Hi there, Mama.
You may not know me, but I know you. I’ve walked in your shoes (slowly of course, so my toddler’s little legs could keep up). I’ve worn your baby carrier, feeling the weight of my growing child cutting into my hips and shoulders. I’ve driven your car, loaded with clunky car seats, strollers, toys, diaper bags, sippy cups and strewn Cheerios. I’ve slept in your bed, waking up multiple times a night to nurse, to soothe, to chase away bad dreams, or to simply confirm my motherly presence in the world.
I’ve been there in the heaven and hell of your love.
That love—Oh Lord, that love. Sometimes it’s too much, isn’t it? The love and the worry it drags along with it. The love and the frustration it drags along with it. The love and the exhaustion it drags along with it. Love is loaded, Mama. It’s heavy and all-consuming and awesome and frightening. It’s delightful and life-affirming and blessed and holy. A mother’s love is not easy, not in the beginning, not in the middle, not ever. It’s a huge treasure chest, loaded with riches and gems, valuable beyond measure. But it’s not light, and it’s not easy. You can’t have that love without the weight. The two are inseparable.
But these early years, Mama—they will make you so strong. And the strength you gain now will help you carry that love across landscapes you can’t possibly anticipate. That love is big and heavy, but trust me when I tell you you will hoist it over your shoulders and carry it over mountains. You will swim through turbulent seas with it chained to your heart. It will pull and push you places you didn’t even know existed. Breathtaking places, magical places, terrifying places. These years are preparing you, conditioning you, building your strength and endurance to carry that love through anything, always.
I know it’s hard sometimes. Maybe a lot of the time. I also know it’s indescribably beautiful a lot of the time. I may not know everything, but I can promise you that all of motherhood will be that way. Up and down. Light and dark. Joy and despair. Smooth sailing and raging storms. And always—always—carrying that love. That heavy, exquisite vessel filled with beauty and joy and hope and trembling. It doesn’t get lighter, but you’ll get stronger, I promise.
I know it’s hard now, but don’t wish for another time, don’t yearn for another season, don’t imagine that there will be a time when this love doesn’t challenge you. I won’t tell you to enjoy these days because they go by quickly, but I want you to know that when these moments, days, or weeks feel heavy—that’s love conditioning you to keep carrying it. It’s hard. So very hard. But your strength and capacity are so much greater than you know. Motherhood will show you that eventually, if it hasn’t already. The hard is a blessing.
And the joy—thank God for the joy. Joy is the best parenting tool if you use it right. Grab onto each joyful moment as it happens and hold it until it soaks into your soul. You won’t find it in every moment of motherhood, but focus fully on the moments that you do. Joyful moments are straps and pulleys and levers and wheels that will make carrying that love so much easier.
And each other—Oh, Mama, please find other mothers who know about carrying that love, too. Talk with one another about the way it feels, about the beautiful things inside it, about the burden of carrying it. It’s okay to acknowledge the beauty and the difficulty in equal measure. It’s not supposed to be easy. But we can help one another by sharing our joys, reminding one another of our strength, and by saying, “Yes, Sister. I know. It’s hard.” On days when our own love is sliding effortlessly down a slope, we can offer some of our strength to a mom who is struggling to push hers up a mountainside. We need each other, Mama. All of us.
I have so many big feelings when I think about my early days of motherhood. Those little ones are so pure, their future so unlimited, that love for them so full of wonder and worry. I remember feeling sometimes like it was too heavy for me to handle, that love. I still feel it sometimes, despite years and years of conditioning. But that love and I have been through a lot together. It has made me strong. It’s still making me stronger, every day.
And it will keep making you stronger, too. I promise.
Carry on, Mama.