Mama, I know that this isn’t easy

This morning as I sat on the hard wooden pew at mass, my 18-month-old exhausted and half-sleeping, half-crying, her getting sweaty from flailing, me getting sweaty from the inevitable panic of being in a quiet place with a screaming child. I was trapped in the pew and in those thirty seconds or so of panic I knew I had to handle the situation—nurse her, deal with the crying/flailing, or get the heck out of there somehow.

I was able to get us quickly set up for her to nurse (whipping your breast out from a bra and nursing tank while discreetly shifting your top up to hook her onto your nipple all while your child is still flailing and you’re in a place where LITERALLY everyone else is quiet is… interesting) and she fell sound asleep.

But in moments like these, it’s hard not to think—this is hard.

All of this is really flipping hard.

In my moment of panic I knew I wanted to say something to you, to any other mom reading this. And that is: YOU are awesome, in every true sense of the word. In your day-to-day world, you impressively do the impossible. You calm the tears, you redirect the tantrums and you keep yourself level-headed when you aren’t able to do either. And on those days when you can’t keep yourself level-headed, you humble yourself and are able to apologize. You explain that we are human and we make mistakes, and we are still worthy of love.

To the mother at the park who’s child is freaking out because they don’t want to leave—I see you taking deep breaths and trying to keep your cool. I feel your desire to yell, “Why can’t you listen to me?” or “Please don’t do this right now!” but instead, try to stay patient and explain to them the reasons why you have to go. I know how lonely it can feel when you think all eyes are on you, watching you eventually pick up your screaming child to carry them to the car.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother trying to nurse her child at the table of a restaurant as they’re squirming and pushing the blanket away from them—I see you trying to not mind, trying to feed your baby and hope everyone else just minds their own business.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother trying to nurse her child but they just won’t latch and you feel like you’re failing because you can’t figure this out no matter how many lactation counselors you consult or how many nipple shields you try or how many bottles you pump. I see you mixing your first bottle of formula and I applaud your strength in doing what’s best for you and your baby.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother who just got a “You’re a bad mommy!” comment after turning the TV off or serving the “wrong” dinner or by simply asking your child to get ready for bed—I see the exhaustion in you and I know your feelings are hurt even though you know how much they love you. I know you feel tired and sad and frustrated and invisible.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother who can’t figure out what to do about work/life balance—whether that means figuring out if they should go back to work or stay home with their child, or maybe it means weighing the pros and cons of budgeting for childcare versus budgeting for not working full-time right now—you are feeling like you’re in a lose-lose situation. You feel like no matter what you choose, you’re letting someone down.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother doing this all on her own—your strength is astounding. I see you making all of the decisions for your family, trying to balance your career with your children, trying to give them all that you have while still leaving some for yourself, trying to make sure their every need is met—always selflessly putting them first.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother trying to find herself again underneath all of her motherhood wondering where her pre-mom self actually went. Is she gone forever? Is she invisible? Has she morphed into someone new, a still-unfamiliar version of herself? The woman who wonders how her identity will shift if she’s not working right now and worries if she will become irrelevant. To the pregnant woman wondering what this transformation will be like—after all the reading and research and classes—what it will actually feel like when her whole world is turned upside down. You are all navigating uncharted waters and you are handling that with beauty and grace.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother wondering when the last time she laughed, like really laughed—if you feel caught under the heaviness of worry and anxiety or like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders… or if you feel buried under the blanket of postpartum depression or are dealing with an all-consuming world of grief, navigating pain and loss among the everyday tasks and responsibilities of motherhood—I want you to know that you are brave and loved.

I know that this is hard.

To the mother deep in the trenches of parenting young children, trying to balance preschool drop off with your other children’s nap times… trying to workout to gain strength back and also be proud of your body for the gifts it has given you… trying to make time for yourself, your relationship, bonding with each of your children, your passions, your friendships, your work… trying to make a healthy dinner and then encourage everyone to eat it… trying to email that person back while singing the ABC’s while cleaning up while also teaching a lesson on kindness…

You’re in the weeds, mama. And I’m right there with you. And it’s a nice reminder to know that we are doing holy, worthy work with every lesson we teach and every choice we make on behalf of the well-being of our family.

I know that this is hard.

No matter what, this is NOT easy.

No matter whether we look like we have our shit together or not—there will be days when we will actually have our shit together and then many, many days when we feel like a total and complete mess because everything seems to be unraveling.

It’s hard because we’re being asked to do the impossible: wear 5,000 hats while juggling 5,000 balls. We’re going to take some of those hats off, and we’re going to drop some of those balls. And guess what? The world will continue to turn.

So don’t beat yourself up about the hats or the balls (😆), because quite simply—this is hard and you are awesome.

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