I Am Not That Mom

I am Not that Mom

I am not that mom who sits on the floor with you playing My Little Pony for hours. I am not the mom who builds entire towns on Minecraft. I have never learned to play Pokémon and I never (ever) will. I am well aware of my failure in this aspect of parenting.

I am thankful for my husband, who excels in watching cartoons and playing video games. I smile when I see him and the kids tossing a football in the yard. (In the yard. No Throwing Balls in the House. Jesus.) I laugh when they wrestle and tickle and play, play, play.

I’m just not that mom.

I was the young soon-to-be mom, scared to death but determined, so determined, to bring you into this world and love you like no other. I was the single mother of two who worked long hours and still held dance parties with just my two boys where we sang at the top of our lungs and the laughter rang as loud as the music. Before you were even born, I was the mom eating cherry cheesecake so I could see you dance. (And because cheesecake.)

When I first saw you, I knew that you would hold my heart forever. Two more times I met my new sweet babies, and two more times my heart grew to wrap around all of you. When you were a baby, I was that mom who couldn’t sleep for looking at you. I can still feel you, so tiny, snuggled on my chest. When I see you asleep now, I still picture you curled up in footie pajamas, all wispy hair and dark lashes against perfect skin.

I was that mom who rocked you all night, patting and bouncing and shh, shh, shhing when you cried. I was the mom who panicked over every bump and bruise. I was the mom who kissed boo boos. I was the mom who spent untold hours waiting on casts for broken bones or bandages for cut fingers. (Safety scissors, my ass.) I was the mom whose leg you were firmly wrapped around the day we toured preschools. I was the mom who went to school online in order to work from home because you needed me.

I am the mom who signs notes and checks homework and packs lunches. I’m the mom who makes the doctor’s visits and dentist appointments and parent teacher conferences. I’m the mom who hasn’t worn anything but thrift store clothes for years so that you can go to school wearing clothes that are apparently hand-sewn by the famous athletes of the world.

I’m the mom who makes stupid jokes and sings off-key and acts sillier than I am just to see you smile. I’m the mom who wouldn’t trade those smiles for the entire world.

I’m the mom who loves you so much more than I could ever explain. And the mom who tries so hard to show you that.

But most times I feel like I am also the mom who is failing.

I’m the mom with chronic recurring depression. I’m the mom with generalized anxiety disorder. I’m the mom with PTSD. I’m the mom who has chronic migraines. I’m the mom with chronic pain. I’m the mom who sees more doctors than hairstylists. (Hahahahaha, I don’t even remember the last time I went to a stylist. But you have an appointment tomorrow.)

I am the mom who struggles every single day to accomplish the things that have to be done so that you can have a “normal” life. I am the mom who does your laundry even when I have to sit down to sort it. I’m the mom who makes sure the water bill gets paid so that you can shower. I’m the mom who clips your fingernails and buys you toothpaste and nags you to wear deodorant.

I’m also the mom who forgets things. Not the big stuff, like birthdays or Christmas, although there have been a few notes from the Tooth Fairy instead of cash. But I forget things that you already told me. I forget that when you were playing a video game yesterday, you scored 58 touchdowns and a free throw, and spawned…maybe a chicken? I don’t know. I forget.

But I’m also the mom who can tell in a single glance when you are upset, and who listens to you when you are sad and angry and when you are happy and excited, even if I do tend to forget your ponies’ names and LeBron’s stats and how to catch ’em all.

I’m the mom who wants to slay all your dragons and breathe fire on anyone who dares to hurt you.

I’m also the mom who too often hurts too much to cook dinner. I’m the mom who lets you eat an unhealthy amount of macaroni and pizza rolls. I’m the mom who has piles of clean laundry on the couch because my arms ache so badly I can’t fold it. I’m the mom who gets overwhelmed too easily. I’m the mom who has to hide when things get to be too much. I’m that mom who cries in the bathroom when I’ve let you down.

I’m the mom who stays awake at night worrying about you. I’m the mom who wishes she could save all your hugs and all your “I love you’s” and get them back out on the days when there are no hugs, just slamming doors.

I’m the mom who loves you SO MUCH. You are the children who save my life every day. I’m the mom who is trying to be the parent you deserve, even when I’m not the one you might want.


*EDITED TO ADD: I am completely overwhelmed by the response this post has gotten. I love all you guys so much,  and even though everyone keeps saying that I’ve made them feel less alone, the truth is that YOU GUYS have made me feel less alone. Thank you all SO much for every like, comment, share, and kind thought. I’ve been trying to respond to all the comments, but as I guess y’all know, I’m sick a lot. But I have read every single one of them, and each one brings a smile to my face or a tear to my eye and sometimes both. I just wanted everyone to know how much your love and compassion for each other and your “me too” and your stories have affected me.



About Steph

I like words. I suspect I would like sanity, but I really have no way of knowing. I can be reasonable, but not often. View all posts by Steph

311 responses to “I Am Not That Mom

  • Brenda

    My daughter sent me your blog in a email, she said read it when you can cry…it reminds me of you mom. Thank you for sharing! Felt good to not feel so alone. It felt wonderful to have this sent to me from my daughter!

  • Shaz

    How true your article is. I am sitting here in a puddle of my tears as I relate so much to this. Thanks for this honest article.

  • Barb

    Steph. You are awesome. I would help fold your laundry. Could you be the mom that asks for help to fold laundry too? People love to give help gifts. X x Barb.

  • Joan H Kinatedeer

    You are sweet…keep on being the type of Mom you are!

  • malissataylor-saks

    Reblogged this on Everybody picks their nose – a blog about 'truth' and commented:
    Me either… I love this! Mamas (and Papas) we are doing okay… Don’t gorget, see. You, me… we are!

  • Katie Seelinger

    This is just so yes on so many levels. I’m now sobbing and too tired to articulate myself clearly here, yet still want to go wake up my 6 and 4 year olds to tell them how much I love them. But let’s not be silly here; I’ll let them sleep knowing they will get me up in a few hours anyways for one reason or another. Thank you times a million for these words, from the bottom of my exhausted heart. You have a new follower 🙂

  • Christina Berry

    Wow! I just read this and it really hit home for me! I suffer from anxiety, depression and was recently diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. This bog brought me to tears… I feel so guilty about spending more time with my daughter.

  • Angie

    Yes. Tried to play ponies with my girl, but she let me know repeatedly that I just didn’t do it right. Gave up, and told her I wouldn’t do it anymore. That was 13 years ago. Have learned a few things with the following children (4 total, 2 more after the girl). Such as, I outright say after about 2 minutes something like “I am not interested in Pokemon/Minecraft/Spore/fill-in-the-blank like you are. You will have to talk to someone who likes it like you do. I do not talk to you about quilting for 15 minutes.” That’s a social skill that I am teaching, right? Help someone identify the glazed/glassy eye look on non-interest, let’s please change the topic. Though I am proud of what you are learning, child. I still love that you want to share with me, and talk to me about your interests.

    • Steph

      I finally had to tell my daughter that if I wanted to know every scene from every show she’s ever watched, I’d be watching it myself! “Then HE said blah blah blah, then SHE said…ISN’T THAT FUNNY?” No. No, it’s not funny.

  • brookiesjamberry

    Such a true read. I not only think I’m alone sometimes when my 3 yo is throwing tantrums at home and I’m yelling back (yep high five) but more that others will judge me . I hope you know how great you are making moms and dads out there feel. Thank you!

  • Catherine Bowman

    I am sitting here in tears. My children are teenagers, 19 and 15, oh so close to being 20 and 16 that I can almost count it in weeks now. My son is off being a mechanic’s apprentice and doesn’t seem to need me anymore. Which hurts, btw, more than I thought it would, given that I spent their lives watching the persons they’re becoming and rejoicing in their growth.

    I have been in pain my entire life. From juvenile arthritis to fibromyalgia to degenerating discs and osteoarthritis in my back. I have missed more of their lives (and forgotten things from) than I like to think about but have done far more for them than their friends say their parents do for them. It’s a fine, fine balance, trying to be there for them, do things for them, and looking after yourself.

    I have to say, though, that the greatest thing to come from my chronic illness is the compassion and empathy my children show towards others. The second greatest is their ability to be true to themselves. Both are something (I think) I have set great examples for. I refused to make apologies to the people around us (eventually, I had to learn) for doing what I had to do for me. I refused to apologize for being the twisted, funny, foulmouthed, smartassed, chronic mom that I am. I have fantastic kids. I must’ve done something right.

  • Josefin Karlström


    I just wanted to say thank u and that I was very moved and that I can really relate to what u written. I’m a swedish mom with two kids, Stella 1 year old and Elliot 2,5 years old. Love them to death and still it’s often that I got to hide in the bathroom to nit show my breakdown with oceans of tears. I struggle with bipolar diagnos type 2. So thanks again for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

    Best wishes from Stockholm

  • velezita

    Me too! Not exactly the same, but enough the same too feel such a kindred spirit with you that I’m pretty sure you feel a strong urge to walk my dog right now.


    you can find me at velezita.com – if you ever want to find someone like me.

  • jolizie

    I feel like I could have written this post. I wonder if my daughter thinks it’s normal that moms go to the doctor all the time. Thank you for writing this.

  • Jessica

    I feel totally alone and starting to scare me. This site was a God send today.

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  • Michele

    ditto. Thank you!! I’m losing my job after 13 years. I’ve been working from home for 3 years. Curious as to what you went to school online for and what you did to work from home… Aside from writing? I’m desperate to stay working from home, as it helps me be the mom I want to be. Please … Any advice? Thank you so much! Pleased to have found a new blog to follow!

    • Steph

      I did medical transcription. It was good, cause I lucked out and got a sweet job. I tried working for some of the larger companies, and it ended up being shit work for shit pay. But if you find the right place, it’s good. I went to Career Step about 100 years ago and I hear they have gone up in price. Hope this helps!

  • Jamie Farnsworth

    My oldest daughter, age 19, sent me your “I’m Not That Mom” blog post. It floored me. It was like I wrote it. (And being an author and writer myself, I had to go back up and check your picture again to make sure you weren’t me, cuz I, too, forget, even what I’ve written and what I haven’t.) – we do kinda look a like, btw. Anyway, this was amazing. A car accident six years back left me with chronic pain 24/7, spinal injuries, Traumatic Brain Injury, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, PTSD…and my world turned upside down. Where I WAS the mom that played My Little Ponies and sat on the floor for hours with my firstborn, the one who sent me your blog, with my other two, I’m a sorry excuse for the amazing mom that I used to be. I, too, have to hide away from the world when it gets to be too much, which sadly is too often. I cry in the bathroom, I forget way too many things – too many important things – along with the little things that are important to them. My arms hurt from laundry, and it piles up on the couch (as does other housework from my lower back and legs hurting as well – I went from a neat freak to what feels like a house on hoarders and if I didn’t have so much pride, I’d ask my friends for help – and I KNOW they’d help me. They would. I know they would. They’re that type of friends. But I can’t, because I’m too proud. And most don’t have a clue how bad it is because I simply smile.) We go to the doctors so much, that I dread going. Regardless of what for or if they can help me, it just takes so much energy to force myself to go to yet one more appointment to one of my numerous specialist. The specialists who all know my kids first names, ages, and everything about them, and in return, my kids know THEM. I’m afraid my kids will grow up thinking 3-5 doctor appointments a week in a bad month, and 3-5 a month in a good month, is normal. I hate that I can’t give them everything they NEED from me, or play with them like they want, or be the parent that I once was. I, too, am blessed with a hands on husband and daddy to my kids, two of which are still very small as we were very young when we started with our first. I smile at the world around me, and I continue on so my kids can have the most ‘normal’ life as possible. Yet, really, what they don’t know, is that my world is a mess and I constantly feel as though I’ve hit rock-bottom. So… I understand what you are going through. Just as so many people who have commented. You are not alone – just as it seems I am not either. Although, until your post, I surely felt alone. Your post made me feel like … I’m not the only one – and although I am SORRY you are going through this, too – it helps to know I’m not alone. That someone out there understands EXACTLY what I feel. What I think. Who knows what it’s like to realize that the only reason we are still here is BECAUSE of that husband and those kids. At least for me. Pain every minute of the day, every day of the year, gets hard to live with. I’m grateful to my family – and so sad for them at the same time. When I wonder how much better they’d be without me. They certainly didn’t sign up for this. I’m thankful to you for writing this. It’s perfect. From one mom to the other, You are Not Alone.

  • Amber

    I cried reading this literally because you resd my every emotion. I have fibromyalgia and i have all the same issues but i can never seem to write them down to that perfection my fibro fog is to thank for that i have forgotten more words than i can rememer lol. No but seriously i cant write like that any more. So thank you from them bottom of my heart for this post and youre not alone im there too only my girls just started playing with ponies and my son doesnt know LeBron james but mind craft is his fav but i feel your pain and my children are the only reasons im still breathing as well. They r my happiness. I wish you all the best and i pray for you and your family. Thank you again and god bless

  • April

    I am this mom. I have lupus, so the days of being able to play in the floor with my kids are over. But I am also the mom who goes too every dance practice, every soccer game, every band concert. I am the mom who plays video Ganges with get children because I can do that sitting on the couch. I am the mom with the messy house because I’d rather spend what energy I do have spending time with my kids. I am the mom who is so proud of her children because every they are so good, kind, and loving. So even though I may not have gotten to play in the floor as much as I would like, and even though we eat to much fast food because most nights I don’t feel like cooking, I’ve obviously done something right.

  • Jackie

    This….this right here is everything I want to say but couldn’t figure out how. As a mother of four I feel as though I am always failing. Between the pain, depression, anxiety and the countless things I do I don’t know how I manage, but I do. And they are why.

  • iluminameluna

    Love this. I was this mom. I have had Lupus since my youngest was almost 1and my firstborn was almost 4. I kept moving them, according to my health status, even from out of the country! So they became good at adapting but also at being caring adults. Their biological father was a sociopath I didn’t discover until I was pregnant with my 2nd so part of the moving around was to stay away from him. In short, it was a long and arduous journey to adulthood for them. But there were MANY happy times even so. Thanks for putting it all into perspective! With love it’s ALL worth it!! And they know it!

  • savanna

    I am literally in tears right now. I am a young single mom, to an amazing 4 year old girl. She is my world and i would do anything for her. Most days though i feel like the worst mom. I do the best I can to pay my bills on time, and keep our apartment clean. I wish i cooked heatlthy meals every night. I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time now, and was told not long after i had her that my spine is curving. Most days it takes everything i have to get out of bed i am in so much pain. Reading this just made me feel a little less alone. Thank you so much for sharing this. I truly did need it.

  • Kelsey

    Thank you. Thank you so much. I had my first child when I was just turning 18, and my second when I was 20…iI graduated school, and instead of going to parties and college, I went appointments and interviews. I got a job and an apartment. And I did it all on my own. Then I had a second child with the same man hoping it would be different. But sadly, it wasn’t. And I went through the entire pregnancy alone. And raised both my kids without him. I struggle. I work long hours. 6 days a week. It seems like I never see them or spend time with them. I love to hangout with them. Go to the park and play games. I love the small things. But I’m so tired. Always so so tired. Thank you for shining a light because everything in this article was me on point. Thank you for making me feel like there’s more of us out there.

  • Kelsey

    I’d love to hear more from you.

  • Susan Winnie

    This really hit home. I suffer with depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis in my back, along with deteriorating disc decease. I am in pain almost 24/7. Most days I fight the urge to just hide in my room and cry. My 3 girls are grown and live on their own and I know I did everything I was supposed to do as a mother. But I also know I failed them. I wasn’t always present. I wish I could’ve hugged them more, played with them more, took them to more parks or had more family vacations. Now I am older and have grandkids. I hope every day I can be what they need and want.

  • Jesse

    Beautiful and well put. Motherhood is messy and beautiful and she describes the adventure so well.

  • Shannon Lamb

    thNk you because of you I do not feel so alone.

  • Stevie

    Thank you so much for your honesty. This hit home for me right on the head. The guilt itself is too much some days. SUchiha a relief to read all these comments and know we are not alone.

  • Caitlin

    Thank you so much for your article! I really needed this today. Especially with it being Thanksgiving 🙂 you have successfully described my daily life to a “T” including the hiding in the bathroom and crying.

  • Tiffany Northam

    I am every word you have written. Thank you so much for this, I needed to read it. Through it all, my main goal has always been to be the best mother I can to my daughter. I love her so much.

  • Kim

    As I sat here and read this, tears filled my eyes. Why? Because I thought I was the only one that felt this way. Constantly telling myself self to push through the pain cause I don’t want my daughter or anyone else to think I’m lazy, when I’m in so much pain. Thank you for sharing and letting me know that in the end she will still think I’m her hero when I feel I’m failing her.

  • Gina Meeks

    Steph~I’ve had FB going on 2wks nows (yes, I know I’m about 10yrs behind, lol). This is by far, the ABSOLUTE BEST POST I’ve seen on a friends (from childhood,,,not just a FB friend) page!! I’m 41 & became a single mother to my 1st daughter @ age 18 which was more than a blessing in disguise 😉
    At 32, I gave birth to my 2nd daughter & I’m not a single parent. Such a different set of circumstances/situation…..yet I am still “ME” @ my core!! So many of the same struggles yet most would view “my life” as “living the dream” 🙃😉
    Thank You For your most thoughtful & well articulated article, I know that millions of Mommy’s are appreciating your raw honesty (MYSELF INCLUDED‼️)

  • denise

    Omg reading this thought you wrote it about my life, I’m speechless its me tho no one here understands me thank you for writing this.

  • Betty

    Altho im not a parent this is beautifully written.


    From one Stef to another Thank you!!

  • DeeAnn

    This is beautiful and I can definitely relate, being that I am not only a single mother- but my son also has autism. This was wonderful to read and I will share it so others don’t feel alone. Thank you for sharing ur story and letting us know who u are. 🤗

  • Kelly

    Everything you said I can relate to. Especially the chronic pain. I feel as if I could have written this myself. Thank you for sharing and being so brutally honest. I believe more people can relate to you than you realize!!

  • Donna Peterson

    I was the mom that did many of those things for her kids. As much as I was able. Now I am trying to be there for 2 grandkids because my daughter is a single mom and in the Air Force. So much harder now. And I feel so guilty that I can not do as many things for them. The pain some days is unbearable!! At the age of 57 it is so hard and I feel like I am cheating them!!

    • Steph

      That has GOT to be hard. I wish I knew what to say to ease your guilt…I can’t say anything as well as the commenters on this post. One thing I’m sure of, since this resonated with you….those kids, including your daughter, KNOW you love them.

  • Kristel smith

    I’m a single mom and I have four kids. I feel like I let every single one of them down, every single day. One of them is gone. His birthday is tomorrow. For the last two years I have been so clinically depressed that every day getting up and just going through the motions. And then Crying because I know that I’m letting the other kids down. I’m actually sitting here right now crying in the dark because I know the baby is going to wake up soon and Our Monday morning is going to begin. So I hopped on Facebook and I saw this article. And now I don’t feel so alone. You gave me the strength today that I needed to get out of this bed when I didn’t think I had it in me today. Thank you.

    • Steph

      Oh, God, thank you so much. Just when I feel like everything I’ve ever written is trash, I read this. I’m crying at the thought that *I* gave someone strength…not something I’ve ever really thought I could do…mostly I feel like I TAKE people’s strength. So thank you. And I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so proud that you are still here, even though it is SO HARD. If you read any of the amazing comments on this post, they are more inspiring than the post itself. Hugs to you, mama.

  • Sarra DeKeyser

    I am crying and sniffling reading this!!! It’s like you took words from my lips! It’s beautiful and painful at the same time. I love it!!

  • Brenda Dixon

    I want to say to all the mom’s out there that feel like you do. That no one has ever been a perfect parent and no one ever will be. My children are now 31, 29 and 25 and I was a single mother. They are all turning out ok, I thank. I always felt alone and over whelmed. I was not perfect and it will be alright. I prayed alot and did the best I could and it worked work out. Just always remember that.

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  • Dorrie

    Relate to this so much. I cried the first time i read it and sent it to my daughter. Cried when i reread it 6 months later. It decribes me perfectly. We just keep pressing on doing the best we can. And knowing it will never be good enough by our standards. But it is. Good. Enough.

  • Lainey

    I am in a puddle of tears after reading this. I can identify with so much of this, being a mom with chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, and fighting fungal meningitis and having residual issues…I feel I’m a small percent of the mother I wish I could be. But I worry, and I wipe tears, and I fiercely protect, and I try and I love with every single part of my being.

  • Heather

    This made me fall apart. Suffering CFS and fibromyalgia with two small children there is more that doesn’t get done around the house than what does. The one thing that is always done is my kids always have clean clothes and I always make sure I spend a little time with them, even if that time is cuddled on the couch while my 3 year old rolls cars over my body, even when it feels like he’s running razors across my skin because he needs that.

  • Jack avery

    I’m that dad, who did most of the things you mentioned, fell short in many areas but, not from a lack of effort, I can totally relate to your story, it’s tough trying to fill a mom’s shoes, I think that’s why God intended there be a dad and a mom, ty for your blessed message and I hope god heals you and allows you time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, love from your children is irreplaceable

  • Tisha

    Oh how this touches me again and again. It showed up as a memory today and as I read I once again was reminded that I’m not alone. I’m sick again and the list of things to do grows and grows…but all I really want is to have my adult kids pop by to see me but if they can’t for them to know, really know, that they are loved. Every time I push thru it’s for them. I want my 16 yr old to talk again to know that I love him and only want the best for him. And oh my sweet 5 yr old, how I want him to remember his childhood as a happy one. I don’t want him to remember a sick mom!! I want to be able to do the things that make him happy! I desire to be what they need and to point them to Jesus Christ! I want Him to be enough for them and me to be the great example of Christ being my Savior and that being enough for me.

  • Maryann J. Witte

    I’m 60 years old. I’ve raised 3 boys who are in their 30’s now and have a grandson. To all of you young moms who are feeling so guilty for not being able to play games with your kids, don’t worry! That’s not what makes a good mom. You are there for them whether you’re preparing dinner in the kitchen, folding laundry or just busy. You’re always teaching them good habits and independence. You converse with them and show good a example of a good family member, adult, student and civilian. Dad’s who can play are great, but I carried all of the responsibility of disciplining which isn’t fair. Both parents have to support each other. My parents never went to practices or games of mine. They didn’t have an extra car and had too many responsibilities at home. It’s ok. Just do the best that you can. They love you!

  • sage

    this is so right on for me.. and its okay right? not to be all of those things.. the guilt

  • smurfguroo

    I read this and cried. It was like you were in my head.

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