Mom Life

My Advice to 31-year-old Alice

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A letter to my daughter of what I want my daughter to know when she's older.

Dear Alice,

It’s silly to be writing this to you now, considering that you’re only 2. But I find that throughout my days at home with you and your brothers, I can be very hard on myself. Sometimes the things I’m saying in my head are absolutely ridiculous, but I always listen.

“I can’t believe you didn’t do a load of laundry today. What were you thinking?”

“What a pigsty our house is. Why can’t you get it together enough to keep things tidy and CLEAN?”

“How is it only Wednesday, and we’re out of food? What is so hard about creating a weekly menu and shopping list and actually doing it?”

“Why haven’t you painted the brick fireplace yet? What’s taking you so long?”

“Is that a dirty diaper on the DINING ROOM TABLE? Disgusting. Child services should take your kids from you.”

Okay – enough about that mean little voice in my head. I’m writing you this letter to read when you’re all grown up (although you won’t necessarily feel grown up.) When you have little kids of your own. When you’re living away from me… but hopefully not too far.

I think, as women, we can be way too hard on ourselves. I don’t know where these ridiculous standards come from, but they’re there. And we rarely live up to them.

So when I’m being my meanest to myself, I like to pretend that you’re all grown up and calling me for advice. And I think of what I would tell you….

“I can’t believe I didn’t do a load of laundry today. What was I thinking?”

You have little kids, Alice. Your job is to be their mother. Give them your attention. Play with them. If it makes you feel better to do a load of laundry, then go for it. But guess what? Tomorrow’s always another day. Do two loads tomorrow if you need to. But don’t sweat the small stuff like laundry.

“What a pigsty our house is. Why can’t I get it together enough to keep things tidy and CLEAN?”

No house with kids is always clean. If you’re doing your job as a mom, then it will probably only be clean while the kids are sleeping. Do a 15-minute pick-up before your husband gets home. Try to get your kids to help you when it’s worth it. And don’t stress.

The days of cleaning your house from top to bottom all in one swoop are over. Clean what you can when you can. And when you really need the motivation to do a full-house scrubbing? Have a party or invite people over. Nothing gives you a kick in the pants like company due to arrive in an hour.

And – by the way – in about 20 years or so, your house is going to be spotless. Something you put on a shelf will still be there a year later. It’s hard, but enjoy your messy house (even your kitchen floor). One day you’ll be longing for someone to run through the family room and throw all the pillows off the couch or pee on the floor. Seriously.

“How is it only Wednesday, and we’re out of food? What is so hard about creating a weekly menu and shopping list and actually doing it?”

Ummm – it is hard. And who cares? Just go to the grocery store and try to make a better list for next time. Wait until your kids are teenagers – then you’ll see what’s really hard.

“Why haven’t I painted the brick fireplace yet? What’s taking me so long?”

You’re kidding, right? You have kids this age, and you’re going to try to paint something other than the sidewalk? Calm down. That fireplace will always be there for you to paint. Your kids won’t always want you to paint with them.

“I can’t believe I haven’t lost all this baby weight yet. When my 2nd child was this age, I was already 10 pounds lighter.”

Set an example for your kids through your healthy choices. And go from there. Do your best to feel healthy, and everything will fall into place. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Pregnancy is hard on a body. Remember that and get over it.

“Is that a dirty diaper on the DINING ROOM TABLE? Disgusting. Child services should take my kids from me.”

Seriously. Stop. I didn’t give birth to you so you could be so mean to yourself. No one is expecting perfection except for you. And no one is judging you except for yourself.

Love you!

PS – Sorry about all those posts about Simon being my favorite. It’s really you!

And one more thing – could you tell Miles to give me a call? I know he’s still mad about me posting those pictures of him on the blog – but I said I was sorry. How could I have known that his co-worker would find them and hang them up in the office?


  1. Sally

    October 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I love this! Just last week, I took my nine year old daughter to a program at church that really focused on getting rid of those labels we put on ourselves as women. We are our own worst critics, and as moms of girls, we play such a huge role in what our daughters' inner voices are saying to them. I never realized how much of an impact my own personal labels had on my daughter. Good for you for seeing that now!

  2. hawkeyejlp

    October 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you. I have been feeling like a failure and talking myself out of it in private has not been working–thanks for making it public and forcing me to realize I'm doing the best I can right now. It will get better–but I won't have an enthusiastic young sidekick to entertain me.

  3. Kelley

    October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    FYI: I tweeted this, m'am. This is mother to daughter at it's finest, wisest and richest.

    Married 30 years
    Mom of two adult women
    Missing painting sidewalks but not the wrong choices I made

  4. Kelley

    October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    LOVE THIS~ it is awesome and dead on.
    Have a great day.

  5. Lisa

    October 5, 2011 at 1:58 am

    This is so great. I need to remind myself of these truths, especially as I sit here, nursing my baby, dealing with a crabby toddler, laundry piles, crumby floor, you get the picture. Thanks for being honest.

  6. refibered

    November 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for this! Why are we so quick to judge ourselves, and be so mean about it? If I heard someone talking to a friend the way I talk to myself, I'd be furious and would speak up for my friend…but I don't stand up for myself when I am thinking mean/cruel self-thoughts.

    I appreciate that you're opening up this dialogue. I also love that you're doing Letters to a future Alice. Fabulous!


  7. naomijameston

    November 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you for this. I've been so hard on myself lately that the house is a mess, there's nothing I want to eat, I haven't lost a bit of baby weight even though Katie's 7 months now, and so many other things that I've been getting completely overwhelmed. I'm bookmarking this letter and reading it to myself whenever I start to feel down. 🙂

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  11. Richard Williams

    February 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks a million the tooth paste was just what I need got the marker off my table!!!

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