For Moms Who’ve Labored Right Out

I’ve held one belief close for years.

{{Moms, lean in, this is for you.}}

We’re far too isolated in America.

Few have heard me mention my ideal alternative as if I’m joking, but truth is, I’m not joking at all.

On my worst of days, my most stressful days as an American mom, this is my desire. I’d like to be transported to another time, another civilization, where modern day expectations are blown to shreds, where I can live a simple life and it’s never questioned, not once. I’d like my husband to wake up and head out for a long day with the tribesmen. They hunt and gather, and as the day draws to an end, they come back with dinner in hand. While the men are gone, the women gather – weaving and braiding, cooking and preparing household things – together. We wear babes on cloth slings and the kids play all day. There’s no fighting, no comparing and no tattle-tale word slinging, just playing and running, singing and dancing. We gather over women as they labor, sing and love on them when they’ve lost their way. And we’re all dirty, like dirty beyond anything you ever see in America, and we don’t even care. Grandpas and grandmas, great aunts and great uncles, they’re wise constant-present council, and there aren’t cliques but community. There’s no comparing mini-mansions and mobile homes because we all live in huts so it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, there’s a fire where stories of old are told, the passing of one generation’s best to the next.

But I’m bound to my American life, and let’s be honest moms. This other world civilization isn’t happening anytime soon, unless, that is, we’re willing to sell everything, move to a deserted island and start our own tribe.

In the meantime, I’ve opened my eyes to this isolated American mom phenomenon…

Young mom, I saw her at Taco Bell. It was early for lunch, anyone would admit, but hey, when you’re mom it’s never too early for lunch and I had my three there too. She had two tinies in tow, a toddler and preschooler, and I couldn’t get over how angry she looked. While tinies babbled and chatted, she sat, fist balled up under her chin, looking out the window, eating her taco. Truth be told, it seemed she just wanted them out of the way. She just wanted to get this meal thing done, she was passing time. Her mind was somewhere else, and wherever that angry place was, it never let her go.

Then there was mom after swimming lessons. I saw a bag on the ground, just outside the exit to the parking lot, and wondered whose it was. A moment later, I heard this mom yelling “3-2-1 if you don’t pick up your stuff and come I’m gunna leave and go to the car.” Her anger escalated quickly, and I’m talking very quickly. I listened in discreetly as I walked with the kids to the car and got them in their seat belts. Mom managed to get her kid to the car, but by that time, she was beyond angry, at her wits end, raging. Kid was crying, mom yelled “If you don’t stop crying, I swear to God I’m gunna spank you.” And all of this in a parking lot. She was beyond caring what anyone thought.

Last was mom in Office Max. I was next in line behind her, she was hard to ignore. Mom questioned the $91 charge that remained after her $10 coupon. She was arguing with the cashier, but something was off, she was despondent, far off. Her responses were delayed, the cashier did a double take because mom wasn’t responding the way she should. Baby was in the cart calling “mama mama mama mama” repeatedly while the other three stood, waiting politely. I thought she might smile as she bid the cashier farewell, or maybe she’d even crack a smile when she realized her baby was still calling “mama mama mama” But no. She remained emotionless. She picked up her tiny bag, turned away, and abruptly told her children “go, go.” I smiled gently and looked into her eyes as she passed, but still, no response.

Do I share these stories because I like to hyper-analyze, criticize fellow moms, and point out their worst moments? Not so much.

You see, I’m no different.**

In my over-busy, beyond-stressed and way-too-isolated American life, I’ve had my own fair share of moments. Not exactly like hers nor exactly like yours, but uniquely mine.

Catch me any given day, and you might just find me stressed out. I’m talking the house is a mess and daddy left for work kind of Saturday. The sink is piled high with dishes, the TV’s on loud, and all I know is the kids need to eat something for breakfast. I break out the “good mom breakfast” of eggs, whole wheat toast, and milk, and the sink’s just piling higher. Kids are complaining that I’m taking too long, and the piled-high stack of mail and to-dos by the stove reminds me I’m inadequate to keep up with it all. One doesn’t have enough toast, the other needs more eggs, and the third’s got her sippy cup tipped over and she’s watching it drip all over the floor. By the time they all finish, I wipe baby’s hands, and sit down to my own breakfast, it’s time for more mess. Baby’s next to me on the floor, finger painting with the milk she dumped during breakfast.

Before I know it, they’re all three loving on each other in the chair. I breathe and I feel blessed, I’m grateful.

But then baby’s screaming, and they’re all over her, and she’s screaming even more.

And in that moment, I wish grandma or great auntie was upstairs or next door, I wish mamas were all around to wash up the mess so I could just eat, or maybe we could be transported to the hut with the dirt floor where the mess could just disappear deeper into the dirt.

I don’t have any great single solution to the isolation, anger, frustration, despondency, sadness, stress, or anxiety we sometimes face as moms, but here’s what I know.

This other-world community I long for has nothing to do with little, big or clean houses. It has nothing to do with being a stay-at-home mom or working mom. It’s not about doing life just right all on my own, and it’s not about proving I have it all together at all times.

It’s about community, it’s about grace, it’s about knowing beyond a doubt that this quote is true…

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Let’s stand together as moms, for moms. Tend to others. Offer a helping hand. Give grace freely. Smile. Bend down low. Have faith that God’s in control and works all things together for your good. And breathe.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30



**I do not approve of nor condone the behaviors of mothers I observed in this post. Mothering is hard business, and I do my very best to reserve judgement unless I know another woman’s situation intimately. I am simply observing and suggesting that mothers are far too isolated in our culture. Further, I am not suggesting the American mothering experience is all negative. There are, of course, many reasons why the positive aspects of parenting outweigh the negative. I am simply offering a glimpse of the other side of mothering that often goes ignored.

  1. Carol Femling says:

    BE KIND. ” Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The truth–for sure!! So glad you realize all I’ve tried to teach you! Yes, kindness for another mom or for any person is something that matters, as we never know what battle is being fought behind the scenes of everyday life. I smiled to myself and even laughed outloud at times as I read this, because I’ve felt the exact same way as you many times through the years. I always thought I’d like being a mom in the “Little House on the Prairie” times. I also would’ve loved growing up or raising my family with an abundance of extended family. I am blessed to have a daughter like you !! Love your blogs–thank you! Love you! 🙂 Mom

  2. Stacey Deutsch-Thornton says:

    A time when there was no competition. When no one cared who had the best, the most, or how much it cost. When people helped just to help. Without expecting something in return…if you find it, I’ll live there with you 🙂 Amy Bartos Pedersen, you took the words out of my mouth!

  3. Colleen Leaver says:

    Love this Amy, so very true!! You are an inspiration to so many, thank you for being you and sharing :))

  4. Amy Bartos Pedersen says:

    WOW! Simply amazing. I sometimes feel the same way you do. God has given you such an amazing talent. You are so true and genuine. I feel truly blessed to know you.

  5. Jessica Revak Milkes says:

    Amy, this post comes at a much needed time for me!! I thank you for posting it & for letting me drift off in your words for a moment while my wild three run a muck in my house… Now, to go clean up their mess 🙂

  6. Monica Anderson Palmer says:

    This is beautiful! Thank you Amy for being willing to open your heart and share this….you are right, It’s about community, it’s about grace, it’s about knowing beyond a doubt that this quote is true….
    “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

  7. Tom Baunsgard says:

    From the male perspective… Mom’s and Grandmas aren’t thanked enough for all you do! As a male, I thank you Moms and Grandmas for all you do! We males are so blessed to have you in our lives!

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