What NOT to Say to a Struggling Mom

“Moms are superheroes!” no, we’re not. We just don’t have any other options. If not us, who?

As the resident chef, maid, chauffeur, accountant, nurse, secretary, and milk maid of my household, I’m exhausted. I can’t be the only one thinking “Did moms always have to do this much? How did the human race survive?”, because it’s ROUGH out there.

One of the most frustrating parts though isn’t that I’m juggling what feels like multiple careers in addition to my paying job. It’s the comments. Endless remarks from every second cousin, distant uncle, “friendly” neighbor, or cashier. Sometimes snide, though often well-intentioned comments that are nearly always better left unsaid. 

“Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” 

Yes, thank you. I definitely do. With a sad, teething baby strapped to my back, 2 toddlers fighting in the grocery cart, and a large bag of dog food dragging beneath the wheels, that is exactly what I need. Someone to point out just how obviously I am struggling. And there’s usually some kind but completely underhanded expectation for moms to respond with something graceful along the lines of “yes, but my heart is fuller!”, knowing very well that our grace has usually run out for the day around 7:36am. It seems like common sense but maybe, just maybe, can we shift the way we see moms – arms overflowing – instead of pitiful, but as opportunities to offer help? Ya know, instead of telling us something we definitely already know. 

“You’re gonna miss this!”

Okay, pause. This phrase sucks. Am I going to miss the delicious newborn smell, the sleepy snuggles, and the way my preschooler mispronounces “mosquito” as “smuh-geedo”? Yes! But am I going to miss the countless nights where I got maybe 3 broken hours of sleep followed by my 2 year old deciding to enter her month long “everything is the wrong color” crying phase? Nope. Not even a little bit. It is hard to say that out loud for fear of judgment. But I’m saying it. It’s okay to not love and treasure every single moment of motherhood. It’s okay to even wish some days go by a little faster. It doesn’t mean that we adore the sweetness and wonder of our children any less. It means we know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. So please, lay off the guilt button. 

“Idk how you do it all!” 

I don’t. Please help. I’m dropping balls left, right, and sideways. I put hydrocortisone on my toothbrush yesterday. No, really. Between the school drop offs, doctor appointments, meal planning, shopping, birthdays, holidays, bath and bed routines, bills, and MANY other things I’m forgetting to list, I don’t know which way is up. “Mom brain” must refer to the fact that moms are so overloaded with tasks and responsibilities that their brains actually start to melt, right? That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me. Seriously – we are begging. Help. Us. Out. Offer to bring your mom friend a coffee. Watch her kid so she can shower without hearing phantom cries or forgetting to rinse out the conditioner. Fellas, give your wife a hand with the mental load! Or even gift her a day to herself, sans children. But not a faux day where she comes home to the house a wreck and everyone has nearly killed each other. Nobody wants that. 

Now, none of this is to say that all moms should or do dislike these phrases, or that every well-meaning stranger, friend, or relative should completely omit them from their vocabulary. But moving forward – can we please open our eyes and our arms to help moms out, instead of offering them a measly “You go girl!” and metaphorically kicking them while they’re down? 

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