wrong thing in the moment, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t doing the right thing most of the time. Big hugs to all the parents out there.

    • AMK says...

      Wow you are the second person today to recommend this podcast!! What a trip!

  7. Such a simple post but so truthful. We all struggle every day with our kids and it is a good reminder to hear you are doing a good job even on your hard days. I always tell parents to focus on their strength and celebrate the good moments. Children will always remember the joy they felt with you and that is what matters.

  8. MJ says...

    Needed this! It is hard! I am trying!! And the snuggles I get from them sort of propel me forward. Sending big hugs to all those who parent!!

  9. Theresa says...

    Thanks for this post! Good job to you!!! It is the hardest job! My 7 year old has been so up and down these days, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the changing emotions. I constantly question if I’m doing this motherhood thing right….it’s nice to read a post like this. Thanks!

  10. Vanessa says...

    Ah, yes, this is indeed a warm hug. So good to remember that we are not alone and parenting is The. Hardest. Job.

  11. Marie-Eve says...

    Joanna, thank you so much. I very much needed to read this. Your message brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with gratitude and peace. You are doing an amazing job as a mama!! Thank you for everything!

  12. rachel simmons says...

    As a new mom of two, my baby is 8 months old, and my oldest is 5.5, it feels really special to have one on one time with either of them. I am so grateful I had them 5 yrs apart because I had so much time with my 5 yr old ( my daughter) and now that she is in school, I have special time with her brother (my 8 month old). Each one holds such a special place in my heart. Glad you had special time with your youngest! <3 Don't forget that these "hard times" he has will teach him compassion! He is growing, and although growth is hard sometimes, ultimately its so good and important! You're fighting the good fight of Motherhood.

  13. Holly says...

    Thank you for this, Joanna, and thank you to everyone who commented. I am in tears reading all these replies. Parenting is so hard. Solidarity.

  14. M says...

    thank you <3

  15. M says...

    Yes, parenting is so hard and exhausting. I have a 5 and 2 yr old and there has been so much fighting, teasing, whining, etc etc lately. Yesterday just after my 2 yr old got up from his nap, he somehow managed to unlock the back door and went streaking across the lawn in only his diaper. I went running after him and he looked back at me and erupted into this joyful laughter with such a look of glee on his face. I couldn’t help but laugh too. I’m usually so focussed on consistently correcting my kids behaviour but it made me think that we all enjoy breaking the rules sometimes and maybe it is not such a bad thing that my kids seem to always be pushing boundaries and my buttons.

  16. Stacy S says...

    Wow. I did not know I needed this today. But I read it and teared up.
    Thank you Joanna and Cup of Jo for always being a beacon of light in this weird, hard parenting world!

  17. L says...

    My 5-year old son passed away unexpectedly last fall. He was my person. His passing was crushing. It’s still crushing. I haven’t gone a single day since without crying multiple times. Pools of tears. My youngest son is a toddler and still needing all the attention and so much direction. It’s been extremely hard to parent and to show love like I want to since “that day.” The only thing getting me through is my faith – my faith in Christ, that I’ll get to see my baby again. Most days I feel like I’m about to unravel though. These reminders that I’m doing the best that I can, that parenting is hard anyway…they help. So thank you for the help.

    • Nicole says...

      L, I am so deeply sorry for your tremendous loss. What was your son’s name?

    • Jill says...

      Your pain cannot be quantified, L. This has to be the number one most tragic life event. Ever.
      You will never recover, but I’m sure it will gradually change for you. For the positive, I hope.
      Because your youngest son needs you so much. And you need him.

    • chrissy collins says...

      Im so sorry L. My prayers go out to you!

    • cg says...

      Love. Sending you so much love and strength right now.

    • Hanna says...

      Of course you are crushed. There is nothing I can think to say other than I pray for your heart. That you have strength and moments of peace. Endless love to you.

    • Martha L. says...

      I’m so so sorry for your loss. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • L says...

      Thank you all for your responses and encouragement. You blessed my heart today.

    • Rachel says...

      hi friend, Jo’s post is sweet and beautiful to begin with but your comment brought me to tears. i’m newly married in the last year and my husband and i dream of the day we start a family. but we always say you never know what life will throw you, and can’t assume all will be smooth, but only trust that God will carry us through whatever comes. it’s so heartbreaking to read what you’re going through but i pray every day you get the strength you need to carry on and love those around you, bit by bit, and know you are strong and resilient and so loved by God!

    • Heather says...

      Oh L. I think I speak on behalf of every member in this comment chain that we wish we could collectively wrap our arms around you and hold you.

    • Elle says...

      Oh L, my heart breaks for you. I don’t usually pray, but today you and your sons are in my prayers.

    • R says...

      Oh, L. There are no words. Any mother who reads this instantly understands and feels your pain. You truly are doing your best, and your best is enough. Sending you so much love and strength.

    • Melanie says...

      L, there are no words. From one mother to another, I just want you to know that I see you. I’m sending you so much love xxxx

  18. Dee says...

    I am a first time poster so thank you for listening. On the topic of parenting is difficult, my son had his senior prom on Saturday. He had a date lined up, bought a suit to match her dress, bought her a $40 corsage, washed his car inside and out, got a haircut, etc. The day of prom she canceled just as he was getting in the shower. My heart broke for him. He was so excited and prepared! I was just about to give him the speech to treat her with respect, open the door for her etc. Who would do that? It is cruel and he doesn’t give me many details. He still went to prom and had a good time but every time I see the photo of him in his new gray suit I will think of the girl who canceled on him the day of. Brutal. He still brought the corsage to prom with the intent to give it to someone who didn’t have one. He left it sitting on a table instead. My heart hurts.

    • Christina says...

      I don’t even know your son, and my heart hurts too. So mean, so cruel!

    • Alexandra says...

      It sounds to me that someone will be very lucky to meet your son one day. But my heart goes out to him.

    • K says...

      My heart aches for him and you. It is SO HARD as a parent to see your child hurt by someone.

    • Elle says...

      Your son sounds like a wonderful person. His date didn’t deserve him.

    • Shayne says...

      So glad to see this post. Parenting littles is exhausting and hard but nothing holds a candle to the emotional turmoil we bear witness to when parenting teens.

    • Christina says...

      I cried reading this. I am a parent of 3 teenagers and I am so sorry this happened to your son. I am so proud that he went anyway. So brave. He will be a good adult.

  19. Darina says...

    Joanna, I’ve been a reader (and sometimes commenter) of your blog since the start, it’s the one think I read daily or catch up when I’m behind. You and your team have a very special and beautiful way of making us all feel so seen, so connected, it’s truly a blessing in challenging times. This right here, I needed to hear this today. For the first time ever, at 38, I’ve found myself battling depression and anxiety, I just started medication a couple weeks ago, it’s been a rough transition and our little routine has been a mess. My 4.5 yr old is definitely feeling it and pushing so hard for boundaries but we’re just in this survival mode and it’s hard. Doing our best and it’s a beautiful reminder that despite these hard times, we are good parents, we are trying our best, and our kids will be just fine. Sending love your way. We’re all in this together, it takes a village!!

    • Mercedes says...

      Darina – I’m in a very similar situation. 39, two young kids, depression/anxiety that was no longer manageable. After MUCH consideration I recently started on Zoloft. It’s taken the full six weeks but I’m starting to feel normal again. I’m so glad I made the decision for myself (and really my family). Sending you positivity.

  20. Borshi says...

    A friend of mine once told me that in psychology there is no such thing as a “good parent” rather “a good enough parent” reflecting the fact that we are all trying our best and our intentions matter the most and that how no one, I repeat no one is perfect.
    We are doing a good job and we are good enough parents.
    Hurray for that.

  21. Katie says...

    This brought a tear to my eyes. My daughter is having a really hard time with her transition from preschool to Kindergarten. It’s just breaking my heart! It seems so little, but is so BIG for her. I wasn’t prepared for all these seemingly little things that would shatter our kids…and, of course, in turn us as parents.

  22. Beth says...

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  23. SusanH says...

    I teach high school and am parenting a graduating senior, a high school student, and a middle school student. The number of times I have said, “Parenting; it’s not for the faint of heart” to my husband AND to parents around school…

    I think we consistently underestimate the impact that these last 18 months have had on us and on our children. Keep soldiering on, moms and dads. If you’re trying, you’re winning.

  24. Mena says...

    I’m in the midst of big kid and baby such at the same time and having cup of jo to look forward to in between the chaos of the day has always been so nice. I wish you’d do a “weekend” post every day where it listed 100 things so I could look forward to links & articles.. They help keep me sane and inspired and remember who I am underneath all of the mom I have to be each moment!

  25. Christina says...

    I just love how you said this. Thank you.

  26. Michelle says...

    I have always felt that parenting is the great equalizer. Whatever you’re going through, all parents are going through to an extent. When I see a child that isn’t mine acting out in public and a flustered parent trying to contain the situation, I usually think to myself, “See, this happens to everyone. Even Beyonce.”

  27. Anne says...

    Thanks for this, I needed the reminder. Currently on the couch with my 9 week old baby boy who won’t nap anywhere but my lap. I live abroad and my family hasn’t met my baby yet due to the pandemic and it feels very isolating, and I don’t know if I’m doing anything right. If letting him nap on me every afternoon while I stare at him is wrong I don’t wanna be right.

    • Katrin says...

      It‘s not wrong! I feel you, I‘ve been there. Do what your baby needs to sleep. It‘s never wrong to hold your baby while he‘s sleeping, and don‘t let anyone persuade you otherwise should someone try it. You‘re doing a great job. Maybe you can manage to make him sleep cuddled next to you, or on you, while you‘re lying down yourself, so you can get a rest or nap, too.

    • Shannon says...

      Anne – I did this too under similar circumstances. Now my baby is a healthy happy 11 YO with a wicked sense of humor and a kind heart. You know better than anyone what you and your child needs. You’re doing a great job.

    • Julia says...

      I can’t tell you how much I wish I could go back to the first year postpartum and give myself a hug and then tell myself not to worry about what the “experts” say about the “right” way to do things. My son struggled with acid reflux and for quite some time would only sleep at night propped up on my chest. I also stressed so much about the fact that he would only nap during the day on walks in his buggy. So much energy was spent feeling like I was doing things wrong rather than just embracing the closeness and enjoying all those walks. The most important thing was that I loved him and took care of his needs as he expressed them. Today, he is almost 5 and an amazing child who sleeps well at night, loves nothing more than to cuddle with his parents and says “I love you, Mama” at least once every half an hour. You are doing an amazing job, Anne.

    • Jodie says...

      I did this too and there was no pandemic. My 10 year old is sweet and kind and knows how to give affection. Plus, he still wants to cuddle with me and I will do that as long as I can.
      He won’t nap on you forever. Don’t worry. He will nap elsewhere when he is ready and yes, you will know when that time comes.

    • Casey says...

      When my oldest was born I had someone I love dearly tell me not to hold her too much or I will “spoil” her. That lasted a week or so before I realized she will only be this age for a short time, and I am her mama, so I get to decide. Now I have two daughters ages 8 and 10. I still hold them every day. Sometimes more than once a day. They are not spoiled. They are loved deeply, and they know it!

  28. Amy says...

    This was so needed — thank you.

  29. Kate says...

    Oh, I feel all the feels reading this. Sending big hugs to all the parents out there!

  30. Natalia says...

    I used to think sleep deprivation would kill me, now I’m convinced it will be friend drama!! 😏 As an anxious person myself, I’d love to hear some perspectives about helping your child navigate tricky social stuff without taking on or projecting ALL THE EMOTIONS! My kids are approaching tween age and I’m finding social media interactions particularly daunting……

    • alison says...

      Check out Lynn Lyons-she has a great podcast called Fluster Clux and talks about all sorts of kids stuff, a lot revolving around anxiety BUT applicable to us all. She talks about being ‘vanilla ice cream’ when your kids come to you with problems-just take it in and keep a straight face and listen (SO much easier said than done!).

    • LB says...

      This is so so hard for me too. My son has been excluded from things at school\after school because he doesn’t text much and is not on text chains where a lot of plan making occurs. It is heart breaking for me when he finds out about this stuff later, but he is at the age where there is not a lot I can do. It Really affects me and I am seeing a therapist on how to manage that. Good luck!

  31. Kelley says...

    Thanks for this. My kids are fighting with each other and struggling too lately. It’s been a tough year for all of us. Someone told me that I looked like I had it together when I dropped two of my three off at school the other day and I felt like crying…they didn’t see my daughter crying on the walk to school, my two year old gleefully trying to pull the fire alarm in our building hallway and my six year old zoning out and completely ignoring me when I asked him for the billionth time to put his shoes on. They didn’t see the anxiety ridden, sleepless night I’d had the night before. I’ve been trying to just take a deep breath, help them through this as best I can and create moments of joy for all of us when I can….and try to remember that I’m just a person trying to do my best too.

  32. Julia says...

    Lying in bed last night, my 9 yr. old son suddenly asked me to laugh. He must have noticed my tightness. I told him, that after this very exhausting day, I was unable to “just” laugh and smile; I felt so empty and “squeezed out”. This is sad, and I wish I could put myself in a more distant position to just enjoy being with my kids…

    • Arianne says...

      I think it’s lovely that you were honest with your son! He’s seeing you model that it’s ok to be “squeezed out” and you don’t have to put on a big smile to make others happy, even those you love the most. Wishing you ease and joy in the coming days!

  33. Tracey says...

    We need to remember that coping is not the same as thriving. When there’s not enough water to go ‘round, it’s enough to just hang on, sit tight and wait for the rains to come – THEN you will thrive! Until then, cope however you can.

    • Sequoia says...

      Thank you, I needed to read…nope write this down and read it everyday until it sticks.

  34. Kara says...

    Thank you, Joanna. Your blog is always like a friendly hug. It, in and of itself, is like one of the gardens you pictured last week. I find myself taking a deep, satisfying breathe when I visit each day.

  35. Caroline says...

    Thank you, Joanna, for these words I needed to hear. My 13-year-old daughter has been struggling with depression for a year, and things are really difficult. As her mom, I feel a lot of guilt… Parenting is hard, yes ! Thanks for the pat on the back and the hug :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sending you so much love, Caroline. Your daughter is lucky to have you in her corner.

  36. Joey says...

    Joanna Goddard, you are an amazing mum and you are doing a good job.

  37. Sarah says...

    My kids are ‘grown up’, but still this bought a tear to my eye. Parenting is hard, parenting in a pandemic? If you are warm, fed and have somewhere safe to sleep tonight you nailed it imho.

  38. Stevie says...

    Thank you for the realness and the empathy. I am coming to the end of a grueling school year as an educator and burn out is knocking on my door. As I was putting my three year old to bed something happened, and then all of a sudden he was hitting me and I pushed him away and we both yelled “I am mad at you!” We sat in silence. And then my three year old apologized first. I am not doing amazing parenting right now but I am trying. And I must have done something right along the way that my little love knows how to take a breath and apologize. He has been pulling out every three year old trick in the book right now and I am a worn down mama for sure. Fingers crossed tomorrow night is better.

    • Lisa says...

      I feel you. I have a three year old and they are cute but they are HARD. I can’t even begin to count how many meltdowns mine had this morning between waking up and going to nursery. But from what you’ve said it sounds like you’re doing a great job – tin we’re both able to articulate your feelings and your little one knows how to apologise. Result!

  39. Kara says...

    It’s end-of-the-school-year award season. I’m not an “everyone deserves a trophy type” so that’s not what this comment is about. And I overshare regularly on social media, so that’s also not what this comment is about. Rather it’s about parents who feel the need to post pictures of their kids with all their certificates. I hesitate here, because in many cases those kids worked dam*** hard for those certificates and deserved to be congratulated. But in other cases, it’s the same post, every year. And honestly? It’s not even about the post. It’s the hashtags about being blessed and the comments that invariably follow – “you are such a good mom!” over and over. Sometimes I like to ask myself, am I contributing positively? Good moms are defined by so much more than the number of awards their child receives, popularity and success in school … Do you love your child? Do you take care of your child? Congrats – you are good enough. You are a good mom. I would hashtag-bless the h*** out of that.

  40. Dee says...

    I feel you especially on the kids’ friends issue. We are still on total lockdown, have had no face-to-face classes for an entire year, and facing another year of the same. My 9yr old has literally not seen any of his friends from school other than online. By hard lockdown, I literally mean kids cant go out at all! They have micro-groups of friends playing Roblox, which I have only allowed because of the isolation of this pandemic. But now, friends issues of blocking, unfriending, isolating have been issues we have been dealing with with in this online platforms. It is heartbreaking for this kid who was only 7yo when he last saw his friends :(

    • D says...

      Gosh that sounds so hard Dee. Biggest hugs to you and your son.

  41. Eva says...

    ooh good timing. thank you <3

    • Nadine says...

      This post could not have come at a better time, thank you !

  42. Ruth says...

    Thank you for this pep talk, exactly what I needed today!

  43. Morgan says...

    I needed to hear this right this moment xoxo

  44. k says...

    very much needed to hear this today. thank you <3

  45. Caro says...

    I just sent a link to this post to EVERY Mom of young kids I know. A deep dive into the comments is the best therapy I’ve had in a long time.
    Thank you, Joanna and the amazing Cup of Jo readers.

  46. Lauren says...

    It sounds like you need to hear this. YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. Always looking out for your readers, but darling, we look out for you too. Xo

  47. Ugh after a rough week back to working remotely after my husband’s parental leave ended, you got me in tears Jo. Thank you.

  48. Emma says...

    What timing. I have a 3-year-old and a 5-month-old. One is resisting bedtime and the other only sleeps in 2-3 hours stretches at nights and cries most of the time she is awake. I was telling my mum today how even though some things have improved (the weather is warmer, I just got my covid vaccine…), we were at the park today and I was looking at the people who looked as though they were just enjoying life and thinking how I don’t feel that way. Thank you, Joanna, for sharing your struggles and insight to let other people know they are not alone <3

  49. Leah says...

    That is why I come to this blog almost everyday. To few the good energy, the gentle encouragements, the funny posts, to see beauty in everyday and mundane things. I am not a mother but I was touched by this post. And, I know that the mother role played by many women is not easy but truly rewarding. To the mothers in this community, you are admirable!

  50. Rosalie says...

    Totally needed this and all the wonderful comments. We’re all doing it!

  51. Rebecca says...

    Thank you for this. I feel like my cup has been empty for months. I find myself quick to lose patience with my tender 2 year old just trying to assert herself in the world and anger easily with my husband. Parenting is difficult enough without the stressors we’ve all endured for the last year. This was a nice reminder to give myself some grace, focus on refilling my cup, and importantly apologize when I just lose it. And it is comforting to read so many comments of readers feeling the same things.

  52. lk says...

    sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is easy- I have this idea that what you see on the street is like the front door to a house- some houses look perfect from the outside, but you go inside and there is no love or trust or comfort… but it looks pretty. Some houses have a more worn out look with spider webs and a cracked planter- but you go inside and there is joy and music and connection and you can breathe deeply into the hug of a solid person and you just feel seen and heard….. sometimes you just need to be in the mess of it all. I think the trick it to remember it is always changing, and we have choices how to change with it…..

  53. Yulia says...

    You’re doing a good job, Joanna. The people we love become part of our hearts, and when they suffer, we ache for them. We can’t do much, but we can sure love our loved ones. Listening to them, being present for them, and serving as a safe haven for a time. We can always do that.

  54. Elle says...

    Thank you for this reminder. I am my worst critic sometimes, feeling like I’m not the mom I “should” be. I don’t like playing, I like a lot of alone time, I like time to decompress. Wait, so why did I think I would be qualified to care for vivacious young kids? I always feel like a grumpy mom at the end of the day, and it shows sometimes. I recently started wondering if any of the local moms have seen me on the few occasions I’ve scolded out of desperation while taking the kids home. Do they think I’m awful? Do they feel for these poor kids? My kids do love me and I try hard to keep my cool. I’ve done better this past year (especially since the pandemic has eliminated my commute) but I do judge myself, all the time.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      Elle I feel you. You’re doing great. Your kids are resilient. Forgive yourself.

  55. Denise says...

    Thank goodness for all you good parents out there. The whole world needs you (no pressure) and you are doing an amazing job!

  56. Jenn says...

    This is literally the best and you are literally the best. Somehow you always seem to find the pulse. Thank you
    XO

  57. Betsy says...

    Anything that I thought was hard for me before, hurt feelings, not winning school elections, not being good at something, it is hard in a way I never anticipated right now. My two boys who always turned toward me, even if it was to solve something I couldn’t make better— seem to be resistant to help or in denial of the need. Right now knowing the misery of my teens, means I become the enemy, knowing they need more love, yet when you are the target of their disdain and defiance, it is so hard. I have an ache in my chest, and a constant desire and willingness to look at what I am doing that my two teen boys don’t ask me for help and instead keep making choices that are making things more difficult for them. Anything from not doing school work when one was always an A student, to not sleeping , or getting off computers and then not able to wake up. I’m wanting to help, but they want to say it is fine, even lying, and this was never an issue. Never before have my kids sat behind closed doors…. it’s been a lot of silver linings, but right now it feels like a lot for a lot of people! So many digital days turn into digital nights.

    • Amy says...

      You’ve got this! I have a 20 year old son who made similar choices as a teen. I remember (and still feel this way sometimes) feeling the loss of our previous open relationship. We had to change and build a new relationship along with all those difficult conversations about limiting digital time, setting goals, meeting their responsibilities and cleaning up from mistakes. It was often terrifying, never perfect and usually messy. I made a ton of mistakes. I kept thinking, this is a journey. We are close now You sound like a deeply caring mom. Don’t forget to forgive yourself! Hang in there!

  58. Allegra LaViola says...

    Thanks for this. Last night I was overwhelmed by guilt for getting unreasonably angry at my otherwise adorable toddler and devastating him with my meanness. Mom Rage is real and I want to do better but I’m trying to also give myself a break. Rough.

    • JO says...

      You should know that you are absolutely not alone. You could not be farther from alone. We are all there, have been there, will be there.

      One thing that my first, dearest therapist once told me that has always stuck with me was that what matters most in these situations is how we repair the rupture we have rent. That we go to our loved one, apologize, let them know we understand we were wrong, that this was about us and not them, or whatever is appropriate in the context. I feel like that idea can be a savior when we lose control, especially with our kids.

    • Kylee says...

      I can relate to this. You aren’t alone mama!

    • Heather says...

      Your comment reminded me of a new affirmation I’m trying to remind myself of regularly: “I’m a good mom, even as I work to become a better one!”

    • Natalie says...

      You are not alone. Some days feel like an endless cycle of rupture and repair with my 4.5-year-old. But like Jo says above, it’s all in the repair – that’s what our children will remember. They will see it’s ok to be imperfect humans who can have a bad day/week/year and still take responsibility for our mistakes. Learning to apologize is a huge life skill, so just know this is all normal and ok and you are doing a great job. Your child is loved and so are you.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      Thanks internet folks. Makes me feel a lot better. Sometimes I’m just so… angry & impatient & mean. I can see myself doing it but I can’t seem to stop in the moment. I do go back and apologize, but I wish I could just stop myself in the moment when I see his little face crushed by my actions. Ugh. I’m not even a guilty/anxious type and the whole thing just send me into a shame spiral. Anyway thanks for the support.

    • Leah says...

      This is SO hard. As a toddler, your child is not doing anything intentional. If you see yourself getting overly upset and mean, make sure your child is safe and just walk outside. Call someone. Do not hurt them. At this age, they are learning and even if you do nothing to “discipline” the child, they will still learn and grow and be great kids. Thinking of you and wishing you peace and fun with your little one.

  59. Megan says...

    We’ve had a rough spring too…school, friends, growing up, tough stuff. My friends deal with chronic mental health issues note that this can be a tricky time of the year. It’s so counterintuitive!! Anyway, had a lovely dinner with our 7 year old tonight that felt so restorative. Grwat conversation and got some good niggets of insight into her recent perspective. Loved seeing this post we’re right there with you.

  60. Tessa says...

    Me!! I need to hear it too!! My older son- almost four- has been going through a super rough period and has been throwing toys/pushing his brother/hitting my husband and I, and no amount of cuddles and personal attention seems to be able to pull him out of the anger. In my short time as a mom it has been the hardest thing and I constantly feel like I’m failing him. We’ve just started play therapy- fingers crossed that it helps- but I really needed to hear this too.

    • Loren says...

      If your son is having serious enough issues with his emotional regulation that he needs outside support, he may have delays in the maturation of central nervous system. I recommend taking him to a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration and has expertise in primitive reflex integration and in
      treating sensory defensiveness.

    • Amanda says...

      Hugs to you! My 2.5 year old has been having aggression too. So so hard!

    • Dimity says...

      Dealing with this exact same thing Tessa and it’s a shock to the system. I found @drbeckyatgoodinside via cupofjo and she’s been so helpful – lots on angry tantrums! And Maggie Dent also. I’m not generally a patient person but am trying to channel some serious zen because I can see my son is really going through something – his little body shakes with rage! In speaking with friends with older kids, seems to be a thing at this sort of age and they do come out the other side. Good luck (to both of us!)

  61. Bridget says...

    Now I’m crying. Thank you, Joanna! I needed this message today.

  62. Jessica says...

    Me! I needed to hear this! Today! This post and the gracious message it shares is exactly why I read COJ every night before bed. You women help me gain the confidence and peace to start tomorrow on the right foot. God bless you Joanna Goddard

  63. V says...

    We all need this! Thank you.

  64. Gertrude's Tine says...

    My 7 yo notified me at bedtime that I can become a Mommy Monster. Well, my stomach flipped. Do I have a rage problem? Am I angry?? The next morning at my therapy appt my therapist said ‘oh, that’s a totally normal comment. My kid’s called me Hulk Mom when I yelled for them to get ready for school.’ It was SO DAMN VALIDATING that the calmest, sweetest woman I’ve ever known also has a Hulk side.

    We are day to day, minute by minute here. Our son seems to love after school care, camp, and piano lessons more than hanging with us. I guess we’ve raised an independent, well adjusted child. Maybe? I guess?

    Gosh, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

    • Kelley says...

      We all have a hulk side! We call it turning momster in my house:)

  65. Elizabeth says...

    I needed this xo

  66. Hillary says...

    Oh, how I needed this reminder today. I have a 22-month-old and am 24 weeks pregnant with my second boy. Peri-natal and postpartum depression have been my life for the past 2 1/2 years, and it has been so so hard. I feel like a terrible mother as I am struggling to connect with anything let alone person I have yet to meet and a wonderful, yet antagonizing toddler. “I will make it through, I will make it through” has become my daily grounding chant.

    • Steph says...

      I can very much relate, Hillary! I’m 7 months pregnant with my third, and for the first 6 months of pregnancy I was in an emotional fog. Cold winter, COVID isolation, trying to parent a 1 year old and 3 year old… it was really hard. Hang in there. You are growing a beautiful baby, and the gift of a sibling is one of the greatest gifts you can give your older child. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you that your depression lifts soon and that you are spared the postpartum depression this time around ❤️

    • dw says...

      You are making it through!

  67. Laura says...

    When I had a two year old and a new baby I would ask the other moms at my son’s preschool when it gets easier? And they would sigh and say, no it just gets different. Yeah right, I though, what is harder than a baby who won’t sleep and and always sick toddler, and yet every time we go through something new, something hard, I remember this truth. Parenting, and life in general, doesn’t ever get easier, it just gets different.

    • rme says...

      I don’t know… my baby never slept. Never. Now that he’s a fun and talkative 2 year old who sleeps through the night, I would say it’s DRASTICALLY better. All of that to say, this advice was super discouraging for me when he was tiny, and ended up not being true in my experience.

    • Sunny says...

      I have a nearly 7 year old, and I think I’m in the sweet spot before adolescence hits — he sits and reads for hours, does chores (grumpily, for screen time) and most critically, wipes his own butt. I get lots of incredibly detailed info from him about who played with who today and black holes, subtypes of spiral galaxies and other adorably nerdy interests. He still pretends he hasn’t heard me anytime I ask him to do something or has the occasional meltdown, but it’s SO much easier than with babies or toddlers. I think this is just a short pause before preteen years, but I’ll take it!

  68. ae says...

    Pregnant with my first and I already feel like a bad mom. I’m not sleeping enough or well, Im only craving crappy food, I’m super stressed about house/work/family/friends. I haven’t bought any baby/family stuff yet. Bleh.

    • Bri says...

      Sending you love AE.

    • When I got my dog, I was plagued by a sense of being a bad dog mom. And then I told him you know what? I’m always going to be imperfect, but I’ll love you like crazy. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. I think it’s enough for him.

    • K says...

      No you’re not a bad mum! Babies don’t need all that much, and most things you can buy even after baby is born. My dr told me that your body starts preparing you for sleepless nights by making you sleep less, go figure. You will be your baby’s entire world and they will look at you in wonder.

    • JB says...

      Also pregnant with my first and right there with you! First trimester was a mess, had unexpected surgery during second trimester, and I’m exhausted again in third trimester. I found that talking to my mom friends and finding a therapist has been really helpful. Give yourself some grace!

  69. Anna says...

    Shout out to all the step parents. You are doing a good job. You may not get those moments so many parents have written about here where their kid tells them how much they love them in a cute way in compensation for the tough moments. You might feel bad sometimes that you feel bad about how you are doing as a step parent. It’s normal but it won’t feel like it while you are feeling it. You get so many of the tough bits and the responsibilities (and no, you can’t have totally known what you were in for), and have to play the long game even harder. It’s ok to look after yourself today.

    • Stef says...

      Thank you for this. Step parenting can feel like all of the hard parts, none of the reward. And I don’t feel like I get the same grace as a parent – I can’t yell or lose my cool at my stepkids because I’m not the mom yet I live with a 3 and 5 year old half of the time and they can be infuriating! And sweet and wonderful but damn. Step parenting isn’t for the weak.

  70. Heather says...

    Gahhh I needed this today. My 8yo son is really struggling with friend stuff at his new school, my one 5 year old periodically has intense and frightening outbursts of emotion that can get violent and dangerous and my other 5 year old is acting like a 3 year old – constant baby talk and pretending she cant do anything for herself or use a fork or a potty and of course wants to be carried. I do not know how to help any of them enough and I know I’m being patient and loving but feel the limits of that. I wish we could all get in a room together and cry and hug.

    • I SEE YOU GURL. That last one, with the potty. That.
      ♥️♥️♥️♥️

    • Nikaela says...

      Oh heather! I relate to this and feel you. I always think that the most comforting thing you could give a struggling parent is a photo of their happy grown up kid, or even better a group photo of all her children as adults with their siblings. Happy and alive and adjusted and grown and friends. Those pictures will exist. We just have to put one foot in front of the other till they do.

    • Capucine says...

      I don’t know how to help my kids, either. Their blind spots are MY blind spots. My thirteen year old who started middle school during Covid and knows nobody at all now she is there in person before a long lonely summer, and is terrified of needles. My nine year old who is saying no to every ask, wetting the bed nightly, and shrieking-whining so much we all want to get as far away from him as we can. My sulking husband who thinks my teen is being mean to him. Me…who still cannot get a house clean and organized after a year of nowhere else to be. I do not know how to help, only how to try, and these are the things trying has left unfixed.

  71. Emily says...

    I needed to hear this exactly at this moment. Thank you!

  72. made me burst into tears! i needed to hear it. it’s all been so much with this year and parenting and working and child rearing ….

  73. Asia says...

    Thank you for the reminder! Some days parenting teens–especially through a pandemic–can feel like one long, slo-mo fail. Hang in there, everyone!

  74. K says...

    Once of my greatest joys in the past few years has been getting back to dance classes after having kids. During quarantine, my teacher started holding outdoor classes on the middle school basketball court. For months, it was the only time I was near people other than my husband and kids.
    One Saturday in February — more overwhelmed than I have ever been and knowing I was failing at every single job I had (mother, teacher, project manager wife, daughter, friend, citizen), the teacher played Good Job by Alicia Keys and I just lost it — I was fully sobbing while dancing and so embarrassed. And then the teacher, singing along, called out to each of us by name, “You’re doing a good job.” It was the kind of thing that might have made me cringe in 2019, but utterly moved me in 2021. And it’s nice to hear it again here and know that we’re all just trying.

    • Jessica says...

      I heard that song on the radio sometime this winter and had to pull the car over, it made me sob so darn hard. I can’t imagine trying to dance!
      It me: https://tenor.com/bahnm.gif

    • Laura says...

      Oh my goodness! Silly, but on the peloton app, one of the instructors did a stretch routine to this song and she said “to whoever needs to hear it, you’re doing a good job.” And pandemic 2020 me sobbed the whole 10 min stretch. ❤️

  75. Stacey says...

    Validating! We’re having a rough go of it over here preparing for our oldest’s graduation. My glum 16 year old looked at me yesterday—while I was up to my eyeballs cleaning and planting and said, “I just wanted to go for a bike ride with you today.” Dropped everything…

  76. I needed to hear this today x

  77. Tiffany says...

    Wish I could just thumbs up this post, because YES!

  78. Ceridwen Box says...

    Love this. Thank you. I think it is important to not put that pressure on ourselves or our kids to be perfect all the time. We are not and we shouldn’t be. When those blissful moments happen you soak them up and really be in them. I try not to let the hard stuff take away from those moments but see the hard bits are important too because we are helping. Doing our best.

  79. Melissa Graham says...

    Oh man, thank you for this reminder and for the discussion it prompted. Our family of four is living out of a hotel while our house is repaired from a pipe that busted, and it has been challenging beyond belief. We’re all at the end of our rope. One day last week, while my 3-year-old was having an epic meltdown is the self checkout line at Target, a woman in front of me turned around and said, “You’re a good mom.” I could have sobbed right there. I’ve lost my patience with my kids so much and feel like I’m failing constantly, and for a stranger to take the time to build me up really impacted me.

    I plan to do the same next time I see a mom struggling. Solidarity y’all.

    • beth says...

      Oh, goodness! Having survived a house flood from a busted pipe myself, I know your stress- it is horrible! Best of luck!!

      PS My advice to everyone: find out where your water shut-off valve is right now. It is mind-blowing how quickly your house can fill with water!

  80. Annie says...

    Once when my son was about five, we were having lunch at a bagel place together, and an older man dropped a note on our table as he was leaving. I opened it, and it said, “You are a wonderful mother. He will never want another.” I keep it in my wallet still.

    It’s hard to be a mother. And a kid. And a person.

    • Sage says...

      That is one of the sweetest things I have EVER read. <3 What an unforgettable gesture.

    • Ceridwen says...

      That is lovely!!

    • Megan says...

      burst into tears reading this. <3

    • M says...

      What?! I need to do this now. So so so so sweet.

    • Paige says...

      oh wow. just completely overwhelmed by the pure love of this. and it’s so true. xoxo

  81. Marisa says...

    Our kids our grown and tell us all the time that we are such fantastic parents, but we didn’t do anything special. We just loved them and wanted them to be happy.

  82. Sophia says...

    I’m recovering from my second miscarriage in 4 months and also trying desperately hard to navigate the complex, fraught, difficult relationship I have with a tricky SIL with compassion and grace. Am at my wit’s end. I feel like this message was for me too: mama to my two babies not able to be where I want them to be: with me. Am trying my best so hard! Thank you Jo, I needed this message today.

    • Maureen says...

      Oh Sophia. Your comment really struck me as in the recent past I’ve had two miscarriages in a short time as well, along with drama in my family. I just wanted to say you’re not alone and you’re going to be ok. Give yourself lots of grace, and when it’s not enough give yourself more. It’s ok to be not ok for however long you need.

    • E says...

      Yep, this morning I got confirmation that I’m not pregnant (again) three months after a miscarriage and after a year of trying before that. Trying so hard to stay in the moment and not worry, but gosh it’s hard.

    • KM says...

      Oh Sophia. Try your best, but give yourself time to grieve and think about those lost little ones. I had several miscarriages through a long (ultimately successful) ivf process – seven years after the birth of my twins I still wonder what kind of people those babies would have been. I have a special place I go to where I leave a small beach stone for them, just sometimes, when I’m thinking of them more than usual.
      Don’t shut them out, they will always be a part of your life, and your in theirs. Much love xx

    • K says...

      I’m so sorry Sophia and E. I’ve been there after 2 miscarriages and know how hard it can be… You are
      a good mom. Take it easy and take care of yourself… It definitely is hard.

    • Sophia says...

      Oh thank you all, for your lovely lovely comments. They help so much! It’s rough, but I feel less alone when I reach out and share some of my story. So grateful for you sharing yours with me. Sending you all much love too.

    • L says...

      I had two miscarriages within a few months right before pandemic hit. It was completely devastating and to add salt to the wound, seemed like suddenly everyone I knew was pregnant. I’m now sitting with my 4 mo old pandemic baby trying to get her to sleep. Sending you strength ❤️

  83. Emily says...

    This reminds me of something my dramatic sister said (screamed) when she was a dramatic 5 year old: “IT’S HARD BEING A PERSON!” It’s a family motto and has been for 25 years now :) You’re all welcome to borrow it whenever you need it. I have an 11m daughter now, and as we think about daycares for the fall (put her in the class where she’s the youngest, or the oldest?), I am starting to realize that the newborn/infant phase exists only to distract you from how hard ACTUAL parenting is. Oh, you think it’s hard losing sleep because a baby is crying at 3am? At least the only fallout there is …. everyone is tired. As they get older, every decision and choice just breaks your heart with more intensity and more guilt. Hang in there, everyone!

    • Allison says...

      Yeah actually I found the newborn/infant phase way way harder because I cannot cope with sleep deprivation. Dealing with the typical childhood school/life issues may sometimes be very emotionally draining but I find it so much easier to manage now I’m getting enough sleep. My kids are 6 and 10 so no experience with teenagers yet but shout-out to the people who are really struggling through the baby phase who might be dismayed by the “it gets harder comments”.. for me I’d take today’s struggles over being terminally short of sleep any day.

    • E says...

      I agree with Allison. In the depths of sleep deprivation, it would have crushed me to hear it gets harder. I think different phases are just harder for different people, and it’s all valid and real.

    • Nicole says...

      Oof, I agree—it is so hard to be a person! I have three kids, and I always found the newborn phase to be easier than parenting older kids. I think maybe the bar is lower-you hold them, you feed them, repeat and repeat. So much more tricky emotional stuff to navigate when they get bigger (for them and for me!). I know that’s not true for everyone (sleep deprivation is real), but I definitely find myself agonizing over so many more things now that my kids are older.

    • Joyce says...

      Thank you, Allison and E, from the mother of an 18-month old (who didn’t sleep well for the first 13 months) who is about to give birth to another newborn any day now! I am worried about the sleep deprivation component again. It is SO hard for me. To me, newborn needs are SO physical all the time — I am actually looking forward to transitioning to more emotional needs. I am not saying it’s EASIER (parenting is never easy!) but I think it’s a better fit for me, personally. I actually more enjoy helping my toddler when he’s having a meltdown (he has many) vs. getting woken up at 4am for 10 months straight to breastfeed.

      Zooming out: I do not find compassion in the “just you wait” messages to young mothers, as if what they’re doing isn’t real. Pregnancy is real motherhood! Newborn care is real motherhood! Every child and mother is different. Your experience will not be everyone’s experience. Let’s leave space for different experiences.

    • Emily says...

      I’m sorry, everyone! I broke my own rule against saying “It get’s worse!” That’s gross of me! Sleep deprivation is terrible and influences everything in your whole life, and almost nothing is worse than that. I just meant to say that I personally put so much preparation and low expectation behind that newborn stage, that I didn’t realize my heart was getting split open and rebuilt into this whole new organ that is bigger and stronger but way softer than I ever used to be. And the weight of being a PARENT and not just a caregiver, is tremendous and beautiful, but also stressful and scary. And my comment was meaning to say “Man, I have a baby who sometimes (thankfully only sometimes) keeps me up at night, and I have the support to get through the physicality of that, but what will I do mentally and emotionally when the first person breaks her heart?” That I never considered.

  84. Rosha says...

    I didn’t know that I needed to read this, but I did. I always know that your posts hit a tender spot when I immediately well up with tears when I read the post and comments. thank you Joanna and the cup of jo community.

  85. Jennifer says...

    Thank you for this post. I am having big feelings of regret about everything really – I chose to move away from my hometown right after college, and what do you know, I ended up meeting my husband here. Fast forward, and now we have an 8 year old and an almost 3 year old, a mortgage, etc. Thing is, we have no family here. I grew up surrounded by family, so I am totally at odds with how my kids are being raised, even though I know rationally that to them they don’t know any different! Can anyone else relate? We have tried to make smaller “families” here in our city, but of course with COVID it’s just been magnified since we haven’t really socialized this past year. I just want someone to tell me that it’s all ok and that my kids aren’t going to grow up maladjusted because they weren’t surrounded by cousins like I was when I was little. And honestly, I am not even that close to my cousins! I guess I’m just feeling a bit homesick even though we love our city. Gah. The back and forth emotions of parenting are sometimes too much for me. Glad to read that I’m not alone.

    • Melissa Graham says...

      I grew up with no extended family close. We lived in Texas and they were all spread across the country- Michigan, Florida, Connecticut, etc. I didn’t know any different so I never really felt like I missed out on anything. Instead, it was always a high point when we made the trek to visit them each year. Instead, my parents were really close with 3 other couples and their kids were like my cousins. We did everything together, and I have the fondest memories from that time. You’re doing great, and your kids will turn out just fine. 💕

    • Hillary F. says...

      I grew up with just our nuclear family and it was wonderful. We are all thriving, super successful adults. There is a joy and simplicity in the small family unit that is just wonderful. Your kids will be MORE than fine. :)

    • Em says...

      Growing up surrounded by a group of people that is a “chosen” family can be a benefit because there is a diversity of experience and diversity of perspective among that chosen family, that you won’t get from the genetic/biological family!

    • G says...

      Jennifer, I feel you. I have worries about my kids growing up in a city while my husband and I had wonderful childhoods in small towns. I try to remind myself that as long as they are loved and cared for, they will think their childhood was wonderful and don’t know any different. That said….if YOU really miss your family, it’s never too late to make a move! Your kids will adjust to that as well! :-)

    • Hilary says...

      I will also attest that my husband is from a big family (6 kids!) and his family is very insular. They have an “it’s just us against the world” kind of attitude and it’s very hard to break into their clan, cousins and all. So in my experience (as one who broke in and still feels like an outsider, 10 years later) it’s way more about how you welcome people and stay open and inclusive vs. whether you have cousins around or not. You can have wonderful family-like relationships with anyone, AND you can have tenuous-at-best, surface level relationships with family.

      Meanwhile, I grew up with a gaggle of cousins and several of them have turned into Trumpy Republicans. They live 20 mins away and I actively, regularly choose to not see them. They might as well live in a different state…and that’s been great :)

    • CS says...

      Hi Jennifer,

      I can totally relate to your comment. I live in Los Angeles with no family here. It’s a huge city and the distance to get across town can inhibit connection between kid’s friends, etc. But, the only family we have live on the East Coast and we see them once a year. My kids are 17 and 20 (in college) so I can tell you to keep creating your communities where you live. It works! I’ve put a lot of effort into creating a “village” of mom/parent friends at my kids school and through other places when my kids were younger like play groups, the park, etc. These are the people I add to my emergency pick-up list for school, the people whose kids sleep over (before covid) and who we go on family vacations with. I can honestly tell you it takes work to build a community and sometimes it can fall apart if somebody moves away or the kids stop getting along so you need a few different groups. But it will be ok!

    • Amanda says...

      Jennifer, your story is similar to mine! Moved away at 18 attended an out of state college, married a local, got my first(and current) teaching position in the city, bought a house and had our son here. My husband has his family in town but we don’t see them often. He even says he grew up differently, always with his cousins and it just isn’t that way anymore. His own sister is like pulling teeth to bring her kids over to play with our son. Anyways, I am homesick for the familiarity of my past, pre college self and day dream of what it would be like if I lived closer to my sisters. Itd be so easy to just stop by on a regular basis, even for nothing special. Covid has heightened my sense of all of this since we have seemed to have lost a few relationships along the way with all thats been going on. I have tried to build a social group here but as I explained to my husband, when all of the women who teach with me have their own core group of friends that they have known since they were toddlers around here, its hard to find my place in that as an outsider.

    • K says...

      Jennifer, I hear ya. We aren’t living near family either (living in our current city due to work) and it’s been magnified this past year due to Covid. It’s mostly just been our little nuclear family socializing (a couple small distanced hangouts with masks). Our family either lives on the other side of the country or abroad. I get so jealous seeing people with their parents living nearby pod-ing up with them, or making pods with close friends (we don’t have anyone close enough to do so, or they have their own pod already with their extended family). I look at my kids and they seem okay (we are both home working and make it a point to socialize with them a lot and go on outings, and the siblings have each other) and they say they’re happy but the Mom guilt and worry can get to me, wondering, are they going to be ok?? I grew up with just my family and no cousins nearby and I was fine. Didn’t even think anything of it but of course I forget this myself until I read these comments! I feel homesick for my parents. Parenting is hard. It sometimes makes me want to be a kid again. I can’t wait for the vaccines for younger kids/babies to be available so we can socialize more normally with other families with kids again, and hopefully visit family or have those living abroad visit us.

    • AN says...

      if it makes you feel any better, my brother and i are 3 years apart and lived in texas while the entire rest of our family lived in mexico and brazil. no cousins around, no grandparents around, no aunts and uncles around. our friends became our family, and we are 33 years old (me) and 36 years old (him) and are both best friends with the little kids we met down the street at the ages of 6 and 9. we’re not maladjusted at all. we adjusted well, we’re resilient, we know the importance of chosen family and we are happy as can be :)

    • Jennifer says...

      Thank you for you lovely people who responded to my rambling worried post! I’m going to print these out and keep them nearby, whenever my anxiety bubbles up. You guys are great!

  86. HD says...

    Thank you for this. I’m currently pregnant with my second child, in my first trimester and absolutely as sick as can be. The nausea and exhaustion have worn me down into wondering why I’m doing this again, but this post reminded me of the “breakthrough moments” in parenting when you see the joy on your child’s face and know it has all been worth it.

    • Kaysie says...

      I just want to say, I felt this comment so hard. I desperately wanted a second baby and it took us a very long time to get pregnant with #2. But then I had what can only be described as the MOST MISERABLE PREGNANCY. Ever. I vomited every single day until the day I gave birth and I just never felt “good”. I had a few dark thoughts and absolutely thought we had made a terrible mistake by having another. Our son was 4. We were sleeping again! I was starting to get some semblance of my old life back. What was I thinking?!
      Well, fast forward to a year and a half after giving birth to my second (a bouncing baby girl) and I can PROMISE you that you will not regret doing it all over again. Getting to see my son as a big brother has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. And this second baby – my god – the unbridled JOY she brings to the world. I had no idea how much I needed her until she was here, turning my world upside down, stealing my sleep and my heart.
      Feel whatever you need to feel right now – guilt-free – but just know that you’ve got this and you will LOVE being a mama of two.

    • Claire says...

      I am in this exact same place with you. It’s relentless and exhausting. My 3 yr old has really struggled with me being so low energy and I feel immense guilt. I just keep reminding myself that the first trimester cloud will lift soon and things will get better. Hang in there!

  87. Grace says...

    Thank you for this. I have had a really rough week after finding out that I am unexpectedly pregnant. At 40. About one month after my husband and I decided we are happy and at peace with our family of 3 (we have a 4-year-old) and really can’t handle another child, even though we always thought we would have another. We are not financially stable and don’t know when that will change. We are in marriage counseling after discussing divorce several months ago and both have mental health issues. I’m just so confused about what to do and never ever thought I would consider not going forward with a pregnancy, but that seems to be the logical conclusion. This is such an emotional decision though and I have been crying for a full week. It’s not like I can put it off for some other magical time when we have it all together. It’s now or never. I love babies and I always have wanted another but I’m scared about so many things. How it will affect my marriage, my body, our life. How my age (and my husband’s) could affect the health of the baby. Meanwhile, our daughter begs for a sibling quite frequently so I feel like a terrible parent for not feeling sure I can do it all again, for not being sure I can give her (and us) this baby. But wanting to at the same time. It’s all just too much, especially after the stresses of this past year. I don’t know how to make this decision.
    Thank you for always being a safe haven when I need it.

    • Mags says...

      Grace, this sounds so hard. Give yourself time to make whatever is the right choice for you. And for what it’s worth this stranger is giving you a virtual hug.

    • Hollye says...

      Oh Grace I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I think either decision is totally right and understandable, even though I know both decisions are hard in their own ways. I hope you’re being really gentle with yourself. It sounds like you’re a wonderful mother and a good person. Sending you lots of peace and grace.

    • claire says...

      This all sounds really hard, Grace Wishing you clarity and comfort and peace.

    • Ro says...

      Grace, I send so much love to you. No answers, unfortunately, but I know you will make it through this no matter what path you take. What a year, right?! You’re not alone.

    • Moriah says...

      Oh Grace! I’m so sorry you are in this hard situation. It sounds like you are such a strong woman. Sending you lots of love.

    • T says...

      Grace, you CAN do this! I was in a similar place having decided we were done, and lo and behold I became pregnant again and had our baby in February. This baby has been our easiest, mellowest, best sleeping baby and the older siblings absolutely dote on him. Kudos for taking the steps to get to a good place with counseling. Your struggles make you human! Its a difficult journey but look at your other children and I’m sure you’d agree they are worth your sacrifice. All the best to you.

    • Ceridwen says...

      What a big time for you. Sending you much love.

    • Sage says...

      I had an abortion years ago and it was the best decision for me at the time. I have a family of 3 as well. YOU will make the choice that is best for you and your family, and I am sending so so much love and peace your way no matter what happens! Take a breath. You have time to figure it out. XO

    • kristy says...

      In case you need to hear it, it is OK to make a choice you never thought you would. The scenarios we imagine are never the scenarios we actually face, so it’s OK if we don’t act the way we expected we would. Sending you so much love and strength.

    • Lauren says...

      I often think of Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Ghost Ship’ column when faced with impossible, difficult decisions where there is no ‘right’ answer. Whatever you decide “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours”

      Sending you love Grace.

    • Mara says...

      As a kid, I was like your daughter: an only child, begging for a sibling. My parents chose not to have another kid, and although I know I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities if I had a sibling, because money and parental attention would have been tighter, I still wish I had a sibling. Every day. To this day. My parents did not get always along super well, and growing up I often wished I had someone to share some of the burden/experience with me. Other times, I just wished I had someone to play with and to share really good times with. Fast forward, my mom passed away while I am in my mid 20s, and my dad is left alone with no living relatives. I wish I had a sibling with whom I could continue remembering my mom as a mother. Someone who could understand how I felt. Someone else to carry her memory and spirit forward. I live at the other end of the world from where I grew up and my dad still lives, and again I have no one with whom to share some of the weight of taking care of family.
      Obviously, whichever decision you end up making is the right one. There’s great reasons for both of them. I am just sharing this in case you are looking for a perspective as to why a sibling might be a blessing for your kid despite/because of the difficulties you and your husband are facing.

    • Oh my goodness, KRISTY.

      “It is OK to make a choice you never thought you would.”

      You know how sometimes a person you don’t even know (hi, internet pals!) says something that shifts everything? You done done it to me, Kristy. We aren’t defined by the decisions we make or choose not to make, what we opt for and what we turn away from. Souls are much more complex than that.

      I guess what I want to say, Grace, is that you are unknowingly your own safe haven. Burrow inside yourself. You are enough, you are more than what you choose or don’t choose to do. We define ourselves early on and then, like, spend DECADES berating ourselves for not being the person we decided we were at age 15. Back then, I swore I’d never have sex before marriage or color my hair. Big decisions, stupid decisions. I’m still me, every day, even when I disappoint myself. You’ll still be you, Grace.

      Is it weird to say I love you, fellow human? Because I do. I love you, the aptly named Grace. You are doing a good job being a complicated human.

    • Deborah says...

      Dear Grace, I hope you can find what your heart truly wants. This is your one life and you get to choose. Do not worry about providing a sibling. Decide what works for you and your husband. There is no wrong choice here.

    • Abbie says...

      Whatever choice you make will be okay. I promise. I had an abortion in a similar situation and it was the “okayest” choice for me and my family. Maybe having another baby is the “okayest” choice for you, or maybe not. Sometimes no choice is “right” or “good” but that doesn’t mean it’s bad either. Right now is a terrible, terrible time for you at this moment, but eventually a choice will be made and you WILL be okay. Sending huge hugs and holding you in the light.

    • Dianna says...

      Choose life!
      You won’t regret it.
      I didn’t. My family is thriving.
      God bless!

    • Grace says...

      I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to respond to me. Every perspective, word of encouragement and the empathy you have shown is all so bolstering. This community amazes me and I love all of you. Thank you. <3

    • Melody says...

      I thought we were done also after 4 kids. I was 41 and my youngest child was 6 and I had back problems and many other concerns. I was shocked to find myself pregnant. shocked. Now he is 18 months and I could not imagine life without him. Adding a sibling is also a VERY helpful thing. I remember when we had only our first and number 2 came along. I had a revelation that I had never considered the love that would exist between the two of them. What joy there was watching my oldest pull my second oldest toddler around the dining table on a blanket giggling and giggling. Siblings are a wonderful gift. Bless you today in this moment of decision.

  88. Deseree Brittingham says...

    I love that you likened this last year to a gap year. It’s such a positive way of framing it, and your post really resonates with my own experience. Thank you!

  89. Emily says...

    You will! And it gets so much easier, or at least still hard but in different ways. I have a 7mo and almost 4 yr.

    The 4 yr old pushed a kid at the park today and the kids mom yelled at him and I just wanted to cry. Did cry, actually, walking home. Now stress eating chips. Definitely need the encouragement today!

  90. JT says...

    I too needed this today……Last night as we were wrapping up dinner and watching baseball, my 9 year old son saw a commercial for some terrifying show about zombies. Why must you do this tv people? Ads for Clarice scare me! Anyhow, he was so scared and at bedtime asked me to stay a bit longer, sing one more song, etc.. I was so tired and he just wasn’t letting it go. He turns to me and says “Moms really have these special things they sprinkle on you to make you feel safe.” I’m tearing up just remembering the moment because I know I’ll remember it always. And so should all of you.

  91. MJ says...

    Thank you for this. I have a 2.5 year and and a new baby in the NICU. Feeling like I’m letting everyone down. A good reminder that the act of trying to do our best is the same as doing our best.

    • Sadie says...

      Sending love

    • B says...

      From a former NICU parent, all I can say, is that I’m sorry. NICU is an impossible lifestyle, a stress like I have never known, just an awful thing. But … it passes. It feels pretty far in my rear view just 5 years later. Stay strong, mama–you got this.

  92. Stacy says...

    One of the best things someone said to me during the newborn phase is that nothing terrible will happen to your baby if it cries. It gave me permission to take a deep breath and even a bathroom break without feeling like I was breaking the baby. You’ve got this!!

  93. Laura says...

    Having just tried, and likely failed, for the upteenth time to explain to my 4-year-old that what I am doing at my computer is actually my job, that no I can’t play a game with her and do my job at the same time even though I want to…this post was what I needed. I don’t know if it is the onset of the summer, the familiar sense of hitting the newness of the summer season with the tentacles of the pandemic still there or what (almost like a deja vu of sorts), but I have been feeling the weight of this past year extra hard over the past few weeks. I work from home, have four kids ranging in age from 13 to 4 and my wonderful husband is a nurse and out of the house on the regular. I. am. tired…and just needed to read this. Thank you.

    • Rebecca says...

      I often have to remind myself that it is equally an act of good parenting to demonstrate to your children what working means and looks like, what taking care of yourself and working out looks like. Yes, it means I can’t play LEGO’s at the moment but they need to see us taking care of ourselves just as much as spending time focused on them. Big hugs to you! It is so hard.

  94. A says...

    My 6 year old gave me a Mother’s Day card that said, “I love you so much. And you are smart. So keep it up. You are the best Mom ever. So yay.” And I just reread that shiz every. single. day. xo

    • lori says...

      You’ve got a great kid….. so yay!! (:

  95. Eva says...

    Reading this AND the comments made me tear up. Hang in there, you all. It’s just been such a rough year for so many reasons. I am not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone.

    • Quinn says...

      Same. Just sitting over here tearing up…’We are not alone.’ Such an important reminder right now. Take care Eva – and everyone.

  96. RebeccaNYC says...

    I recently started telling my friends with kids that I think they are doing a great job. The response I have been getting from that simple sentence varies from denial, brushing it off, to full on sobs. Many have thanked me, saying they really needed to hear that. Parenting is hard.

    • YES. My friend group is big on saying this to one another, and since none of us live in the same state as each other, we say it in writing (text, email, snail mail). The permanence of a written you-can-do-it has me returning to those messages in down moments.

  97. Agnes says...

    Ok, well, I am cat sitting and couldn’t find my friend’s cat in the house for 10 minutes and was about to have a literal HEART ATTACK that she was gone forever and I’m a negligent pet sitter and their family member is MISSING, before she appeared from – I swear – thin air. I am still freaking out. HOW YOU PEOPLE DO THIS 24/7 WITH ACTUAL HUMANS, I DO NOT KNOW. Please find a mirror and take a bow!!

    • This comment made me smile so hard – my 5 year old son’s beloved cat went missing last night. We searched for hours & had some hard conversations about the idea that he might be gone forever. Then that ridiculous jack wagon of a cat turned up out of nowhere (seriously cats, how do you do it?!) and we were SO SO happy to have him back!! Many kitty hugs and loves and snuggles.
      Anyway! All the darling encouraging comments from kid-free people are making my heart swell and the tears fall 💜

    • meg says...

      That was awesome

    • Agnes says...

      Oh I’m so happy he came back!!! Waaahh!! <3

    • Rachel says...

      Damn cats. My cat went missing for two days!!!!! I finally figured out he had clawed a little hole on the underside of a box spring mattress and was INSIDE it. My kids have never done anything like that lol.

    • Caro says...

      Agnes-This is pure gold. Write a book or start a podcast so we can all read and listen and laugh.

    • Dee says...

      I just laughed so hard LOL :)

  98. AJ says...

    You are all doing absolutely brilliantly x

  99. MB says...

    My son’s separation anxiety is an 11/10 since the pandemic began. I asked our pediatrician about it and he sort of shrugged and said, “So many kids are having trouble right now.” So… what are we doing about it?!?

    • CS says...

      Hi MB, my shy daughter had severe separation anxiety during her infant/toddler years. She had stranger anxiety too, so if anybody looked at her, she’d start crying and not stop. When she started preschool she cried so hard she vomited. They’d call me and I’d have to pick her up or sit with her. I thought I’d have a nervous breakdown. This went on for about a month. It was unbearably hard. But, what our very experienced preschool director helped me realize is that being able to separate from me was a life skill she needed to learn. So, I kept her in preschool and she ended up loving it. I did a zillion playdates and when she was older, drop-off playdates. I got babysitters and we went out to dinner. All of this was incredibly stressful as it was happening. She clung to me at toddler birthday parties and cried when the babysitter showed up. I didn’t let that stop us. I knew she was well cared for and this would benefit her later. Well, as you can imagine, I was dreading the first day of kindergarten at a new school. Guess who’s kid got in line, waved goodbye to me and didn’t look back? Mine. Guess who’s kid loved the overnight school field trips? Mine. She’s now in college 2000 miles away from home and loves it. You got this.

  100. Meg says...

    A few years ago, I was on a camping trip and had two opposite, externally judged, parenting moments all in the same evening. In the first, my four year old daughter was having an extreme fit of irritation for reasons I don’t remember, and she locked herself into the stall of the restroom and refused to come out, and then finally when she wanted to come out, the lock was stuck and at first she couldn’t exit. I was so angry with her for her attitude and the whole aggravation of that situation. When we realized the lock was stuck, we rattled it around trying to unstick it and somehow in that process her finger jammed and she ripped her skin and started bleeding. When she came out of the stall crying about her finger, I snapped at her about that was her own fault and I gave her no sympathy whatsoever. Some other lady in that bathroom gave me a look of horror and disgust and said, “But she was stuck!” And I looked furious and unrepentant and she just looked at me like I was awful. And then later that same evening, I was helping one of my other kids with something and I must have been being patient, though I don’t remember anything about what we were doing or saying, but some stranger surprised me by commenting, “Oh what a good mom you are!” as she walked by. I felt like telling her she should have been there an hour ago when I was being a terrible mom.

    • Kiana says...

      This has happened to me too! We aren’t bad moms though, we’re humans. We get aggravated and blow our stack and are sometimes unfair and stubborn. But we are also patient, kind, loving, fun, supportive. Everything is more nuanced than it looks from the outside, be gentle on yourself and with others.

    • supercalifragilistic says...

      Was your other kid a boy?
      I see that all the time. It is always a girl CHILD’s own fault but boys get unlimited passes, especially from the mother. Children can be difficult as they learn to integrate autonomy and emotions. Especially fricken 4 YEAR OLDS. They always deserve compassion even when it is their “own fault”. A teen is maybe old enough to “deserve” it but a toddler??? No.

    • Angela says...

      That made me laugh and nod my head.

      I remember, as a parent, surprising myself a number of times about just how angry and mean I could feel (and become), when I’ve always thought of myself as kind.

      It made me realise both aspects of ‘me’ exist…..and that made me understand others more. It also, for some reason, gave me a bit more self compassion….I could see I was suffering.

    • Heather says...

      Last night my five year old refused to put on a dry shirt after swimming and refused to put on her shoes. So walking home on the gravel path she’s wailing, I’m cold!!!!! My feet hurt!!! And it was really frickin annoying because I’m carrying her dry clothes and her shoes which she refuses to wear. She then just sat down on the path and refused to walk, meanwhile my two other kids are so far ahead I can’t see them anymore and its making me anxious. I said to her, You are choosing to be cold. You are choosing to walk on gravel. I’m getting very angry at you because I need to catch up to the others but I can’t just leave you! I know she’s 5. I didn’t call her any names or insult her…. Is it OK that I told her it was her own fault? What should I have done?

    • Meg says...

      Heather, this is the precise situation that happens in my family all the time. You refuse to eat and then tell me you’re hungry. You refuse to put on a coat and then tell me you’re cold. You refuse to get your book to read in the car, and then tell me you’re bored during our car ride because you don’t have your book. I have to tell myself some version of “babies be babies” all the time to talk myself off a ledge of how frustrating I find irrational behavior to be. But I did hear once that it is good parenting to connect actions to consequences for your kids. As in, you chose to walk on gravel and now your feet hurt. If you had chosen to put on shoes, they wouldn’t have hurt. So it sounds as if you did the right thing. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s bad parenting to let them walk on gravel and feel that it hurts their feet and then not feel sorry for them that their feet hurt. But others may be much more patient than I am in these situations! It is helpful for me to read that others are going through this too so thank you for your comment.

    • supercalifragilistic says...

      @ Heather
      Show her how to make a correct choice, kindly and patiently, by presenting the options in a way that makes it obvious. If she still chooses to suffer then that means she is too tired to make decisions – who hasn’t been there! – and give her love and understanding by squatting down for a tight hug and an understanding kiss. Or along those lines.

      Exhausted children get a pass. Their bodies and emotions are still undeveloped and she could have been in need of food and rest after a swim session. They need to see unconditional love demonstrated when they are out of sorts, at least as often as you can muster it. It’s a tremendously legitimate mindfulness practice.

  101. Kristen says...

    You have no idea how much I needed this today. I am in the process of becoming a single parent to a little boy, moving into my dad’s house in the middle of nowhere from a big city, and processing the heartbreak of my relationship with my partner ending. I’m in that place where everything feels broken and every decision I make hurts someone.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sending you the biggest hug, Kristen. That sounds really hard, oh my gosh. We are rooting for you. Xo

    • Laura says...

      I promise, Kristen, that you will one day (not so long from now) look back on this and marvel at your strength and accomplishment.

    • Erin says...

      Hi Kristen, I have been a single parent (to two boys) for about 3 years now. It was hard at first and everything did feel broken. I discovered, though, that I found a new kind of freedom in single parenting, because I was able to just enjoy my lovely kids without the straining presence of a spouse from whom I was estranged. I began doing things with my kids that I loved but had previously avoided because I was tiptoeing around their dad’s preferences — I took the boys to a symphony concert, we had silly dance parties after dinner, etc. It was fun, and I still have tons of fun spending time with my kids and watching who they are becoming. I wish for you many moments in the weeks and months ahead of just plain enjoying the company of your little boy.

      Also, you’re a good mom. Single moms are good moms. People don’t say it enough but it’s true.

  102. Rachael says...

    Thank you for this. My kids are so excited for summer break (school ends in two days!) and I…am not. It’s been a long year of hybrid school with in-person days and eLearning days and it feels like everyone has been home since last March and man I am just so tired. And teenagers are SO MUCH HARDER EMOTIONALLY than toddlers. The stakes just feel so much higher.

    • celeste says...

      Yes, yes, yes! Find yourself a small group of teen moms and do coffee or drinks. You’ll feel so much better! I used to complain on social media but that’s pretty much taboo when you have a teen.

    • Claudia says...

      Same. Same. Same…

      I could have written the exact same post. I’m TREADING summer. My husband and I have been home, with two teenagers, since last March. Working from home, schooling from home….I feel like a major “I’m going to loose it” moment is always just around the corner.

      Glennon Doyle’s “You can do hard things” mantra is said out loud in this house many times over every day.

  103. Catharine says...

    My husband and I made a choice in September to unenroll both of our children from school, ages 7 and 4, and homeschool this year. The four of us have spent so much time at home. I feel so socially rusty outside of the comfort of my husband, children, and a few family members and close friends. I am not a teacher by training, I am a pediatric nurse, and my husband is an attorney. However, I am so proud of the four of us for believing in each other and ourselves and making this work. It has felt like this funny year abroad, almost like a gap year spent in the confines of the four walls of our home. I will also say, that I have had a great preschool and first grade education, oh and my have kids too🙃

    • Lorraine says...

      This sounds familiar! We also homeschooled our kids this year – ages 4 and 8. It wasn’t always easy, the focus ebbs and flows – but it is a special year to look back on for sure.

    • E says...

      I did the same with my kids, and now we’ve decided to continue homeschooling next year. I’m curious how many pandemic homeschoolers will continue as well??

    • Catharine says...

      Our kids are returning to school. I will no longer be working virtually and my husband will be back in the office part-time. However, it has taught me so much about my children and I will always enjoy learning along with them. I thank homeschool for really showing me that.

  104. Helen says...

    THANK YOU. My 2-year-old has motor and speech delays, and we’re in the process of getting her evaluated for more therapy. I’m constantly worrying that I’ve missed something, that I’m not doing enough for her, that I’m going to screw something up, that I may be responsible for her situation. I love her so much, and she’s happy and healthy despite her delays. It’s just a lot of weight to carry as a parent (as a human being!). I really needed to hear these words today.

    • Briana says...

      Hi! This sounds really hard. I’m sure you are frightened and overwhelmed! I’m a children’s librarian with an MAT in Early Childhood Education. I work with toddlers all the time. I know you probably know this and have experts saying this, but here is one more expert—any delay your child is experiencing is not your fault! Often, kids just develop at their own speed or need a little extra help. Sometimes, they have brains that will be a little different, but amazing in their own way. Either way, it isn’t because of anything you did or did not do. You can, however, take credit for the fact that she is nurtured and loved and happy!

    • cg says...

      @Helen
      You are not responsible for her situation. I am a mom of a sixteen year old autistic girl, and know what you’re saying. I felt the same when she was not yet three and getting evaluated. I even went so far as to think that maybe she wouldn’t be in this situation if only I had taken her to the temple to get blessed when we adopted her at 14 months old (it was offered as part of a cultural thing, but she had a cold and was fussy).

      Parenting is difficult, and it can be ridden with guilt and self doubt. That you are in the process of getting your daughter evaluated tells me enough that you are not failing her, you are doing good for her, and you are doing a good job at that. You are strong and you are her best advocate, you are her foundation and every little step you take, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may feel to you, no matter how feeble it may seem to you, all the little steps put together over her lifetime, especially in the early years, will help her in ways unimaginable. I have felt it all, I continue to feel it all. But I am reminded once in a while, especially when I think “Gosh, I wish my 16 year old would stop asking me all these questions!” that there was a time, fourteen years ago when I was sobbing very big, fat tears at my therapist’s office exclaiming “I don’t think I’ll ever hear her say she loves me!”. Wishing you and your wee one all the good things.

    • Laura says...

      Just the fact that you recognize she needs more support means you are doing the right thing and are an amazing mom!! I provided therapy and parent training for 7 years for children under 3 with delays. My own daughter who is now 21 months has a significant speech delay and sensory issues. We are getting her further evaluated as well next month to see if she needs more services. Even with my experience I constantly question if I did something or could have done more when she was younger. I am overwhelmed by the stress of it all constantly. It is hard but you have got this and your daughter is so lucky to have you!

    • Helen says...

      @Briana, CG, and Laura, Thank you for your very kind and reassuring comments! I was crying as I read them. No one in my family or friend group has dealt with this, so it’s easy to feel alone. Your words mean a lot.

  105. Amanda says...

    Thank You JoAnna ❤ Much needed to hear today. You have no idea…
    I broke down in tears on Saturday because I was just having a really hard day with 2.5 year old son.
    Historically, he hasn’t been a chill kid, the easy first baby everyone talks about and is 100% a difficult child. He is intense. He is fierce. He is so much, all the time. When his eyes pop open at 5:45, he is on! I collapsed into this *why why why* mindset on Saturday. Is it the drugs he received in the NICU, is it ADHD(prominent in our family), is it me? Is this typical? What? What is it? Does he need play therapy? Do I just give in to his wants? He has been aggressive towards me when he can’t get his way(tough kitty paws, you can’t play with the cleaning supplies), is hitting, slapping, hair pulling…I just don’t know what to do or say and after the 3rd tantrum of the day, I’m exhausted, physically, emotionally, mentally. I patiently and calmly sing the *uh-oh song* to him while holding back a urge to yell and be mad. I try to remember he feels safe and secure with me so therefore he is going to test all of his emotions out on me. He doesn’t show this side of himself at daycare. He doesn’t even show it to my husband. I’m proactive as much as I can be. And of all this, I have a masters degree in Early Childhood education. I should know what I’m doing for crying out loud. I love him so much my heart could break and I cherish and think of our sweet and silly moments and miss him when he goes to bed at night. I recently read that its ok and only human to not feel joy or even care for parenting at times. But nobody talks about this side of parenting.
    Anyways, I appreciate the platform that you give to your readers.

    • SJ says...

      Amanda, your 2.5 year old and my almost 2.5 year old have ALOT in common. E is my first. He is intense, active, easily frustrated, tantrum-ey, and very stubborn. He bangs his head when he gets mad (3-4x per day). I try to remember he is also very empathetic, observant, curious and sweet. It’s so hard to stay calm. I wonder does he need counseling? What am I doing wrong? Am I giving him enough guidance and reassurance? Am I intervening too much? Why can’t I Lansbury my way out of these bad patterns and make him want to choose clothes to wear? Anyways, you aren’t alone. And if you live in London, let me know because we can commiserate over tea (or wine). Xoxo

    • Lindsey Joy Fox says...

      Amanda – Just wanted to say that what you wrote feels *very* familiar to me. Intense tantrums. Physical feelings. 5 am wake ups. Even the NICU stay! Parenting a strong-willed child is intense and unrelenting. You sound like such a good mom and like you truly see and love your kid. Sending you a fist bump of solidarity from me and my strong-willed 6.5 year old. One hopeful thing I’ll share is that apparently alllllll the other adults in my kid’s life are obsessed with him, and his recent report card says he’s a leader of kindness. (WHUT.) These feisty preemies become incredible humans. In the trenches with you in the meantime. Xoxoxo

    • Elisa says...

      Big hugs. I’m a parent to a kid with ADHD/Anxiety/Processing disorder and man is it a challenge. My kid is literally the sweetest, kindest, coolest and smartest kid ever, but being his mom and advocating for him is a full time job on top of my fulltime job. I’m burnt out a lot. I promise that you are doing an incredible job and you are being safe and calm for him, which is exactly what your kiddo needs. Keep connecting and being there and do what you can to take care of yourself. You are definitely not alone.

    • Kristi says...

      Hi Amanda.

      I hear you. I see you. I offer you virtual support and compassion. And your kid, too.

      My daughter sounds just like your son. She is now nine and it has been a HARD nine years full of exactly what you’ve described: self-doubt, lows, some highs, violence, rage, exhaustion, and sometimes gratitude. She is a lovely kid and most people see a selectively mute, active, caring kid. She is on Ritalin, which helps. She just got glasses to correct for a discrepancy in eye alignment (not cross-eyed but, like asynchronous response to stimuli); this impacts the way she processes and therefore responds to the visual world. One thing I’ve learned is this: in addition to feeling comfortable with me to the degree she can kick me over and over again in the leg and scream in my face, she is also desperate to have MORE safety, security, calm, and quiet. That desperation comes out in the form of climbing around every surface in her environment to ensure it is safe by conquering it, controlling it (she did this a lot at the age of four); handling tools and equipment (Is a shovel dangerous? What about this whisk?); being on high alert when there is a change in the environment. It is everything you said. I’m right there with you. I’ll tell you what a friend told me when I said I felt like I was doing everything wrong. He said, “You are doing everything right. It is just really hard.”

    • gabrielle says...

      Amanda, sending you a gigantic hug. It sounds like you are doing an incredible job. xx

    • Etsy says...

      Sending you love and strength. I am going through something similar with my 5 year old boy who can be quite mean spirited in his behaviour and actions towards us and his 13 month old sister. It doesn’t change our love for him but I have come to accept that I don’t have to always enjoy parenting him, in fact I’m struggling to enjoy him during this phase. I tell myself it’s a phase and it will pass and to just take one day at a time

    • Shelly says...

      Oh I have spent SO MANY hours like those you just described! I get it. Exhausting and demoralizing when you are trying so hard. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD this past fall at 7 1/2. I felt guilty at first for feeling so relieved and validated. BUT now that we are 7 months into diagnosis and therapies, I have to say I finally feel more like the mom I thought I could be. I’m no longer spinning through the endless questions, personalizing all of what’s happening. More peace for everybody. I can actually zero in on how to support her, and which skills both of us need to build. So hang in there! It’s so hard, but it won’t always be this hard. My most helpful mental picture has been that my daughter needs a container for the bigness of everything she experiences, something to press against so she can feel safe. It’s like the way she sits on my lap and wedges her feet against the table leg to keep her own legs from slipping (which ultimately causes some part of her to dig painfully into me). Until she has the skills to create her own container, she counts on me to be the something she can press against to be safe and find solace. I can do that.

    • d says...

      I have received so many good parenting ideas from the comments in this blog, I hope this idea can be some relief or resource for you.

      I will share that when my 2yo acts up, he is probably tired or hungry, so I try to address that first. If he hits me, once we are both calm, we practice “gentle hands” where I put my hands out and he puts his on mine gently. Sometimes I tickle the underside of his forearms with my fingertips. He loves this, and I tell him how I expect him to behave in a calm voice. “I expect you to use your gentle hands with mommy, every time.” “We use gentle hands with mommy and all people.” It works for a while, and tomorrow we do it again.

    • Kristin says...

      Check out Voices of Your Village podcast/ Seed and Sew. Life changing parenting work.

    • JR says...

      My son is only 18 months old but on-on-on all. The. Time. He is big and I feel ya on the physicality — he will slam his head into my clavicle, etc.

      Of course my sister has a son who has slept through the night since birth (practically) and now he…. sits around a lot? They literally send me pictures of him sitting still and I think: how? My son is over here flipping himself over the back of the couch if I take my eyes off him for 5 seconds to try to like, wash one of the 10 spoons he threw on the floor during lunch.

      And of course he is like 10x better behaved when grandma is at watching him. He has the fairest skin and will NOT wear a hat for me in the sun… with grandma? No problem.

      My point is you are not alone. Don’t should all over yourself, Amanda. It sounds to me that you are honestly doing an amazing job!!!!

      And I did appreciate listening to the “Good Inside” parenting podcast Joanna linked to! Made me feel less alone as well. Xoxo.

    • Heather says...

      Ohhhhh yes. Lots of familiar stuff here. My first was not the sack of sugar baby my friends had. It was so intense. It’s not you. Some kids are just A Lot. Hugs mama.

  106. Sage says...

    every week/day/hour/minute/moment is a new one. big hugs to all parents out there. <3

  107. Sara says...

    This was the second time I teared up after reading the ‘good job/good mom’ thing… Although things are getting better pandemic wise (and weather wise!!), I guess I’m on the verge of exploding with emotion. And it makes me realize I’ve been holding it together for sooo long now (we had our third baby in march 2020 and with three small kids at home, two rather wobbly jobs, isolated from grandparents to keep them safe), I hadn’t realized I became so fragile that a simple ‘good job’ could crack me.

  108. Susan says...

    I needed this today!
    Is anyone else facing the approaching summer with absolute dread? My kids are behind in their grades (1st and 2nd). Reading. What a BEAR.
    They argue incessantly and I’m wondering how we are going to make this summer happen! Trying to live in the moment and enjoy the happy times. The best I can. Ginger cookies and silly videos sounds great!

    • silly lily says...

      Hi Susan…..
      I am a Grandma and I have bought my grandchildren books called “And Then…..” they are available in two volumes (maybe more, now) and they are basically a set of large cards, each card beautifully illustrated with the beginning of a story. At a crucial point, the words AND THEN appear and it is up to the child to finish the story. Obviously it can be read over and over with dozens of new endings. The cards are pretty enough, and interesting enough, to hang in a child’s room. They are very interactive and might just get your two to take more of an interest in reading and who knows…..maybe even writing. Good luck!

    • Liz says...

      Don’t worry about the reading – they’re just little kids! They’ll catch up, or you’ll figure out there’s an issue you can help with to get them caught up, but not this summer. This summer, let it go. THIS PAST SCHOOL YEAR SUCKED SO BAD.

    • Elena says...

      Hi Susan! Rough year…. I feel you. I have a first grader, too and am not looking forward to summer. (I live in Miami, so summers are brutal… the good weather is behind me!) Earlier in the year when I lamented that my daughter might be getting behind, a friend (who is a elementary school counselor and has two older kids) told me: “Everything evens out by 5th grade.” It gave me so much hope when she said that… hopefully it will for you, too. Also, there are so many kids who are behind this year, you are definitely not alone. Hugs from Miami!

    • Kylee says...

      Hi Susan, just wanted to say relax and enjoy the summer – the kids will be fine. All the kids are behind! My daughter had a long illness and missed all of kindergarten, most of first grade, and spent second grade remote. Despite all this her reading has exploded this year. All we did was read to her and provide her with books her level, no pressure. Math is a little behind, but logical thinking is not her thing so it probably always will be. For comparison, her fully school educated (except for second grade remote only) twin brother is equal in reading (but better in math, he has much more of an affinity). The blessing of this year is that all of the kids will need catch up work so it should be integrated into the curriculum.
      Let the kids play outside, in the sun, pressure free, independently, messily, creatively. Happy, refreshed kids will learn much better next school year.
      Xx

    • K says...

      Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling down the past couple weeks. I hear my son counting down the days until Summer and I’m like, what am I going to do with him??! And the heat, oh the heat… Our AC is weak and makes everything so much harder. We used to play for long hours in the children’s section of the library when it got hot, but that’s not an option this Summer (no toys or kids activities there, for good reason I know, but I do miss it). Needed to hear this post and read all these comments today. Has lifted some weight off my shoulders. Good to know I’m not the only one. Especially during this pandemic with less socialization in person it can be easy to feel I’m the only one going through stuff.

  109. Agnès says...

    “Parenting; it’s not for the faint of heart.” I want to embroider that; it is so true. Parenting is hard, and I have a PhD in Philosophy; sometimes, I really don’t get it. You need so much patience, energy and creativity! Sending strength to every body; I LOVED the advice from the other day, to really play with your child; I have done with consciousness since then and it is good for you and for the child. Thank you so much.

    • Katey says...

      Haha! I love the aside about your philosophy PhD. No small feat! It reminded me of our shorthand for genius: rocket scientist. As if rocket scientists are the smartest, most capable people on the planet (beyond the planet, too, in some cases). Now I think, “Rocket science is a cinch. Try being a parent.” Most of rocket science has already been figured out. Now they’re just plugging in variables to established equations. If you want a real challenge try to figure out what is wrong with a member of your family and then help. Their body chemistry alone changes moment to moment. Are they heartbroken about something or hungry? Or both? Ashamed? Proud? Depends on who’s around. Have you considered hormones? I mean…. parenting is not for the faint of heart and it takes, as you say, patience, energy, creativity, plus compassion, insight, wisdom, food, and a general awareness of hormones. It’s the realm of demigods.

  110. Pam says...

    Needed this today. Thanks.

  111. Amanda says...

    Thank you. I needed this today. I am feeling so much pressure from still working at home, taking care of the kiddo and all her things, housework, trying to be a somewhat attentive partner. I’m tired of never feeling like I’m doing enough. I long for the days of just one thing: work, home, ease.

    • Simona says...

      OMG me too. I long for doing Only one thing at a time.

  112. Erin says...

    Thank you for saying and sharing this! xoxo

  113. L says...

    thank you. as a new mom to a 2-month-old and having just finished yet another very teary video call with my therapist, I can never hear this enough. It is HARD.

    • It gets easier!! And then harder, and then easier. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing great.

    • Joyce says...

      You are in the weeds, L! Babies sleep eventually. It feels like they never will — and then they do. Xoxo.

  114. ERP says...

    You too Joanna! Whenever I think I’m doing a bad job parenting, I remember my mom’s words: “Look at your kids. They seem pretty happy to me! How bad a job can you be doing?” Anxiety — something you and I share — can make parenting so hard, but you have happy kids, Joanna. How bad a job can you be doing?!

    • Katie says...

      I understand this sentiment, but it’s hard to judge a parent by their kid’s happiness. My brother struggles with debilitating depression and my parents are wonderful and tried their best.

  115. Diana says...

    Fist time mom home with a 2 week old. When I can’t calm her down the tears stream down my face. Reminding myself this is new and we’re gonna make it.

    • M says...

      It will get easier!!!!!!!!! You can do this!!

    • Sarah Reichenbacher says...

      Those first few weeks are so challenging as you get to know each other. Just take it moment by moment and day by day and you’ll be amazed by how much more you know each other with each passing week! When you’re spending every waking hour getting to know someone, you’ll amass that learning so quickly. Hang in there mama, it gets easier!! xx

    • Alex says...

      I cried every time my first baby cried too. Especially in the car when she was strapped in and I couldn’t get to her RIGHT THAT SECOND to attend to her. Oh my god – My husband was like WTF is happening??? So much of it right now is your hormones. It will ease up, I promise. You will start to get to know each other, you will start to get the hang of it. What you are going through is totally normal!! Just remember, when you’re not both crying – there are moments of magic with a newborn. Love to you and your little one!

    • Gabrielle says...

      you’ve got this, Diana! Be kind to yourself, this IS new! xx

    • K says...

      Infants are SO HARD!!!

      Even if you do everything perfectly, they cry, and nobody can do everything perfectly. Babies be babies.

      Someday in the not too distant future you will sleep 8 hours a night, you will carry on whole conversations with your child, and, if you’re like me, you’ll realize that infants just aren’t your sweet spot and that’s okay.

      Hang in there!

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my gosh, Diana, I am days away from my fourth and the other three are still young but still none of this will ever be harder than the first month with #1. It is so hard. So hard! But it gets better and easier every day. Thinking of you!

    • Alina A says...

      The first is the hardest!!! And that first month is especially grueling. I cannot look at pictures of the first month of my first child’s life, without getting a massive amount of anxiety. It’s been nearly 6 years, and those pictures from that horrible first month are tucked away in a special place in my computer. Not with the other photos. I just can’t. This did not happen with my second. I knew what to expect.

      Hang in there, time slowly chugs along and things will get better on their own. Soon your baby will smile at you, and then laugh, and then hug you and kiss you, and tell you that you are the best mom in the world. The days are slow, but the years are fast!

  116. Alex says...

    I feel ya Jo. This shit ain’t easy. Parenthood is constantly challenging and humbling. Might I suggest something to watch – Pink’s new documentary is amazing! It follows her last tour, but it’s much more about motherhood and how she balances work and family life. She is open and honest and self-deprecating. It was soooooo inspiring to me.

    • Elle says...

      Oh wow, that sounds amazing. Thanks for the rec, I’m going to check it out this evening.

    • K says...

      Yes I just started watching it and found it so relatable as a mom!

  117. Janey says...

    I’m sorry Anton is having a tough time. My youngest – 14 – is being bullied currently both at school and at home via Snapchat and it’s breaking my heart. What I wouldn’t give to be back to the “small” problems of the little kid years – sleepless nights and potty training. The bigger they get it seems the bigger the worries. Parenting is the toughest job!

    • Laura says...

      I’m so sorry you guys are going through that.

    • Anni says...

      That is exactly my thought. I remember an incident 9 years ago in a shopping center where I was in an elevator with my 6 week old crying baby and another mum entered with her probably 10 year old daughter and said: savour the baby-years – little kids litte problems, big kids big problems.
      I could not believe that it could get any more intense af that time. I get more sleep now, of course. But the emotional rollercoaster of parenting a pre-teen… oh my. I often think about the lady in the elevator. :)

  118. Selina says...

    Everyone seems to be at the same spot as me- I feel much lighter just hearing I’m not the only one. Thanks for another perfectly timed post Jo. I really needed it this morning!

  119. Sarah says...

    We started practicing gratitude at our house recently. My three year old’s response: “I’m thankful for myself”. There was no reason, no explanation, no apology. She did not attempt to justify her statement in any way. It was a fact, just like the sun rises in the east. And I thought, why can’t I do that too?

    • Lana says...

      I’ve always said that if every woman could have the confidence of a three year old girl, we’d all be so much better off! Good for your daughter!

    • Elle says...

      Love this!

    • gina s says...

      hell yeah. I’ve been telling my 13 year old daughter lots lately “you are the best friend you will ever have”

      amen to it coming easy to the toddlers. xx

    • Lauren says...

      AMEN!

  120. MM says...

    Crying a little. Thanks <3<3<3

  121. Awww it’s hard to be a kid AND to be the parent. My wish for you is that your boys remember how generous you are by showering them with love and patience. You really do seem like a wonderful mother❤️

    And might I add… I definitely don’t have it together 🤣

  122. Meredith says...

    This was so timely, as I spent the morning holding down my 4 year old while he got fillings in his teeth. I stayed calm as he freaked out and I tried to soothe him, and I hate that we had to physically force him – it goes against everything in my soul. But he also can’t walk out of the dentist office with a hole in his tooth and the nerve exposed. It sucked. We got through it. I need a good cry and a stiff drink now!

    • k says...

      I feel you, Meredith. My son’s 6 yr vaccines last September were horrific, including forcibly holding him down. The staff was understanding but it was.so.hard. I felt like a monster. Fortunately it hasn’t come up as an issue since/sustained anger at me. But I am already anxious about when we can finally do COVID. I hope you find an excellent stiff drink.

    • Anna says...

      I had to do this last year. On my daughter’s 5-year-old birthday. Because we missed the original appointment due to a COVID exposure scare. It was THE WORST. Reading your comment made me feel less alone in an experience I have questioned ever since it happened. Thank you for sharing.

  123. maryanne says...

    THIS!!!! My husband and I had one of the worst parenting days of our lives yesterday. We couldn’t get it together, my son couldn’t get it together…it was a day of parenting opposite to everything the child therapists/experts tell us to do. Similarly, I struggle when I see my son is. Whether it’s playground squabbles, trouble starting his homework assignments or on the ball field. The saying that you’re only as happy as your least happy kid is SO true. No advice, just solidarity.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “The saying that you’re only as happy as your least happy kid is SO true. No advice, just solidarity.” = omg SO TRUE.

  124. Erin says...

    Thank you for posting! I am a parent to two girls ages 19 and 16 and each day is a struggle. When they were small, On difficult days I used to lay in bed and tell myself they are both safe in bed a sleep – you did a good job today. But now one is away at college and this year was so hard on her mental health. No In person classes, so hard to connect to peers, no live music (she is a music student) and my other one home but struggling with an eating disorder and anxiety. Now I lay in bed and think ok they are alive I’m doing a good job. Hang in there mamas.

    • Pam says...

      Erin, I feel this so much. College kid is feeling socially isolated, the senior in high school is struggling with an eating disorder and anxiety about next year. It feels like heartache at every turn, and NOTHING that I can fix. Deep breathe.

    • Caitlin says...

      I do this too! A small moment of gratitude that we made it safe to bed and a new day will be there for all of us in the morning. That moment usually comes after 30 minutes of desperate, face clawing worry, but it is soothing to imagine us all snoring away together no matter how fucking hard the day was.

  125. Mimi says...

    My previously sweet, sunshiney girly is about to turn 14 and literally nothing I say is the right thing. If it’s a suggestion, she reads it as criticism and rolls her eyes right out of her head. If it’s a compliment, she brushes me off with a tone that implies I know nothing but thanks for trying. Oh man, I know it’s normal, I know it’s not really personal, I know I did it too with my mom, but man… it’s exhausting! I’m snuggling my 11 year old a ton these days, mainly because she lets me, but also because now I know what’s likely coming down the pike and I want to soak it up while I can.

    • Hope says...

      Solidarity, Mimi. On the same timeline, except that I’m compensating by over- snuggling the dog. I remind myself that she does keep returning to me / us, as The Sunshine Girl. They are trying to figure it all out without us, and ohhhh how they still need us.

    • beth says...

      I too know this is so normal- but MAN, how I regret my own behavior as a teen! My mom died suddenly when I was a teenager before I had a chance to get my act together and stop being so horrible. At 45, I am still filled with guilt. I’m sure she also knew it was normal, but she was a fantastic mom and did not deserve my shenanigans, and I would give anything to be able to tell her that. Sigh.

  126. Em says...

    This is so true, also for people who are not parents! It has been a very difficult year for everyone. Somehow social media spreads the appearance that everyone’s life is perfect except for yours. But every time this year that I’ve really talked to someone, they’re going through something really hard that I never would’ve suspected from online profiles or interactions. We’re all trying our best.

    • Shannon Underwood says...

      So true!

    • Irina says...

      So true, Em! I have to remind myself about this often. Everyone struggles with something, at some point in their lives. I was just talking about this with a friend. My husband struggles with mental health issues, and there are mental health issues in her family as well that are impacting how her life is unfolding. My friend said that it’s been tough for her to accept that her life is now so different than her friends’ lives, because of this illness in her family. One of the things I told her was exactly what you said, about the glossy lives we see on social media or when we communicate with someone on a superficial level, and how in the vast majority of cases people’s lives are nowhere near as perfect as they may appear.

      To everyone who is struggling – hang in there; you are not alone! In fact, you are in the majority. If we can all be brave enough to be vulnerable, not just on this blog but also in our offline lives, we will discover so many others who are like us. We can then build a community of true friendship and support for each other and for ourselves.

  127. Cph says...

    In general I really avoid tv before bed for my three young kids, but last night over dinner my husband mentioned Simone Biles’ record breaking vault, and then we decided to show it to the kids. They were blown away! From there we naturally switched over to the viral floor routines UCLA’s spectacular women’s gymnastics team. This turned into a 20 minute dance party dominated by our 2-year-old who was excited as I’ve ever seen her. It was a nice reminder that as the kids get older just including them in the things we find fun can be great for all of us. I foresee many more family YouTube sessions in our future :)

    • Claire says...

      UCLA Gymnastics instagram account is a wonder and a joy.

  128. amy says...

    I literally was hopping on here to ask for a post on navigating the IEP process. Are there other reads who are struggling with advocating for services from a school district. My son has childhood apraxia and it is very difficult getting the right speech services for him from the district. He is 6 and a half years old and his speech is unintelligible. He is now receiving PROMPT therapy (which we pay for privately). I feel lucky that we have the resoiurces to provide this therapy but am really angry that the school is not supporting his education. I am having a really tough time so reading your post made me feel a little better.

    • cg says...

      Mom of a daughter who is 16 and autistic. Have been navigating IEP process since she was in kindergarten. Does your son have an official diagnosis from a private doctor/specialist? I don’t know about where you live, in CA, if you have an official diagnosis, the district must offer services to you, once you’re in the “system” you can ask more specifically for what you feel your son needs. It really helps to have a teacher/school case manager who will support your request. If you’d like, you can email me at: artisgoodinyourlife@gmail.com to take this convo off the comments section if you’d like to know more about how it’s been for us. Each family’s journey through the IEP system will be different, of course, but I’m happy to share ours, and offer some support, if nothing else. I trust everyone else reading this will not spam my email, lol.

    • Katie says...

      I’m so sorry you’re struggling getting your son the education he needs. As a math teacher, I’ve helped write IEP’s, use them, and advocate for the student. None of it is easy for anyone in the process, not for the kids, the parents, or the teachers and admin. One of the biggest problems I’ve run across is school resources. I had Gen Ed math classes of 40 students with 18+ students with IEP’s. There is not enough time to give each student the attention they deserve and need. That being said, here are my tips. Advocate as much as you possibly can. Set up weekly or biweekly phone calls with someone you connect with from the school. Call or email his teachers regularly asking for help, support and ideas. Don’t stay quiet. Don’t stop calling. Unfortunetly, the louder (but friendly) the parent, the more help he may recieve. Good luck, you’re a warrior.

    • b says...

      Hugs! You’re doing great!

      I was an IEP student many moons ago in high school so while I had some say in what happened to me, it was a lot of advocacy from my parents (mostly my mom) – just keep asking for things over and over. Push for testing. Is his teacher also willing to advocate on his/your behalf? I got incredibly lucky and have several teachers in my corner during those years who made sure I got what I needed and wasn’t left out of what my peers were doing just because I was pulled out for extra help in math.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Amy, that sounds really hard. (Long shot, but if you’re in Brooklyn’s District 15, I’d be so happy to chat with you about our experiences with IEPs and other services.) Sending you so much love and strength. Your son is lucky to have you xo

    • Erin says...

      Hi Amy, my best friend has navigated the IEP process for her child who has ADHD and some associated learning challenges. My friend paid for her daughter to have an independent evaluation by a professional, then took the report to the school district and said “Look, I have a professional opinion to document that my child is not at grade level, has learning disabilities, and needs an IEP.” It really sped up the process of getting the school district appropriately engaged.

      It’s definitely not an ideal situation, since all kids who need IEPs should be able to get them in a timely way without families having to spend their own money, but if you’re already able to pay for therapy for your son, the extra investment on an evaluation is worth considering.

      Sending hugs.

    • k says...

      Going to echo the IEP ask here, too! As well as anything on ADHD. We’ve been in behavior therapy for anger outbursts for nearly a year and there are indications of ADHD and possible spectrum, too. First grade Zoom schooling an overly energetic kiddo with limited focus and strict perfection tendencies is SO hard. It’s also eye-opening how different districts/regions can be. I know we have to advocate/fight for our kiddos but gosh this is exhausting. And I feel like I’m exerting privilege when I advocate.

    • Heather says...

      Out of curiosity, how would an IEP help my ADHD kid? I don’t really know what they are, but we could use some help…

    • AC says...

      Hi Amy, school based speech-language pathologist here. So sorry to hear you are struggling to get support from the school :( Childhood Apraxia of Speech is so tricky. There are definitely a few differences between school based speech therapy and what you may receive in private speech therapy. Private SLP’s are able to work on oral-motor while school based SLP’s typically are not. School based SLP’s are also required to follow strict state criteria for eligibility. In California, the student needs to score below the 7th percentile on at least two assessments to qualify for speech services. It’s unlikely you would come across a school based SLP who is PROMPT trained. It is very expensive, and I know my school district would never pay for it if I begged. Have you looked into AAC systems? You could request an AAC evaluation to see if that supports your child’s communication. It may decrease frustration and provide another modality of communication to make sure your child’s wants and needs are being met, while still working on oral language. If your child is not meeting his annual IEP goals, that could be grounds for increasing frequency of services. Good luck! I hope your son gets the support he needs!

  129. Lia says...

    Needed this today after a hard weekend where I felt I fell short as a parent and a rough Monday morning!

    Parenting is hard. Parenting (and working full-time) during a global pandemic – hooboy! This is parenting by fire! Everyday brings a new challenge…

  130. Louisa says...

    My daughter, age 7, has been trying out swear words. I told her it’s okay to say them, but that she can only use 100 in her whole life, so she has to save them for when she really really means it and no other word would do. She used one of them the other day to tell me, “You are doing a fucking good job at being a mom.” Oh, my heart :)

    • cg says...

      This is grand ^^^

      I remember when ours was testing out swear words. They came out as very gentle whispers, add questioning doe eyes.

    • Cat says...

      This is amazing! <3

    • Sarah says...

      Comment of the week?!? Love this!

    • Dee says...

      Well she sounds like a total fucking legend to me :)

    • Robin says...

      This is just so great (both for the swear word strategy) and for your daughter’s precious use of one!

    • Sarah E says...

      Hahaha love it!!🤣🤣

    • Amanda says...

      Louisa – please please please cross stitch this quote and frame it.

    • Laura says...

      Ha! When my (grown) daughter discovered ‘potty words’ at age 3, our deal was she could only say them while sitting on the potty. My (also grown) son fell hard for the F word in 2nd grade—which he was allowed to use, in his room with door shut and music playing, when he ‘needed’ to. Both say this conditional permission is among their fondest memories of kidhood.

    • Arielle says...

      Tearing up

    • beth says...

      Hahaha- this is the best!!

    • France says...

      My boys had their potty words phase too. I applied the rule « les mots de toilette c’est pour la toilette », meaning potty words are for the toilet room. One would say one word, usually during meals, both would laugh their head off, but stopped after the rule was reminded.
      The mischievious one tried me during supper one night with a continuous « pipi-caca-pet » so I enforced the rule and made him bring his plate to the upstairs bathroom to eat his supper (I still wonder that he went up without protesting!). But It wasn’t long that he quickly came down, excused himself, and we all laughed at the tought of eating on the toilet bowl! They never used the words at the table after that!

  131. julie says...

    Thanks, Jo. You’re doing a great job too. xox

  132. jill says...

    i have had the toughest year so far parenting…ever. (and i have been parenting 4 kids for 25 years) it definitely doesn’t get easier, just different. my 17 year old daughter reallllyyy had me missing those sleepless nights, changing diapers & always knowing exactly what they are up to with her choices. so yes, no matter what the ages every parent needs to hear it & believe it. thank you ❤️

    • Emilie says...

      Thinking of you, Jill. I’m child free but my social group is all in the baby-age 5 kid phase and while the challenges are real, I cannot imagine parenting teenagers right now (or ever!) The challenges that arise from social media and constant tech access is so so so different from what teen years were like for me (read: ICQ messenger and internet chat rooms, Nokia cell phone in grade 12, all of which seems like a drop in the parental anxiety bucket compared to what’s out there now!) And I know this isn’t just the case for teenagers, my three year old nephew is addicted to smart phones despite his parents being so careful since his birth about over/under exposure. It just seems like the stakes are so high with teenagers once they start concealing information, off and about in the world on their own — I can feel my blood pressure rising at the thought!

      All of you parents taking on raising humans of ANY age during this rollercoaster of a year/decade/generation time are HUGE HEROS! You are doing an amazing job, and I salute you.

  133. Robin in NoCo says...

    Heavy times, indeed. My youngest turns 18 in July, and although I still fumble frequently, I have tried to remember the guilt I felt when I perceived that I made my parents worry or feel guilty or helpless when I was a kid. My best advice is to assure yourself and those around you that all will be okay. Then believe it.

    Sounds easy, right? Ha!

  134. Em says...

    I really needed this today! Thank you.

  135. Ann says...

    Oh, I feel the heavy parentness. I remember (my boys are 19 & 16) feeling that. The good times outnumber the not so great times.

  136. M says...

    I never comment, but thank you so much — I needed this today. Also, hoping this doesn’t come off as creepy, but I live right in your neighborhood and saw you and Anton together this weekend. Was struck by what a good mom you seemed to be, and would never have guessed things were hard right now.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh that means so much to me. Thank you xo

  137. Anna says...

    Thank you for this. I got teary just reading it. So much change in this past 18 months, and our school year just ended last week so more change is upon us, again. Not all change is bad, for sure – but change is so often challenging. I lost it with my kids last week, yelling at them about putting on their pajamas. After they were in bed, I went to my room and cried about being a bad parent. It is SO HARD sometimes. And I know I’m doing the best I can, but it’s so frustrating that my best isn’t as good as I think I “should” be. Thank goodness kids are resilient and thank goodness mine are young enough that they can easily forgive me. We talked about my blowup the next day, calmly, and I told them about my feelings and my feelings of sorry and regret. They offered to help me take deep breaths when I’m feeling frustrated and I wanted to cry all over again just from the simple beauty of their offer.
    Here’s to all the parents – wishing you space for grace when you need it. xo

    • C says...

      Anna, The discussion you describe having the following day sounds amazing and so powerful. I believe that losing your temper and then showing up the next day to own it/process/apologize teaches kids so much important stuff about managing emotions, maintaining healthy relationships and taking ownership for behavior – skills that are so so important! Rather than “not being enough”, this sounds just exactly right! Your kiddos sound pretty great too!

  138. Jessica Camerata says...

    Really don’t know how you parents do it, you’re superhuman for sure. And totally agree, everyone is dealing with something, parents, single people, you name it, we’ve all got something happening!

    xo Jessica

    • jones says...

      So true. My spouse and I do not have children and I am now an only sibling (my sister died in 2018) and my spouse’s brother has young children. We have medical issues with our parents on both sides and we are the ones who have been handling it.

  139. AN says...

    i’m so hard on myself when it comes to my parenting. but, the other day, my 2 year old said to me “i want a new mama” because i was dressed up and she didn’t like that i didn’t look like my normal self (lol, such a sign of the times) and she didn’t know how else to word it. my 6 year old was so, so, so offended that she said that. he immediately grabbed my hand, looked at his little sister and said “don’t you ever say that. we have the best mom in the whole, whole world. take it back. NOW. ” and i thought, okay, self. your kid thinks you’re a badass – take the compliment. maybe i’m not so bad ;)

    • Emily says...

      This just made tears spring to my eyes! Hard times for sure but the sweetest kids.

  140. E says...

    Thank you. This morning my son had a meltdown for an hour (AN HOUR!) and it was rough, so I needed this.

  141. Lynn says...

    “Not for the feint of heart” is so perfect. And I gotta tell ya, I liken parenting infants and toddlers to having frequent mini heart attacks. Thank you for this beautiful essay and reminder, you wonderful person and mama.

  142. Olivia says...

    Thanks, Jo. My cousins husband emphatically said to me yesterday “you’re a fantastic mom!” Honestly, that’s all I want to hear. I don’t have a mother figure in my family left and there’s a deep hole there. I just want a mom to tell me I’m doing a good job with this role I’m pouring my heart and soul into. Thank you.

  143. Laura Haywood says...

    faint not feint :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!

  144. Joslyn says...

    I received a text from my husband on Friday that said “I’m going to try an overly patient model of behavior this weekend. I don’t like how my behavior has been toward the kids lately.” I vowed to do the same. And somehow we had the most amazing and magical weekend ever. Like the stuff of memory books (random trips to the beach, pancakes on a whim, tried new fruits they picked out at the market, and endless giggles as we competed hanging from a pullup bar… so random). It’s amazing how just the simple statement declaring an intention to do better, can manifest itself into reality. I am so thankful my husband sent that text (it is rather unlike him). And Jo, you really are doing exceptional. Thank you for this community.

    • Claire says...

      What a lovely comment! Your husband’s idea is such a wonderful reminder; I’m glad you had a great weekend together with your family! I’m going to try to remember to do this more often with my students; it always works out better!

  145. es says...

    This made me teary. It was such a comfort to read too, so thank you. Our 7 year old has also been having a lot of hard times lately with friends, school, etc. I’m always trying to not worry myself ragged over it. I love this space you’ve created. <3

  146. Laura says...

    I needed to hear this. I feel like the last 14 months have been crushing me and was just sobbing to my partner last week that I think I am failing as a mother. He consoled me and said we were doing the best we can. Two nights later it was flipped and I was consoling him. It is so hard, but we just have to love them fiercely and ultimately let them fly.

  147. Lori says...

    Thank you so much for this – it was exactly what I needed after a very, very hard week of parenting. This pandemic year has exhausted and stressed me like none before and the predominant feeling I have now is one of failure at everything. My wonderful son has ADHD and online kindergarten has not worked for him at all, despite the fact that I have given up so much to try and make it work. I often envy other parents who seem to have it all together. Thank you for this reminder that we all have our struggles. This helped me feel seen and appreciated – thank you!

  148. karen says...

    Anytime someone tells me I’m a good parent, I think to myself, “Puh, you just aren’t seeing it all”. I think I’m a nag who’s lacking in patience. And maybe I am, but I’m sure there’s lots of good stuff in there too and hopefully the kids see that more than the nagging.

    So good job out there, parents of humans, carers of elderly, teachers of youth, owners of pets. Sometimes we can’t see the good stuff we do.

    • riye says...

      @Karen–when your kids are grown they are going to be so grateful you “nagged”. My brother and I joke that mom nagged us into being tidy, responsible, hard-working adults. She’s gone now but I’m glad I was able to tell her she did a good job and that we appreciated all she did for us. When I think about how hard she and my dad worked to keep us sheltered, clothed, and fed I’m ashamed to remember how much we complained about pretty much everything. :-) You got this!

      High five to all the CoJ readers out there!

    • joy says...

      Oh, Karen, I am SURE you have so much good stuff in there, too. I, too, feel like a nag who’s lacking in patience. I yelled at my kid last night, and I yelled at my kid this morning, and he’s fighting his own hard battles and I wish I was doing a better job at seeing all the good stuff he is doing.

    • Agnès says...

      Karen, I feel so much like that! My friend manages to raise her kids without nagging, she’s such a role model for me. But, yeah, I feel I am not patient enough. So, true, parenting is hard but being a kid is harder and we should do better.