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For The Mom Just Hanging On

We don't have to win at motherhood. We just have to show up.
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We don't have to win at motherhood. We just have to show up.

I'm sitting here today, nearly delirious after a few weeks of single parenting, sleep deprivation toddler torture, packing up a house and binge eating tortilla chips and I'm writing words down to remind myself of a powerful truth:

We don't have to win at motherhood. We just have to show up.

A few weeks after my first daughter was born, one of my good friends looked straight through the bleary-blustery-new-mom-bravado and said firmly, "You will feel like yourself again. It doesn't feel like it now, but you will."

Through the tidal wave identity shift we call motherhood, I clung to that lifeline of a statement until I came to terms with mom life. I accepted it, then, instead of accepting it, I embraced it. I even birthed another little person and both of them are thriving, demanding tiny humans. I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and I love these girls. I can't imagine doing life without them. I am so so thankful for them.

But this year, with a toddler wearing down my boundaries, a newly-one-year-old scoffing at sleep books and any and all weaning attempts and a heart recovering from the trauma, guilt and aftermath of postpartum anxiety and a high-stress career year for my husband, I'm bone tired. I'm pudgy. I'm discouraged. And my confidence, parenting and otherwise, is at an all-time low.

A little voice inside me keeps whispering, "This isn't FUN. You're not fun. You're not doing it right. You're not good at this. You're not cut out for this gig."

I'm not a very fun mom lately. There have been less adventures and dance parties and more setting the toddler outside with a bucket of googly eyes and glitter in exchange for ten minutes of silence. More peanut butter and jelly than lunch has ever seen and when the kids don't nap, the desperation escalating would make you think it's a hostage situation instead of 3:00 p.m. on a Tuesday.

And the voice says, "You're failing."

And I believe it.

It plays in my head and is proven throughout my day. In the tantrums and the teething, the fevers and the feeding, I believe it. In the isolation of being home alone, deafened by the static feedback of social media, the value of this role dissipates. My personality seems to seep away, somewhere between the diapers and the snacks and the laundry and the meltdowns.

And my world feels very small and I feel very alone.<

In my experience so far, adulting and parenting are a lot like faith; sometimes they require clinging to truth in the moments when I don't FEEL it's true.

We don't have to win at motherhood. We just have to show up.

I forget that it's not about winning at motherhood because I'm not holding the race route at all.

The kids finally settle and in the brief lull of evening silence, I hear another voice saying "Peace, be still." and the whipping winds of anxiety quiet to a cool slow breeze.

I remember that this motherhood business is not about failing at all. It's not about what I get done. It's not about the balance of duties or the job labels. It's mostly not about ME at all.

It's about waking up every morning with my hands open to the Father of all good gifts who calls me His child. It's showing up with all my weakness and watch Him gently retrieve my value from the sticky grip of my 3-year-old. It's about walking in the truth of who I am in Him and handing the days where I am not enough to the One who says, "I AM."

We just have to show up. To show up and claim the promise that He is strong when we are weak. To claim it when we can't see it, can't feel it and can barely believe it. To show up until you feel like showing up again. Whether that means reaching out and asking for help from the people around you or looking at the next hour of patience as a victory or going to the doctor or counsellor and getting the right diagnosis and assistance, show up. Your kids don't need a superhero, they need a mom who shows up.

So if you're reading this and you're nodding, Mama, I see you. I see the fear that you are failing and the exhaustion and the difficulty in things that shouldn't seem hard. I'm looking you straight in your tired puffy eyes and I need you to hear this truth: "You will feel like yourself again. It doesn't feel like it now, but you will."

And until then, grab my hand and we'll keep showing up.

This post originally appeared on Grumbling Grace.

Bio: Even after teaching high school French and English for the last six years, Abbie still decided to have her own kids. A self-professed mombie of two littles under two, she locks herself in the bathroom to therapeutically journal about family, fails and faith from Saskatoon, Canada. Follow along or offer professional help at her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of Postpartum depression and/or anxiety, please reach out to your doctor.