It’s official. I am “in it.”
The stage of motherhood where breathing is secondary to making meals, changing diapers, giving baths, buckling car seats, lugging diaper bags, washing pee off the walls, soothing 3am-wakers, taking one minute showers, carrying kickers and screamers to nap time, unburying myself from the peed-and-pooped-on laundry pile and running a business from home … while weaving in time to foster my marriage and execute self care.
Let me be clear.
Being “in it” is not a disease and I am not a victim. I am blessed with three healthy, beautiful babies and it is the privilege of my life to be their mom.
It is also one of my greatest challenges, and I refuse to not admit that.
Finding the balance of enjoying each second of this fleeting stage with my children, and somehow maintaining a sense of who I am outside of my role as the matriarch of our household is a daily battle.
Being “in it” has changed me. It has altered my lifestyle and has certainly made me less available than I used to be to the people around me.
It’s harder for me to meet for coffee. If I DO get together… it’s sometimes difficult for me to push past the exhaustion and frustration and have a normal conversation. A phone chat without interruptions is next to impossible. My text message response time is awful. I don’t call as often. I forget birthdays. I cancel plans.
And for someone like me whose cup is filled by the act of being a good friend or being someone’s “person”… it’s not easy to walk around most days with nothing but a drop in my mug.
But if I can switch the mic to the other hand for a second… there’s also something really beautiful about being “in it.” It’s that moment when you rub your tired eyes, blink a couple of times and realize that you are standing there in your showered-three-days-ago filth … surrounded by people who are waiting to help you overflow your empty cup.
The ones who don’t guilt trip you for your lack of communication, but instead continue to reach out. The ones who ask you how you are and care about your answer. The ones who send you articles that they know will give you perspective and positivity. The ones who share their homemade pasta sauce with you knowing that it’s one less thing you have to do that day. The ones who buy you no-other-reason-but-to-let-
The ones who still want to get together even though the last time you did you vent-vomited all over them. The ones who have answered every single call that you’ve made from the bathroom floor. The ones who remind you that you’re doing a good job. The ones who don’t flinch when you ask for help with your kids. The ones who don’t wait for you to ask for help. The ones who knew you before you were “in it,” and have never thought about pivoting away now that you are.
The ones who lift you up. The ones who remind you of everything that is good about being “in it”, so that you aren’t blind to those blessings in the midst of it all.
Because one day I know I will be sitting in a quiet living room wishing I could transport back to the days when I was buried in being needed.
But on the days that I can’t see that perspective – I will choose to focus on YOU, my “in it” circle. I will marinate in gratitude for the way you shift in unison so to make sure the shade shifts away from me and the light can shine through.
While I may not have the mindset, means or space to repay you today for choosing to keep me within your supportive walls EVEN while you are trying to hold up your own… know that you are noticed. And if the “in it” fog should ever find you along your journey, I can guarantee you there will be one person who will be at the beginning of the formation of the circle around you … ready to fill your cup with all that has overflowed from mine.
Brea Schmidt is a writer, photographer, speaker and advocate for the fellow mom. Her blog, The Thinking Branch, aims to add positivity and perspective into conversations about life and motherhood. She also owns the Ohio-based newborn and family photography business Photography by Brea. You can learn more about Brea and join The Thinking Branch community on Facebook and Instagram.