'The Hardest Thing I Had to Do as a Mom': 12 Women Share How the Tough Stuff Paid Off

Wendy Robinson | Apr 27, 2016 Being a Mom

mom and childBeing a mother requires all kinds of acts of everyday strength. We clean up bodily fluids, tend to hurt feelings, break up sibling fights, and try to raise kids to be kind and thoughtful. But sometimes mothers are called on to make incredibly hard decisions that require extraordinary strength.

We talked to 12 women who were willing to get real and share their stories. The difficult choices they made were for the better of their families. Read this and you'll be reminded once again that there is nothing as strong as a mother's love.


Image via iStock.com/IS_ImageSource

  • I Quit My Job to Homeschool


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    "I've always loved my job working in corporate HR. I always planned to be a working mom and that was my life until my second son turned 8. Alex has some learning challenges and was really struggling in school. His school just wasn't doing a great job of supporting him academically and socially and I felt like I was watching his light turn out.

    He started getting to the point where he was so anxious about school that he was throwing up every morning before bus time. My husband and I decided to look for other options for him and we ended up deciding to homeschool him. And we decided that I would do it!

    I quit my job six months ago and am finding my footing as a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher. I'll be honest, I miss work. A lot. But I am seeing my son make amazing gains in confidence and reading skills, so it is worth it." -- B.J.

  • I Stopped Taking Big Risks


    iStock.com/ PeopleImages

    "I was -- am -- an adrenaline junkie. I love rock climbing, BASE jumping, anything that tests my mental and physical limits. Climbing Mt. Everest was my life dream. But after I read a story about a woman who died BASE jumping when she was four months pregnant, I felt that I need to choose to not take unnecessary risks while my kids are little. I owe them a shot at having a mom around, so no Everest until they are adults. I have opted to stop free-climbing as well.

    I kind of miss that side of myself, but I feel you have to make choices as a parent that sometimes mean less fun for you." -- R.E.

  • I Gave Up My Dream of a Big Family


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    "I always thought I'd have a big family. I'm one of six kids and I loved growing up like that. My husband and I assumed we'd have at least four kids. But our first child was born with profound special needs and requires around-the-clock care. We love her with every bit of ourselves, but we feel like we can't handle the cost and responsibilities of more children while meeting her needs. I've had to mourn my dream of a different, larger, family. But she is our light and love." -- A.A.

    More from The Stir: 10 Inspirational Life Tips From Moms of Kids With Special Needs

  • I Stuck With Grad School


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    "Being a mom is the reason I have my PhD. It took me over seven years to finish and was hard and frustrating work. There were times I was close to quitting, but then I would think about what I was teaching my daughter. Being her mom and wanting her to see me set and meet goals was why I decided to better myself through school.

    It was amazing knowing she was watching me in the audience at graduation." -- J.S.

  • I Stopped Drinking


    iStock.com/ RoBeDeRo

    "I don't think I was an alcoholic, but I think I was drinking more than I probably should have been. So, when my daughter, who is 5, started to ask me if I needed 'mama juice' every time I started seeming frustrated or sad -- well, it was a gut check.

    I decided to quit drinking wine at home. I'll still enjoy a glass if I go out to eat, but I didn't think I was being a good role model in some ways. And I didn't want her to grow up thinking that wine is a balm for all problems.

    I won't lie; I miss a nice glass after a bad day of work, but I think I'm more present and engaged without it." -- E.T.L.

  • I Got Serious About My Health


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    "One night my son, who was 7 at the time, told me that he felt worried sometimes that I was not healthy. After some pressing, he told me it was because of my weight.

    Now, that hurt. But after babies and the busyness of life and not taking care of myself, I was over 200 pounds. So, the hardest thing I've had to do as a mom was starting to take care of myself. I didn't want my son to have to worry about losing me and I wanted to be able to be more active with him.

    I started putting myself first and carved out time to go to the gym and to start doing other smaller things to get healthier. I've lost 50 pounds now and am feeling like a better and more engaged mom. But I still have to work sometimes not to feel guilty for taking time away from the kids to go for a long run or to go to the health food store for better grocery choices." -- A.P.

  • I Gave My Marriage a Second Chance


    iStock.com/ Eva Katalin Kondoros

    "My kids are why I am still married today.

    We were pretty close to calling it quits and in a lot of ways I was ready to be DONE working so hard at my relationship. But my husband was and is a great dad and we work well as a parenting team. When I really started thinking about moving out and having the kids have to split time between us, I couldn't do it. They deserve to have both parents in their lives on a daily basis.

    Once I made that choice, I felt a renewed drive to work on our issues. We went to counseling and are in a better place now than we were a few years ago. I'm glad we stuck it out." -- L.D.

  • I Chose to Get a Divorce


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    "I was married for seven years before my son was born. Our marriage had been rocky but I was really fighting for it because I grew up believing that marriage is forever and divorce is a sin. I never meant to bring a baby into our lives until we were in a better, more stable place, but I got pregnant by accident.

    When my son was born, I was in love, but my husband was fairly cold and indifferent to him. I thought they just needed time to bond, but then one day I went to the doctor by myself and came home to find my son hungry, wet, and wailing. My husband was watching TV. In that moment I knew I had to leave. My son deserves a better life than living with someone with a bad temper and the ability to ignore a hungry infant.

    Now I'm a single mom and it is hard, but my son and I are a good team." - I.L.

  • I Cut My Parents Out of My Life


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    "I'm the mother of a beautiful biracial daughter. She is my number one priority. She is also the reason I'm not currently in a relationship with my grandmother and father.

    Although they claimed to love her, it didn't stop them from making racist comments, especially on Facebook. After they both posted a horrific meme about a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, I lost it. We had a huge fight and I decided to cut them out of my life. I am not going to expose my daughter to people who think of her as less than in any way.

    I'm not sure if reconciliation is possible. I'm not sure I want it, at least right now. But I feel like my soul is right because of this choice." -- R.W.

    More from The Stir: 20 Things Never to Say to Parents of Multiracial Kids

  • I Spend All My Extra Money on Private School


    iStock.com/ IS_ImageSource

    "I had kids and now I am broke. The End.

    That is the short version. The long version is that after a lot of careful consideration, my husband and I have basically spent our life savings and agreed to live paycheck to paycheck to be able to afford to send all three of our kids to private school. We just felt that was the best place for them in terms of academics and values, but it is hard living on such a tight budget. Literally my entire salary goes to covering the cost of school and activities." -- H.D.

  • I Put Myself Second


    iStock.com/ Pilin_Petunyia

    "I kind of feel like being a mom in general is a series of doing hard things. When I decided to have a kid as a single woman at 42, I knew I would have to give up a lot: travel, freedom, independence. I used to be the kind of person who would hop on a plane at a moment's notice or quit a job to go have an adventure.

    I think deciding to become a mom was the hardest thing I had to do. I miss aspects of my old life but I love, love, love this kid I have now." -- T.Y.

  • I Quit Breastfeeding


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    "I'm a doula and a lactation consultant. With my first kid, I had an at-home water birth and then happily breastfed for almost two years. My second child was born by emergency C-section. Even though I didn't get the birth I wanted, I assumed we'd have the same nice, long nursing relationship I had with my first.

    But this kid is a totally different kid. Breastfeeding was a total struggle from day one, which was extra frustrating for me since I literally teach people about breastfeeding all the time. He was tongue-tied and our nursing attempts resulted in tears on both sides.

    The hardest thing I had to do was to quit. Breastfeeding was SUCH a part of my identity but it was making both of us miserable and I couldn't do it. The second hardest thing I had to do was be open about it. I was so worried about judgment. But thankfully most people were supportive and kind. I had to quit something I wanted so badly to do, but I was a better and happier mom after." -- J.I.

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