what my third baby taught me about motherhood

That's my girl.

My mom flew back to California today after spending a week in town, and I just ended a call with her with the line, "Sorry, I have to go wipe someone's bottom." And at this point in life, "someone" could be one of three people--someone sitting on the pot, or someone who is thisclose to potty training but still does business in his pants, or someone who has thick yellow goodness seeping out of her diaper and will somehow (without fail!) get it on her socks, too.

Three bottoms to manage, but I don't feel like I'm in "survival mode." The thing that's keeping me from going down that sink hole is something Gussie has taught me about my life--something that I should have known earlier, but didn't realize until this year.

I'm an adult.

And I'm The Mom.

So stop worrying about everything.

On the surface, that sounds stupid. I'm five years into motherhood, six years into my marriage and 31 years into life--I should have a grip on what's important to worry about, and what's not. But it took me until baby number three to look at myself as more than just a married, breeding version of my college self; that I've learned a lot about my job as a mom to these little kids--and that I'm pretty damn capable of handling this whole mothering jig.

But I'm slow to grasp the obvious. I blame years of fluctuating hormones. Or something like that.

Being pregnant with Gus hit me hard. I felt slow and lethargic, emotionally drained. Not only did I not look like the girl I was 10 years earlier, I didn't feel like her either. I didn't know who I was now, heavy with child and lumbering after my two other babies.

It took time and lots of conversations with the people who know me best to realize that this third baby wasn't a reason to feel less of who I am, though--she was a reason to feel more like it. They say that now's no time to lose your sense of humor. Nor is it a time to lose touch with who you are.

I used to wonder what my pediatrician thought of me--if I was a good mom, if I looked overwhelmed, if I looked like like I was doing this motherhood thing perfectly.

Three babies in, and I don't wonder that anymore. I'm doing it the best way I know how. Because I'm The Mom. I'm their mom.

I used to worry that the concerns I brought to my spouse were insignificant, under-researched or petty.

I don't wonder that anymore. Because I'm an adult, and what I think (especially in my marriage) matters.

I used to worry what people thought about my house, if it was good enough, if it impressed people, or if it seemed to them a hovel.

I don't worry about that anymore, because I'm an adult, and God's given me this shelter. And I'm grateful for it.

I used to wonder if I spend enough time playing pretend with my boys.

I don't wonder that anymore. Because I'm writing this post with a stuffed tiger balanced on my head.


If I find myself worrying about something anymore, I run the worry through this two-part test: Is it what an adult would worry about? Is it what a mom would worry about?

The answer needs to be yes to both in order for me to continue worrying. If the answer is no, then I certainly don't have time to worry about it. After all, one of my kids probably needs their bottom wiped.


  1. Mary, I love this post. I worry sometimes and with three I have to put it in perspective. I find myself offering up more of my day to God. Great post, thank you.

    1. If I need to work on just two things in life, they'd be 1) eating less sugar and 2) offering more of my day up to God! :) Thanks for the sweet comment Rebecca.

  2. This is so great Mary! Really true and beautiful!

  3. "more than just a married, breeding version of my college self" -- Oh, boy, did you ever just hit my #1 problem nail on the head. I hadn't identified this way of thinking as the issue before reading this post, but that's it, exactly. Thank you. Reframing how I look at myself, in the way you've described here is so, so helpful.

  4. Thanks for the lovely, encouraging post!

    1. And many thanks to you for reading! :)

  5. This is so great Mary! I worry sometimes and with three I have to put it in perspective. I find myself offering up more of my day to God. Great post, thank you.
    Ann C. @ thinkbaby.org