I’ve spent most of the last 6 years living in a proverbial hole.
I was welcomed into motherhood with a baby who screamed for most of his first year and didn’t sleep through the night until well after 1 year. Then I was chasing a toddler and pregnant, a whole new level of exhaustion. Then I had a newborn and a two-year-old, which at the time seemed like a breather. Then my youngest grew to a whole new level of toddlerdom that I had yet to experience. Then I went through cancer treatment with two small kids.
I spent my time just trying to get through the day – with no idea what was going on in the world beyond the walls of my house.
I had great mom friends to connect with at MOPS and church, but then I went back in my hole. My nap-time dictated, no one else knows how to pick up after themselves, there is someone touching me 24-7, exhausted hole.
I knew there were other moms in their holes alongside of me and sometimes we would pop our heads up long enough to say hello. But most of the time was with my head down, trying to make it through the immediate surroundings that completely enveloped me. Sometimes they still do.
It isn’t unhappiness. I love the small moments with my kids watching their personalities emerge. I treasure the opportunity to stay home with them.
It’s exhaustion on every level. Bone-aching, all-consuming exhaustion.
It is looking around at the end of the day after giving every ounce of yourself and seeing nothing on your to-do list done.
Birthing babies, nursing babies, changing diapers, and babywearing. Living life with one free hand while balancing someone on your hip, spending the night in the rocker during teething, wrestling into car seats. It is physically demanding all day, every day. It is emotionally exhausting having nothing left at the end of the day for your spouse or yourself.
But then, rays of warm sunshine begin to peek through.
As babies wean and start walking, as toddlers begin to listen and understand, as preschoolers self-regulate their personal needs, the hole becomes less deep.
And just like that, I felt like Kimmy Schmidt emerging from the ground holding my hands toward the sky and exclaiming, “There is a sun!”
I see my kids…actually see who they are. The energy consumed by the physicality of raising babies and toddlers is now invested in two-sided conversations, intentional activities, and quality time.
I see my husband…we spend time together almost every night, not just on pre-scheduled date nights.
I see myself…I have enough margin to do some things that fill me beyond motherhood, like writing and teaching and playing music. And that to-do list actually gets some checkmarks before it is added to.
But all of this is only possible because of the days spent underground. The nights of rocking; the months of carrying; the years of laying the foundations of discipline.
So underground mamas, I see you. You are doing a great job. On the days that seem isolating and exhausting, hang in there. Because here comes the sun.