to the mom with kids under five.

You’re my hero.

For real.


My youngest is four. Four years old, and for the first time I feel like I can catch my breath again. I don’t have to worry so much about him wandering the house and playing. He just plays. I don’t have to spoon feed him, change diapers, potty train, have safety gates, chase him around on the playground, have him in my sight every second, and have some who cannot communicate back to me. I can take a shower now and not have to keep the door open and even though I still get the cries of M-oo-m most of the time it’s because one of the boys is irritated that their brother took the Ironman Lego set pieces from the other or they’re desperately in need of a snack even though they had one 14 minutes earlier.

When my kids were under five it was crazy.

It was me, the mom, not really getting many moments to catch my breath.

I know you’re there.

You wake up before you want to wake up. You change diapers, brush hair, choose shirts and then are met with resistance because there’s a tag on the shirt and so now you go and try to find the scissors to cut it off and by that time the baby is crying and hungry. You make breakfast for everyone, try to unload the dishwasher, the cereal spills, and the sounds of Disney Jr come from the family room that instead of being neat has piles of duplos and cars and toys spread everywhere.

And you want to do this right.

I know that.

You’re looking at those creatures who haven’t yet hit school and you’re thinking that you have to do it right so that they’re ready for school. There are crafts that you’re told you should be doing and classes that will make you’re child “ahead” and all of this tremendous pressure to measure up in this competitive motherhood world.

I want to tell you to not compete. Or to at least not worry about doing it right. Truth? Every single mother had to start out as a rookie. Everyone. There wasn’t one of us who didn’t wake up at 4:30 am with a baby wishing that we could roll over for a bit longer and wishing that breakfast would magically would appear or that SuperNanny would show up at our door and deal with the four year old who has all of a sudden developed quite a spitfire personality who now refuses to help pick up those blocks and hates getting his hair washed and decides to run off in the grocery store.

Motherhood is tiring. My post, to the tired mom, was published on The Huffington Post and received over 100k facebook likes in four days.

Four days, moms.

That’s a great deal of tired moms. That’s many of us knowing that we’re tired but just needing a note that it’s okay that we’re tired. It’s about a group of mothers who despite being tired just want to be acknowledged for those crazy motherhood moments that we plow through day after day after day. I’m here to tell you that being tired doesn’t mean that you don’t measure up in a hypothetical world of should do’s, nor does it mean that you’re not a good mom, or any of those worries that runs through your head when you are trying to teach colors and they can’t seem to grasp the between green or blue. Or that your friend’s child can skipcount and your kid is still stuck on fifteen. That’s just real stuff. Kids learn. Don’t let yourself get tired trying to compete to the crazy, and I mean crazy, expectations that can be pushed on moms.

Do you know what I celebrate about you? That you’re not perfect. That you’ve had to learn how to do all the mothering things. That you’ve learned to make the best choices for your family in a world that will scream that this is the best and only choice and you have to sift through 48 different best choices.

I celebrate real.

Real. Authentic. Moms.

And because I celebrate being real I’m here to tell you this morning that when you have kids under five years old you will be tired. You will give of yourself more than you thought you could give. You will look at other moms and wonder if you’re doing it right. You will have to learn everything.

You will learn your strength.

You will learn that you are brave.

For months and months and months I’ve been writing about the brave mother. Mothering little ones is an exercise in bravery. Don’t argue, tired and awesome mom of little ones. You, right now, live a life where you are almost always dictated buy the schedule and whims of little humans that you love. They’re the ones that you teach Memory to and only use six cards. You teach them to write their names with broken crayons. You cut their grapes, hotdogs, and prepare food that is safe. You wipe faces and hands and then later marker from the wall. You sleep with your ears not turned off so that the cry of the baby wakes you up. You say good morning dude to your four year old and they get upset and say don’t call me that.  You slap your hair into a pony tail, push the giant cart at Target, order your lattes, shop the clearance aisle, know which cereals makes your kids crazy, know how to avoid walking by the toy section even if it means making your shopping trip better, and can balance a kid on your hip while finding a nuk while paying and smiling at the cashier.

That is amazing.

So you, today, in your home or at work or wherever you read these words of mine, I want to tell you that you will first of all get through these crazy years. You’ll get through. Your kids will grow, they’ll  start school and instead of flipping the channels between Nick Jr and Disney Jr you’ll now spend time trying to explain the difference between a predicate nominative and a direct object. You’ll have rules on media and curfews and will have to enforce sassy talk. Bottom line: you will get through. They will grow. And you will make it.

Breathe.

Or at least attempt a breath in the midst of the giving and cleaning and loving.

You are brave. Powerful. Patient. Inspiring.

Culture may try to make you think you need to be perfect, but I’m here to tell you, there is no perfect, there is only real. You, sweet mother with kids under five, you are the perfect real mother for those kids that can drive you a bit batty. I know sometimes you’re worn, tired, doubting your own strength, or just want a break. That is normal. Do not worry. Just keep being awesome. Keep getting up, brushing their teeth, remembering to floss with those little dino flossers when you can, keep making lunches – even if it’s boxed macaroni (link), keep driving to preschool, keep calling a friend, keep doing the awesome things that you do.

You are doing fine.

You know what?

You are more than fine – you are amazing.

You can do this today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next week. And the next year. And then, someday, someday you will look back and you will not only think that you survived but that you thrived.

Brave motherhood.

That’s real. And that’s you.

****

Oh yeah, and moms whose kids are grown or beyond the crazy under five stage – today would be an awesome day to tell those moms in the under five trenches how awesome they are and how you’re proud of what they do. Those things matter. Send them this post, grab them coffee, watch their kids for an hour, or just simply give them a smile. Don’t forget those under five years. #littlethingsmatter

Today’s photos? A mixture of real life live from the instagram feed. Find me here ->

33 Responses to “to the mom with kids under five.”

  1. November 18, 2013

    Ron and Tiffany Reply

    Tears falling here from a mama with three under four and one on the way. It’s vacuuming day at our house. Always fun since it means all the toys have to be put away all at the same time. Mission:Impossible!

    • September 17, 2014

      Tess Reply

      Tiffany

      Today was a rough day. I have four kids: Sophia, 7, Caleb, 4, twins Cora and Claire, 2. So at one time, we had four under age five! Whoa! It’s a little scary to even type that! Often I feel like I’m causing more harm than good, especially with Sophia. There is a tendency to expect more than what she can or should do.

      I get super frustrated when someone says to enjoy this time while they’re still little. I feel like I’m drowning and I’m supposed to enjoy this time? Smothering. Yelling. Shaking my head. Repeating everything four times!

      So I say this. It’s gonna be hard. It will not feel perfect. Often it feels like failure. But if you can give your kids and yourself some grace (a whole lotta grace), you will learn to just breathe and take the good with the bad. You’ve got this!

  2. November 18, 2013

    Rachel Martin Reply

    Tiffany,

    I love how you have vacuuming day. It’s awesome. One of my favorite days in my house is garbage day – the kids watch for the truck – and i feel like I’m getting rid of a whole lot of junk.

    Bless you today. You can do it.

    Rachel

  3. November 18, 2013

    Sarah S Reply

    Thank you so much! I have 1 over 5 and 2 under 5 – the days are long and exhausting. Often when I express to others how tired I am and how much of a struggle it is, they laugh and tell me that I will miss these days so enjoy it. Right now I am praying to miss these days. I know that it will not last forever and I know that the time with my kids being young is precious but I appreciate your cheerleading so much. It keeps me going and reminds me that I am not alone in this journey/struggle. Your words are exactly what I need when so many days seem like they will never end and when my children know exactly how to make this “phase” in life seem eternal. Thank you for the amazing mom you are! You are exactly the kind of friend I need in my life! -Sarah

  4. November 18, 2013

    mamacrow Reply

    we’re in the birthday season in our house at the moment, so now I *only* have two under five – there have been several points in my life (being blessed with seven children) where I’ve had three under fives!

    fun times 🙂

  5. My youngest is 3.5yrs and he wears me out all day long. When he was born my children were 5, 2, newborn. It was wild! My oldest has Asperger’s and so even though she’s 8yrs old now, she acts like my 6yr old, so I feel like I have twins and a 3yr old. And I’m a single mother now.

    Some days I just want to cry from all the chaos, and I do, other days I’m able to cope better.
    I know I will miss these days because my children are getting older every single day….as tired as I am, I trying my best to stay in the moment and enjoy even with my chaotic life.

    • January 19, 2014

      Becky Roy Reply

      When my sons were 2 and 3 years old…just shy of 16 months apart in age my ex-husband and I divorced. I remember those overwhelming moments…but life and God has been good to us….they are in high school now ages almost 17 and 15. I cry now knowing they will be spreading their wings soon. God bless and know that he gives you strenght, courage, wisdom and knowledge to face each day.

  6. November 18, 2013

    Catie Reply

    Thank you- tears here 🙂 I have a 2 1/2 yr old, 1 yr old, and am 31 weeks pregnant. I’m tired, but I wouldn’t trade a thing. I just need some encouragement every once on a while 🙂

  7. November 18, 2013

    Maria Carrasco Reply

    I had to hide from my coworkers as I was reading your article. I had tears of joy that finally, someone understood me. Thanks for your kind words!!!! I wouldnt trade my life as a mom for anything in the world but to hear that im not the only one feeling as I feel, is wonderful

  8. November 18, 2013

    Maria Carrasco Reply

    I had to hide from my coworkers as I was reading your article. I had tears of joy that finally, someone understood me. Thanks for your kind words!!!! I wouldnt trade my life as a mom for anything in the world but to hear that im not the only one feeling as I feel, is wonderful

  9. November 18, 2013

    Susan Reply

    I always love your posts, but this one came to my inbox on a day when I really needed it. I’ve been awake since 4am, and tired turned to angry pretty quickly this morning. An extra 30 minutes at the gym to ensure a shower in peace, and this post, have helped to turn my head around. Thank you, sincerely.

  10. November 18, 2013

    Faigie Reply

    I well remember those exhausting days but back then I also remember a woman who had no children for a number of years so she was on fertility drugs. She had twins and when her twins were a year and a half she had……QUADS!!.she had 6 kids under the age of 2

  11. November 18, 2013

    Ned E.B. Grieg Reply

    I Am A Dad Who Loved The Story You Wrote… My Wonderful Wife Sent Me Your anthology. Having Two Boys Under 5 – Did I Mention My Wife Is 36 & I Am 56 – does Have Its’ Moments. I Am A corporate Chef And Gone For Many Hours Of The Day Providing For My Family Too. It Is Tough Being A Mother Today. It Is Tough Being A Father As Well I Might Point Out. I Wish I Could Be Home Having Those Experiences Too. Anyway Thank You For The Insight. I Need All The Help I Can Get.

  12. November 19, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    And then you get to start all over again! If you’re allowed!
    The Lord will always use whatever you’re going through for your good! Praying hard as always!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Psalms 91:9-12 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
    My email address

  13. November 19, 2013

    Brandi Reply

    And cue the tears!!! Every single one of your posts speaks directly to me. I just yelled at my 4yr old at 330am for coming upstairs & waking me up for the umpteenth time, asking me to turn her music back on! guess what…I felt bad right after I yelled 🙁 And didn’t sleep well after that. Then the 8-month old battling a nasty cold woke up at 430 for a bottle and some much needed cuddling (for both of us!). And the fight over clothes this morning, lunch for preschool, etc etc. So yeah, you talked directly to me today. Thanks! I really, really needed this. I feel like I fail every day and have to start over the next day at this mom thing.

  14. November 19, 2013

    Alice Reply

    I have four under 5 at the moment (4, almost 3, 17 months, and newborn) plus 3 more aged 9, 7 and 5, and I am NOT able to climb this mountain another step, brave and amazing or not. I am undone, and panicking! :/

  15. November 20, 2013

    mommyC2 Reply

    That was amazing, thank you! I have 3 under five and Some days are so overwhelming. I tell myself I’m molding a person and everything I do makes a difference as to how they turn out. Its nice to have a cheerleader and to hear that other people worry themselves crazy too.

  16. November 20, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    You know I’m praying hard!
    Psalms 91:14-15 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
    My email address

  17. November 20, 2013

    Anonymous Reply

    Working mom with high stress job and 3 year old son. I wonder if I’m doing enough and at the same time I know I do a lot. My husband is great but the pressure on moms is tremendous! Kids holiday party, treats for preschool, play dates, after school activities, birthday parties, tutoring, dinner. lunches, healthy diet, exercise, cleaning house, baths, brushing teeth. Doctor and dentist appointments, school volunteer…. I could go on and on. I am beyond exhausted but I love the moments I have with him. I know one day he will be a man and I will have no regret….. I won’t say I wish I would have done this or that…. some day I will look back in amazement on how I functioned….. and you will too ladies!

  18. November 20, 2013

    Anonymous Reply

    Working mom with high stress job and 3 year old son. I wonder if I’m doing enough and at the same time I know I do a lot. My husband is great but the pressure on moms is tremendous! Kids holiday party, treats for preschool, play dates, after school activities, birthday parties, tutoring, dinner. lunches, healthy diet, exercise, cleaning house, baths, brushing teeth. Doctor and dentist appointments, school volunteer…. I could go on and on. I am beyond exhausted but I love the moments I have with him. I know one day he will be a man and I will have no regret….. I won’t say I wish I would have done this or that…. some day I will look back in amazement on how I functioned….. and you will too ladies!

  19. November 20, 2013

    faye Reply

    what a great wonderful story ……so so true
    ……i was one of those MOM’S that could of used this 30 years ago ,but I TO LEARNED it on my own…..
    its not about competition , but its of care,love and taking one step at a time …..cause were all real ………….

  20. November 21, 2013

    Jessica M Reply

    I have 5 boys ages 6,5,4,2.5, and almost 1… you hit the nail on the head here! We homeschool and it is amazing but oh so challenging and I frequently get questioned if I truly have time for them all and all the needs, then I start to doubt and compare. I notice my 6 year olds faults and assume he wouldnt have them if placed in a classroom, or that my four year old doesn’t write his name yet at his older two brothers did by his age so I must be failing him and he would be so much better in a preschool, or the baby empties another cupboard before company shows up and while I am cleaning that up he dumps the clean laundry out of the basket… It is always something! Then I have your blog or someone make a positive comment and I realize the 6 year old would have a whole new set of issues placed in school that would just be different, the four year old is a different child and learns differently and will learn to write his name, and the baby is exploring and learning and company has to understand I am cultivating learning in our home! Some days I think I am crazy and other days I realize I AM CRAZY but it is so good! Thank you for all your encouragement and truth spoken in your blog!

  21. January 15, 2014

    Jenn Reply

    Bless you. Thank you for these words. I just put my 3 yr old down for a nap and had a good cry in my bedroom. Just one of those days when I feel every other mom knows what they’re doing besides me. Then I came downstairs and read these words. Thank you for writing from your heart. “There is no perfect,only real.” My favorite line!

  22. March 28, 2014

    Jess H. Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes. I am Mama to three beautiful babies — 3.5, 2, and 6 months — and my husband travels for work. I feel every bit of this post. I keep hoping that there is a light at the end of this (sometimes very dark) tunnel…and that I’ll reach it before I just totally collapse.

    Being brave can be hard. And scary. And intimidating.

    But, some moments are simply exhilarating. And loving. And joyfilled.

    My only prayer these days is one where the scale starts tipping more toward the later group as each day passes.

  23. Don’t forget – consistency and positive reinforcement will go far.
    Children, even babies, love to be praised for everything
    that they do, and praising the baby reinforces your potty training lessons.

    The troubles that you may face can easily be tackled by you.

  24. June 1, 2015

    Jackie Reply

    How am I just now finding you! I can’t stop reading your posts because they are everything I need to hear right now! I cannot thank you enough for your raw honesty in an otherwise ‘edited to perfection’ world!

  25. July 15, 2015

    Jessica Reply

    I have 5 under five years old. Your article just made my day.

    Thank you

  26. July 15, 2015

    Maria Reply

    I needed this today. I have 4 kids under the age of 4

  27. August 26, 2015

    Jackie Reply

    i have 4…. 10 months, 5,8 (boys) and a 17 year old girl. I Feel like the days never end and my 5 and 8 year old fight non stop , it’s exhausting 😢

  28. August 26, 2015

    Jackie Reply

    And I love your posts. I can always relate ❤️

  29. January 7, 2016

    Jaimi A - Georgia Reply

    I am always a little surprised by the reaction people give me when I tell them I have a 2.5 and a 4.5 year old.

    “Oh you must be tired”
    “Oh you must run a lot”

    It is those moments where I realize that having two under five is exhausting and even though “exhausted” is just part of the normal right now, having people recognize the struggle helps me make it through another day of bath refusal, bedtime whining, and everything in between.

    Thank you for this post.

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