I had no idea when I gave birth to my first child as a naive 24 year old that moms were the toughest of humans. I never knew just how much I would be stretched to my limits emotionally and physically and that motherhood would reveal the strength I didn’t know I had. My husband went back to work one week later leaving me alone with a tiny human that I was certain was better off back at the hospital with the responsible people. There were the sleepless nights, the puke and poop, the hormones and the relentless voices in my head that told me that I wasn’t good enough. Being left home alone every day with the overwhelming task of keeping my son alive produced the longest days of my life. Every day I hung on by my fingernails until 5:30 pm came around. If my husband was two minutes late I absolutely lost my mind. I was alone, overwhelmed, lost, and so, so tired. At the time I thought my life would always be this hard. That I would never sleep through the night again, never have my body to myself, never go to the bathroom unaccompanied. And yet, I have learned, nothing lasts forever.
I learned that those early days of motherhood DO get better.
But life always brings challenges.
Life gives us forgotten lunches, cranky kids, lost sleep, lost patience and the five hundred millionth load of laundry. It also gives us job loss, miscarriages, best friends dying of cancer, children getting hospitalized, surgery, realizing your kid needs therapy, misunderstandings with coworkers and taking care of aging parents. Your kids that drove you crazy will move out of the house and you will sometimes miss them more than you thought you would. You will realize that those days of being up all night with an ear infection are simpler than the late night texts and phone calls. If you are alive long enough you will encounter days, weeks, months and maybe years of hard. But no matter what it is, nothing lasts forever.
Life is just hard sometimes. But we moms, we can take it. The question is, how do you find the strength to get through?
Anticipating hard things fill me with anxiety. They always have. But more and more I have realized that I can do it. In fact, I lower my self-worth if I believe that I can’t. When I look back I know that I have proven time and time again that when I need it, the strength is there.
I can handle a trip to the hospital with my daughter for another appointment that includes holding her down with my arms and legs for a blood draw. I can handle talking to my son’s teacher about an incident in the classroom (again). I can talk to a family member about how they have hurt me. I can get a mammogram even though it freaks me out because my mom was taken too soon with breast cancer. These are all hard for me. But, I am always, always much stronger than I think.
In this life I have learned that I cope best when I find time to include some self-care and acknowledge the hard things. I lean on my faith and then look for support, I go for a run with friends and/or practice yoga (and repeat). Sometimes I acknowledge and sit with those feelings of anxiety over what needs to be done. And then I take some deep breaths and do them.
Because I can do hard things and nothing (nothing) lasts forever.
I know that I am who I am BECAUSE of the hard things. And, the hard things in life are what make the simple joys and days that much sweeter.
So when hard things come, I do what I can. Since nothing lasts forever, I only have to carry on through the next breath. Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said, “There is a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
Let’s savor the present because no matter where we are in life, it will always change.