10 Actually True Things About the First Year of Parenthood - Girl of Cardigan

I did a ridiculous amount of reading when I was pregnant.  I read natural parenting books and baby scheduling books and how to make your baby happy with no crying and eating is good for everyone led by the spirit of your baby your self books.  If there was a book to read, rest assured, I gave it a go.

I thought I knew everything I’d need to know.

How much of that information did I actually use?  Some.  A little.  The best bits of this, a quick trick from that, but no single book was spot-on accurate, and nothing was anywhere near as easy as all my reading had led me to believe.  Fable was just herself, and apparently she hadn’t been reading the same stuff I’d been bingeing on.  All that reading was mostly a waste of time.*

These are the words I wish I’d read instead, before jumping headlong into the mommyhood with my books and my charts and my ideals and my high horses.  They’re flawed, and they aren’t all pretty, but they’re hard won and honest and as true as I can get’em.  

Here’s what I wish I’d known:

1. You are going to suck at this parenting gig and be awesome at it at the same time, all the time.  You will be a different parent every morning to a child who will also be different, sometimes changing in just hours, or minutes, or before your eyes.  There will be good days and bad days, good minutes and bad minutes, good choices and not so good ones.  You will do some things, probably a lot of things, wrong.  Be gentle with yourself, because you are wildly loved and incredibly needed.  You are climbing Mt. Everest with basically zero conditioning – expect to be kind of terrible at it for awhile.  You are beautiful.  We are for you.

2. Post-partum bodies are squashy and wobbly and dimpled and stretched and foreign and embarrassing and difficult and painful and gorgeously imperfect, and they tend to stay that way for quite awhile.  You made a human.  Now make your peace.  Eat good food.  Walk around when you’re well enough.  Listen to the people who tell you you’re beautiful.  Take them at their word.  Remember where your worth comes from.

3. Your baby is not like the other babies.  Your baby is the only one of herself who has ever been, and you and your partner are the only experts on her.  Your baby will not behave like the books say, won’t like what she’s supposed to like, won’t do what she’s supposed to do when she’s supposed to do it, and that’s normal and great and perfectly okay.  The best thing you can do is put down your literature and get to know your baby.  What does she like?  What makes her laugh?  How does she best fall asleep?  What does hungry sound like?  The discovery of these things will serve you so much more than any stranger’s care instructions ever will.  You don’t have to make your life or your family look like any particular model – you don’t have to follow the rules.  You just have to create a life that works for you and fosters love and security and a whole lot of laughter.  If that looks like 2am pancake parties, I’m not going to tell on you.  I might actually admire you and be just a little bit jealous.

4. We have got to stop telling people that things should be easy and painless.  We live in a culture that equates ease with value – the easier it is, the better it is, if it hurts you, something is wrong.  Reality check: sometimes things that are hard and painful are also really, really good.  Every once in a while as a parent, one of the things that you thought would be really difficult turns out to be incredibly easy and drama-free.  This is called a miracle, and though it might be somehow related to some book you read and the alignment of the stars and a magic way you pat the soles of your baby’s feet and the tea you drink on Thursdays, it’s still mostly a miracle, and the odds of that same miracle happening to EVERY OTHER PARENT EVERYWHERE are pretty slim, even with books and stars and tea and so much foot-patting.  We get excited in our victories, and want to share them, but it’s important to remember that we are all struggling with different issues.  One daddy’s easy is some mama’s nightmare.  And just because your baby doesn’t sleep through the night at five weeks or eat with a fork by her first birthday or cries a lot or your boobs get sore from breastfeeding (even though her latch is perfect) – just because it isn’t EASY and PAINLESS – it isn’t necessarily wrong.  Sometimes hard is okay, sometimes, often, it’s even good.  Hard is how we grow.  And guess what, kiddo – parenting is hard.  Any book that tells you otherwise deserves the big fat sticker of bullshit.

5. Speaking of bullshit, oh mylanta, the poop.  They warn you.  They tell you.  And despite every warning, it is still baffling and alarming and downright awe-inspiring how much of your next year is going to be spent dealing with, assessing, smelling for, washing off, evaluating, discussing, logging, and transporting poop.  Get good and comfy with poop, friends.  The poop cometh.  For whom the poop tolls.  The hunt for poop-tober – you get the idea.

6. The sooner you can figure out how to accept unwanted advice gracefully, the easier your year is going to be.  For whatever reason, people love to weigh in on babies – everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to share.  I believe that most of this advice is pretty well-intended – most of it falls into the “it worked for me and I am so happy and I want to share my joy joy joy with you because you look very tired” category, which is at least only mildly offensive and really very sincere.

Here’s the thing – you can stumble through this crazy first 12 months in defense mode, snapping witty comebacks at judgey old ladies or know-it-all childless people, or you can decide to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, smile and say thank you, and become very zen and confident about knowing what’s best for your child and not giving one ounce of your abundance of poop about what anyone else says.

If I were you, I’d aim for zen.

Nobody is out to get you.  Everyone wants you to succeed.  And screw them all anyway, because you are raising a child, and that is awesome.  Did your kid eat something today?  Is she relatively hygienically sound?  Smiles occasionally?  You win all the things.  You are awesome enough to absorb any and all commentary, keep the bits you like, and toss the bits you don’t.  How sweet of them to care.

7. Start stretching, because it’s time to get flexible.  I’m not a big fan of general statements like “All babies like swaddling” or “Co-sleeping is best for everybody,” but there is one I can get behind – babies are really inconvenient.  Your schedule, your sleep, your stellar punctuality record, your deadlines, your best shirts, your relationships – everything is about to get messy and complicated.  You have two choices – become a weepinghungrytiredmess of doom, or swallow every ounce of pride you have and become flexible.  Ask for help.  Admit failure.  Be late.  Stay in your pajamas.  Ignore the dishes.  Let slide what can slide and rejoice when you make it through with all your bare necessities intact.  You are going to miss a few parties and a lot of snoozes and probably many other important things, and it will be okay.  It will be better than okay.  It will be amazing.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be one of those parents who gets a magic baby who responds to the methods in whatever book you read or is just naturally benevolent and fits like a glove into your fabulous and organized life.  Again, this is called a miracle.  We love you and are happy for you.  Now please, shut up.

8. The most important thing to get for your baby is not a Rock n’ Play, nor a good set of swaddling blankets, nor a high-end stroller.  The most important thing to get for your baby is a village.  Your village will keep you afloat.  They will carry you when you are tired, feed you when you are starving, forgive you when you are unkempt and hours late and a neglectful friend who can’t remember to wear socks let alone whose birthday it is.  They will love your baby when you are too tired or frustrated to hold her at the moment, because you are imperfect and human and have imperfect and human failings.  They will remind you who you are when you start to think your whole life is only about poop.  They will lift you up.

9. We have to lift each other up.  Raising babies is the hardest thing many of us have ever done.  We can tear each other to bits, criticize choices, and turn up noses, or we can love each other, admire adorable babies, offer a hand, and celebrate victories.  This is not a difficult choice, people.  Nobody cares that your way is better.  Everyone cares that your kid is gorgeous and let’s chat over coffee and what have you been doing with your hair lately because, girlfriend, you look fabulous.  Don’t be horrible.  It isn’t really that hard.

10. Success is found in being willing to grow.   Here’s the truth: you don’t know much of anything.  A year from now,  after your fantastic kid turns one, you won’t know much of anything still.  Gather wisdom around you.  Learn from your mistakes.  Stay humble.  Stay open.  When you know better, do better.  Be a better parent tomorrow than you were today, always, everyday, as often as you can.  Try things out and leave them behind shamelessly if they don’t work out.  Life isn’t a contest or a game – it’s simply only beautifully life. Live the minutes instead of scoring them.  Love that incredible baby.

Oh, lovely – you are going to have so much fun!

Girl of Cardigan


*A note:  Apparently, it needs to be said that I actually quite like books and am in favor of reading (the rest of this blog will clue you in to that right quick).  By all means, read books, people.  Tons of books are full of great info.  Just don’t let books stress you out. No single book is going to fix parenting for everybody.  Ha – don’t we all wish.  😉

photo by the incomparable Shannon Hannon Photography

  • Kat Bonham November 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

    oh karen, how i loved reading this! hopefully i can keep these things in mind whenever i become a mama 🙂

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

      That will be one seriously blessed Bonham baby. Love.

  • Franci November 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Karyn, I needed this today:)! This list is so great. Thank you for encouraging this mama and for spreading truth about this whole parenting thing. It’s a journey and it’s a privilege and it’s ridiculously hard… and the hard is also often the good.
    See you soon:)!

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

      I can’t wait to snuggle your new gorgeous squish, Franci! Thank you for always being so encouraging – I appreciate you so much.

  • Sarah Haven November 5, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Love! Beautifully written, as always. Best mom advice I’ve heard in a long time. And perfect timing with your sister being a very soon to be mommy. 🙂

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

      So. much. poop. 😉

  • Camas November 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you Karyn, as someone about to start this journey, I really appreciate your honesty without making it sound like the worst idea ever 🙂

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

      You’re going to be amazing. No question there. 🙂

  • Kelly November 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Giant amen to #3! It’s a breath of fresh air to read that instead of advice for what should work. Near the get-go, I was telling Mr. Easygoing’s mother about something my little cherub and I were struggling with and she observed, “Gosh, she sounds awfully high-maintenance.” Well! Here’s to high maintenance babies and imperfect mommies.

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Preach. That baby of yours is fantastic. I can tell just by looking.

  • Michelle November 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Love, love, love! I have four kids, age 14 months to 9 years, and so much of this can apply to more than just the first year!

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Oh Michelle, four! You’re incredible – and have given me hope for the future with more than one crazy babe to wrangle. Best to you!

  • Rachel November 6, 2013 at 6:29 am

    I cried all the way through reading this. Thank you so much for your beautiful honesty. You have blessed me today.

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Thank you, Rachel! Your comment blesses me. Winning! 😉

  • Elizabeth November 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Beautifully written!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you!

  • Liesl November 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    One of my favorite posts, Karyn. Maybe because you used the word poop so many times or because you said bullshit (twice) and also, I found the ultimate rarity, a spelling error. I don’t think that’s ever happened. 😉 Actually, the word was spelled correctly but it was just the wrong version of it… I believe. Feel free to delete this post for its negativity but I was rather proud of myself for finding it. Sigh, I just violated #9. For the record, you are AWESOME and one of the best writers I know and so ridiculously creative and resourceful and Fable is well-loved and cared for by you two. Well done!!!!

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Liesl – I am only human, after all. But for the record, commenting and saying you found an error and not saying what it is so I can frickin fix it is just a little meanypants of you. 🙂

      • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Update for those in suspense: She told me. I fixed it. And you’ll never know… 😉

  • Annie November 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Phhhhhenomenal!!! Found this on FB just now…so good and true! Every current mom and dad and the soon-to-bes need to read this. I just shared it on FB and said “prepare you village and put away your judgey pants because being a parent is hard enough and everyone needs support!” Bravo, stranger!

    • karyn November 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Ha! Love your summary, Annie – I might have to use that. 😉 Thank you for the love!!

  • Ashleigh November 7, 2013 at 4:34 am

    So beautifully written, thank you!!

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks for reading, Ashleigh!

  • Miranda November 7, 2013 at 7:39 am

    So well spoken! Thank you for sharing the TRUTH about babies & the beautiful, joyful messes they bring.

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks Miranda! I’m off to clean up some of that joyful mess now, actually.

  • Jessica November 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Today is the first day that I have read your blog, as it was posted on a friend’s timeline on Facebook. I felt compelled to write you to say… Thank you. Thank you for writing this. I am a soon-to-be new mommy, and like you… have been reading and researching and trying to figure out how to do this “mommy thing” the best way possible. Thank you for compiling this list that I will definitely reference from time to time. It is honest, heartfelt, informative and more helpful than you know. Thank you!

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Aw, thank you! You’re going to have so much fun, despite all the tired and the hard – new mommyhood is unlike anything else. It’ll be an amazing ride. I’m wishing you tons of happy!

  • Melanie Serre November 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! For your beautiful, amazing & awesomely up-lifting words mama!

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Thank YOU. You guys are blessing me hugely today.

  • Faith@The Stirring Place November 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Oh good golly this is good. I’m about 2-ish weeks away from the birth of my first baby and let me tell you the crazy new-mommy hormones have shifted to 5th gear. This was a breath of awesome, unpolluted, hey-you’re-human-and-that’s-okay air. Thank you, thank you new-mommy-stranger friend!
    PS – You’re rocking this mommy business like a boss. Keep up the good work sister!

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Yaaaaaaayyyy for new babies! Welcome, new-mommy-stranger-friend. Happy hormones to you! 🙂

  • Katrina November 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Karyn, I’m reading this with my beautiful 6-week old sleeping on my chest (which some book says not to do, but this feeling is better than a thousand nights of uninterrupted sleep!) and I had to say thanks for sharing! I will always choose what my daughter needs over what the books tell me, but you made me feel like that’s ok to do 🙂

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Those chest snuggled naps are THE BEST. You keep right on snuggling. Congratulations, mama!

    • Jenny November 11, 2013 at 6:49 am

      Wow….what book told you that? You keep on snuggling her in your chest because that’s the best feeling for both of you! If it feels right, do it!

  • Kathryn November 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I am a new grandmother and I love the advice for new mothers ! I am glad that I am part of the village to help ! Keep up the true advice and more mothers will fill good about themselves because all mothers are special !

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks, Kathryn! Congratulations on your new grandbaby!

  • Sean November 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    This is perfect advice for fathers. Most of us know to stay away from know it all trite books, but we do need some advice. This is it. Send this to potential dads who need an honest assessment of what they are in for- especially to help them to be aware of what their wife needs. Well done Karyn.

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Aw, yay, thank you Sean! I hoped that dads could connect with this too. I have sooo much respect for the amazing dads in our circle, those who are at home parenting full time or working outside of the home. Dads are often the ones who figure these things out first, I think.

  • Mrs. Gray November 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Oh, the village! It wouldn’t even be possible without the village! Great words, Mama!

    • karyn November 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Oh man. So much the village. Thank you!

  • Audrey W. November 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    One of the moms in my village (playgroup) shared this with me and it really hit home. Thank you for your relevant and poignant words. I know I will be rereading this often.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks so much, Audrey!

  • Catherine November 8, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Thanks for this post. I have to keep telling myself that my squishy body helped bring children in this world. I have all the time in the world to go to the gym later but my kids are only little for a few years. So what if im in my fat pants for longer than intended?! Thanks for making me feel beautiful today!!

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Perfectly said. I hope you feel beautiful always- what you’re doing is completely rock star. 🙂

  • Rasee November 8, 2013 at 5:34 am

    This is just ridiculously beautiful and perfect. I teach prenatal classes at my local hospital and would love your permission to use the point about the village on one of my slides when I talk about the postpartum period and PPD. (I had PPD and realized that if I could go back and do ONE thing differently…oh, I’d have a village.)

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 6:32 am

      Thank you, and of course! Please use what you’d like for your class. I’m honored.

  • Sam'sMom November 8, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Thank you… I really needed this.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      You are so welcome. 🙂

  • Susie November 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

    regarding all the books you read while pregnant(and I did not read any when I was pregnant.. much smaller selection then), I love the advice of my sister, NICU nurse and proud Grandmother to 4.. She tells her new moms that “no matter what all the books you have read say… your baby does not read and will be and do who they are”. So true – all one needs to learn they will learn from their own baby..

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Yes! Perfect advice, I say, and I don’t say that about advice very often. 🙂

  • Sblair November 8, 2013 at 11:38 am

    What a beautiful post. I absolutely loved it. True words of wisdom. Thank you.

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Aw, thank you! All my wisdom is borrowed or stolen. True story.

  • Sarah November 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this – every single word resignated with me, I cried the whole way through it. For weeks I’ve been beating myself up for not doing this right and that right all while wondering if I should read this book or that book to get my 4 month old to sleep through the night… We’re all doing the best we can as we navigate through this beautiful mess called Parenting and this post was exactly what I needed to remind myself of that. I am enough. You are enough. Each of us is perfect in our little ones eyes. I needed this. Thank you thank you for your perfect and beautifully written post !!

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Yes, yes exactly. Thank you, Sarah, and best to you with the sleeping – missing sleep is the WORST. Our Fabes started sleeping 12 hour nights very, very recently, and the months before that were tough to navigate – she just wasn’t a great sleeper, no matter what we tried. But I promise you’ll sleep again someday. You have everything you need! love.

  • Lindsey November 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I have a 6 week old and had a crappy day yesterday, this was the first thing I read today and it made me feel great. Thanks!

    • karyn November 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Those first weeks are so amazing and sooo hard. Hang in there, mama. Welcome. 🙂

  • Sarah Lutz November 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    This was so inspiring that it brought me to tears. I really appreciate your beautiful words. I’m so glad I ame across this. It really put everything into perspective for me. I just wish I could have read it sooner. So much wisdom that I should have been following already. I guess you could say this post changed my life. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but it really opened my eyes. I’m so tired if failing that I never really told myself it’s okay to fail a little or get a little frazzled. Thank you so very much. I’m going to bookmark this and read it every time I need some assurence.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Oh Sarah, thank you. We are all failing all of the time – we’re imperfect and messy and ridiculous, and we are totally with you. I hope you’ll stick around. 🙂 Love to you.

  • Ruthy November 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    I started crying after about #2 (probably because untried on pre-pregnancy hens earlier). I was just telling my husband todaythat I became a better mom when I stopped trying to copy the books and just started loving my baby. When I was able to quit stressing over the clock and her schedule and what she was ‘supposed’ to be doing, I began to appreciate her for the sweet, inconsistent little human that she was made to be.
    About the poop…no one warns you about the violent effect that pureed solids have on poop. Sometimes, after changing a diaper post intro to solids I feel like I deserve a medal. Gag.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      No babies should eat real food ever. Milk only for always until potty training. No? Fine. But seriously, it’s no good. Thanks so much, Ruthy! I’m a huge crier, so I’m glad there are others like me around here. 🙂

      • karyn November 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

        I’m kidding about the no food, we all know that, right? Okay. Good. Carry on.

  • OJ November 9, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Oh, about poop……As much of it as there is, and should be….The third kid threw up a lot at first, from day 1. And finally was throwing up so much, the poop stopped coming, and we knew something was definitely wrong. So, as much poop as there is, be glad. The baby had pyloric stenosis, very easily corrected by surgery, but my, what a scary time. Then, shortly afterwards, back to more poop. We spoke about that in Sunday School, how much we appreciated the baby’s poop. All is well with the world……….

    • karyn November 9, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Thank you for this shot of perspective! I think we’ll all be more thankful for poop today. All the best to you and your babe – I’m so glad everyone is okay!!

  • Michelle robers November 9, 2013 at 3:26 am

    You’re awesome. This. This is awesome.

  • Cait November 9, 2013 at 4:22 am

    So eloquent and true. It’s waiting like this that help one keep things… all things… in perspective. Thank you for this.

  • Elda November 9, 2013 at 7:55 am

    What a crock! If you re clueless and inexperienced, by all means stick your head in the sand. There are a lot of books that help tremendously with parenting. No, I don’t mean ‘the girlfriend’s guide to baby gear’, but more like ‘brain rules for baby’, the Sears books, anything by Maria Montessori…. Relying on ‘the village’ for guidance is tantamount to following pop parenting, filled with star stickers for good behavior and time outs. Read GOOD books, use your judgement, know your child, and blaze your own trail.

    • karyn November 9, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Elda- I owe you an apology. My first response to you was pretty much a knee-jerk know-it-all reaction to being called a clueless, inexperienced crock. Sometimes I suck at taking my own advice. See #1. Having now showered and done a bit of thinking, I’ve decided that, truly, I am all of those things, can own them proudly, and line them up next to the Dr. Sears AND Montessori books that already hang out on my shelf. By the grace of God, the baby is thriving. So grateful for that.
      We are all doing the best we can, obviously.
      Thank you for pointing out a way in which I could have been more clear – I’ve added a little aside to the post for you, which I hope will clarify my feelings about books, mainly that I like them, just not the anxiety they sometimes produce in otherwise lovely mamas who are really kind of amazing in their own right.

      I must say, though, I do like star stickers. They’re so very shiny. 😉

  • Christine November 9, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Karyn, I’m a little past half way in my first pregnancy. I needed this, I need a village. I went into this knowing I did because I’m also a person who is disabled. “No, I won’t do it the way “you” do it…” seems to come out if my mouth way too often, leaving me full of doubts and anxiety, but this reminds me no one dies things the same way! I have an amazing village, and now I have a way to put that into words! I thank you with all my heart!!

  • leah November 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Apparently Elda didn’t read #9. My gorgeous baby girl is about to turn 1 and this past year has been ridiculously hard (sleep deprivation is not to he messed with let me tell you) but just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we are doing anything wrong. I will continue to learn and grow and get to know this unique child who amazes me daily and some day, hopefully soon, I will sleep. My baby is happy and healthy and that is all that matters thanks to my village. My dear friend and fellow mom in my village posted this on my facebook and I think every point is spot on and encouraging through this journey of parenthood. Thanks!

  • Anonymous November 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

    What a beautiful gift! Thank you!!!

  • anonymous November 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

    you have said just what mothers need to hear and your words of encouragement are what young mothers need to no, well done. by the way i am a mom but im also 61 years old….

  • Laura November 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This made me cry, laugh and breathe a much-needed sigh of relief. Thanks for making me feel like it’s all ok and less alone in stumbling through the intense, awesome, nuts first year of parenthood.

  • Brittany B. November 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    OMG…. amazing. Only 2 months into the mom world and I’m starting to see the light! I tried to live by books and that went out the window very quickly! I hope to keep all this in mind as her and I grow together.

  • Rachel November 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I have six children, ages ranging from 22 months to 22 years, and this is the best parenting advice I have ever read. Thank you.

  • Kitchen Butterfly November 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    My oldest is 10,youngest 6 with an 8 year old in between. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for for good days and not so great ones. For knowing when to say Thank you. And NO. For letting me give myself permission.

  • Anonymous November 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I love no 3. All the magazines look at motherhood through rose coloured glasses. I am going to steal this for my ante natal groups

  • Krista November 10, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Karyn, I just cried and cried reading this. Tears of relief! My gift is not writing and you gave words to my feelings and you did it with grace nd authenticity! Thank-you. I have a 5 months old baby girl and its been every bit the wild ride you speak of! Amazing and I will share these the truths with many others. * big hug to you!

  • Laura November 10, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I wish I had read this before my son was born. ♥

  • Fran November 10, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Loved reading this! I, too, read 100s of baby books before having my 1st child, 6 1/2 years ago now – and about a week in to parenthood gave them all away lol! I have since had 3 more babies and am now the proud co-owner of 3 sons aged 6, 4 and 8 months and a daughter aged 2! I LOVE being a mummy – no other job in the world can compare… It may be the hardest job in the world, but it’s also the best 🙂 I managed to become a SAHM 2 years ago (I left teaching) and it’s the best career move I could ever have made 🙂 All parents, new or otherwise, should read your article – it puts a smile on your face and gives you confidence. Thank you! xx

  • Elisabeth November 10, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Beautifully written and so relatable! I love book too, and believed I had it all figured out before I had my twins. Real life was so so different and it took me a long while before I found my feet in this new reality.

  • Connie November 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

    FINALLY – someone told the truth. I remember thinking, “Women have done this for millions of years – how can this be so hard?” My daughter just had her first & I’m trying to convince her that a) she is a great mommy and b) it really does get easier. Maybe, after reading this, she’ll believe me. Thanks again.

  • Tony November 10, 2013 at 6:21 am

    I only saw one or two fathers comment on here but this is really great info for all of us. Much of this seemed to be written directly for my wife, ha. Especially the part about her body. She is super critical of herself and I am constantly trying to build her up.She would probably not have read this so I read it to her :). She loved it. We enjoyed the part about the abundance of poop as well… we can’t believe our little guy can make that much mess that often! Thank you for this! WE are growing every day.

  • Cindy Leclerc November 10, 2013 at 8:11 am

    A wonderfuly honest post! You have portrayed the realities of the first year so accurately. Thank you.

  • DC November 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Uhm, so we replace “easy and painless” with “amazing”. I don’t quite think so, no. Sometimes it’s not even amazing at all and it might even plain suck. But yes, that is life, precisely that.

    • karyn November 10, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Oh, I wish we replaced easy and painless with amazing! You’re right, it’s usually replaced with hard, and sometimes sucky – I think we all agree there. But hard and sucky often lead to amazing, and that is a gift, and why we keep on keeping on. All the best to you!

      • karyn November 10, 2013 at 9:07 am

        Also, can we please not quote me as saying “Hard and sucky can lead to amazing”? Cause, um, that could go so wrong so fast. K thanks bye. 😉

  • S November 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

    So true. Each child’s journey is so strikingly different too. Just when you think you’ve got it, along comes baby #2 to throw you a curveball. As a single-working Mom at 36, with no village, no support, no family, 2 kids and one wee one on the way, the best gift is knowing that we’re going to be ok. It will not be easy, in fact it is really going to suck for a long while, but that little breath on your cheek at the end of the day makes it all worthwhile. I just pray this one sleeps.

  • Khrystina November 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

    THANK YOU….. This truly is the truth, I am a mommy of 2 wonderful,loving,crazy children. They are both now a bit older 4 and 5 however they still change daily. If you are a new mommy out their this really is great advise. I remember crying one day as my then 2yr old had thrown up all over me and my then 6mth old crying to be feed, my hubby comes home to 3 crying crazy people. I thought that was the worst day now I look back and laugh and remember that look on my hubby face. One day at a time nothing is ever perfect and no day is the same from the next deep breaths a great sense of humor you will be golden.

  • Kara November 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    This reflects the last year of my life. My son will be a year old on November 17, 2013, and I could have written this myself (although perhaps not so eloquently). Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

  • Anne L November 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Oh my god, yes, yes, yes!!! My “baby” is 17 now, and how I wish someone had told me even half of this when she was tiny. I remember wondering why it was so hard and why wasn’t I just glowing with the miracle of it all every second… and it turns out, I did a lot of stuff wrong, and I still did an awesome job and my daughters love me like crazy and I love them like crazy, and I would do it all again, hard chunks and all, in a heartbeat. So thanks for this.

  • D November 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    As an educator, I was never afraid of what things would be like when the baby was born…it was the birth and the 9 months building up to the birth that scared me. It was unfamiliar, uncharted territory. I was confident, maybe even overconfident, that I could handle anything related to parenting that came my way. Boy was I wrong! All children are different, unique in their own ways and as parents our solutions will be unique as well. Many others may not agree with certain parenting techniques…but they can have their opinion when they’re the one who is up all night or are dealing with a tantrum in public when you’re late. This reminded me to rely on my village, but not so much that I forget who I Ann as a parent. Thank you!

  • Karen Lodato November 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    A to the Men.

  • Lynn November 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Even us grandmas need this reminder. You think you “forgot” how to do everything and you worry about what matters. But the truth is that every child is different and LOVE is what matters!

  • Tiffany s November 10, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Most amazing and such true words ice ever read about parenting ! LOVE ❤️

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      love to you!

  • Dana November 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Loved every bit of this. I had the opposite of a magic baby. I had the baby with food allergies and reflux who didn’t sleep for more than a three hour stretch until he was nine months old. I read books and articles and blogs and nothing helped. Everyone thought they knew the answer, but they didn’t. It was I who eventually figured it out (imagine that). I had to learn to trust my instincts as a mother and let go of my type-A personality a bit. Now I have an awesome 2-year-old and the time with him is so worth all the dishes and laundry that seem to constantly pile up!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      I love this, thank you for sharing a bit of your story. The missing sleep can be so hard – comments like yours make me feel peaceful and give me hope, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Thanks for reaching out!

  • jane November 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    just stumbled upon this post after friends linked it on Facebook. i have three kids, ages 3, 2, and 1. and i wish i would’ve read this each and every year a new babe entered my life. this is so, so true! the best advice i was given was “do what works for you”. number 7 was a hard thing for me, but i had to learn to be flexible because none of my babies were “textbook”. but surrounding myself and my babies with a village, i think, is the most wonderful reminder! it was how i survived each one of my babies’ first year of life and still continue to survive. thank you for this post and these truths. 🙂

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      3, 2, and 1 – you’re amazing. I bow to you. Seriously, tell me all your secrets, because I have so much to learn from you mamas with more than one. I’m glad you’re here.

  • Maree November 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    How delightful to read the truth. You do need a Village. If you are lucky to have one, use it, make your life as easy as possible. Love yourself and love this blessing in your life. Time passes so quickly, try to enjoy every day, poop and all.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you for this, Maree. I will do my best to celebrate all the moments. 🙂

  • Marie November 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

    I read this at 3:30 am through tears and feeling like the most inadequate mother on the planet. I have 10 month old twins. I am exhausted. I have no family or friends in my new state (2 military moves cross country since the little ones have been born). They aren’t sleeping through the night. My son is fussy about 90% of his waking hours. I can’t cuddle one without the other getting upset. So basically this was a breath of fresh air and maybe will get me through some rough days. Thank you.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      I can’t imagine how overwhelming twins can be – I’m praying peace and friendship and rest and joy your way. Thank you for being here.

  • Jenny November 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Karyn, this is the best, it encourages us mothers and even though I’m a second time new mom, I feel like I forgot what it was like 2 1/2 years ago! Even moms who have miracle babies in one aspect have the difficult baby in another aspect! No baby or mommy is perfect but we do our best to give our best and accept the imperfections. I remember my son cried for hours but slept through the night by 5 weeks, sure I got to sleep through the night but I also went through hours of crying torture! My daughter has been better with the crying and now at 3 months is sleeping through the night! Which is better? Who knows? Oh and the poop….I’ve had two ghetto pooperstars, pooping all day long!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      OMG ghetto pooperstar is about to become a huge hit around this house. You’ve changed our lives… for the better? I’ll let you know. Thank you for this. I’m glad you’re here.

  • Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. November 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Boy, did I need this. No, I don’t have any sweet little ones of my own yet, but we’re thinking about it. Talking about it. Hyperventilating in the middle of the night while the hubs is asleep because Holy Guacamole, I’m-going-to-be-a-terrible-mother about it.


    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      The only thing I can say is that every moment has been worth it. Deep breaths. If I can do it, you totally can. 🙂

  • leah November 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Um, this was insanely beautiful, every word. And because we are currently in the process of adopting our first I just want to print it out and read it at least once every single day! In an as un-creepy way as possible I just feel like I love you!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      Totally creepy. Kidding. I love you back already, and this, and yay for your first!!! Congratulations, mama. All my best to you!

  • Sarah Rigley MacDonald November 11, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve never read an article that struck home so much. Best. Advice. Ever

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Sarah – I find your comment incredibly kind and incredibly terrifying. 😉 I can take credit for none of this advice, but I try to use it, and I’m so glad it resonated with you and that you’re here. Thank you so much!!

  • Fran November 11, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Loved reading this, my favorite part is make a village. Ask for help. Its a miracle. It does take a village to help a new parent. To keep them thinking positive and letting they are doing a great job.
    New grand mom and I am part of my daughters village at least i think so. She has a village for whatever she needs, her family and a lot of good friends.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Grandmas are my favorite part of the village. Congratulations on your new grandbaby! Wishing you so much joy.

  • Pattie Fitzgerald November 11, 2013 at 9:24 am

    This is the best thing i have ever read about that first year as a parent. So true. My daughter is 16 now and I
    Wish someone reminded me of some of these things when she was born. What a gift you give to new parents with this post. Well done!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Pattie, wow, thank you. All of these lessons were gifted to me by wise mamas – thank God we have each other.

  • Amber November 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

    My oldest “baby” will be 7 on Wednesday, and let me tell you, this advice works well past the first year. Great post!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks, Amber! I hope you’ll stick around and offer your advice – so many more years to go! 😉

  • Jessica Hoover November 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    …and then we met on the interwebs and became best friends…Seriously though this was a fantastic post and I’m so happy I stumbled upon it. I’m gonna ask you to go visit my blog so that you can see that I’m not a crazy person and that I’m not shamelessly self-promoting in a comment box. Cuz I detest that for about a thousand reasons. I really think we should be friends. I think you’ll agree. I’m Jessica by the way.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      I already love you and I haven’t even been to your blog. So that’s good. You’re in. It’s a thing. I will go read as soon as I figure out how to handle my life today. 😉 Cannot wait.

  • Lap November 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    This may be the best parenting advice I have ever, ever read. So well done!

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Now I just have to try to follow it… shoot. 😉 Thank you so much for reading!

  • Bridget Aladro November 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    As a currently pregnant mother of a one year old, I want to say thank you. My hormones needed this today. Your words were a beautiful reminder to breathe. This is my first visit to your site but it won’t be my last. Thank you again for putting it into perspective and reminding all of us how fantastic being a mom really is. Poop and all.

    • karyn November 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      It’s completely fantastic. Congratulations to you, mama! Your babes are going to have so much fun together!!

  • Joanna November 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Dear Karyn, thank you so much for this. I have a beautiful 9 week old boy and he is one of those babies that don’t sleep through the night and i am one of those mothers that couldn’t bear with the idea of them crying it out. i have read much and listened to tons of advice and unfortunately they made me more stressed. I am thankful for a village in my husband who assures me that our boy is happy and healthy and that’s all that matters. After reading your post, i am even more assured now and i will surrender all my paranoia, stress and worries to our awesome God. Thank you again. All the best with Fable! She’s a sweetie 🙂

  • Nicole November 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Karyn, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughts. As many have already commented, I really needed this today. I particularly appreciated the “it takes a village” mantra- i could be wrong, but I think many of us new moms feel as if we have to be a martyr and take care of everything ourselves, or we are letting our baby and everyone else down- but as new moms have also figured out, doing everything ourselves is simply impossible. This tug of war allows the dreaded mommy guilt to sneak in and strangle the life out of us, taking some of the joy and wonder of being a parent. Thanks for the reminder, and giving me the courage to let go of my pride and ask for some assistance. My baby and I will be so much happier.

    Gratefully, a suddenly lighter new mommy with a skip in her step and an adorable baby to go cuddle 🙂

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:33 am

      YES. So much the martyr complex – why do we do that? I’m totally with you. Skip on, beautiful girl.

  • Jenn November 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    This was such a blessing to read with 3 boys and a 4th boy on the way it was something I needed to hear. Each child is unique and has their own way of doing things. I feel like every time I am learning to be a parent over again. I could not do what I do without my husband and my village!

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

      Congrats on your new little one! My first nephew is arriving any day now, and I’m over the moon excited to get to hang out with a baby boy – so fun. Thanks for being here!

  • LUBNA KARKARIA November 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm


  • Michelle November 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Seriously some of the best advice ever compiled into a very well written blog. Love! I am 5 1/2 months into my journey of motherhood and have shed many many tears over how bad of a mom I was/am/will be, but like you said, I just try to be a better parent than the day before. I am currently missing my village, and not having it just shows me how important it is. Thank you again for your wonderful words, you def have another fan in me!

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:30 am

      Praying for a village to come around you, Michelle. 🙂 I’m glad you’re here.

  • Leslie November 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm


    Thank you for sharing with so much wit and humour. I SO needed this today. It’s nearly 1am and I’m finally able to sit down and get some work done and I found your posting. I admit; I cried through the whole thing. Thank you. I needed to hear that I’m not a horrible mother.

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:29 am

      I’m so glad this post brought you a little relief – I’ve SO been there. We were up at 4am this morning with the angriest baby on the block – fun times. Thank God we’re all in this thing together.

  • Shivani November 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I’m a VERY hard to please person. This post has pleased me more than anything I have read in the past year. Great job!

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:27 am

      I may or may not have yelled “Wahoo!” allowed when I read this comment. I’ll never tell. Thank you, Shivani. 😉

  • Dee November 12, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Hello there, Karyn!

    Chanced upon yr article on Huffington and couldn’t agree more with u, especially nbr 6!
    I’m a new mum and whenever my hubby brings our bb for sunbathing due to jaundice, the folks in our neighbour offer varied advice of their tried and tested ways. The hub gets very amused though. Lol!
    Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and keep doing whatever you enjoy! 😉

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:25 am

      Congratulations on your new little one, Dee! Thanks for your sweet words.

  • Meredith November 12, 2013 at 5:34 am

    This is so awesome! You put into beautiful words what I try to tell all my new mommy friends. Not that I have it all figured out (b/c I assure you I don’t), but with 5 kids 9 and under I have been there and done that on many issues. My favorites are #1 and #4. All of them are so true but those in particular really stick out to me. We are never going to be the perfect parents, but we will very often be great parents. And parenting is most definitely something that is worth all the HARD (not easy) work that goes into it. I love seeing the young people that my children are growing into. There are many times when I want to strangle all of them, and it makes me wonder about my abilities as a mom. But then there are so many special moments when they surprise me with some little gift or willingly help a sibling or even a stranger that just melt my heart and make me see that all those moments when I want to tear my hair out are worth it. I love being a mom.

    • karyn November 12, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Aw, I love this! Thanks for sharing, Meredith. 5 kids under age 9 is downright inspiring. Yay for letting go of perfect! 🙂 Best to you.

  • Jill Fogg November 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Amazing! My sister forwarded this to me today. Where have you been for the last year of my life?! My son just turned one, and I SO needed to read this. No more judgey pants! I am a first time Mum, and also just turned 43…so I get a LOT of unwanted feedback, for which I generally am pretty snappy. Snappy no more! I vow to be Zen, and let it roll off my back while I snuggle my perfect fuzzy little boy (and scrape poop off the walls). XXXOOO

  • Jemma November 12, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Karyn, Thankyou! The poop, my husband laughs that I am ‘obsessed with poop’. My son is now 19 months and I will give him a fruit cup after chasing a ‘roller’ or a piece of cheese after dealing with the opposite, less funny diaper. There seems to be so much pressure as parents, when our children meet their milestones, breastfeeding, cosleeping, the rights and wrongs etc. You are so right, once I gave up the fight of trying to be supermom and accepted that breastfeeding just simply wasn’t right for us, he prefers to bath me me, so on and so forth. When I spent the time getting to know my very own little human things just went the way they went (still do) and thats ok. You can’t go wrong when its love that guides you.
    Thankyou so much for your touching words. 🙂

  • LP November 12, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Thank you for this – I especially appreciate #4. I spent the first 2 months literally cringing and crying nearly every time my baby nursed because it HURT. And the LLL book made me feel like I was a freak of nature and/or bad mom simply because I couldn’t feed my baby without pain. I needed your words then. Thankfully we’ve made it 11 months and are doing fine, but I want to pass along your advice to every new mom I know. Bless you!

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  • Mary S. aka Jude's Mom November 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    There is so much truth here. Thank you! I always try to take in every moment and maintain a sense of humor at the same time which is sometimes easier said than done (especially since my son is a champion pooper!)

  • Erin November 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I cried reading this. It may have been related to the fact that I’m sleep-deprived because of my almost-15-month-old, and therefore easily emotional, but I’d like to believe it’s actually just because your article spoke to me on so many levels that it moved me to tears. Seriously. As of late I have been struggling with whether or not I want more children. The first year was just so hard – I felt like a failure at motherhood. But your article. Your article truly spoke to me. I didn’t stop and appreciate all I was and all I was doing. I just judged myself. So foolish of me. I created life. An amazing beautiful life. And things got messy. Things are messy. And that’s okay, because I brought a life into this world. So thank you. Thank you for your words and for the wake-up call and the reminder to appreciate myself. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Donna November 12, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    As a mother of 2 babies, ages 28 & 32, this is some of the best, most truthful advice I have read. Regarding reading the books, I agree, read all you can, take it in, chew it up, spit out the poop and swallow the good stuff. It does take a village and the most important thing to remember when allowing that village to help you is there is more than one way to properly diaper, bathe, feed, love and raise a baby. If they don’t do ‘it’ exactly your way – guess what, you baby is not going to suffer any long term effects. Just be thankful the village is helping.
    Young mothers the only thing better than being a mother is being a grandmother.

  • Michael Bailey November 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    My love and I are trying for a baby. We are confident and excited.

    This post is the most helpful and entertaining thing I’ve ever read on the subject. Not that I’ve read much.. what I love most is the “it’s ok, you can suck it and see and all will be well” feeling I get reading this.

    Thank you 🙂

    Michael x.

  • Heather November 13, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Nothing changes but the years, its the same with each new baby for thousands of years

  • Kasey May November 13, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Ok, I have to admit…I am the young married, without children, “have a lot if siblings though, researcher of baby resources, advice giver. And I am so sorry!
    My husband has wanted children since our 2nd anniversary. We’ll be married 5 years in May. I keep pushing out the time because I’m not ready, our finances aren’t ready, the house isn’t ready. I’m pretty good at the excuses game.
    Thank you, this post not only has reminded me that I need to give grace and keep my mouth shut, but also helped me to realize that even if I had all the knowledge in the world…my future children will find away to foil my plans :).
    Much love.

  • Jenny November 13, 2013 at 5:37 am

    This is lovely. We’ve got 3 wonderful kids and a much needed village – just wanted to say that I think babies are a great starter kit: their initial needs are basic and you learn each other as you go. As they get older and their needs become more complex, you’ve got that grounding together. Often think that lack of the starter kit must be the toughest thing about adoption. Anyways, all best to the new parents out there

  • Cathleen November 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Thank you for this. It’s all so true, more people need to put the truth out there to women having children instead of the illusion of perfection that is painted in all the books and classes that set so many women up to feel guilty and like failures when things don’t go the “way they are supposed to”.

  • Clare November 13, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I’m curious how many proposals of best-friendship you’ve gotten from this one…because I want you to be mine! Seriously though, can we be friends? I babysit!

    • karyn November 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Done. Besties. 🙂

  • Meagan November 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I tried to post yesterday but it must not have worked. I think this is a very valuable list. I just think #4 should include something about postpartum mood disorders. Yes, parenting is hard. But for someone with postpartum depression/anxiety, it is nearly impossible. If women with these conditions just think “parenting is hard” and don’t recognize what they are going through is not normal, it may be more difficult for them to get help. That’s why #8 is even more important. Although I do think the Rock N Play is the most important thing in my baby’s life! ; )
    I recommend postpartumprogress.com as a great resource for women who need help with PPD, or who think they may. Thanks.

    • karyn November 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Meagan – I think I had to rescue your original post from my spam folder, but yes, wonderful point about PPD/PPA. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not sure we would have survived without our Rock n’Play. It was a toss up between it and the village for #8. Seriously. Thank you for the wonderful resource!

      • Meagan November 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

        Thanks Karyn! Also, whoever invented the Rock N Play is a genius. So is the person who can tell me how to transition from that to the crib…

  • Nina's Mom November 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

    This article is fantastic and so well written. Today I drove my 24 year old to the second day of her first professional position. Trust me when I tell ya, those miracles never stop coming…..God Bless all of you!

  • Shoshana Rosenbaum November 13, 2013 at 11:14 am

    So glad I came across this on my Facebook feed. There is a lot of (hard-earned) wisdom in your post (spoken as a mother of 3). I wrote and am in pre-production for a short film, “The Goblin Baby” that explores a lot of the issues that come up in the first year of parenthood (with a supernatural twist.) I’m looking to share what I’m doing with other people like you who like to think and write about motherhood — can you recommend other blogs I can check out? Thanks for what you do every day and for taking the time to reflect & write about for the rest of us.

  • Jess November 13, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I love all 10! But I teared up at #2, 4, 6, 7 and 8! Esp. #2- I think this is great to read….at the point where I am now- I have a 2 month, sweet, sweet girl and I am lucky to be blessed as a mostly-almost-always patient person that is usually-mostly-always flexible 😉 but there’s something about moms/books not sharing (modesty?) how the after baby physical feelings…can ROCK you! Not necessarily common… but my episiotomy (spelling?) stiches were… a lot… and the healing was awful for me- it took 6 weeks and I had to sleep with an ice pack 🙁 I would be up feeding my sweet girl and crying because it hurt to sit down. And then of course, there is the weight and how your body stretches… which I have been uber patient about..until this morning when I broke down outta no where cause I couldn’t fit into any pre-baby work pants (even my “fat” ones!)… and I wondered if I would ever be “normal” looking again …oh geez! I can’t agree with you more that we are ALL on our OWN JOURNEY! My #1 advice from now on when I talk to moms to be? TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS- women have been having babies since forever and if you listen to your heart and gut most of it is a primal instinct 🙂 and #2- your hubs just doesn’t get it like you… but try not to kill him- you’ve known your baby 9 months longer than he has 😉
    Thanks again for a great share!

  • Rachel November 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    This is a well worded, beautiful, and hilarious article. Thank you! I will be 20 weeks pregnant tomorrow and am just starting to get my anxiety in, ie: “AHHHH! I’M GOING TO HAVE A BABY!” so it was really nice to read something so down to earth and full of good information besides the usual dry textbook style pregnancy books.

  • Jessica November 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t agree with everything you’ve said here but that’s okay. I love the sentiment and I love how we all work through our parenting journeys with uniqueness and in stride. My favorite is #6. Thankfully it came very naturally to me to accept the seemingly pushy advice of others without much bother. But I have seen how it can make some parents that aren’t ready to take it very bitter and unloving towards those who are just trying to be helpful.

    • karyn November 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Jessica, I had to write a quick note to say that I love this comment – “I don’t agree with everything you’ve said here but that’s okay” are possibly the most incredibly necessary words on all of the internet. Thank you for such a graceful comment. I might make t-shirts. Dear Interwebs: I don’t agree with everything you’ve said here, but that’s okay. Let’s be friends. Thanks.


  • Ashley Junaid November 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I am expecting a baby next month and I am slightly freaking out. I’ve been reading and asking so many questions. this made me realize that I won’t be perfect, but it will still be wonderful. Thank you!!!

  • Chrissy November 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I have an 11 and 8 year old and you just gave the best advise I have ever read anywhere. I just found out this week my sister is pregnant and I am mailing this right off too her! Thank you!!

  • Hayley November 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    wish I had read this when my boy was about a month old. The worst thing anyone told me was that babies are easy and the most important thing to do is relax! took me a long time to work out that they were so wrong and that it is ok to struggle/worry/stress a bit!

  • Kath November 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for these touching words. I don’t normally comment on blogs and websites, but this was exactly what I needed to read while up in the middle of the night trying to feed and settle a four-week-old. Thank you.

  • Bev November 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    My son is 28 now, but every word you wrote is true and reflects my experience. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals so you have to make it up as you go along. Be kind to yourselves as moms — there is no right, perfect way to be a mom. It’s a messy, imperfect process which is probably the way it is supposed to be.

  • Narelle Moodie November 14, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Wow… What a beautiful post. My friend and I were just talking about this the other day. Motherhood is both the most full on awesome and terrifying, overwhelming experience of your life. And the poop!! I’m a nurse and even I’m shocked by the poop!!!

  • Nicole B November 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Exactly what I needed to validate that I’m doing the best I can and the best I can is fantastic for my 2mo old. Such a great post. My friend shared this with me on my Facebook and couldn’t be happier that she did, she’s such a good villager! Thank you off your words of wisdom and truth!

    • Nicole B November 14, 2013 at 6:38 am

      For** pardon my spelling errors!

  • Gaby November 14, 2013 at 8:40 am

    My mother in law shared your post with me and I’m so thankful she did! It is resounding truth after another and it definitely is a reality check. Yes, yes my body is mushy, and achy and tired but the miracles and good minutes are more and more often everyday and make it all worth it! I’m sharing these with all the moms I know!

  • Kelli M. November 14, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Amazing! I have read this several times now (while my 2 month old is sleeping on my chest instead of in her bed!) I am so happy you wrote and shared this. Thank you for reminding me that it’s not always easy or perfect, but it’s always worth it!

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  • Tabitha November 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Beautifully said! I’m not a mom, and I hope my fiancé and I will have some time to enjoy the beauty of marriage for a while first, I do work with kids, have friends with kids, and want to have kids one day. The world needs to hear what you’ve been brave enough to write, so I wanted to say thanks! I shared it on FB, and you’ve had a few more views as a result. You are fabulous!

  • Jee Ann November 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Perfectly said.. I feel that nobody is to tell another parent what he or she is doing is wrong.. We learn from mistakes and we do not need to be criticized.. Instead we should be praised for being able to bring up a child.. New things to learn everyday.

    Guys if you could help me like my spider-baby who is in a running for a baby costume contest? Here is the link:


    Thank you in advance!! x

  • Lindsay November 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I think I love you. You speak the truth (and you speak it so well). Thank you , Karyn. You’re an incredible writer and I know you’ve heard all this before. But the truth bears repeating. Namaste.

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  • Kathryn November 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I will never forget the encouragement of a man, an attorney who stopped by my house to deliver some papers. I was a mother of 5 with one on the way. I opened the door, reluctantly, to take the papers. I had known in the morning he was coming, but it was after 5:00, and it had been a longer than usual day, so I was surprised by the knock at the door. I got up from diaper changing, still dressed in I don’t know what messy thing, embarrassed and frustrated, exhausted and helpless. He asked me, “How was your day?” I took a long pause and answered, “I have survived.” He smiled and calmly said to me, “Sometimes, to have survived is to have succeeded.” I nearly cried. Now, as I write this, I cry again. I was so overwhelmed. I am a doer of hard things, it was just exactly what I wanted, and I was overwhelmed. I recall those words from him often, and I am thankful for them.

  • Sharzad November 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Mama, you are pretty darn accurate! Though a lot in a couple of books did help me, I have to say that some of the advice that worked with my first kid was different than the advice that worked with my second kid. My first girl was apparently the kind most books were talking about. She had pretty much every behavior issue they talked about and responded to the strategies suggested. I had to go through so many different books to find one with strategy that works with my second girl. Meanwhile they both could not sleep unless in a car seat or baby swing for the first 6 months of life, and they both hated being swaddled and screamed bloody murder till they got their arms free. Sometimes I wish I had one of those magical babies. Then again, that may have led me to the deception that all babies are like that and the misconception that the only difference is “good” and “bad” parenting. So glad for my free spirits.

  • Cec November 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Thank you! My daughter is almost 2, with a baby boy on the way and frankly over the last 2 years there have been many days I get to the end of the day and say “we have survived, that’s good enough for me!” I know more today then I did at the start, but still have so much to learn, the biggest, to be gentle to myself, I can only do my best each day.

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  • Ali November 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    I’m reading this as I’m snuggling my four month old to sleep, and it is exactly what I needed tonight. Thank you!

  • Anonymous November 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Nine really spoke to me. After a long day with a 9 month old who is happy one minute and screaming the next, all I need is someone to just lift up my spirits!

    Instead of sitting and worrying about everything I haven’t done, I think I’ll spend another five minutes gazing at my baby… Everything else can wait 😉

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  • Amy November 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Can you write one of these about marriage? 😉

    • karyn November 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Amy- Not quite the same, but I do have this for you: http://girlofcardigan.com/the-man-is-the-mirror/ But know that I am struggling to master this marriage thing every. single. day. Life, man. It’s good and full of wallups. love.

  • Kelsey November 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This will be printed and pasted in my journal to be reread again and again, followed by a sigh of relief that who I am, what I am doing, and how I am doing it, is enough. More than enough.

  • Emily November 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Sitting here on my couch, 30 weeks along with our miracle of (our first baby) son growing (and kicking) everyday – I needed this! #8 hit my heart…what a privilege to have our own village…I need to never forget that! Thank you for th reminder!

  • Tara November 19, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Virtual hugs and double high-fives to you, Karyn! This should be inserted into every copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting!”

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  • Shelly November 20, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I am going to add one piece of unsolicited advice to #7…..
    Lay down & nap when your baby naps! You will need it & it will help you remain sane on those tough days! The vacuuming can wait, the dishes can wait. In fact-you could use paper & plastic at times & that is PERFECTLY acceptable! (Oops-that’s 2 pcs of advice

  • Nikki November 20, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I am a new mama and I needed this! I am overwelmed by the feelings of fear, self doubt, loneliness, joy, devotion, love, exhaustion! Thank you for your words. Thank you for helping me feel less alone.
    Blessings and a big hug, too!

  • Bonita November 21, 2013 at 12:07 am

    What a great piece!!! It’s fantastic… I identified with all of it!! I also secretly wish I’d written something as good but this will be hard to top. Shared it with every new mommy I know. Awesome.

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  • eve23 November 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Thank you Karyn, that was a great post to read!
    A whole lot of humor, a huge basket of love, a giant bit of patience AND the less guilt felling with ourselves are what mothers and fathers need 😉

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  • Brandi November 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Amazing! I have been guilty of being a judgey pants (of course meaning well) I have had my share of ‘miracles’ and believed it was the ‘foot patting’….

    Your ‘advice’ is spot on. As a mom of 3, my oldest being a teenager and *gasp* a Freshman in High School I am thankful for reading this…. I see it as great advice for this new journey I am on. Just when you think you have it figured out BOOM boys (older hormone ridden boys who seem to take pleasure in toying with MY teenagers heart) walk into the picture. Being a mom is hard! Being a mom of a teenager is hard! In a lot of ways I feel like a ‘new first time mom’ all over again.

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  • Missy December 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Perfect. Simply perfect. Thank you for writing this.

  • Julián buena December 5, 2013 at 2:16 am

    God im so tired my kid is sleeping And i just wish for a sec that tomorrow i could have The day for me And that he could loók After himself … Hes only 4 months but its amazing how a little thing Like that takes all your energy,Makes you feel so exhausted, frustrared, angry, etc etc … Oh god sometimes i just dont know how is that i decided to have a Baby , i feel guilty saving thing but life Was so much easier before… Now im just soooo tired i wish i could sleep properly 1 day… Being a mum is by far The hardest thing i ever done… And its nothing to do i have to continúe Being one till i die… I hope this gets easier otherwise i think im gonna go mental

  • A not-so-old mom December 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Found this on a much younger friend’s page. I have three children (20s & a teenager). I am still relatively young (40s). Thank you for reassuring new moms and even us veterans. This doesn’t stop after they turn 1, unfortunately… the self-doubt and questioning. And you are SO right. Advice is only offered because us vets have lived the dream! I don’t think my children sleep through the night NOW! 😉 Take heart, new moms. You love them. You would protect them with every fiber of your being. THAT is what will get you through. And one of the best pieces of advice here is EMBRACE YOUR HUMANITY! Ask for help when you need it, welcome it when it is offered, and take advantage of the moments when you are allowed to be alone. That recharge time, even if it’s 5 minutes, is more valuable and precious than you know. Thank you for writing this!

    • karyn December 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Hear hear! Thanks so much for this!

  • Kristen December 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    As a mother of a one week old, I agree with each and every word you wrote. Love this and sharing with all the other new moms I know. Thank you!

    • karyn December 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you, Kristen, and congratulations on your new little one! Hang in there, and enjoy those newborn snuggles. I am wishing you healing and sleep. 🙂

  • CayBailey December 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I just Stumble’d across your blog post, and as a young first time mummy I can’t explain how much this post makes me less frightened about what is to come. You speak from the heart, and I’m bookmarking this page and it will soon be more worn out than a pair of socks. I will be visiting back here often. Thank you.

    • karyn December 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Aw, thank you lovely! The best thing anyone told me when I was expecting and when Fable was little is quoted at the end of this article- ultimately, you are going to have so much fun. It will be trying, and hard, and sometimes you’ll feel horrible, but also full of moments of the best fun ever. All my best to you as you begin this journey. We’re totally with you.

  • JoanMarie December 30, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Thank you! Since you like reading one of my faves before you get started on this mommy hood thing is “The Good Enough Mother”. I was never, in my mind, the “GEM” with my first. If I read him 3 books I felt I should have read 5 if I read 5 I should have read 10 it was never ending. He never saw television, and I mean never until he was 2 1/2. It’s not a competition, and it’s certianly not a checklist to be met. I have to say for me the best thing about having more than one baby if that’s your fate is that you realize you get a different human being each time. I have 3 my first, and third were so hard, colic, non sleepers, reflux etc. etc. etc. and my 2nd was a textbook easy baby. I did nothing to get either type, just went on the journey with them. It’s all good remove all judgement, and go for the ride. Hopefully I’ll get my fourth, but until then remember it doesn’t matter where someone else’s child goes to school, as this is the obsession where I live, or what activities, and play dates they have, that’s their life do what works for you. Most of the time I find the negativity is coming from their insecurity about their own choices, and looking for validation, not judging you. So just remember it’s “their stuff” not yours 🙂 Good luck with expanding!!!! 🙂

    • karyn January 2, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation and the good advice, JoanMarie! I will have to check that book out – sounds like it provided you with some good wisdom.

  • Zoe January 12, 2014 at 1:22 am

    This was exactly what the doctor ordered. I wish I had read this whilst pregnant with my now 2 year old. Whilst waiting for our second baby – due in about 7 weeks – I have been through another type of emotional rollercoaster but perspective is everything. Thank you! I intend to print this and put it on the fridge or inside my wardrobe door. I am definitely going to need reminding of all of this but in particular, 6, 8, 9 and 10!

    • karyn January 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Aw, Zoe, thank you – I’m glad you found the post helpful, and I hope it continues to make you feel like you aren’t alone – dude, we are all there with you. Congrats on your new little one! All my best to you. love.

  • Sue January 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    My kids are teenagers, and I can tell you that most of this advice still applies! I wish I hd these words when they were babies; they would have helped soothed my sometimes aching soul and helped me to make it to the next day.

    • karyn January 31, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Aw, thank you Sue! I’m glad you’re here – love hearing from more experienced mamas. We need you!!

  • Amanda February 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Love this! Thank you
    My babes are 7 now. But still so relevant to all of us Moms. 🙂

  • Lauren February 22, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Thank you so much! I am sobbing as I’m reading this, with my little girl sleeping in my lap and dangling off my breast because it’s the only thing that worked after an hour of soothing. After three night wakings last night and a 15 minute morning nap.
    Thank you for making me feel like I’m in good company instead of a complete and total failure.

    • karyn February 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Lauren, lovely, I was up from midnight – three last night with a teething toddler, and when she woke up again at five thirty, I gave her the iPhone to play with so I could pretend to sleep for another 20 minutes (gasp! Screen time! Now she’ll never go to college. Boo.) Which is not meant as an attempt to one up AT ALL (I’m pretty convinces we’re all having equally hard and wonderful times in our own way), but simply to say – I’m so with you, lovely. We are totally with you. And, frankly, I think nursing lap naps are the stuff of supermom-dom. You go. 😉 Thank you for being here!

  • Susan February 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Karyn, I read this post because it was pinned by my DIL, who will soon present my eldest son with their first son. I have to say that after more than 23 years of motherhood, (I do count the pregnancy 🙂 ) I learn more every day and still have more to learn. I love the wisdom in your post “be a better parent today than you were yesterday” Of course, try as I might not to, I’ll offer lots of unsolicited advice, hopefully it’ll be received just as you described. Thanks for the wonderful reminder and the memory of all the poop, exhaustion and JOY both my boys have brought into my life.
    All my love,

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  • Jessi July 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    This is amazing! So encouraging and exactly what I needed today! I am 4 weeks away from delivering my 2 beautiful girls into this world and while it is tetrifying, it is also one of the best feelings in the world! Thank you so much for this. 🙂

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  • Kathleen July 17, 2014 at 2:18 am

    Night #3 of being a mommy and this saved me tonight. Thank you so much.

    • karyn July 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Kathleen – it gets easier. It gets harder. We are with you. You will have everything you need. love.

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  • KD September 3, 2014 at 5:53 am

    “You made a human, now make your peace.” Beautiful!

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  • Kelsey June 8, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Love it! I was just writing about how therapeutic it is for us mamas to share our stories, commiserate and celebrate all that is motherhood. Great read. Plus I’m a sucker for list formats. 🙂

  • Joy September 1, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you! This is one of the most spot on blogs I’ve ever read over the past year that’s so close to my reality. I hope you touch so many more lives, as you did mine, with your honest (but still kind) writing. All th3 best!

  • Lauren September 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    A thousand times yes. Compulsory reading for new mummas! This is lovely and honest and nearly had me in tears because I’m currently away from my 11mo for the first time.

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