As I type this up on my phone, I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my car in a parking lot, with a milk-drunk baby on my lap. She’s smiling back at me with heavy eyes, but a mere half hour ago, she and I were both at the end of our ropes.
Earlier today, my husband, children and I took my in-laws out to a local hiking spot while they’re in town for the holidays. Our youngest, only three months old, was simply not having it. Admittedly, we made a rookie parenting mistake and didn’t check the weather before going out for the day. Lulled to sleep in her car seat by the heated car and gentle Christmas music on the drive, the ripping winds as we stepped outside were an unwelcome surprise. Cue the screaming.
We tried to power through the walk and calm her down by giving her a bottle along the trail about 20 minutes in. It wasn’t happening. With each minute that passed, she got more and more upset. With each person we passed on the trail, I became more and more conscious of every glance of annoyance or, worse, pity.
Finally, I threw in the towel and decided to just take her back to the car by myself. Hiking plans be darned, I would just feed her in the warmth of the car where the wind wouldn’t whip us around.
But with a screaming infant held to my chest, as I tried to keep her bundled, the walk back to the car felt like quite the trek. Despite my best efforts of shushing, singing and speed-walking, her crying continued to escalate all the way back to the car. As I finally rounded the corner into the parking lot, clearly flustered with my baby wailing in my arms, I passed by two women walking toward the trailhead.
One of the women stopped, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, “That is so beautiful. That is really awesome.”
My eyes welled with tears as I walked the remaining steps back to the car. Her simple words and the unspoken nudge of “You’ve got this” were rest for this weary mama.
Maybe she was wiser than I and could see the simple beauty of a mom scrapping her own plans to comfort her baby. Maybe she has been in my shoes before and remembered how fleeting this season is—even in the midst of the hard moments. Or maybe she just thought my baby was cute. I don’t know, but I pray that I would be able to do the same for women in similar situations.
It is my hope to offer that same kind of encouragement for moms.
There have been so many moments in motherhood where I’ve felt like a burnt out mom at the end of the day, made worse by the (albeit untrue) feeling that I’m the only one who feels this way.
Yet, how often am I the one to stop a stranger in the grocery store to share a word of encouragement? To offer a mom an extra hand as her toddler is having a meltdown? To text a friend just to let them know I’m cheering them on? Certainly not as often as I should.
Motherhood is hard, to say the least, and even a little kindness from a stranger can make a world of difference on one of those days where you’re counting down the minutes until nap time. Trust me, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.
Yet, sweets words and gestures from friends, family and strangers alike have been the buoys to keep me afloat on those hard days. It has often been the smallest acts of kindness, that I’m sure those people don’t even remember, that made such a difference. In this new year, though I’m not much of a resolution-maker, it is my hope to be someone who lifts the spirits of the tired, struggling mamas who are putting in the often unseen work to keep their families going. It is my hope to offer that same kind of encouragement for moms.
So if you’re feeling like a burnt out mom or alone today, mama—whether from a newborn who won’t sleep through the night, a toddler with an iron will, or a teenager who’s giving you new grey hairs by the hour—hang in there. You are with them in the trenches and that is so beautiful. That is really awesome.
Motherly Stories are first person, 500-1000 word stories, reflecting on the insights you’ve experienced in motherhood—and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way. They also help other women realize they’re not alone. Motherly Stories don’t judge. Instead, they inspire other mamas with stories of meaning, hope and a realization that “you’ve got this.” If you have a story, please submit it here: https://www.mother.ly/share-your-story/