Know it all

Trust me.  I know what I’m doing.  I’m a mom.

Moms are supposed to have all the answers.  They’re supposed to know what to do in tough situations. When you were little and something went wrong or you were hurt you went straight to your mom for help. When you did something that got you into a mess, inevitably it was because you hadn’t listened to your mom. 

I never really stopped to think about how moms acquire this gift until I became one.  Suddenly I was expected to know what I was doing. I did not.  In the early days of Drew’s life I had no idea whether we should let him cry until he fell asleep or try feeding him, give him gas medication or teething gel or rock him or walk him or drive him around in the car until he stopped crying.  I just didn’t know what to do. But I was the mom. The feeling was unnerving.  

Just before Drew’s first birthday he was really starting to get into eating “grown up food” off of our plates. Jim made lasagna one night and we ate at the coffee table while Drew toddled back and forth between us, holding onto the table for support and opening his mouth like a baby bird, asking for more bites.  How cute, we thought.

Then shortly after we put him to bed that night he was screaming bloody murder.  Not so cute anymore. Jim picked him up and found that his neck and ears were bright red from scratching.  I lifted his shirt and saw little hives emerging all over his chest and tummy.  He was inconsolable. My husband is a very calm man, but I have to say he freaked out a little.  What was happening to our son? What should we do? Should we call the doctor? 

Something clicked in my head. I looked at my child turning red and screaming and my husband freaking out and a strange calm came over me.  Some kind of mommy-gene turned on and suddenly I knew exactly what to do. I can’t explain the feeling, but it was the moment where I became “that mom.” The one with the answers. The one who you come to for comfort because you know she can fix it.  

I knew that there were eggs in the cheese mixture of the lasagna and that we had never fed Drew eggs before.  I knew it was an allergic reaction. I knew I had some oatmeal bath and I knew exactly where to find it (a miracle in and of itself if you’ve seen my bathroom cabinet), and I quickly got Drew into the bath where he began to calm down immediately.  The hives had started to subside a little already when Jim came into the bathroom, still hyped up and on the phone with the nighttime on-call nurse from our doctor’s office.  “No, no trouble breathing. We should what? Oh, I think my wife’s already doing that.  Yes he looks a little better.”

I know you’re not supposed to be happy that your child has an allergic reaction, but the feeling that I knew how to handle myself in a mini-crisis was one of the best mothering moments of that first year.

And then.

A week or so later I was running errands with Drew around lunchtime. We needed a few things from the grocery store and I knew he was hungry, so I was trying to give him a bottle and some snacks so he would make it until we got home for lunch.  Drew has never been one to hold his own bottle (he knows we’ll do it for him!) so I was pushing a shopping cart around HEB and propping a bottle in his mouth with one hand while I grabbed things off the shelf and threw them in the basket behind him.  

Even with the milk he was starting to get cranky and hungry. And that’s when I saw them.  The sample cookies.  They were in the shape of flowers and covered in bright pink icing.  I felt a little giddy that my child was eating solids now and had already had a bit of sugar at his first birthday party earlier that week(even though he really didn’t eat much of his cake).  I felt like a real, grown-up mom being able to hand him a cookie, which he happily munched the rest of the way through the store.  It was way more sugar than he’d ever had and he got more and more animated, waving hello to strangers and grabbing for things on the shelves.  A little like a mini-frat boy.  We checked out and got in the car and headed home to get some lunch, about an hour past his usual lunch time.    

It was about the time I got on the freeway that I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw Drew with a shocked expression in his eyes, mouth open, and large quantities of pink-tinted milk-vomit spewing out of his mouth.  Straight sugar. Empty stomach. Stupid mommy.  I called Jim and told him to meet me in the garage with lots of towels.  I took the baby and he took the car seat – and I really think I got the better end of that deal because the bathtub and washing machine did most of the work for me.  I looked at my baby in the bathtub once again (now feeling much better and hungry for lunch) and wondered how I had gotten us into this.  I was the mom.  Why didn’t I know better? 

Who knew parenthood didn’t come with some kind of innate wisdom about things like sugar and bedtimes and running with scissors?  Vacillating between these poles of knowing exactly what to do and having no idea what to do is exhausting.  I’m hoping at some point there’s a happy medium of knowing most of what I’m supposed to know while pretending to know the rest.  In the meantime, who wants ice cream for dinner? 

Have you had moments where you somehow knew exactly what to do? What about moments when you messed things up without even realizing it? 


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Before you comment to let me know babies shouldn’t have eggs… I know! We were beyond the date we had been told not to feed Drew eggs and so I wasn’t too concerned about it. After that fateful and hive-filled night, Jim’s mom heard the story and remarked that neither Jim nor his sister could tolerate eggs until they were well over a year old. Would’ve been nice to know that before we found out the hard way!

Lori Ketcherside

I’ve been there on both extremes. I’m glad for one that I knew that I needed to take Chris to the ER when he was three weeks old, after having been reassured that all babies just spit up a lot from various sources (grandparent, parenting books and Internet). I did. He was showing signs of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis and was not getting any food past his stomach before it was unceremoniously returned to sender. That one earned us an ambulance ride downtown to TCH and a few nights in the NICU and an hour in the OR to fix his stomach.
A time I had no clue what to do? The fact that I (or anyone) feels the need to hand a one year old an entire frosting coated cupcake just because it’s their birthday is beyond me. Now don’t get me wrong, he loved every bite of it. However, he did endure extreme discomfort and sugar crash that afternoon. Hardly an ideal she you’ve got relatives visiting from out of town. Yeah. I’m off to see if I’ve got the pictures somewhere linkable.


We went to Golden Corral with our 2 yr old grandson Jakob. He finished his meal so Rick decided to get him ice cream and gummy bears. We went home and had Jakob so hyped up that he ran in circles for about an hour. Wanting more candy, I gave him cheese.


Gee, there’s just so many examples of both… being right and being way wrong! The most recent is a grandmom example- giving Cullen a sip of my McDonald’s coke out of my straw- cute reaction! Yum! Of course, then later his mom couldn’t understand why he went nuts over her cup, pitching a fit… oops… and I really do know better!

Angela Radford

Being the mom of a 29 year old, I’m able to say that there are still times that I don’t always make the right decision. I think that I’ve experience both scenerio’s that you’ve mentioned more so with the sugar rather than the allergic reactions. Brandy was and still is not able to handle a lot of sugar at one time. I’ve found that asking for wisdom, as well as, forgiveness has been the policy for helping to keep me on the right course. I’ve always tried to make sure that Brandy knows that I’m not perfect & try to own up to my mistakes. I think she is much more respectful of my advice because of it.

Kimberly Constant

Like everything I think God keeps us humble # allowing us enough mistakes and failure to know that we desperately need Him to guide our parenting steps, and enough success to give us hope and encouragement. I just recently struggled with a major issue in my daughter’s life . . . bullying! I didn’t expect to have to deal with this in the third grade, so I was caught off guard. Initially, I was so unsure # how to address this issue without making things worse for my daughter or pointing a finger too harshly or acting out of anger. Through much prayer my daughter and I both found a solution and things turned out well # a great parenting moment and one that brought me closer to God. As for the moments where I mess up # I have those EVERY day. They seem to come more frequently than the triumphs. A great friend once told me that her Mom prayed every night that God would fill in the gaps for her as a Mother # that His presence and love would fill the holes, smooth over the rough patches, and build up the good things. I’ve started praying for this too. That my mistakes would not have lasting consequences and that my triumphs would point my children to the ONLY parent that really does have all the answers :).


My Neglectful Mother of the Year award was won by giving my (now thirteen year-old) son Motrin and putting him to bed when his ears were hurting. I figured I could take him to the doctor in the morning. He woke up screaming a few hours later, so we took him to the ER. There, we found out that he had bilateral ear infections and ruptured ear drums. AND a nasty case of strep throat. The child rarely complains about pain until it’s horrid, so now I really listen when he says something’s bothering him!

Maggie Mann

This is easy. My worst mothering moment came one Sunday morning when I dressed Kara in a pretty new little dress and dropped her off at the nursery at church. They came and got me out of church and said, “Kara just isn’t acting herself. She usually loves the swing but she keeps crying”. We took her from the nursery and went home. Upon undressing her I discovered that I had failed to remove the tiny little straight pins, under the sleeves, that usually held the tissue paper inside a new dress. I felt horrible and have always wondered if I traumatized my child for life. I’m grateful she can laugh about the story now.


Not only did I have to worry about my childcare mistakes, but everyone elses. I remember when my oldest had a cough when she was a baby. My dad said oh just give her a little honey mixed in water. I was like ARE YOU CRAZY! The books say never give a baby honey. aiyiyi. I’ll never forget when I left Paige with my parents when she was little and they put her in a bicycle basket and took a ride down a busy road to go have breakfast at a restaurant. She had a great time. I about fainted when I found out. What were they thinking. Oh well, I guess I survived and my kids survived. Somehow we all survive despite what seemed to be a good idea at the time.
♥ Joy

Susanna Donald

I know there are worse moments than this in my short history as a mom, but this morning I pulled a chewed up spider carcass out of my 9 month old son’s mouth.

Also, most of the first eight weeks were consumed with the thought: “I have no idea what I am doing. Why did anyone think it was a good idea to give us a baby?” 🙂

Lois Decker

While I’ve had many Mommy moments one of the strangest most difficult one was the come to the hospital now “your son was born yesterday and needs you” call. You see our children are adopted and I was the only one able to drive to the out of town hospital as my daughter was sick. I was so torn even though I was leaving her in more capable hands than my own (my Mom) I still wanted to take care of my sweet little girl. Then came the weird hospital experience of adoption the how much do you say and when can I ask to hold my son which seems like such an eternity when all you want to do is wrap your arms around your child and just hold him. Finally the sweet nurse came and wheeled my son down to a private room where I could finally hold him, pray with him, cradle him, and feed him you know the Mommy stuff. My son was distressed not at all like my daughter who was happy and content. The next day test results where back and we found that he would struggle with reflux and formula issues. He was in great physical and emotional distress and wow was I so glad to be there for him. I’m so thankful that God gives us that Mommy gene that can equip us with what we are supposed to do. Immediately I began to rock him, pray and sing hymns to him and he eventually was able to settle down. I have to say that this was a very quiet and unusual time of bonding that I did not have with my daughter with her hospital experience and I’m so thankful for that special time that my son and I were able to share.

Thanks for letting me share a more unusual Mommy moment. Do you have a friend waiting for their children through infertility or adoption? Please have them check out Sisters of Hannah at our church.

Susan Kent

Seriously, with four kids I have enough stories to fill a book.
Let’s see – my favorites:
The time I gave our oldest (maybe 3 or 4 years old) a peppermint (really??) while driving. Yes, I had to pull over in the middle of a busy road because he was choking on it.

The time when I forgot my child at daycare because I was working. They called 45 minutes after the pick up time to see if I was going to come get him. (yes, again my oldest)

The time my #2 kiddo fell off of her little plastic chair onto the tile & busted her head open. My oldest (age 5 at the time) was able to call my mother and tell her to come immediately to help us get to the ER. Note to moms: knowing how to use the phone is an important skill to learn early on!

The time my #2 kiddo fell out of a 2nd story window (gee, she seems to fall a lot) onto the concrete driveway. I was at church and my husband picked her up! Hasn’t he watched enough TV to know you don’t move someone who’s fallen??

Yes – I could go on and on, but here’s the good news… I seem to be getting better with each child!


Jessica, a low point for me (and believe me . . . there were MANY low points) was when I inadvertently overdosed my daughter and she ended up in the ER and ICU because of my mistake. One of her specialists and I got our wires crossed when we switched from medication samples to a script. The script was double the dosage of what the sample was. I didn’t read or check the script label. Neither one of my grown daughters will take any medication from me . . . not even baby aspirin. Did I mention that the pediatrician and doctor on call was also my Bible study leader? Thought I might go to jail or be turned into CPS. A definite low point!

Dee Dee McGrew

I love this post! As moms, we are expected to know everything! I usually do not. I have had lots of these experiences…too much sugar, allergic reaction to eggs that caused impaired breathing in son #1. Three Er trips with son #1!!! But what sticks out in my mind is …..I nursed son #1…. 23 out of 24 hours a day for 6 months…literally!!! When finally… I thought I would loose my mind from lack of sleep the lactation consultant that we had come out when he was born suggested maybe his lingual frenulum (under his tongue) might be too tight. ( To her it really did not look like it was but she suggested this as one last ditch effort…) Maybe we should have a special dentist look at it. Praise God!!! That was the trouble! Who knew! After a 5 minute procedure we went from constant eating to finishing in 5 minutes! When son # 2 came along and he screamed for the first 3 days of life…I knew immediately that he had the same problem!!! So…. on Day 6 he had same 5 min. procedure and the screaming stopped instantly!!! It is wonderful when we know the answer!!!! When we do not, it is always important to tell our kids the truth…. and that we will try to figure it out…and also apologize when we are wrong!!! As moms we are not called to be perfect…but to train our kids to be loving and productive children of God.


Aside from the scatter-brained not having a diaper or food on hand while out-and-about, which seems to happen often, my biggest, biggest mistake was not trusting my intuition when Wyatt was first born. Where I live breast feeding is promoted very highly and formula is extremely discouraged. Our hospital pretty much required us to take a class on breast feeding and when I left that class, I was so convinced that if I ever gave my baby formula I would be setting him up for a life of malnourishment, uncoordination, poor immunity, severe allergies and other really bad things. When he was born, I thought breast feeding was going well (never any pain on my part, he made all the right motions, sounds, etc.). I also thought that we were just blessed with a colicky baby who ALWAYS cried (did I type cried? I meant screamed) and NEVER slept/napped like all the other newborns I had seen. When I went to a breastfeeding group that weighed the babies before and after they ate, I was first alerted to a problem: he had only gained a few oz in about 5 weeks when he was supposed to be gaining a few oz PER week. So I went through another month of having lactation consultants tell me that everything was ok, and no I do not need to supplement, etc, etc. I knew there was something wrong, and asked over and over again what to do and my anxiety was growing, but was waiting for permission from someone with authority to tell me that it was ok to give my baby formula. When we took him to his 3 month check-up (his last was at 2 weeks) he had slipped from the 30th % in weight to the 3rd %. My Dr. apologized to me that no one else had told me my baby needed more food and said if it had been him who had seen me 4 weeks earlier, he would have told me right then and there to give Wyatt formula. I had been unable to see him b/c he was out on paternity leave, so had seen nurse practitioners twice and both had just told me to “keep trying” despite Wyatt’s inability to gain weight. I am still sick over it, wondering how listening to people with an agenda could prevent me from doing what I knew was best for my child. After his very first bottle, Wyatt stopped crying and actually slept. Those 3 oz were the most he had ever had at one time up to that point. He was a totally different, well-fed kid. Shame on me for dismissing it as colic.

What that taught me, however, is to 1)listen to my “gut,” which I believe is God talking to me louder and louder til I actually follow through; and 2)be skeptical of whatever is “trending” right now in mommyhood. I stay away from Dr. Google and mommy groups. Both unnecessarily “alert” me to things I shouldn’t worry about anyway because I follow rule #1 and listen to my gut/God.

As for successes, mine are small. While nothing specific comes to mind, I can hear my husband, who is NOT a bumbling idiot-dad, say “good job, mama,” when I have come to the rescue with something-or-other in some situation. I am particularly proud of not vomiting myself the first (and second) time my child did, and of actually being calm enough to clean it up and provide for everyone’s needs (like a change of clothes for hubby AND baby).

Thank you, Jessica, for providing a forum for me to remind myself to listen to God. We are all good mothers, despite our mistakes.


Great post! It’s so true. Everyone told me when Abigail was born that babies spit up…but I thought she spit up a lot…but everyone else told me to relax…turns out she did spit up too much and had reflux and we were all pretty miserable for the first 3 months. But I really didn’t know until Katherine was born, and I had a comparison. It’s funny how mommy guilt is sometimes on a 2 yr delay. I should have listened to my gut with Abigail…but it’s just one of those great mommy lessons I learned.

I also now subscribe to the “…it takes a village” mentality. I rely on the help of so many people to help with the raising of my children…family, friends, doctors and now especially teachers. Personally, I don’t balk even a little at calling the 24 hr nurse line when my kids are sick…cause they ARE the ones I’m supposed to call when my kid pukes purple at 3 am. 🙂 Right? And teachers…well, they are significant now. My eldest leaves my care at 7:30 am and does not return until 4 pm. It’s a LONG day. And honestly, Abigail’s teacher sees her on weekdays for more hours than I do. And shockingly, I also had to deal with some bullying this year (kindergarten). My friendly, people-pleasing, generous to a fault eldest daughter was being guilted into giving her “friend” her snack everyday. Sadly I didn’t find out until it had been going on for weeks! My kind child thought she was just sharing with a friend…but as I had to explain, friends don’t take your food day after day. And kids aren’t supposed to share food at school for allergy reasons. But even though Abigail and I discussed how to handle the situation, I HAD to talk to her teacher, and get her help. And she was so wonderful, and helped fix the situation…and allowed Abigail to save face. Who knew KINDERGARTEN would be so hard…for both of us? …and this is why I will be my the PTA room mother every year of elementary school for both of my girls…keeps me in the know…gets me close to her teacher…and then I don’t feel so guilty asking for help/favors.

Motherhood is exhausting, even if you have all the answers….


I had to add this one. I had my last 3 children with a midwife in my home. My second birth at home was different. I had to go to the potty and complained to my husband that my toilet paper was not Charmin, which he promptly left the house in search of Charmin. When he left I was trying to make it to the bed with what seemed like a watermelon betweren my legs. By the time he returned and called the midwife, I was telling him to tell her to hurr;y, Needless to say, my darling Brittany decided she was not going to wait. My daughter and husband were no help at all, I was telling them what to do. She started to come and I reached down and held her head, my husband told me don’t try to hold her in, I told him I don’t know why but I have to do this. She arrived and I pulled off my shirt and held her skin on skin until the midwife arrived. She came and we cut the cord and I told her about reaching down and holding her and she told me that is exactly what you are supposed to do. So see even if you think you are not prepared, Gof will guide ;you through! Only problem whe had is she had 6 toes one each foot. Not any more though. Maybe this is to much information. But, was one of the best examples of God will guide you through that I have had.


OMGsh – I think it’s amazing that our kids turn out as well as they do! It’s a wonder toddlers don’t incur head injuries on a regular basis. So much comes down to trusting God, the love He’s put on our hearts for these babies…AND our own dumb luck!


When I had my first child, Chelsie, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I worried about every little thing. The second child, Chance, came along and I felt more relaxed and knew how to handle the crying, feeding, napping, etc. Both of my children presented challenges to me that I was clueless about. Chelsie had a gag reflex which started when I switched her to baby food. From months she threw up and couldn’t keep food down. We went to TX Children’s hospital and they just said she had a gag reflex and would grow out of it. This went on constantly (daily basis) until she was 4 ~ though she did manage to keep food down. Potty training was a nightmare because smells would make her gag and throw up. The only thing I could do was put her on the potty with a trash can so she could throw up in that instead of all over. I just had to learn how to work with it but it was very challenging. Even though she mostly grew out of it by 4, she still had occasions where she would eat something with a weird texture, see something gross or smell something bad and throw up. We cleaned out more restaurants then I care to count. UGH!! My son was a breath holder. That’s what the doctors called it but it looked more like somebody punched him in the stomach and he couldn’t catch his breath. He started this at 18 months and it lasted until he was 4 years old. He would get mad or get hurt and start to cry. He would cry so hard that he would lose his breath and pass out. All of a sudden you couldln’t hear him and it looked like something was stuck. It was so scary to watch and at first I didn’t know what was going on. We took him to TX Children’s Hospital and they couldn’t get him to lose his breath there so all they could do was say he was a breath holder. They told me to ignore it and he would stop doing it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Watching your baby lose his breath, turn blue and have his eyes roll back into his head is terrifying ~ and I’m supposed to ignore him?!!! I just learned to watch him and when he lost his breath I would just lay him down wherever we were until he passed out and came back. We had many challenges along the way and I know I made mistakes. I always tell my kids (they are grown now) that they didn’t come with instructions or a manual so I just did the best I could. And I also apologized when I made mistakes. We all make them and it teaches the kids so much when they realize we make mistakes to and can apologize. The thing is ~ you won’t always have the answers and you will make mistakes. With lots of love and patience you will get through every situation with as much grace as possible.

Missy Hartshorn

I would have to say the worst was last summer right after we had just moved to London. Our old house here has very old windows with simple latches that can easily be pushed open. I was downstairs when I heard a knock on the door. The gentlemen working on the house next door was letting me know that there was a little boy hanging out of the upstairs window. I ran upstairs to find Henry stuck between the headboard on our bed and the window sill with the windows WIDE open. To add to the shock…he was half naked since I had left him up there to use the toilet.


I have a ton of stories being the mother of 4 and now a grandmother but will only share one. When my oldest was born I knew nothing about babies. I was the youngest of all the children in my family and had never babysat. I brought Rebekah home and my mom sadly couldn’t come help me (she sent my dad, lol). Every time Rebekah made a peep I breast fed her. I even woke her up at 2 am for the feeding I had always heard about. When I took her to the pediatrician at one month she had gained almost an ounce a day! She weighed 8.2 when she was born so she was a little tub at one month. The pediatrician asked me how often I was feeding her and I said everytime she cried and of course I woke her up for the 2 am feeding. He laughed so hard at me. He told me to let her cry and that my milk must be Blue Bell. On the flip side I can say she has only been sick once in her 30 years of life so maybe it did some good.
I agree with the mom’s above who say they trust there instinct and lean on God. We also ask for forgiveness when we mess up (even when they are grown).


Oh the memories… funny: Leta was about 12. Came home from school and I had watched Oprah and was trying to say things absolutley precise, so I would be the mother I had always thought – at least per Oprah. I spoke the words as directed, per the show,,,,Leta smiled and said,”Mom have you been watching Oprah again?” We both laughed so hard. Point – just be yourself. One time I finally told Leta – “I’m doing the best I can, I will make mistakes, but I am trying.” We have always had the greatest relationship – she is 38 and has a great family – I am a grandmother of two of the most, dare I say it “brillant” grand children. Leta thinks at times – we’ve all been there..”Mom, I don’t need you to be a mom.” I finally said to her “You are never too old to need you mom – it’s o.k.?


My comments are a little late, but then that’s been happening to me lately … getting to ‘stuff’ late …
Like others there are so many stories to tell, but one I like to tell is on my son. When they had their first (and only) child, I was talking to him on the phone about something to do for the baby (cannot even remember the details) and he said “don’t worry, mom, we know what we’re doing.” I started to laugh and said “well, then, you’re the first ones who do.” Later he admitted he had no clue about how to raise a child. But they’re doing a fine job and have a delightful 6-1/2 year old now.