It's Okay If All I Did Today Was Breathe

by Dana Del Real
Originally Published: 

This morning I wanted to throw the covers over my head and just curl up and feel sorry for myself. I had that urge to cry. It could have happened at any moment.

But then the alarm went off. I wanted to pretend I didn’t hear it. But I couldn’t. The girls had school, and the boys had to eat. So I did it. I took a deep breath, and I threw the covers off of me, and my feet hit the floor with determination and absolutely no grace. My body ached. I felt the stress and anxiety of life run through me like a lightning bolt. Shake it off, I told myself. Breathe.

I woke the girls up with a gentle tickle of their feet. I picked my babies up from out of their cribs, and I smiled at them and breathed in that hypnotizing baby smell. I hugged my 3-year-old tightly and smothered his cheeks with kisses. I think I was a good mom today. I didn’t let them see the pain. But I still felt like crying, and I have to admit, I did. I sneaked off to my bedroom during the boys’ nap time, and I cried.

I cried because I have sick parents, and I can’t do anything about it. My dad’s Alzheimer’s is only getting worse. My mom can barely walk, and she wants so badly to pick up her grandkids and just play with them, but her body won’t let her. I look at them, and I still see these strong people who raised me. They hid whatever pain they had. They made me and my sister their life, but time doesn’t care about that. It’s a heartless bastard. It steals moments. My heart breaks every day because of this. My depression may or may not have consumed me today. But I hid it. I think I did a good job.

I cried because I felt like I was failing my kids somehow. The mother’s guilt—oh, that evil mother’s guilt—eats me alive and paralyzes me. Are they happy? I know they are. So what is wrong with me? I should know by now I am very delusional when it comes to stuff like this. I am so hard on myself. But I still cried.

I cried because I felt like a loser, a big fat nothing. I gave up so many of my dreams and so much of myself that I forgot what it is like to feel like me. My kids won’t have anything to be proud of when they think of me. I’m just Mom. Big deal. Then I cried because I think of the day when they won’t need me anymore. What will I do with myself? You know, because I am a loser, after all.

I cried because I feel like if I share this with anyone, it will look like I am resentful of, or not grateful for, my children. But I wouldn’t give up any of it! If I had to go back in time, I would do it all over again, and again and again.

My ADD runs rampant, and all of these thoughts can consume me on any given day, spiraling out of control. My brain feels like a balloon about to pop.

I know my heart weeps because this mother gig is overwhelmingly hard. It’s hard enough as it is without the sadness I feel from outside sources and things I have no control over. But none of it is their problem, and they don’t ever need to feel anything but the love.

But the love I feel, it sometimes hurts. I don’t know how it is possible to love them they way I do. They are amazing. These little humans of mine, they are just incredible. Don’t get me wrong; I have those seemingly never-ending days—particularly when no one wants to listen, and everyone’s goal is to irritate me to no end, and I scream, “Go to bed!” or “Stop talking!” over and over and over again. But then hours later, when it’s quiet, I walk into their rooms, and I watch them dream, and I watch them breathe. I study their little faces. They look so beautiful and so damn peaceful. “I’m sorry I yelled,” I whisper. Will they be sad tomorrow because the day was so long, and I just wanted to be with my own thoughts and I yelled at them?


They will wake up, smile at me and love me. Because even though it may not be a big deal, I’m Mommy. They love me despite all of my imperfections and delusions. I think they adore me even though my brain turns to mush more often than I would like to admit. The innocence is what keeps me going. I want to protect them from the ugliness that the world can sometimes deliver. I want them to be happy, so I have to be happy. That’s kind of how it works, right?

I feel like I am being pulled in both directions. I am stuck in the middle: the old and the young, needing me, wanting me. And I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and not enough of me to go around. But I’m thankful, because I am trusted. I am needed. I am wanted. My tears taste bittersweet as they roll down my cheeks.

So today was a pretty good day. Yeah, I cried. But through the tears, I breathed. Through the anxiety, I breathed. With every hug, every “I love you” or “Leave me alone!” I breathed.

And you know what? It’s okay if all I did today was breathe.

Dana Del Real

The Scary Mommy Community is mourning the sudden loss of Dana Del Real. She leaves behind her husband Eric, and their five children Scarlett, Sabrina, Sebastian, Simon, and Silas. A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family during this time.

This article was originally published on