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Jen Fike

Oh Karen I can totally relate! Why can parenthood be so rewarding yet make you feel so guilty and unworthy at the same time. I can wake up with the best of intentions and then those little things like refrigerator oatmeal get me too. I need to start reminding myself that I am doing the best I can, and to be more thankful as well.

Julie Pilch

Oh Karen this post could not have come at a more appropriate time! I really wish I lived in the US so we could become friends! Hope that didn't sound creepy?! My 3 delightful daughters have half term holiday this week and I spent yesterday ranting at them that they don't appreciate anything and all the effort I go to and then felt really guilty for being such a misery on their week off. I then got stressed and upset as they all woke up super early this morning and decided to start arguing from the crack of dawn. I, too, wake up every morning feeling like "today will be a great day" and usually end up at 8am feeling like a bad mum as i've moaned that after 9 years they still don't brush their teeth without reminding or get their book bags ready.

We all feel like this I'm sure at one point or another and I can't tell you how grateful I am that you are brave enough to put it out there. Parenting is THE hardest job and we all do what we can to muddle along. Hang in there, you aren't alone, you are doing a fantastic job being a great mum!


This is why I love your blog- for your honesty. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only one : )


hugs. you're a good momma.


A mother's place is in the wrong- that's what I always feel even though my one and only is nearly 39.! Just keep on doing what you do really well, it seems to me-be their Mum in the best way you know and fill their lives with love. Everything else is small stuff-don't sweat it. Hugs.

Nicky from Okotoks

Remember it's all good Karen - fight the battles that are worth fighting - and count your blessings each and every day.
They all grow up way too quickly - and all that hard work will pay off when you see them all finding their way and leaning on you when they must!!
Life is good

Andrea :)

What a timely post… it was just what I needed to read today. Hugs to you! :)


this is one of the many reasons i just love you

Deanna Misner

Love the line about parenting their hearts and not just their outward behavior. This whole post goes right along with a Bible study I'm doing right now called Idol Addiction. In it the author is encouraging us to remember that our righteousness is not found in our parenting skills, not found in our kids behavior (good or bad), not found in what others think of us or their approval of us, but that our righteousness is found in Christ alone. Thank you for sharing what we all, as moms, sometimes experience. Thank you for your honesty, for keeping it real. I want to encourage you too that your righteousness is found in Christ alone. :)


Amen! I think with the morning positivity, we Moms also need to forgive ourselves. We are one person!

My own Marmee has told me, "Don't be so concerned with raising a good child, that you forget you have one." So true!

You are fantastic! Love reading anything you feel like posting. :) Sending hugs!

Anna from RI

OMG Karen! I smiled reading this because it's SO true. My sister and I survived not-so-perfect parenting… and so will my boys. THANK YOU!! The line, "more concerned with their hearts than their outward behavior" struck a cord. I'm going to give my guys the biggest gosh darn hug and sloppy kiss I can possibly give. Your honesty is awesome and reminds us Moms that we're just as human as our kids. Hugs!

P.S. Totally off topic… thanks for the last lens response during Low Light Forum. I was hoping you'd say that… he, he, he


Great post!

I can't get the recipe to come up
BUT I fix my oatmeal with Apple Juice.
However much liquid you need use 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 water.
Then I add walnuts, cinnamon, and honey


Don't worry we all feel like that sometimes. We try and give our kids a great childhood and sometimes they can seem so ungrateful that it makes our efforts seem pointless. We've all been there done that. I spent hours yesterday making a muesli slice that James wanted so I text the mum to get the recipe the night before. Went to the bulk food store to buy the goods and then came home and spent 2.3hrs making the muesli (I suppose like your granola) before I could use 4 cups of that in the slice and then made the slice. Also made rosemary and sea salt pitta chips as the oven was on. I basically spent all day making it and the kids loved it but I'm sure James asked me if I had done something he had wanted and I said "I've just spent the whole day in the kitchen, so say thank you Mummy. I can't even remembered what he asked for but I know I indicated that we should just stay in the present moment and be grateful that I had gone to so much trouble making a muesli slice that he wants. I do love how you and Ross have such a great relationship and also he is not afraid to say that he loves you and/or spending time with you. He could easily feel that and not want to share it as it could be seen as uncool however he is happy to say it out loud which I know you appreciate. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane Australia

nicole prather

it is the hardest job my father in law always tells me there is no handbook. isn't that the truth.
but in the end all that really matters to me what that I taught my kids that love wasn't just a word it was an action. as by the looks of it your actions speak volumes. xo.


Thanks for the honesty Karen! My therapy for today :)) and Ross is looking some gorgeous in these photos!! - what a sweet young man you've raised!

Carol Shrader

Amen. Thank you for being you, for being real, and for encouraging me like crazy!


And in 20 years you will look back and you won't remember how tough the days will just remember how fast they went. You wouldn't be you, or real if you didn't feel frustrated, upset, and sometimes nuts! You are in the middle of the forest...and you can't see all the beauty until there is a bit of distance....and that will come all too soon. And from the distance, I have to say that Ross is so handsome, and so loving to his mom...and that is what really matters. You are doing a fantastic job! I used to make refrigerator bran muffins.....and my kids didn't really like them too much either. Oh we DO try, don't we??


You did a great job with Ross, as you can see via Facebook! I'm sure you may have more money and less mac and cheese now, but you probably still have the same way of parenting and loving those kids. They will be fine, they may even come to realize they need that oatmeal for running across Mexico (that must be my problem, I don't eat oatmeal, unless it's in cookies, or fruit crisp.) One day, they will laugh at that oatmeal.
And I've met a few kids in my time, and yours were by far the most polite, adorable ones yet, even if you paid them to be nice to us, you could tell it wasn't fake.


I LOOOOVE this post!!! Can SO TOTALLY relate!! And loved the...(but one day, they'll have me to thank when they're running like a Tarahumara.)LOL!! You rock Karen!

Ingrid from the Netherlands

Just what I needed today! A warm thank you from Europe.


You are not alone! Right there with you Karen. I appreciate you so very much for your openness and honesty. And Ross's facebook status makes my heart sing with happiness!


I so needed to read this today! Your honesty makes us all feel not quite alone in this job of parenting!!! Thank you for that!

Jennifer S

Karen! This sounds JUST like my house!!!! You are 100% correct. Its just refigerator oatmeal....the rest is so much more important to remember! Hope you have a lovely day today and lots of fun on halloween!


No words, just thank you for this and for reminding me that I'm not the only one struggling with this.

Sara M

Ditto what everyone else said. As I read it I kept saying to myself, "yep, this is my life." Good reminder that we all have struggles and as hard as we try our kids don't always appreciate it.
At least they know they are loved and love us back. :)


Karen....thanks for that reminder this morning! This is a constant struggle for me, too. I know you don't believe me, but, it's totally true. Parenting well is definitely not for sissies!! You're doing great....the important thing, I'm thinking is to stop and breathe every now and then and remember that most of "it" is really just Refrigerator Oatmeal. It's so nice to realize that this same struggle happens behind 90% of the closed doors in America and other places around the world....the trick is just to never give up. You won't give already see that there is too much value in parenting and teaching your kids from the go girl! We all have these kinds of days, or weeks, and even're doing great. And, I totally love your mother, but you do not need a bigger wooden spoon. :-)

christine weeks

Yay you!!! keep up the good work. You are a great parent. :)

Stephanie P

You're AWESOME! Thank you for this :)

Michelle (aka mybelle101)

Thank you! It's always a good reminder that parenting is hard, I'm not the only one struggling with it, there are bigger problems than picky eaters and the toothpaste ALL OVER the bathroom (seriously, how??), AND to know that others are trying hard to raise amazing kids (and your kids are pretty amazing). Praying you have a great day! Thanks for being 'real' about your life, and for being a blessing to me :)

Sandy Horton

My daughter was pretty smart when her kids were school age. She never really had to fight to get her kids out of bed in the morning. HER SECRET: Prepared cookie dough! Cookies were loaded into the oven about 10 minutes prior to getting the kids up!! The cookies went into their lunch bags. I'm sure that other mom's at school hated her for fresh baked cookies in the lunch bag everyday, but her kids got up happy!!


I'm right there with you, as so many of us are! I used to read parenting books and haven't done so in a long time because of all those things we're doing that you mentioned in your post. By 10 and 11 at night, where's the time or motivation to settle into a book about how our children are behaving and what they need from us? That said, I know you like the Love and Logic style. I do too. I went to a series of parenting classes at a local church several years ago that I really enjoyed and got a lot out of. is the organization's website. The founders have written several books, some of which I need to read again (or finish reading....). Good and Angry is one and Parenting is Heart Work is another that I bought. Your statement about being concerned with their heart reminded me of them. The books are on Amazon too. Parenting is such hard work because of the "heart work". I hope reading all your reader comments helps you feel at least a little bit better - so many of us go through this exact thing every day. And some of us don't have the older child to help remind us that maybe we are doing a fine job and it will all turn out okay in the "end".


If you get a chance watch this video: It is true that our kids see us at our best, while we see ourselves at our worst..It made me cry like a baby. I have no answers and I feel like you do some days..I have a 10 yr, 9 yr, almost 7, and 2.5 yr old. The 10 yr old and the almost 7 yr old have medical issues and learning difficulties. A lot of days, I don't think I'll ever see the light of day and go to bed too tired to cry myself to sleep though most of the day I walk around crying on the inside but many people say I have no idea that they have such struggles because I make sure they are treated like they everyone else. They have similar expectations and responsibilities. All I know is that being their mom is ALL I've ever wanted and I wouldn't want it any other way. I feel so humbled that God entrusted me with 4 of the most precious souls on this earth. Hoping tomorrow morning turns out great!

Juli P

one of the funniest things heard at the dentist office was when my nephews dentist told him to "Stand a little bit closer to the toothbrush..." for some reason, that struck me as funny. It was his way of telling him to do a better job brushing.

my kids do the exact thing, fight about everything, argue about everything, complain about everything....but in the end, I know that they are good kids that generally eat healthy and are willing to try new things, have good, caring hearts and know the difference between right and wrong. That's good enough for me.

Sue C

I just love this post too, and loved everyone's comments about it. it is so true and reading it just helps me so do have great kids and I do too, i just don't see it that way every day.

Lisa Gibson

Wowzer! Your little first born is growing into a great big hunk! And, good for you to put a little perspective back into the everyday. Remember happy, healthy, and loved is all we need to be ...

Ashley S.

I needed to read this. I came to your blog tonight feeling a little defeated as a mom myself. I've had a long day (still going) and needed a little break. I thought, "Karen Russell is a great parent - someone I look up to. I should pull up her blog." I haven't been here in a while, due to being busy and exhausted parenting two little boys (3 1/2 and 10 months) and since Google Reader was canceled. But I'm glad I stopped by. Thanks for the reminder on perspective and gratitude in parenting. I'm so grateful for my little ones, despite feeling exhausted constantly. Thank you for being a person I can look up to. :)


I tried refrigerator oatmeal and it bombed here, too. Its not you, I just don't think it's that tasty. And we also LOVE cottage cheese pancakes, although I cheat and use pancake mix on school days. We like ours with jam. Love you, Karen!

Michelle B

Oh Karen Russell - I feel you. I think you are an awesome mom.

kristina p

thank you for sharing YOU on your blog. makes me feel better that i sometimes suck at being a mother. i admire your family Karen and i admire you. God bless your heart.

christi in ma

I love overnight oatmeal. But I add a little more milk in the morning and pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes. I don't eat it cold. (Blech.) A little pumpkin puree makes it even yummier. I like this recipe.

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