I just want to breathe.
Right this very moment, my toddler is screaming from her crib and my middle child is playing with a roll of duct tape behind me, making that “riiiiiiip” sound over and over.
It’s nap time, obviously.
I need to breathe.
I have spent months struggling to find my breath. I have felt the actual sensation of my spirit sinking as I slogged through the hard parts of mothering, digging deep for just one more day of a little more patience and a little more strength. Just enough to get me through the day, because I’m not greedy, and also because I can’t allow myself to think too far beyond whatever is happening right in front of me.
I am weary, turned inside-out, and emotionally rubbed raw. I have found myself asking aloud, when does it end? Because surely, somewhere down the road, I will have a chance to regroup before the teenage years hit. Right? Surely it doesn’t stay this exact brand of demanding forever.
And then, clarity hit. That’s what always happens—months of painful slogging, followed by an epiphany. If my life were to have a working title, it would be “I Had Another Epiphany and Everyone Eye-Rolled.”
I was cleaning up my daughter after another accident when it struck me that the opportunity to care for others is a sacred thing. Cleaning them, feeding them, looking after them.
The quieting of their cries at the sound of your voice. The endless smiles. The begging for you to sing at bedtime, when you are exhausted and want nothing more than to dump them in their beds and lock yourself in a room alone to stare in silence. But watching those little bodies relax as you acquiesce and sing “Silent Night” for the thousandth time, only to walk to the next bedroom and do it all over again with the next one…THAT is a sacred experience.
That is what keeps me going.
Being a parent is hard. It’s so much work, but it is holy work, regardless of what your beliefs may be. Guiding children to adulthood is by far the biggest and most serious responsibility I have taken on in my life. I’ve had people say I must be a sad person if being a mom was the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
It is by far the greatest thing I have ever done, and if I can somehow manage to shepherd these kids into adulthood as functioning, mannerly, positive contributors to society, then it will be the greatest thing I WILL EVER DO.
My exhaustion is worth something. Yours is too.
That’s all I need to know today.