50 Shades of Motherhood


I have nine different strollers…Nine.

I have a minivan…that smells like dirty feet and overripe bananas.

I have a DVR…70% of its space is occupied by animated children’s programs.

I have a stack of overdue library books…that I can’t seem to locate at the moment.

I have the ability to hold a conversation with another adult…while simultaneously scanning and locating each of their heads…none of them side by side…on a playground.

I have a history of ER visits with them…most of which resulted in stitches.

I have stretch marks and a herniated bellybutton…that, my husband has pointed out, bears an uncanny resemblance to the eye of a cyclops.

I have circles under my eyes and gray hairs…that, if I continue to pluck, will leave me with a substantial bald patch in the center of my scalp.

I have dirty clothes piled high in my laundry room…and clean clothes piled high on my sofa.

I have a sink full of dirty dishes…and a dishwasher full of clean dishes.

I have electrical outlet covers…in every room of my house.

I have dust on my piano, which used to showcase pictures of a young, carefree couple…but now displays school photos of four smiling faces sporting fresh new haircuts.

I have Play Doh…ground into my carpet.

I have a child’s name scrawled in permanent marker on my living room sofa…my linen colored living room sofa.

I have a foyer littered with backpacks, folders, sports equipment and sneakers…that they’re outgrowing too quickly.

I have organic cleaning products…that I need to use with more frequency.

I have a house that’s too small and a kitchen counter so littered with school papers…that I haven’t seen it in weeks.

I have my pediatrician’s phone number on speed dial…his home phone number.

I have distant memories of sitting in a chair on the beach. And reading. Uninterrupted. For seven consecutive hours. Clad in a bikini…that I rocked.

I have a phone call…long overdue…to make to the orthodontist.

I have a middle of the night policy…sheets puked on are changed…but sheets peed on are covered by a Buzz Lightyear beach towel.

I have a bathroom…that houses tubby toys and bubble gum flavored toothpaste.

I have pages in Brazelton’s Touchpoints and Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee…that are dogeared and torn from revisiting for so many years.

I have a small celebration every time I awake from a night of uninterrupted sleep…because it’s so rare.

I have three packs of crayons in my handbag…each of them, ironically, is missing the blue crayon.

I have seven different patterns of band aids…also in my handbag.

I have a credit card balance…and virtually no savings.

I have a list of places I’d like to go with my family…and not nearly enough money in the bank to afford those trips.

I have the daily desire to escape my house between the hours of 4PM and 8PM…the witching hours.

I have wine…to help me survive those hours.

I have the ability to ignore the toys that need picking up if it means I can squeeze in a run…because that run will bring me balance for the remainder of the day.

I have hand prints on my walls…that I hesitate to wipe off in the near future.

I have patience…more than I realize…still not nearly enough at times.

I have old letters to Santa Claus…that I keep in my wallet to remind me they still believe in the magic.

I have macaroni necklaces on ribbons…that clutter the inside of my jewelry box.

I have handmade birthday cards that I’ll keep until…well, until they discover them alongside the macaroni necklaces in the days after I’ve taken my last breath.

I have a debt of gratitude…for the teachers, underpaid, who spend their days patiently instructing them to read and to write. And who remind them to be good friends.

I have guilt…that even though I’ve spent a considerable quantity of time with them, I’ve failed to give each of them the quality of time they deserve.

I have hope…that I’m doing more things right than wrong.

I have worry…that I’m doing more things wrong than right.

I have frustration…that my attention is craved by so many of them, all at the same time.

I have fear…that the day they no longer crave my attention will arrive too soon.

I have dread…that something awful will take me from them before I’ve seen them grow old. Or, worse, that something awful will take them from me first.

I have power with my words and actions…to instill in them self-confidence, self worth, and a love for this life.

I have a duty to protect them, physically and emotionally…from all that is wrong and scary in the world.

I have a responsibility to educate them…that uniqueness is to be celebrated, that bullying is cowardly, that kindness makes a difference, that doing the right thing is hard, and that we all make mistakes.

I have a desire to fix things for them…but the wisdom to know that my doing so will hinder their growth and development far more than it will help them.

I have nothing else in my life…that will ever have a hold on my heart the way they do.

I have a love that is so fierce, so complete, so unconditional…that it sometimes moves me to tears at the mere sight of them.

I have a name…that only four people use. They are the four people who’ve transformed my life so entirely, that I’ll never be the same after hearing them call me by it.

They call me Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who share my name.










86 thoughts on “50 Shades of Motherhood

  1. Well that pretty much sums it up!! Well-done! Happy mothers day to you too Bethany!! You deserve one- I hope a run and a vat of wine is involved:)

    • Thanks, Michelle! I hope to squeeze in a run on Sunday. And I’m working at Indigo Schuy in the afternoon. I’m literally giddy about it. B&B can field the afternoon “I’m hungry, I want a snack, I’m still hungry, I want another snack, when’s dinner” requests.

  2. TEARS at 7:36am! Big old fat, blink and they run down my face, tears. So Beautiful. If this doesn’t go viral, the world has no heart! Much love to my fellow Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Viral is good…I like viral! I know I usually go the humor route. I was feeling cerebral. Thanks for reading!!! Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Wow. So true and touching, Bethany. Beautifully expressed and written. Wishing you the happiest Mother’s Day!

  4. Loved this! Well written! Happy Mother’s Day! Cheers!!
    P.S. I’m reading this while my 2 yr old son is eating a box of lucky charms (well, just the “charms”)….back to motherhood…thanks for the break!! Lol

    • Melanie, is there any other way to eat Lucky Charms? Thanks for taking your break with me! Happy Mother’s Day to you…and thanks for reading!

  5. Wow, Bethany, every time I think I have already read your best one ever, you blow me away with a new one…
    This one will be hard to top. I laughed, I cried, I hung onto your every word, all the time nodding my head with the tears coming down my face.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. Proud to share the day with girls who grew up to be Moms like you. By the way, send my “Happy Mother’s Day” to your Mom. Apparently, we became moms around the same time, and I want to congratulate her on raising such a wonderful daughter.

    • Debbie, your words always touch my heart…thank you so much! And they’ll touch my Mom’s as well. Little Sister will probably chime in with, “Hey, what about me?” all the way from Arizona too. I’m so glad you “got” it. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment. Happy Mother’s Day to a Mom and Grandmom!

      • You got me smiling…
        I have one of those little sisters… So please pass on a very happy Mother’s Day to her also. Because where would us big sisters be without those little ones….wait, let me think. No, I don’t want to go there….

  6. What a beautiful way to start my day – hot coffee, salty tears and a story of love!
    Move over “Hallmark”, you have just been replaced by a real life “MOM”!

    • Thanks, Mom! Most days I’m like those sarcastic e-cards. Today, more like a Hallmark card. One you wouldn’t want to scratch and sniff…

  7. I’m usually laughing out loud reading your blog, today I was crying. Just wonderful! Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Total switch up today, Jennifer! Occasionally I get mushy. Thanks for reading…glad you liked it! Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Yes, I’m tricky like that. Just when you think you’re in for a funny story…BOOM! I hit you with a heartfelt one. I dig the title too…thanks for your kind words, and for reading!! Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. I am sitting at my desk crying. You summed it up perfectly. I think this will be printed out and hung where I can see it every morning after a night of interrupted sleep.
    That was truly one of the best written pieces I have ever read. You are amazing!!

    • Kar, thanks so much!!! Compliments like this coming from a Mom who is an avid reader and a teacher….make my day. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to let me know that it resonates with you. Looking forward to seeing you at the beach!!! XO

  9. I saw the post come through but waited until I could sit and enjoy. Happy Mother’s day to MY Mommy Expert! Loved it!

    • Thanks for sitting with me for 5 minutes, girlfriend! Thanks for reading…glad you enjoyed! Happy Mother’s Day, and kiss my boyfriend!!! XO

  10. Wonderful wonderful. I want to print it out and put it in the mailboxes of my best teacher buds. Wonderful. Love it.

    • Mer, I needed to get my teacher love in there! Our kids attend a school that we believe is an extension of our home. Same ideologies, same expectations. Their teachers spend more daylight hours with them than I do. They are tasked with an enormous load. And they handle it with patience, grace, and dignity. And I love them for it.

      Thanks for reading…happy mother’s day!

  11. One of my favorites for sure… …and not because I have been spared my typical, “Homer Simpsonian” characterization… …no, this piece has gained my favor simply because I have had the good fortune of sitting in the front row… …so I know how genuine each of the lines above is!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Homer Simpson? I was going for more of a Phil Dunphy character. Thx for the sweet words…don’t forget to make the kids draw Mother’s Day cards for me. Love, Marge

    • Thanks, Lindsey! I love that picture too…my husband took it. On the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Several people have asked us, “Oh, did you go to see the Rembrandt collection?” Um, no. We went to make the kids run the steps. Over and over and over and over. Then we went to Bobby’s Burger Palace so Mommy didn’t have to cook.

      Thanks for reading!

  12. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a stranger’s blog, much less commented on one – but as the mom of three boys under five years old, I loved this post!! Makes me want to get home and hug my boys a little tighter. Beautifully written and 100% true!

    • Jessica, thanks so much for reading…and for commenting! Knowing that you don’t know me, can’t picture my kids on a playground, haven’t seen me in the grocery store…yet this still speaks to you…is quite simply…validating. So thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Happy Mother’s Day…hope those boys are good to you!

  13. Bethany…you made me cry…the happy kind of tears!! What a fantastic blog…I am officially hooked and look forward to reading it often and always! As a fellow mom of 4…I can relate in so many ways. How lucky we are to be loved by these fantastic and amazing (sometimes annoying!) little people!!! Just wait til they are teenagers…the stories you can tell then!! Have a wonderful mother’s day! XO Suz

    • Ahhh, the teenage years scare me. As they well should with this crew. Thanks so much for reading…and for your sweet comments!! Happy Mother’s Day! XO

  14. Read your blog for the first time today, thanks to a FB post. Subscribed immediately and will definitely continue reading/following!! I can’t say enough about what you wrote – so wonderful, touching, true, visceral…keep it coming!!

    • Wendy, FB is just the best! I’m so glad it struck a chord with you…thanks for taking the time to read. Happy Mother’s Day!

  15. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all us moms who absolutely love and adore their children!!! The sentiments here are exactly what we all feel. I couldn’t imagine not having every minute I have with them. I can’t believe my oldest will be going to college this fall. When I think about too much, the tears begin. The years truly do fly by. I find myself standing in front of the digital frame reliving the years. What wonderful memories!!! Thank you for the sentiments.

    • Kim, thanks so much for your comments! My Mom says, “These are long days but short years.” Truly, once they start elementary school, the days are short as well. My oldest is 10. When I stop to think about the fact that, in 10 more years, he will be in college and I won’t fix his collar every morning at the breakfast table…GULP. Kills me. But when he has his younger brothers pinned to my kitchen floor while I’m trying to make dinner…it doesn’t bother me so much:) Thanks for reading! Happy Mother’s Day!

  16. The first thing that came into my mind after reading this (which was difficult with tears streaming down my face) was I Love You. I love that you are able to put into words what every mother feels and fears. Reading this makes me realize that fear plays too big a part in my life, reading this will remind me to appreciate the little things more, reading this made me appreciate my own mom even more, reading this made my day and changed me. Xoxo

    • Keri!!! My dear friend! Thank you so much for your heartfelt feedback! Appreciating the little things is hard. I almost recanted this entire blog post during the witching hours here last night. And one of the kids was at track practice. It was bath night. I skipped it. Poured myself a glass of wine, and got jiggy with the 3 who were here. Just Dance 3. Hilarious.

      So glad you can relate. Happy Mother’s Day to a wonderful Mom. I love you…we’re overdue for some adult beverages containing tequila.

  17. Well, I was tearing up while reading, but lost it at the last sentence. Mia is the only one who will ever call me “Mom.” Happy Mother’s Day, Bethany!

  18. AMAZING!!!! Laughed and cried 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day!!

    P.S. Think your blogs have already gone viral…..ran into a fellow SIC veteran yesterday talking you up at Starbucks!!! Congrats and keep ’em coming!!

    • Terry!! LOL! Thanks so much for reading! Happy Mother’s Day to you…talked to Dana last night. We are planning a Kix night over the summer. Start picking out your outfit….NOW.

    • Aha! Somebody is reading her emails from class parents! Woohoo! Thanks for reading, Precious!! Happy Mother’s Day!

  19. Perfectly articulated. It’s so raw and moving in the same moment. Consider this one printed and will be carried in my purse for the same reason you carry the Christmas letters to Santa! So touching, Bethany!!
    Happy Mother’s Day to you too! May you have a night full of much vino and many uninterrupted zzzz’s!

    • Thanks so much, Kara! For reading, for your comments, and for printing!! Much vino and many uninterrupted zzzz’s = how I got into this mess in the first place:) Happy Mother’s Day!

  20. Bethany- Happy Mother’s Day! In so many ways I live this life…. you are my hero though, since I ONLY have 3 boys ages 11, 9, and 7. I am able to look into the window of what my life would have been like if we had one more:) I run, like you, because I can, and for my sanity. I often wish I had a video camera rolling so people could actually see the virtual freakshow I live in sometimes…. If we hadn’t moved away from the Philly area 5 years ago… we would be sitting next to each other on the ball fields laughing at all of our mom stories. Kudos to you for sharing them all- I seriously think you should find a publisher. YOU ARE AWESOME and I look forward to reading more…. you have inspired me to finally write down some of my ridiculous moments so that my boys will treasure them as much as I do. Thanks, girl!

    • Shannon, what a great comment…thank you! We sit on the lacrosse fields because the games are shorter than baseball games…shh! Best kept secret in kids’ sports! ONLY 3 boys?! Those are three words that aren’t typically used in combination! Please write your stories down. It’s healing. It helps me maintain a sense of humor about things that really aren’t very amusing while they’re happening. And we Moms need a sense of humor to survive. Happy Mother’s Day!! Thanks for reading!

  21. Happy Mother’s Day Bethany. So very well said it brought tears to my eyes. Here’s hoping your day includes a run, a nice glass of wine and some fabulous handmade treasures to go with your macaroni stash.

  22. Bethany, as I have told you so many times before… you are all that I aspire to be as a mom! And reading this makes me feel even more strongly about that… Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Jenn, and I am flattered and humbled every time. Are you sure? You know I say things like, “Mommy doesn’t answer questions after 8PM, Interrogator”?! XO and happy mothers day to your Mom! Thx for reading and your beautiful compliment!!

  23. Bethanny,
    I started reading your blog after my friend Ave pasted it into Facebook. Your link is saved under “my favorites.” Your blogs make me laugh (often to the point of tears) and it is my guilty pleasure to sit with a hot cup of coffee and read your blog while my kids run wild. This posting made my day. You summed up what it is to be a mom. Thank you so much for being so open and for sharing your life through this blog- I wish you all the best! Please keep writing!!

    • Terri, what an outstanding message…thank you so much! Ave is one of my favorite people, and I love her blog! I am so glad to hear someone else lets her kids run wild while enjoying her coffee! I can’t do anything until I’ve had coffee…and my kids know it. And capitalize on it. Little buggers. Thank you so much for your kind message…I am trying to write as I wait for my older two to finish robotics…impossible with the younger two climbing on top of each other in the car…again, little buggers:)

  24. Hi Bethany,

    I was looking up details on whether i can take my baby to hard rock cafe and i ended up in ur blog! So glad to have used those keywords for searching. What an amazing page u have in here! I have been hooked to this page since 8 in the morning reading some posts over and over again! kudos to u! keep up the great work and all the inspiration u spread! And ur boys are absolutely adorable! 🙂


    • Latha, that’s hilarious! Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe is considered Philly’s finest dining by my older two sons. Poor unsophisticated little men. Thank you so much for spending your day with me! XO

  25. I love your blog! I found you from a posting on FB from Amy Moore. I have three young boys (5,3,1), and feel like your home must be a lot like mine and maybe even crazier which makes me feel good! The things you think are all the things I think and it is so nice to know I am not the only one. I read your blog while I nurse and sometimes I laugh so hard it scares the baby. I just wish there were more posts because I can’t get enough! You are doing a wonderful job telling your family story.

    • Ashlynne, thank you so much for your sweet comments! I love Amy…we went to college together. She’s a rockstar for posting my blog so supportively. Thank you so much for reading! Yes, I can guarantee our homes are very similar. And it makes me feel bad for both of us! I’m so glad I can give you a laugh. Really, that’s what I’m hoping to do. A little break from the routine punctuated with some belly laughs! Thanks for reading!!! Good luck to you with those boys!

  26. B…thoroughly enjoyable read. My wife sent the link to me (and I initially assumed it was a take-off on mommy-porn so I gave a quick look). Was hooked by the “minivan” which I proudly drive (and feel certain mine looks and smells worse than yours). On behalf of dads everywhere (at least many of them, I hope), I can totally relate with much of your sentiment (well maybe not the herniated bellybutton or the bikini on the beach) and look forward to many more humorous/sentimental observations of motherhood…make that parenthood. (Of course, I cannot admit to succumbing to tears.) Best of luck, thanks for sharing, and keep on running (the cure-all for everything that ails you…even more than wine).

    • Ron, I absolutely agree with your take on running. I’ve been known to forego the wine when I’m planning on running the following morning. Wine takes the edge off the witching hours. Running is the great equalizer in my life. So glad you read and enjoyed…please thank your wife for reading too. I’m going to take your bet on who drives the stinkier minivan. My money’s on me. 🙂

  27. Pingback: 50 Shades…10 Years Later | My Four Boys

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