Don’t Tell Me Things Will Get Worse

By Melodee

“Worst decision I ever made,” she said. She spoke of adopting nine children.

“Hardest time in my life,” she said. She spoke of giving birth to three children in three years.

“Just wait until they’re teenagers.”

“Small kids. Small problems. Big kids? Big problems.”

“I thought age two was hard. But age three was worse!”

Why, oh why, oh why do we do this to each other? At each turn in the path through motherhood, women have stepped out from behind trees to tell others of the horrors ahead. Teething and tantrums. Sassy middle-school sneers. Teenage trials and tribulations.

While I waited to adopt, an adoptive mother of nine told me adopting was her biggest regret. When my boys were terrible toddlers at two, moms warned me that age three was much worse. When they were in elementary school, trying my patience, the warnings were of adolescence. Just wait, they say. Just wait! I had a daughter, after three muddy, loud, video-game-playing boys. If I should mention how much easier she is, what a delight after the sword-fighting and hollering, I’m told that girls are much harder when they are teens. So look out! Don’t let your guard down! Beware!

And to the naysayers and the doomsday prophets, I want to say just two words. Shut. Up. Isn’t it difficult enough to trudge through the days of making dinner again and washing socks the kids wore outside without shoes and worrying that you aren’t doing anything right? When a mother complains and worries outloud, the remedy is not to say, in essence, oh, but things will get worse! Thank your lucky stars, because right now is as good as it gets, as bad as it is.

Here is what I want to hear:

Take more pictures! I know you aren’t sleeping much, but those fingers will never again be so tiny. Revel in the newborn moments. It goes by fast, but it gets better. You will sleep again. Meanwhile, look! Memorize that tiny nose.These baby years, when you wear sweatpants, sitting on the floor and picking boogers from his nose and lint from between his toes, pause. Enjoy the boredom. Take more pictures! Because you will hardly remember this moment. And it gets better.

Because soon, that little one will talk. And when he starts to fling himself to the ground, take heart! Things get better.

See how that works? I don’t want to hear about the treachery ahead, the heartbreak waiting around the bend, the steep hills I must climb. I want encouragement. Company for the journey. Understanding, perspective, hope.

So, please. Stop saying stuff that rains on my parade, dampens my frail enthusiasm. My daughter might hate me when she’s a teenager, but right now, she delights me, even on days she doesn’t nap. My twins, on the cusp of adolescence, are still sweet at the core, innocent in a way that won’t last much longer, sorrowful when they are wrong. Only five or six more summers and they’ll be slipping out of my orbit and careening into their own lives. And my little boy, the one with Personality, the one who makes me cry on Sunday mornings when he sings with his whole heart with the children’s choir, off-tune, but earnestly . . . he’ll keep growing up and growing away.

But I have now. And I want to look forward to the future without the cautionary tales of disappoinment. My imagination has its own dark side and I don’t need any help picturing possible dismal outcomes. I’m good at that already.

I want to hope. I want to hug today close. I want to loosen my grip and trust that the future will unfold like a paper snowflake, full of holes, sure, but unique and beautiful and just as it was meant to be.

So I will plug my fingers into my ears and hum, if that’s what it takes to ignore those who tell me the worst is yet to come.

And I will shine light for those coming behind me on the path. And while it’s light, I’ll take more pictures because today is the last chance I have to be here today. Blink. It’s gone.

Originally posted at Actual Unretouched Photo

25 Responses to Don’t Tell Me Things Will Get Worse
  1. Stephanie
    March 21, 2010 | 10:11 am

    Oh yes. If only people would SHUT THE ___ UP.

    Love this, Mel.


  2. rachel denbow
    March 21, 2010 | 10:24 am

    I needed a little perspective on this so I appreciated finding your post through Twitter.

  3. Daneen
    March 21, 2010 | 10:26 am

    Amen. I’m going through a rough patch in mothering right now. But am working ever-so-hard to NOT bemoan it to anyone else, especially my girlfriend who’s just beginning the “trying to get pregnant” phase!

    And ohmygosh, why in the world did that mother keep adopting (9 times!) if it was so horrible?! Both of my girls are adopted and those were the BEST decisions we ever made!

  4. Christie
    March 21, 2010 | 10:57 am

    I love your approach — finding the best in the present and offering encouragement for the future. Such a happy mix. When I’m struggling, a little understanding goes such a long way. Great post!

  5. Megan
    March 21, 2010 | 11:01 am

    So true! And lest I sound holier-than-thou, I’m as guilty as the next person at times but I usually try to be encouraging when I’m able to be connected to my own source of encouragement. Every age/stage has frustrations, but every age/stage has all these amazing, beautiful things to watch unfold and enjoy. Great thoughts!

  6. Debi
    March 21, 2010 | 11:31 am

    I love the paper snowflake analogy. Lovely.

  7. Erica - 3 Little Sparrows
    March 21, 2010 | 11:44 am

    Love, Love, LOVE this!

  8. Melissa Brotherton
    March 21, 2010 | 11:54 am

    I really needed to hear this! Such a refreshing take on it. I’m going to practice this in my own life…and work to ignore the doomsday prophecies of others. 🙂 Glad followed Stephanie’s RT. 🙂

  9. Danielle
    March 21, 2010 | 11:54 am

    Amen and amen!! We need more Mamas like you 😉

  10. Kelly
    March 21, 2010 | 3:40 pm

    So true! This is a personal pet peeve of mine as well. (And you know what’s funny? Men hardly ever do this to each other. It’s only women. Why?!?)

    The future will hit that person with whatever it has whenever it comes. There is NO reason to rain on someone’s parade. Let them be optimistic, if that’s what you want to call it. Guard that sense of hope. Besides, it might not be as bad for them as it was for you.

  11. edj
    March 21, 2010 | 4:15 pm

    I TOTALLY agree with you! When pg with my first, I could not believe the horror stories I’d hear from complete strangers! I make a point now, when I know someone’s expecting her first, of telling her my HAPPY birth stories!
    And I currently have 3 teens and they’re all AWESOME kids that still love and hug me. Today, while I was gone, my 14 y/o son not only did dishes but cleaned the entire house–even collecting laundry and making his sister’s bed! I like having teens.

  12. Hannah
    March 21, 2010 | 11:16 pm


    It’s as if people who can’t find joy in their own lives have to steal some from others, too.

  13. Melodee
    March 22, 2010 | 4:05 am

    Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the comments. 🙂

  14. […] Four years ago, I wrote a post called “Don’t Tell Me Things Will Get Worse.”   Yesterday, it appeared at 5 Minutes for Parenting.  You can read it by clicking here. […]

  15. Helen
    March 22, 2010 | 7:46 am

    What a terrific post.

    There is so much to enjoy about your children! I’d been hearing about how ghastly labor was for years before we finally had the chance to test it out ourselves. My labor was fast and quite tolerable, so I told others after me, “It’s not bad!”

    At some point early in the game, I tossed the baby books and plugged my ears when I realized I was doing everything ‘wrong.’

    Our first two children didn’t sleep thru the night until they were in kindergarten. Our third baby had just been diagnosed with a progressive (terminal) disease when I happened to hear a group of entitled moms on a TV talk show discussing how to keep their tiny babies asleep during the night – the focus of the entire show. I wanted to scream and may have. I know I wept.

    I heard about the terrible 2’s, pesky 3’s, awful adolescence, HORRIFIC high school, blah, blah, blah.

    Thankfully, I was too busy being a parent to pay much attention, although I did holler once for experience and reassurance regarding the Daughter and First Boyfriend episode!

    Honestly, the primary aspects of parenting I would have gladly surrendered were sick children and school fundraisers.

    Our first two children are now on the brink of college graduation, one with a master’s. They both managed to bypass troublesome peer pressure thru college and are bright, independent, caring, and responsible.

    Parenthood does require more than a casual effort to increase the odds of a clean slate in the Serious Trouble department, and to say there are never moments of sanity-searching is a slight stretch.

    But the rewards are untold and indescribable. And you’re right – BLINK, and it’s gone.

  16. Karen
    March 22, 2010 | 9:33 am

    Mel, this is so beautifully written, one of your finest.

    “. . .trust that the future will unfold like a paper snowflake, full of holes, sure, but unique and beautiful and just as it was meant to be.” I love that.

    I’ve been going through a rough spot, and this is just what I needed to read today.

  17. jenna
    March 22, 2010 | 3:07 pm

    Oh, I SO agree. As soon as the stick turns blue [or the papers are signed!] some people say, “Congrats! Your life is over!” I tell my friends I need more jockstraps and less corsets. (You know, more support and less sucking the life out of you.)

  18. Ginny
    March 22, 2010 | 3:09 pm

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

  19. Suzzette McCarley
    March 22, 2010 | 7:39 pm

    I Love the “take more pictures”. I was just telling my husband the other day how easy it would be to chronicle a life by just taking one picture a day. And with everyone owning digital cameras these days, it would be so simple!! Why oh why didn’t I do that starting with the day my little grandbaby was born last August?? And btw, I have always thought it gets easier the older they get????!!! I must be abnormal!!

  20. Ouida Gabriel
    March 23, 2010 | 12:42 pm

    I agree Mel. The sad part is when I tell people that if you do the hard part now then it does get easier. My 19 year old daughter is a great blessing to me. When I tell people how good she is, well, the responses vary. Some roll thier eyes, some smile but their eyes say something else and then sometimes I get a big smile and eyes twinkling with words that say “YES!”. It is hard trying to be positive too!

    Love what you said though. Remember the little moments. They get you through to the best moments!

  21. Carrie
    March 23, 2010 | 10:05 pm

    Yes, yes, yes!!! When I was expecting my 2nd (my first daughter, 3 months old now, my son is two years and two weeks older than her), people kept saying, “Oh, honey, if you think parenting a toddler is hard, WAIT till you have TWO…” and in some ways it’s harder, but my daughter is such an easy baby, I’m so thankful, and I just think, at least so far, it only gets easier…as you go through each stage, it gets easier to move on to the next one, and have that perspective to cherish each stage with the next baby. Thank you for writing this!!!

  22. CH-Proud Mama
    March 24, 2010 | 8:29 am

    I agree what a beautiful post! You know people have to “rain on our parade” because they think they know best. Its sad because parenting is supposed to joyous and not all children are the same.
    So yes, every parent that thinks they know more than you…Shut up!

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