Did you always imagine you would have kids? How many did you think you might have? How many did you end up with (names and ages)?

What was the biggest surprise about motherhood for you?

Looking back now, is there anything you would change about your parenting ways? (Or perhaps are working to change if you are still in the thick of it)?

What advice do you have for new moms/women anticipating motherhood?

Genevieve Trono and her boys.

Genevieve Trono, Writer
I always knew I wanted kids, but I didn’t have a specific time frame. I did think I would have only girls! We had two boys! Parker is 8 and a half, and Flynn is 6 and a half.

What a roller coaster ride of emotions one single day can have!

My kids are still young, but I try and soak in each stage of parenting because the saying might be overused but it is true…the days are long but the years are short. This isn’t always easy for me, especially when I was completely sleep-deprived when I had babies. I also wish I took more videos when my kids were little.

No one knows exactly what they are doing, and every stage of parenting is something new. Ask for help and find friends who let you vent and also lift you up. You don’t have to fit in a certain box to be a great parent. Often, “okay” is just fine!

Melissa O’Brien, Editor
I definitely planned to have kids. I don’t think I ever thought I would have three, though it is interesting that I ended up with the same configuration as my nuclear family: two sons and a daughter (I have two brothers and a sister). Sam is 23, Nate is 21 and Coco is 14.

Melissa O’Brien and her children.

I was shocked by how hard it was when the kids were babies. I had been babysitting forever and so I thought I was prepared. What a joke. I was not the least bit prepared for how young motherhood pushes you to the furthest edges of all of your faculties. And too, how it teaches you a whole new kind of love you never imagined you would feel.

I wish I didn’t wish away those hard early days. I would give anything now to have just one day when my kids were little.

Trust your own instincts. Throw out every book, don’t read anything on the www and don’t worry about what other parents are doing. Also, stop buying all that crap; kids do just fine with sticks and rocks. Stand back and give them lots of breathing room. Don’t stop them from climbing trees and jumping on trampolines and sitting on the roof. Leave them alone while they explore the world. Let them figure out for themselves where they end and the world begins. ER docs are terrific at what they do.

Katherine Arthaud

Katherine Arthaud, Writer
I didn’t imagine I would have kids in a specific way, though I think I assumed that I would not NOT have kids, if that makes any sense. I guess I figured that sometime, in the distant future, I would have kids (doesn’t everyone?), but I didn’t visualize it. And when I became pregnant VERY early in my (second) marriage, I was TOTALLY surprised. (I thought my new husband and I had some time…)

The first big surprise was that I was pregnant. Some of the women in my family have had fertility issues, and I guess I figured it would take more of an EFFORT to get pregnant. So becoming pregnant with my first child (Dylan) was a very, very big surprise. The second big surprise was that I was good with babies: my babies. I was always kind of scared of babies before I had my own. I thought they didn’t really like me. But my baby? He loved me. There was no questioning that. And then, so did the other two, as well. And the third surprise was how totally, wholly and completely—with all my heart, soul and mind—I loved, and continue to love, and will always love them. No words can really describe that love.

Yes. I would have restricted screens more. It would have been a nightmare, but I should have.

As a parent now (my kids are 21, 23 and 25), nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue.

You are the perfect mother for your child. Be the best you that you can be, but be you. And don’t be afraid to apologize to your child when you make a mistake. I think that is a really powerful thing to do.