To Mothers of Grown Children: An Open Letter

Dear Mothers of Grown Children,

I know we are not in the same phase of life. I realize you have seen more, experienced more, and learned more than me. I realize that you have been in the trenches, much like I’m in the trenches, and have lived to tell the tale. I respect your wisdom, your stories and the perspective that the years have taught you.

But there is one thing I need from you. I need you to remember that the phase I’m in is hard. I need you to remember that raising little ones is not only exhausting, it’s mentally and emotionally draining on a level I could never explain to someone who has never experienced it. I need you to be mindful of the fact that your perspective of those early years now holds a combination of wistful memory, regret, nostalgia, and longing. Your children are now grown, and while I could never imagine what that phase of life is like until I arrive there myself, I do know what it’s like to have little ones at home.

I’m tired of your advice. I’m tired of your condescending tone when you tell me to “enjoy these special times.” I’m tired of you responding to my exhaustion with comments of “yup, it’s exhausting.” I’m tired of you interrupting my stories of my children’s shenanigans to say, “there’s nothing wrong with that!”

I do enjoy these times. And I know that this is exhausting for everyone. And of course its “ok” for Theo to be wild and Oliver to be ornery. That’s not the point! The point is that no matter how special this phase of life is, no matter how common the struggle, no matter how normal it may be for children to be exhausting, it’s still hard.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not looking for you to take my hand and tell me you think I’m so brave and strong. I’m not looking for special awards or recognition from you. What I need, is understanding. You – you who have been through it all – why do you withhold your understanding? Why do you withhold your graciousness and kindness?

I know these words might sound like I’m mad, but I’m not mad. I’m hurt. I look to you, the older woman for love, guidance and support. I look to you to kindly say, “I  know, this stage is more exhausting than you could have ever imagined, isn’t it? I remember those days…Here, let me make you a cup of coffee while you tell me all about it…”

Mom’s don’t need special sympathy or recognition, we need support. We need empathy. We need kindness because, honestly, kindness is not a strong suit of toddlers. And yes, life with kids will continue to hold it’s share of difficulties which will change and grow as they change and grow. I recognize that each stage of child rearing will hold it’s gifts and it’s trials. I recognize that the phase I’m currently in is not “the hardest.” But it is, the hardest I’ve experienced yet.

So mother’s of grown children, be kind to us. Be patient. You may see things we might not see and you might know just how much harder things are going to get, but leave that for the moment of realization and just walk with us here, now. And for goodness sake, give us a break!


A mom who is really just doing her best

5 thoughts on “To Mothers of Grown Children: An Open Letter

  1. Oh Bekah….yes, yes, yes. One of my goals with other moms is to never say “It’s just a phase.” Does not help at all for the present. And no mom-shaming please, we already feel inadequate. A kind heart and a listening ear goes a long way….for anyone in all stages.

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