What This Sleep-Deprived Mom's Selfie Says About Parenting

"I want people to know that this is what motherhood looks like."

Countless scientific studies, books and health movements tout the importance of getting a good amount of sleep each night, but parents of young children know it can be easier said than done.

On Monday, mom, writer and lactation consultant Wendy Wisner shared a striking selfie and caption on Facebook to discuss the sleepy reality of parenting.

"Sleep deprivation. It's real. It sucks. It causes deep bags under your eyes, dents between your eyebrows, headaches, short patience, stress, sadness," she wrote.

"And yet, it's part of parenting. It's the stuff of parenting, actually," she continued. "It's staying up with a snotty, feverish toddler. It's your baby nursing all night, cuddling into you, remembering again what it was like inside you, safe and warm. It's your school age child coming into bed with you because of a nightmare, taking your hand, and falling back asleep."

Wisner, who has 3-year-old and 9-year-old sons, added that she's all for setting "nighttime boundaries" in certain situations. "But sometimes kids just need YOU," she wrote. "It's exhausting, terribly so, but there's a sweetness to the suffering. There is the knowledge that there is no one on earth who can do this exact thing for your kids -- that they need you this much and you are there, awake, present, loving them, keeping them safe."

Wisner's post received a "wonderful, overwhelming" response, with lots of moms sharing their own "sleepy selfies" in the comments section and thanking her for making them feel less alone. As a lactation consultant who works with new moms on a regular basis, Wisner said that's the effect she wanted.

"I know how important it is for the struggles of motherhood to be spoken for what they are," she told The Huffington Post. "Mothers need to know they are not alone: it’s how they get through their hardest days."

Referring to the selfie photo, she added, "I want people to know that this is what motherhood looks like. It’s no make-up, hair tied back in a messy bun, wrinkles, bags under eyes. But it’s real, and it’s among the most beautiful and authentic work that humans can do."

Here's to all the exhausted parents out there!

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