Motherhood: 5 Things I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago

My oldest young’un is gonna be 5-years-old soon (whoa!!!).

Denise Holding The Little Young'un

5 years ago this month (August) I officially left my career.

This time 5 years ago, I was executing a plan 6 months in the making to move a complete data center from one city to another for Nokia.  It was a large project in terms of “this isn’t something companies do every day”.  But a small project in terms of my previous experience and capabilities.

There were lots of suits pacin’ around, wringing their hands and looking for reassurance that there wasn’t a single hiccup (and there wasn’t).  I sat quietly as I always do in front of my Cisco gear typing away until the very last piece of iron was hummin’ and passin’ packets.

My 7-month baby bump barely noticeable.  The only butterflies in my stomach was her dancing to her own rhythm just as she does now.

Denise Pregnant With The Young'un

In a period of 6 hours we (me and a bunch of big muscle-y types) had moved about 15 racks packed with network gear, servers and patch panels from a data center in San Jose to a data center in Mountain View.  OK…the muscle-y guys did most of the heavy lifting while I gave the thumbs up on pulling plugs and moving copper.

via Google Images

I am proud to say it was a very well-orchestrated move and my users were offline for about the amount of time it took to physically drive the equipment from one facility to another.

By the time the iron was reinstalled on racks, I had a fully operational network up and running and lots of very appreciative engineers.

I hung around for a few weeks after, but this data center move was the last big project of my career.

Of course, I had the option to stay if I wanted and I did consider it for about 2 hours…they even gave me the option of “working from home” which seems comical now!

But feeling my young’un doin’ dances in my belly reminded me I had a more important task ahead.

Now that it’s been 5 YEARS (!!!), I am reflecting on my journey so far.

5 Things I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago.

1.  Because I grew up desperate for the Mother I never had, it was in my head that once I had kids, all I would be doing for 18 YEARS is raisin’ young’uns. During this past year my older young’un actually likes doing other things that do not include me.  It’s weird (in a good way) to see my almost 5-year-old stretching her independence.


If I could go back in time, I would have told my pregnant self that in 5 years, I just might start thinking about having a career again (if I want one again), or doing something totally different (like blogging!?).

I also would have reassured myself that I’ll get plenty of new ideas between then and now.

2. What concerned me the most about leaving my career 5 years ago was “I’m gonna forget all this techy stuff.” Well, 5 years later, I haven’t forgotten much.  At the time I thought I would forget everything from how TCP/IP works to how to log in to a router.  Pregnancy hormones did make me deranged and I probably did have short-term memory loss during the 4+ years that I slept in 3 hour windows.  BUT! Headhunters still call me when they have a position to fill (even in this “terrible” economy!), and I’m about 99% sure I could get a job working in my former career if I really wanted.

So 5 years later, I still feel “relevant”.  And actually, I believe I would make a more valuable employee now than I did during my pre-Mother days.

3.  A lot of well-intentioned people told me during the early stages of Motherhood, “oh, it gets a lot better.” Most of the time, they just instinctively said it without me even asking, “is it gonna get better?”

I got so tired of hearing it that I might have rolled my eyes a time or two.

I don’t remember.

I was really tired.

Bottom line: hearing it didn’t help, and me saying it now won’t help anyone else.  It’s sort of like trying to explain to a woman with no children how tired she’s gonna be when her first child turns ~9-months-old.  Or trying to explain to parents with one kid what it’s like with two.


It’s a level of tired that just can’t be explained, and can’t be understood.  Experience is a requirement to understand.  On the other side of sheer exhaustion, it has gotten better.

4.  No full-time Moms who are in the trenches every day.  All day. Warned me about Ugly Thursday (or the 4th day of Daddy’s 5 day work week).  Ummm.  Maybe I should read #3 again.

And I am convinced that they all knew about it and just didn’t tell me.

Like a cruel joke.

Every full-time Mom knows that by the time Thursday rolls around, something. has. to. give.

Mama’s gotta have a break somehow, someway.

Or she might spontaneously combust.

Seriously.  It’s bad.  Real bad.

By Friday, I. am. numb.

4+ years of Ugly Thursdays I have come to realize that not only does Mama need a break, but my young’uns also want a break from me.

This is the point when someone needs to Mother The Mother.

By Thursday, I am really longing for a Mother, a sister, an aunt, a Grandma.


Anybody who loves my kid (almost) as much as I do, and “get’s it” that me wanting a break doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids.  Someone who knows I just need to get away for about 45 minutes to breathe.  And daydream.

I came up empty-handed in the Mother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin department…and Thursday is the day I get the most sad about that.

5.  Five years ago I was a neat freak, clean freak germaphobe. If my 5-year-younger-self could see me now.  She would vomit.  But it’s all good.

The health department hasn’t shut us down and CPS hasn’t knocked on my door.

Maybe they did and I wasn’t home.

These days I crave adult conversation the way my pregnant self craved sleep.

My 401k misses me.

My laptop bag feels all empty inside.

My work wardrobe wonders where I went.

But my 2-year-old summed it up best yesterday, “Mommy, I missed you when I was sleeping.”

I am right where I need to be.

With no regrets.  And that is the ONE thing I wondered about the most 5 years ago.

Denise Holdin' Her Little Young'un


  1. What a terrific writer you are and I loved this post! Just lovely…

  2. Sarah says:

    That is the sweetest post:) Love it and you at 7 months pregnant is adorable. I looked like Jaba the hut by then:) even when it was just one!

  3. keren says:

    aw! I have a 2 yr old too! I got all teary eyed when i read what she told you!! Priceless!!

    So glad i found you through your Little Miss Momma comment!!!

  4. Christine says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. *sob*

    I thought I was the only one with Ugly Thursdays!

    Although this week started with Ugly Tuesday and ran into an Ugly Wednesday. I’m afraid of what tomorrow brings.

  5. Lovely Light says:

    Hi there- found you through the hop and am a new follower. Thanks for the perspective. We are thinking about starting a family soon (if we can afford it) and any advice helps! I have no one where we live that I can rely on, am an only child and my mother is in denial about being a grandma one day. I am also debating about finishing my PhD…lots of things to weigh. I hope you have time to follow my life in South Africa by

    I hope you have a great week!

  6. Brandi says:

    As another high tech girl who decided to continue on with a career after my twins came along it’s interesting to see the other side of the coin. When #3 (and maybe 4 too?) comes along I have been kicking around the idea of being a SAHM though I am not sure I am cut out for it. :) I remember the early days when I was home with my twins and come about 4:30 pm I would start getting all fidgety and praying for 5pm to come along beacuse I knew my husband would be home before too long and there would finally be someone other than me to listen to two screaming children – one with colic, both with reflux, and both determined to let me know LOUDLY and INSISTENLY when they weren’t getting what they wanted the SECOND they wanted it. But yet there was only one of me, and two of them. And before they came along I would have said I was the master of multitasking. :) How perspectives change…

  7. Very sweet post! You are right, it is a level of tired that can’t be explained :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. Maridith says:

    Beautifully written. All these thoughts I have thought but do not have the skill to put to paper. Have a great day as a SAHM!!

  9. Brooke says:

    What a sweet post. I was due with my first little one this past Wednesday, and have an induction scheduled for Monday. I’m really excited for this next phase in my life, and hopefully will be as prepared as you seemed to be!

  10. cindy says:

    My baby is 23 and I’m still a stay at home mom–all my kids are grown. But I know I did the right thing. I have 6 grown children that are wonderful, honorable citizens. They have jobs, they have children. There is nothing more fun than watching your kids be parents! Did I miss the workforce?? For a few years I had a part time job but I found the most important thing for ME was to just be home.
    Being home I could talk to my junior high daughter when she came home from school crying because there were ‘mean girls’.
    I organized an I Can Read program in our community
    I spent a week in NYC with my teen age daughter and ‘concert choir’
    I volunteered to give storytime at our local library
    I was room mother many times
    I was president of our churches children organization–200 children for 2 hours every sunday
    I supported my hubby as he was mayor of our community
    I supported my hubby as he was scoutmaster for many years
    I planned numerous meals for hungry scouts
    I stayed very busy doing what I loved with those I loved
    And I had Thursdays too!
    Hang in there, you are doing a wonderful thing!
    Sorry for the rant.

  11. Heather says:

    Amen, sister. But there isn’t anything better than being there for the whole experience. I have written some thoughts on motherhood as well and would love if you had time to check them out.

  12. I LOVE this post! I could not have said it better myself. I did the same thing 4 years ago… left my high-rise office to be a full time Mommy. :) I still wonder if I did the right thing, and sometimes question if I am still ‘relevant’. But as soon as I see the little one, that all passes…and ugly Thursdays get uglier. :)

  13. Mrs.B says:

    Love this post…I’m following, because I “get” this…all of it!
    & ’cause you know your kids are Young ‘uns! ;)

  14. This is a great post! I especially can relate to your ugly Thursdays. I think that is one of the most difficult parts of motherhood. I ‘knew’ it was 24/7 job, but I guess I didn’t really know what that was going to mean. There is no clocking out at 5 when you are a mom. And being a stay-at-home mom can make you feel very isolated.

Speak Your Mind