To young moms: You are doing OK

By Donna Howard
For the Journal

“I’m doing okay,” my daughter said.

Those words spoke volumes. With three children of her own and two foster children, all under the age of 10, I knew the load she was carrying. It was doubled due to one child being a newborn.

I smiled, remembering those days. My days were filled with diapers, baby wipes, spills, and disasters. They were also filled with snuggles, baby smiles and giggles, and adorable little toddler clothes. I miss those days, but I admit that I don’t miss the sleepless nights.

She is okay. But she is also exhausted, overwhelmed, and probably a little discouraged. Who wouldn’t be at times? The children come first, and the dishes have to wait.

But that is also the downside. The dishes will wait. And they will be staring at her every time she walks through the kitchen. The laundry will multiply exponentially. And no one can keep up with the cleaning up after several young children.

However, she is also putting her time into the most important things. Apparently, sleep isn’t one of them, and neither is painting her nails. Personal time is at a minimum, and so are dates.

She does have rewards, though. When her children voluntarily share treasured toys with the guests, she smiles. When the baby snuggles into her neck, she feels peace. When the older foster boy starts bringing home better grades, she cheers.

She knows what her most important work is, and it’s not keeping a spotless kitchen. It’s not serving on the PTA board, and it’s certainly not making sure she has the best pedicure on the block.

Our conversations are punctuated with such phrases as, ‘Don’t climb on the counter!”, “Take that out of your mouth,” and perhaps, “ Don’t kiss the dog!” But neither of us would have it any other way.

It’s really amusing to me. When she was newly married, before she had children, I was the one saying things like that to my youngest children. Now mine are older, and she is the one multitasking every minute of the day.

I suspect that in 10 years or so, the tables will be turned again, and she will be the one giggling on the other end of the line when her oldest child is the one saying, “Stop that!” to her own children as she visits with her mother on the phone.

My daughter will smile, remembering how she got frustrated with me. Because now she understands.

Donna Howard has ten children, has raised foster children, runs a business, is a musician and composer and teaches adjunct at BYU-Idaho. She can be reached at

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