what to actually expect when you’re a mom

Some truth. Because without truth we deprive ourselves of the oxygen of grace.

This is what being a mom is really about.

1. Expect to not have all the answers. Nope. Not all the time. Sometimes you won’t have answers for simple things like what’s for dinner? or do you know how to do this math problem? or where are my soccer shoes? And other times you won’t have answers for huge things – life things – and in those moments you make your best choice, embrace it, worry a bit, but still know that you made your best decision for your kids. Answers come through experience and oftentimes we think we should have it all together before the experience. No matter how much I knew about motherhood it wasn’t until I experienced it could I tell you what the answer might be.

2. Expect to fall down often. You’ll mess up. You’ll burn cookies. You’ll get upset and yell. You’ll say things you wish you wouldn’t have. But chances are, and this what you need to remember, you will also excel. You’ll make cookies that are awesome. You’ll apologize. You’ll try harder to keep perspective. You are a human. Not a robot, not a computer, not a book with answers, but you, the beautiful imperfection of you. You are not expected to have all the answers. Not trained to never lose your cool. Not capable of always knowing what to make for dinner. Not able to survive on three hours of sleep for weeks. Not on top of laundry all the time. Not without relationship issues.  Falling down isn’t bad, it’s a badge of trying because you stand up again and again.

3. Expect to wonder if you’re cut out for this whole crazy world of motherhood. Often. I’ve wondered it for twenty-one years. And so many times I’ll look at the kids or the mess in the house or the bank balance or myself in the mirror and I’ll just think girl, you are failing. And then I remember that I’ve made it twenty-one motherhood years. And I’ll remember the shoe tying, the ballet practices, the sledding in the winter, the cookies made, the concerts gone to, the covers tucked up, the pacing with a colicky baby, the kisses behind the ears and then I will remember that no one is cut out for motherhood. We simply learn.


4. Expect to find yourself comparing. And that’s okay. Let me tell you that again – it is okay. You see, sometimes comparing teaches us amazing things. It tells us how to teach shoe tying or a new way to go. Often comparing gets this bad rap in today’s world, but only only if we use it as a measuring stick of motherhood success. I learned how to make cookies (hahah, back to cookies) by comparing my cookies to my mother’s and then being willing to try and try again until I learned. Don’t fear the trying, don’t worry about not being perfect. Learn and embrace that journey knowing we are all at different steps in the race.

5.  Expect to be tired. Now don’t just dismiss tired as always normal (read my anemia journey) but know that motherhood is simply tiring. Getting no sleep when you have a newborn? Tiring. Waiting up for a teenager to come home? Tiring. Worrying about a preteen with an attitude? Tiring. Motherhood doesn’t come with a Monster drink of energy. Instead it comes with a giving giving giving of our hearts and that giving can be tiring. So take care of you too. Fuel your heart.

6. Expect to lose you a bit and then dare to find you again. You are still you. The you before you had kids. The you that explored. The you that read. The you that laughed with friends until after midnight. The you with dreams. Just because life gets busy doesn’t mean that the you should be lost. Sure, you’re imperfect, but so are all of us. And if you wait until the ducks are in a row and the stars aligned to start taking care and loving you again well, my sweet sister, life will tick by. Because life doesn’t stop for you. Instead you stop and decide that life is worth fighting for and your heart as well.


7. Expect to love with a love that surprises even you. Let me tell you our kids can equally drive us insane and drive us to tears of love within a day. Who could have prepared one for the tenderness in seeing them on stage or the fight one has in a doctor’s office? Motherhood is full of these moments of love so deep that they touch us in our souls. And it happens often when we’re tired, without options, when the toddler falls asleep. That love, that love is a love of imperfection. It can’t be trained, learned – it simply is.

8. Expect the days to go by fast even though the move like a snail. Ever dealt with a colicky baby? Time goes backward. Waited for kids to come home? Backward. Helped with algebra that you forgot? Backward time. Had a door slammed in your face? Heard I hate you? Time seems to creep. And yet, yet, there comes a day where you, perhaps like me, will stand at the gate in an airport and will hug your daughter and you will send her back to her new home almost two thousand miles away because she’s done. She’s graduated. She did it. And in those moments time moved like a blink of an eye.

9. Expect so much advice it might make your head spin. Like spin on extra spin cycle. And expect a million different opinions and no one opinion that will seem right. Expect advice from strangers and your mother and the lady at church. Expect looks from others at Trader Joe’s or Walmart. Expect advice online and in the doctor’s office. Just expect it. And then remember this: YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S MOM. And because of that? You know best.

10. Expect that you will be imperfect. Yes, imperfect. You won’t master everything. You will make mistakes. You will fall. You will mother. And motherhood? It’s NEVER about perfection. It’s about love and giving and trying and doing it again and again and again. That’s what to expect. Imperfect perfection.

Thank you for loving your kids.

From one imperfect mom to all of you.


ps. And sometimes expect to feel alone. And that part is so so so hard. But the antidote to being alone is community. And I would be blessed and honored to have you a part of ours.

3 Responses to “what to actually expect when you’re a mom”

  1. June 20, 2017

    Kathleen Nasca Reply

    Thank you Joy for articulating what has come to us older moms, and what is to come to our younger generation. There is strength to be found in the silent solidarity, and your voice unites us. Bless you and yours.

  2. July 9, 2017

    Nina Marie Reply

    Thanks for this. I’m so many of these things. As a new mom, I’m alone, tired, mostly emotionally drained and I feel like having kids was a big mistake. Can’t wait to get to the good part. (Is there a good part?)

  3. July 26, 2017

    Sylvia Lance Reply

    I absolutely loved this post!!!! Such truth and honesty to your words. There is so much that you learn from being a mom. I am now a grandmother, actually MawMaw, and I am still learning. Thanks for the great article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.