This is Normal

I was chatting with my darling neighbor who has 3 tiny kiddos, is preggo with her 4th and in the middle of tearing up and remodeling her home. She’s feeling a wee bit stressed.

Soon tears were flowing and she said, “But I shouldn’t complain. You’ve got twice as much going on as me and you are always so pulled together.”

Ha! Me? Pulled together?

I told her— “I sincerely and honestly apologize if I’ve ever given you that impression. I would never want anyone to think that about me.”

As my blogging friends, you know that I am not trying to create any illusion of perfection. 10 days out of 10 I have moments where I simply CAN’T HANDLE life. And I also have really great happy moments 10 days out of 10. I choose to believe that’s a normal part of motherhood.

My friend Missy told me a story of hiking with her dad when she was 8 years old. The hike was easy and fun for the first few miles, but as the elevation increased and Missy’s energy wore down she struggled for breath and fought to keep up with her father. Convinced that something was truly wrong with her body she called to her dad, “I can’t do it. You go on. I’ll wait here.”

Her father stopped, sat her down and gently explained, “You’re OK. We’re higher on the mountain now and the air is thinner. You have to take deep breaths and I need to slow down and walk slowly with you. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be fine. This is normal.”

For Missy, those words made all the difference– there wasn’t anything wrong with her; it’s normal to struggle when you are not getting enough oxygen.

And I guess that’s my message to all my fellow mothers. None of us are getting enough oxygen. Every mother I know, whether she has 10 kids or 1, is pouring every bit of her energy into the bottomless pit of motherhood. It’s meant to be hard. This is normal.

I don’t ever anticipate being the pulled-together super-mom. I don’t want to be. Forgetting a birthday party or serving cereal for dinner is fine with me. If I ever get too organized I may not have time to sit and hold my Gabriel while he tells me about last night’s dream or I may not be willing to leave the beds unmade and go on a walk with a friend. Inadequate, imperfect, scatterbrained, messy– it all makes me a better mother.

I should stop here but I won’t. My cute neighbor said she tried to explain her stress to her mother but her mother’s reply was, “You have no idea how lucky you are. There are so many people in the world with bigger problems than yours.”

I beg to differ. My friend is a nurse in a child abuse unit; she served an 18 month service mission in Guatemala. She is acutely aware of the problems in the world and often expresses her profound gratitude for her husband, home and children. Just talking about her blessings throws her into guilty worries that she isn’t grateful enough.

But taking care of 3 small people, growing a new one in your belly and picking out tile for the kitchen are exhausting, oxygen-depleting tasks. Not life threatening, but exhausting. It’s OK to be frustrated, it’s OK to be overwhelmed. This is normal.

April 23, 2008



  1. Holman House

    April 23, 2008

    Thankyou for being so real. I love the analogy you shared, you add so much value to my life!

  2. Chelle

    April 23, 2008

    Did you write this today…knowing that it would soothe my troubled mother heart? I owe you a debt of gratitude.

    If you could see my messy house right now… but Katherine and I had such fun together today!

  3. Blue

    April 24, 2008

    it’s great to see these thoughts shared again. you’re amazing in that, even after the discussion, your mind continued mulling these ideas over and formed them into a beautiful post to benefit even *more* women. thank you! ♥

  4. Katie

    April 24, 2008

    Thanks for the thoughts.. exactly what I needed… on a day/week/month/year I feel like I am not getting enough ‘oxygen’ and not keeping up with all I have to do… it is comforting to know – I am normal… at times- when I feel so tired- I think I have a terminal illness… anyways- just thoughts… and I am dying to find the time to do pictures for Amanda Jane.. this Saturday??

  5. Jan Russell

    April 25, 2008

    overwhelmed = normal. I am THE most normal person you’ll ever meet 😉 Love this post! Women should be more transparent with each other – it’s just the breath of fresh air we need!

  6. Lauri

    April 25, 2008

    Hip Hip Hurray for all the overwhelmed, scatterbrained mothers in the world! I wouldn’t want to be any other way. Thanks for the AWESOME post.

  7. Brooke

    April 25, 2008

    this is normal. and beautiful and difficult and wonderful.

    it just all goes together, doesn’t it?

  8. Linkous

    April 26, 2008

    I just love you.

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