All the things we forgot to tell you while we were complaining about our kids

Recently one of my oldest (as in I’ve known her since high school – she’s not actually old) had a baby. She’d thought motherhood wasn’t for her. She has a big career and for years I’ve lived vicariously through her travel adventures. While a baby wasn’t in the original plan, this year had other ideas and I wrote this piece for her.

Maybe you’re also feeling a little bit hesitant about motherhood? If so, this letter is also for you.

complaining about our kids

Dear Sara,


You’re about to have a baby! I know you’re still not entirely sure how to feel about this fact but I’m holding all the excitement for you.  

For as long as I can remember you were certain that motherhood wasn’t for you. But I’ve always had this feeling that you would experience motherhood in one way or another. And here you are.

Over the years you’ve been right there beside us as we became mothers. You’ve always arrived with food and laughter to share in my early postpartum days. You’ve awkwardly held my newborns while you laughed at your own cluelessness. (By the way – we all have no idea what to do with newborns. It’s not just you.)

Somewhere along the line though, you became our go to person to complain about motherhood. We would joke (#notactuallyjoking) about how ridiculously hard parenting is and talk openly about our struggles. Maybe we did this because you were safe. You’ve never judged us and you made the hard stuff feel lighter by helping us laugh about it all.

But there are some crucial things we forgot to tell you while we were complaining about our kids.

And that’s our bad. 

Because maybe we’ve given you the wrong idea.

I think we made you feel like motherhood was something we have to bear. Something we endured, rather than enjoyed.

I’m really sorry about that.

Being a mother is challenging for sure. But it’s also an experience I would swap for nothing. Nothing I have done has made me grow more as a person. I’ve literally created my very own favourite humans. (My own favourite humans who also drive me absolutely bat shit crazy at times – but welcome to the complete contradictions of motherhood.)

So while we’ve spent the last 10 years making jokes about all the hard things, let me fill you in on all the things we forgot to tell you.

We forgot to tell you about the moment that baby lands on your chest for the first time.  That moment when you think “Holy fuck I made an entirely new human. I am invincible!”

We forgot to tell you how a baby will change your relationship in a good way. (Yes, you will also hate Drew in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep and the baby doesn’t want his useless nipples.)

BUT also, only you and Drew will feel the same heart-aching pride about this little boy. Only you two will feel the same utter joy and disbelief when your crying spewing blob learns to smile and roll over, walk and talk. We will all delight in your baby for sure, but only you two will feel that all-consuming love that parents do. And that’s a bloody special bond to share.

We forgot to tell you about those quiet moments in the early hours of the morning when their warm little body is snuggled against yours. The rest of the world is silent and it’s almost like only the two of you exist.

We complained about how we lost our independence. We whispered guiltily about how sometimes we felt trapped by our kids. But what we didn’t tell you is how being someone’s entire world for those first few years is a special kind of magic.  You’ve literally created your own number 1 groupie. 

He will adore you for all the things you may not even like about yourself. And best of all he won’t even notice all the things you don’t know how to do yet, because you will be his everything.

We forgot to tell you how your own kids will make you laugh like nothing else. They’ll make you laugh until your belly hurts with their special mix of humour that they will inherit from each of you. I can only imagine how hilarious your little boy is going to be.

We forgot to tell you how your kids will teach you all the things you didn’t even know you needed to learn about yourself. He will show you exactly how strong you are. He will teach you as much as you will inevitably teach him.

We forgot to tell you how having babies lets you see the world through their eyes. You will delight in experiencing everything for the first time all over again. Christmas. Birthdays. The first day of school. Even just staring up at the clouds while you lie in the grass. Things that may have lost their excitement in your adult world will feel exciting again.

We told you lots about the things you’ll have to give up. But we forgot to tell you about the billion things you’ll gain. 

I want to also tell you about how all the times you have helped me as a mother throughout the years. You really don’t give yourself enough credit here. You’ve always joked about how you’re clueless about mothering – but some of the things you’ve said to me when I’ve been struggling over the years have been more helpful than you even know.

I remember complaining about not being able to get Eamon to sleep when he was a newborn.  You said “I’ve always thought trying to get someone to sleep was some kind of voodoo magic”.  It completely changed my perspective on what was an all-consuming struggle at the time. You helped me to let go of obsessing about sleep and just go with the flow more. And what do you know… we ended up getting more sleep that way. 

There have been so many occasions when I’ve been so bound up by the stress of mothering, where you would sweep in and make me laugh, and you’d laugh at how funny (probably naughty) my kids were being and let me remember that all of this chaos is actually wonderful.

Most importantly though, you never made me feel like my life was any smaller or less exciting than yours because I was spending it mothering. 

For the last ten years you’ve been off exploring the world, growing multiple businesses and being incredibly creative.  Our lives literally couldn’t have looked more different. And yet every time we’ve met up over the years you let me live vicariously through your adventures, while also celebrating the magic of my experiences that have revolved entirely around mothering.

I couldn’t love you more for that. And it’s why I already know what kind of mother you will be.

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