Whole Parenting Family

One for the Days You Want to Throw in the Towel as a Mama


I can’t actually throw any towels in because they’re almost all in the laundry pile. In the basement. In the basement whose carpeting is about to be ripped out because MOLD {delights of Monday discoveries} where the leaking dishwasher led to a partially ripped out ceiling that promptly shed small nails that went into my husband’s foot.

The piles of laundry are slow going because I simply cannot haul the tot down there with me to change it over because of ^^conditions and the only place I can safely corral him is his crib on the second floor of the house but that needs to be lowered like yesterday because it’s on the middle rung and I think he’s going to catapult himself over the railing if I leave him in there to cry for as long as it would take to hoof it to the basement, sort and insert laundry, and make it back up.

Hey, I wasn’t a sprinter in 10th grade track. I was a sad-sorry-hurdler-that-was-really-mediocre <–that’s being kind to the ghost of runner’s past.

This morning AA stayed home through breakfast.

Hold it.

He has run every single morning for 4 months in prep for the Twin Cities marathon! Mostly this means he is living on a runner’s high and I’m reaping all the benefits of the runner’s wife {happy husband!! happy husband!! did I say happy??}. The only tiny downside is that some mornings {almost every} the tot will awaken right after AA leaves circa 4:53am. And I’m all


But it also means that when Dada stayed home the other morning for my sanity’s sake I got to change over the laundry.

Are you ready to throw in the towel, mama?

Are you so annoyed that you can’t poop by yourself?

Are you so beyond the shrieking of the older kids at each other? And how they behaved at your out-of-country visitor’s china & silver & linen dinner you put on the other night? Pretty sure our childfree friends were high-fiving each other with their eyes every time the five year old whaled a perfectly good bush with a plastic bat and the tot stood up on the glass side table and the three year old threw herself on the ground and shouted, “I never want to see you again!!!” (I assured them it was aimed at her brother and not them.)

Are you like OMG I’m never having more kids because then I’ll never get to say “At least that stage is behind us.”

Are you quietly planning your escape with your sister for a sistermoon in November but secretly despairing that even that is only a moment in time and this is the rest of your life?

Are you shamed by your firstworldhealthykidsmom issues?

Did you eat four cookies today while thinking I don’t want to keep eating unhealthfully?

Are you listening to sad music and crying a little while your kids finally sleep and your husband is out for the evening because you are so overjoyed to change over the laundry and maybe fold your three weeks worth of clothing that was on your closet floor? But also because these other feelings are so big you think you’ll get lost in them?

Please stay. Please don’t stop believing in yourself as a mom.

Please don’t give into the temptation to believe these feelings mean you’re doing it all wrong. The feeling that if it’s this hard, you’re inadequate. Know that hard days simply mean hard. And hard means facing your realities, whatever they are. Facing that you’re not perfect and in fact you’re awful sometimes, just like these days with the kids. And facing that if you want to be all love, mama, all the loves, this facing-because-of-hard days is it. It’s the only way there. Otherwise I can just sit here and binge eat ice cream and feel crappy. I’ve already done that and I don’t want to sit in that place anymore.

There you have it. Hard is the hollowing out of ourselves to make room for more love. Kids, promise I will love you harder tomorrow.

*if you’re drowning, please talk to me or someone. maternal depression is real. postpartum depression is real. i’m not experiencing either right now–what i’m describing here are my fairly normal feelings as a mom of three under six so don’t worry! i’m really fine but if you don’t think you are, reach out, mmmmkkkkaaayyy?*


  1. Laura @ Mothering Spirit on September 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    three cookies. had the exact same thought while J accompanied me to the bathroom every time today. despaired of ever being able to take a phone call uninterrupted again in my life.

    then saw a newborn and was like AWWWW I LOVE BABIES PARENTING IS THE BEST EVER WHAT A JOY.

    oh life with kids! such a fluster. but this is gorgeous: “Hard is the hollowing out of ourselves to make room for more love.”

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      I. KNOW!!!!!!

  2. Susan on September 1, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Thank you, thank you so so so much…..it’s really comforting to know I’m not alone in my feelings. I’m a mama to a sweet, high intensity, high HIGH energy 14 month old little girl, and I’m 13 weeks along with our unplanned, but not unwanted, second. I had zero idea how hard the early dependent years are and often find myself wishing for even just a moment of space. I suffered/suffer from what my dr is calling weaning post partum depression….feelings of illogical anger, extreme irritation, very high highs and low lows due to the fluctuating hormones during the weaning process (we’re down to just bedtime nursing now). I’m asking for help from friends and family and the pregnancy has leveled things out as well, but yes, it’s so so tough still. Posts like this make my bad/mediocre days feel not so bad. Thank you.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 1, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Oh honey. It’s SO SO HARD!!

  3. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on September 2, 2015 at 7:10 am

    This is pretty much my life. Hubby working overly long hours and me being trapped at home with whiny kids. It’s a stage, but man I’m ready for it to be over lol

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      The whining. The trapping. My friend Shea said it best: she took the tot & infant for a car ride with plenty o’ snacks so baby would sleep and tot would be contented until Dada came home. These days are rough.

  4. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on September 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Oh, sister! I just love this. You said it perfectly. Especially, “Facing that you’re not perfect and in fact you’re awful sometimes” and my very favorite “Hard is the hollowing out of ourselves to make room for more love.” I need to have that printed and hang it on a wall somewhere. Here’s to a better mama day today!! Virtual hugs 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Today was better because I embraced it! I hope your day wasn’t too brutiful!! Hugs right back.

  5. Ann on September 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Thank you, Nell! I had a DAY yesterday, so it was heartening to be reminded that today I can start all over (and that I’m not the only one!).

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      So glad you’re here, Ann! I hope today was more peaceful, even just within!

  6. Christine on September 2, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for writing this! It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. My husband has been away for military duty, and we had a rough day yesterday. God bless you! 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      So hard! My brother is active military and I don’t know how my sis-in-law does it with two little kids. God bless you, mama!!

  7. Betsy McGriff on September 2, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I work outside the home, but even I feel this way sometimes. The pressures at the office, brief respite in the car, and then I start my “2nd shift” the second I walk in the door at home. No blissful cocktail or late afternoon nap like the old days.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      OH, Betsy. When I worked it was so much harder! You’ve got my heart.

  8. Esther on September 2, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    This was so good, Nell. Thanks for this. Looking forward to spending time with you because you SO get this period of life I’m in!

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      This period of life is BRUTAL!!! and beautiful.

  9. Anna on September 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I read this as I’m stuffing Swedish fish in my mouth wishing the toddler had napped for longer than an hour. The first two days of Alex’s new semester were just fine. And then today I feel exhausted and crabby. Probably too many Swedish fish? anyway, it’s always nice to know I’m not alone on the hard days.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Swedish Fish. Sounds delicious!! Haha I’m so sorry. 3rd Tri is the hardest, too. Sending you hugs.

  10. Michele on September 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    For the record, they were Teddy Grahams, not cookies. Oh, wait…they are cookies….

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      HAHAHA love it

  11. Tasslyn on September 3, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Oh boy – YES YES YES YES. Sing it! I had a moment in July that just about made me give in completely to despair. Eowyn, 9, was diagnosed last year with ADHD. We went to visit the doc – who is amazing and totally a WHOLE KID kind of doc. Eowyn went freaking crazy. Covering my mouth. Refusing to speak. Hitting me. This was the worst I’ve seen. But, she had been doing this more and more often in strange situations. As I tried to tell the doc this, Eowyn was screaming, lalalala. And the student doctor – well, staring horrified, thinking, no peds for me. I was thinking, not only did I have a typical breakdown at 40 (yes, a real one, like hospital level), but I’ve also ruined my daughter. Destroyed any sense of safety. The doc looked at me. Right in my eyes. She said, I think Eowyn is trying to tell us something. She’s trying to tell us she’s scared. Really worried. She’s a good kid, and she’s trying hard to communicate. I felt this sense of AHAHAHA rush over me. My daughter, who I thought was totally trying to be bad and difficult 1 year post breakdown, is actually really struggling. IT ALL MADE SENSE. We decided to give her medication – which is a whole nother tale – but it has made the difference and I’m so blessed to see that creative, funny, kind girl reappearing. But it was that moment that doc took to look me in the eyes and say – I see, I Hear, you are not bad, you are not crazy, it is okay – that made all the difference.

    And THANK YOU Nell for talking about post-partum and normal depression. As someone who has significantly experienced both – hello, breakdown, remember? – I believe the more we talk about these experiences, the more honest we are, the more we normalize and do what that doc said, hear each other, the more we will grow as moms (and dads) and our kiddos will flourish.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 3, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      I love your honest and your beautiful way of being so very present to where you are!!! I’m SO GLAD YOUR DAUGHTER IS GETTING JUST WHAT she needs 🙂 And you’re a great mom!!

  12. Sarah on September 4, 2015 at 7:48 am

    An idea that may help…………Our youngest is the same age as yours, she needs to be with me or on the go a lot. We have a few different options for baby carriers. When my toddlers need Mom time, or a bit of damage control ’cause they’re getting into too much, I tend to put them in one and “Voila!” I can still get something done. I’m thinking of the laundry. When I need to transfer laundry, and she needs to go with, but can’t be down on the floor I put her on my back like you had Baby Loves on your trip. Not the most convenient way to do laundry, but it works and our laundry for 9 people doesn’t get further behind than it already does!!!!!!! God bless all you moms on these hard days!

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 4, 2015 at 11:40 am

      I do wear the baby a lot! Sadly hahaha our washer is front load and on the ground so that bending is killing me while he rips out my hair!! But great idea! Love that you’re here!

  13. Gina on September 5, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Hahahahaha, can’t throw the towel because they’re all in the laundry, and eating all the cookies. Yup. Pretty much hit the nail on the head. Altho, sometimes eating the cookies is decent mental therapy. 😉

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