You Will Feel Embarrassed: Rites of Motherhood


Long before I met my husband or had children, I knew a dear married couple who had just started their own family. As a young, single woman, they invited me to spend time with them. I loved watching them and their growing brood, and seeing my friend as a mom of three girls under the age of 5. I remember thinking, “she moves so fast all of the time and I just don’t understand why.” Years later, with my own two kids under the age of two, I developed the amazing ability to accomplish more in two minutes than I could have done in two hours as a single, childless woman. I began to get a clue.

I recently attended a baby shower for a lovely woman who is expecting her fourth child. At this point in the game, she is a seasoned pro and probably has a pretty good idea of what to expect when she is expecting! But, it made me reflect on some more of the things I didn’t know about motherhood before I had my children.

There was a whole lot.

A. Whole. Lot.

I remember people telling me all kinds of things:

  • “Set limits.” What if I don’t know what the limits are?
  • “Enjoy! Because this time will go so fast.” Said by no mom of young children ever.
  • “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Babies sleep?

But one thing that no one tells you is that you will feel embarrassed.

Now hear me out. Maybe you are saying to yourself, “My kids have never embarrassed me.” I am so glad for you. And, bless your heart.

But I, on the other hand, have been confronted with numerous embarrassing events that I was not expecting when I was expecting. 

There was the time that my sweet neighbors had to call me to tell me that my preschool aged children had been sneaking into their house to visit their dog during the day while our neighbors were at work. Repeatedly. Without my knowledge. Thankfully, they are seasoned parents themselves and love our kids. My preschoolers were not charged with breaking and entering, and those sweet neighbors still talk to us and occasionally invite us over for dinner. We are so lucky.

Of course, there was also the time that my 5-year-old daughter, shocked and horrified at the prospect of receiving her vaccinations, turned beet red and told our sweet, kind faced pediatrician that she had ugly bangs. And proceeded to tell the sympathetic nurse the same thing. Then my 3-year-old son shouted out the exam room door to the rest of the office staff his deep conviction that they, too, had ugly bangs. I think that nurse still chuckles every time she sees us.

Or the time I took two sick, screaming toddlers to Walmart because we needed milk and Tylenol. And they screamed through the entire store, until we hit the check out. The clerk finished our order and said to me, “My, you have such well-behaved children. We have had such screamers in here today.” I did not have the heart to tell her that she was looking at the screamers.

I can laugh now. Not only has motherhood made me more efficient than I was pre-children, but it has given me a pretty good sense of humor and a nice dose of humility in the face of those unexpected embarrassing moments.