Living With Kids: I Wish Someone Had Told Me…

December 31, 2013

By Gabrielle.

One of my favorite questions to ask my Living With Kids tour guides has nothing to do with decoration, and everything to do with parenting and the lessons we wish we’d learned just one day sooner. I always tell my interviewees, “Please have fun with these questions…and don’t be scared to be honest!” It’s those honest answers that move us the most, and I wanted to be sure to spend some time with a few of them before we begin another year of tours. I hope you enjoy the look back as much as I have.

I wish someone had told me…

From Andrea: This will sound completely silly, but I wish I had known newborns aren’t newborns for a year. I wish someone had told me that period only lasts six weeks max. I wish I had gotten that through my head the first time round and just sat down, cuddled, and pressed my cheek to the top of their fuzzy heads more. And I also wish that I had known it would be hard to stop having babies. They are intoxicating and addictive little things! I would have started so much sooner…

From Kate: How completely natural it feels to be a mother. I was so worried when I was pregnant that I would somehow get it wrong. I remember feeling astonished that the hospital was prepared to let me take Harry home the next day without a handbook or a test or anything! But Harry and I learned together, and becoming a mum is the most amazing and natural thing I’ve ever done.

From Haeley: To use semi-gloss instead of flat paint on walls in reach of little sticky fingers and crayons! That, and to not buy a really expensive couch when our first daughter turned one. Three years later that poor couch has done a lot of time as a bounce house.

From Kendra: That comparison is the thief of joy. I remember hearing this and thinking how true this was for me – not just with my kids but with other parts of my life as well.

From Julie: To go slow to go fast. Kids sure do rebel against a rush! Going slow solves most of my problems these days.

From Ruth: That the concept of ‘mercies new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:22-23) applies especially to mothers of little children! Well, to this mother, at least. Through experience I now know that a bad day does not make a bad life, and that tomorrow we get to start afresh. God forgives my mistakes and my children do, too!

From Camilla: To enjoy my parents while they’re still young. I focused so much attention on my children, everything else just fell away. I suddenly turned around to notice my parents had grown older and weren’t the same people anymore.

From Karin: That kids are resilient and you cannot ruin them for life by making one parenting mistake.

From Karey: How heartbreaking it would be to have a family. It’s not even these years that are the heartbreaking ones. Everyone said the teenage years would be gut-wrenchers, but they’re not. They’re actually pretty wonderful. It’s the ones coming. I can feel it. I am going to have to let these girls go someday and hope they want to come back and see me sometime.

I mean, imagine it. Someone gives you the best gifts you could ever dream up. Three of them. And every day is like Christmas, with the waking up and seeing those same happy gifts every single day. Over and over and over again. Except if they’re at a sleepover. And then one day, it all turns into Casimir Pulaski Day. Which could be a very fine day, but I don’t think you get the same sort of presents. If any. I’m going to have to figure out how to celebrate it. And no matter how awesome a day it may be, I know I’ll always miss the never-ending Christmas.

From Chelsey: Not to judge a woman whose house is messy or cluttered. You never know who’s in their first trimester of a pregnancy, who is dealing with depression or an autoimmune disease, who’s struggling in their marriage, who’s overworked in some other area, or who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a long, long time. It can and does happen to the best of us!

I wish someone had told me that when I see someone who doesn’t seem to have it 100% together to love first – and then try to help, if I can.

From Linda: That having kids doesn’t stifle your creativity; it just challenges you to think outside the box. And also this simple rule of happiness: “Do more of what makes you happy and fulfills you, do less of what doesn’t.” It relates to our home decor, our families, our free time…and yet we seem to spend so much of our time doing the opposite.

From Lynne: I wish someone had told me that life would go by so fast. It was only yesterday that the kids were crawling and now they are in University.

I would have played more games. I would have been goofier. I would have laid on the ground and looked at more stars with them. I would have taken more moments to just sit and BE with them in the moment. Those quiet moments are beautiful and I always want more.

From Julie: To appreciate my mom and dad more. They both died young. You don’t know how much you appreciate them until you’re an adult doing what they did.

I think about how one Christmas when I was about ten, I told my mom I hated everything she’d gotten me. And there were nine of us, so I can’t even fathom how she even pulled Christmas off, only to have it followed by a moment like that. I so get it now. Just wish I could tell her.


Oh, they get me every time. If you’d like, you may add your own answer to this post for the rest of us to ponder. We are all better when we’re sharing, don’t you think?

Friends, I want to wish you the most beautiful beginning to the New Year! Cheers to 2014! May it be full of beautiful life lessons, generosity and compassion for each other, and much, much love.

P.S. — To see all the homes in my Living With Kids series, just click here. And if you’d ever like to share your own home and words of wisdom with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gina :: Listening in the Litany December 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

That this too shall pass – whatever difficult stage I find myself in (sleepless nights or toddler tantrums) – and when it passes, it will be replaced by another stage might be even more challenging than this one! Enjoy NOW.


2 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Love that, Gina! And so true. Everything is a stage.


3 Jill December 31, 2013 at 8:00 am

I LOVE this series.

here’s mine: I remember when my first daughter was born and I was working from home. Stressed about getting “it all” done, I remember thinking “this is how it’s going to be” every time my daughter established a pattern of sleeping (allowing me to get stuff done). Of course, the pattern changed the next day/week, leaving me feeling lost! With parenting there is no set schdule or YOU time–I just wished I realized earlier the need for being flexible earlier.

Even now as my kids are older I realize that sometimes you just need to drop everything –for an important conversation, or even a snuggle. Most of the time that means everything doesn’t get done. And that’s ok too. They are worth it:-)


4 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Yes! Same here. When our house and our life seems to be running smoothly, you can bet it’s because we’re being very flexible.


5 angie December 31, 2013 at 8:53 am

So beautiful! Thank you! Happy New Year!
The other day I remembered a family you told about at Christmas time a couple of years ago (not in the Living with Kids series) who made the most amazing family Christmas videos as their Christmas greeting to family and friends. They were these elaborate retro-style productions! I would love to see them again.
Could you please post the link again? thank you.


6 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I totally remember those videos, and I can’t think what the family’s name is. Let me do some searches and see if I can find the link.


7 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Remembered! The videos are from the Foster Family. Here is their 2013 video.


8 Connie December 31, 2013 at 9:19 am

Spend more time getting to know that little person. After I had my son I realized I had to get to know who he is. Each child comes with their own personality and gifts. Some of the best advice I received was at La Leche when one of the more experienced mothers reminded us that the dust, dirty dishes and cleaning will always be with us but our children won’t. What are we giving them? This gave me permission to set different priorities. Parenting is all about building relationship. I am still doing that even though my son is now grown.


9 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

“After I had my son I realized I had to get to know who he is.”

I don’t know if I’ve every heard it put that way, Connie, but it’s so true!


10 Laura December 31, 2013 at 11:02 am

So beautiful and so true! It makes you exhale and realize that those parenting fears/worries are universal. And if you’re doing the best you can do, chances are you’re doing better than you think.


11 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm

“And if you’re doing the best you can do, chances are you’re doing better than you think.”

I really love how you phrased that, Laura.


12 Amanda December 31, 2013 at 11:30 am

Oh, I wish someone would have told me how hard this post would make me cry. Glorious, heart wrenching, and soul conditioning wisdom and honesty.
Thank you.


13 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I was just re-reading today and it made me cry again!


14 Tere December 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm

This is my favorite question of the series too!! Always make me think and learn something new. Thank you Gaby for everything you have shared with us this year, happy New Year to you and the Blairs!! Hope the next one is filled with ideas, happiness, health and most of all, buckets of love!


15 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:28 pm

What beautiful wishes, Tere! Thank you. And let me send the same wishes your way as well!


16 Mindy December 31, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thank you for posting, and to all those who shared in the comments! As a brand new mother, these are all lessons I am learning along the way, and it is so life-giving to be reinforced with what I am daily experiencing. Love this!


17 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Yay! And congratulations on your brand new motherhood. Overwhelming and wonderful at the same time!


18 Margo, Thrift at Home December 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for promoting this spirit of honesty and caring among mothers.

I wish someone who had had a hard time becoming a mother had told me the truth. I had a very hard time going from professional work to full-time mothering of a high-needs baby. Post-partum depression, etc. Now, when I see a certain look in a pregnant or new mothers’ eye, I tell them my story so they will know they are not alone, that it does get better, that bonding with babies can be a process.


19 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:26 pm

“I tell them my story so they will know they are not alone, that it does get better, that bonding with babies can be a process.”

Wonderful advice, Margo!


20 tiffanie December 31, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree, has taught me through his writing that our differences can unite us. Here is one of my favorite thoughts from his book:

“Two things in life look incredibly daunting until you realize that almost everyone does them — driving and having children.”

Happy new year, and please know that I am always glad you make designmom happen. Such a gift!


21 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Ralph has been learning how to drive during our holiday break and it is terrifying! I find that quote comforting.


22 Nell December 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Love this post! So much wisdom. I wish someone had told me there would be many days of unglamorous straight-up cleaning up after babies and tots based on their sheer mess and adorable helplessness. And that your mother knows more than google.


23 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Your last line made me laugh!


24 Alicia December 31, 2013 at 9:14 pm

What a great post to end 2013! I love the living with kids series. I save them in my blog feed for when I can really sit down and enjoy them. Thank you for publishing content worth reading. I always find your posts interesting and uplifting.


25 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Thank you, Alicia! Your kind words mean a lot.


26 Mary January 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

Listen to your children. And make dates with them, too. As my four were growing up, and as a single, working mom for seven years, I made sure that each child had their own time with me. About every six weeks or so, I took one of them to lunch (their choice of restaurant–within reason/my wallet) and we had a topic of conversation (also their choice). While they are all grown and married now, I still have a treasure trove of memories of conversations silly and serious, but ones that would never have taken place in a group setting.


27 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Love that, Mary. Dates with my kids haven’t been a regular thing for us, but I went on back-to-school dates with each of them last August and enjoyed it so much!


28 Tina January 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm

This was beautiful and timely for me to read. With young kids, the notion of one day hoping they’ll return to my table for me to feed and hear their ramblings jolts me to get it together & enjoy it now.
I’m completely shocked by how hard it would be to stop having babies either.


29 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:21 pm

“I’m completely shocked by how hard it would be to stop having babies either.”

Hah! Me too. I know not everyone feels that way, but sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks.


30 Kendra January 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

I wish someone had told me how much I will miss them as they grow up. I love the tweens/teens that my children are now, but I miss the preschoolers/babies that they were then.


31 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I hear you. Oscar is turning 9 this month and I can’t really wrap my head around that fact.


32 juliagblair January 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

Thanks millions for this beautiful post! I remember a very successful and lovely “career ” woman telling me, when I was a University Student, that in the end, all
that one really has is her family. I am eternally grateful for my family!


33 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

And I know they are grateful for you!


34 Amy3 January 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

I wish someone had told me parenting isn’t always easy (maybe I should have already realized?) and to be gentle with myself. We do our best every day – sometimes we’re proud of that, sometimes less so. Parenting is a great teacher and great leveler. It brings out the best and the worst in all of us. It’s absolutely the most amazing, humbling experience I’ve ever had.


35 Design Mom January 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm

The reminder to be gentle to ourselves is a good one.


36 Bek {Just For Daisy} January 3, 2014 at 2:25 am

So beautiful. Thanks for rounding these up together.


37 Melissa January 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I loved your post!! I still feel bad from the time when I was a teenager, telling my mother I hated her clothes. I’m glad I was able to tell her I was wrong, years later, and now that she is confined to a wheelchair because of MS, I’m glad I can buy her beautiful things, as her life comes to an end. God bless maturity, I’m glad I figured that out :)


38 angue January 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Thank you for the link to the foster family videos!


39 Grace January 4, 2014 at 9:43 pm

I think all that has been said is beautiful enough to cover anything I’ve thought or have felt. My friend just wrote me “parenting is hard. I’m surprised so many normal people do it everyday.” It made me smile, all of us walking around-passing each other-smiling-all while carrying around such a hard beautiful job.


40 Christina // Franny & Franky Designs January 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

God, I love this. I would add (or reiterate) to not sweat the small stuff. I spent much of our son’s first three months obSESSing about his sleep, sleep patterns, sleep schedule. And now he’s fallen into his own schedule that works, and I spent all that time that I’ll never get back with him, logging naps in my iPhone apps, making spreadsheets of every minute he slept to try to discern patterns (no, really) and generally making myself and my husband crazy. If we have another child, I vow to spend more time enjoying and less worrying from the get go!


41 Courtney January 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

That it’s ok to have dreams and goals OUTSIDE of motherhood. It’s ok to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend, to go to the gym, to browse a store without your children in tow. There’s so much guilt associated with motherhood, and I would like to go back 5 years ago to when I had my first baby and tell me “It’s ok to take more than 5 minutes of a day to yourself!”. Because it makes you a better mom! But you have to demand it. You have to allow yourself to take it, and you have to stay in the moment. Because the second you walk through that door, you are Mom again:)


42 Bethany January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I love this post so much. As a new mom, so many of these resonated with me, and a few will serve as advice!


43 Gretchen January 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm

These are such beautiful answers! And there are several choice quotes I think I need to hang on my wall. But my favorite response is Karey’s about each day being like Christmas — I feel this way so often!


44 Jessica January 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Quite the tear jerker! Loved every bit of advice from these fine women of courage and strength!
As for me I wish someone would have told me that perfectionism isn’t an option. That mistakes happen and when they do they’re not a reflection of my parenting ability. Instead we pick up where we goofed off and move on. With that in mind our family motto is in the words of Miss Frizzle, “Take chances, make mistakes”.

Thanks again! For such amazing post. Best wishes to the Blair clan :)


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