Whether you have been a mother for five minutes or fifty years, you have probably already discovered one of the great truths of motherhood :: it is flipping hard.
There is a paradox that exists in parenting. You live in the tension between the hard moments and the beautiful ones. Just when you think you cannot give any more, you wonder if you could possibly love these little people any more than you do. When you think you have no more ability to be touched, you just want to squeeze them. When you have no more energy to give of yourself, sometimes the love just bubbles up and over.
Most every day of parenting is a mix of the beautiful, the mundane, the challenging, the sacred, the disgusting, the joyful, and let’s be real – the exhausting. In most seasons, as we parent these little creatures that have been entrusted to us, we navigate these highs and lows on any given day, sometimes any given minute.
Sometimes, however, as moms we experience particularly challenging seasons. Seasons where the hard, the exhausting, the scary, and the weighty abound. Parenting seems to be heavy and without joy for stretches of times and life for one reason or another or twenty just feels harder.
A year ago, I was living out my own ridiculously difficult season. We had just brought home our newly adopted two year-old son from China. Overnight I became mom to four kids, ages 9, 6, 3, and 2. Two weeks after coming home, in a fog of jet lag and attachment struggles, we moved our family of six to a new house, away from our beloved neighbors and support system. Our 3 year-old was traumatized by the presence of a new little brother and by moving, and we all were traumatized by the force of her strong will and the acting out that followed. My husband was in the middle of navigating a new, toxic job situation. I was overwhelmed with my dad’s continual decline with dementia, grieving hard, and faced with helping make decisions about his care. I was exhausted, gaining weight, overwhelmed, struggling to control my temper, struggling to communicate, and struggling to make it through the day. I felt the weight of needing to show up for my people, but I was barely holding it together. I felt like I was drowning.
Friends, my story was not finished yet. And some of you need to know, neither is yours.
I wish I had an easy formula for how to navigate a hard season. I do not. The truth is, we put our heads down and do the next right thing. We keep walking forward when curling up in the fetal position seems like a much better option. We choose to stay engaged with the people we love. We choose therapy. We choose to pursue God. We choose to fight for our marriages. We choose to take steps towards being healthy.
And over time, our story line begins to change. Because although we cannot always change our circumstances, we can alter who we are as we walk through them.
These days I am breathing easier. As much as I would not want to go back and relive last summer or even the past year, I also would not take it away. If you would have asked me in the midst of all of that what I was learning, I’m not sure I could have told you anything.
But I do know that the next time a hard season comes, and it will, I can endure.