There are strong women all around me. I see you on a daily basis. Women in the workplace. My family members. Good friends. Fellow moms.
I see you all handling multiple tasks and balancing busy schedules. Raising children and excelling at careers. Rushing through the grocery store. Walking home from the park. Leaving the schoolyard with a few kids in tow and a baby on your hip.
I, too, am quite capable. I’m keeping my three kids alive. Working a busy full-time job. Finding time for myself, my husband. Arranging playdates and ushering kids to activities. Making time to ride bikes together or play board games. Cooking dinners, practicing the alphabet, changing diapers and doing loads and loads of laundry.
And I know that, in a lot of ways, I am strong. Independent. Resourceful. A fierce mama bear.
But in other ways, I feel like motherhood has weakened me.
I can no longer watch movies or TV shows that have children getting harmed or lost or hurt or kidnapped. My stomach drops and feels heavy. My knees go wobbly.
I have to avoid the news for the most part. If I watch too much, I get weighed down in worry about what the future holds for my children.
If I hear a baby crying, my gut reaction is to frantically look for her Mommy. I can’t relax until someone is cuddling that baby in their arms. Whispering soft comforting words, while kissing her head and smelling her hair.
I don’t have the energy to make my kids go to sleep on their own at bedtime. I lay with them and rub their backs in the dark, quiet room and think about the day that’s just gone by. Did I say I loved them enough? Was I good enough? Did that fight we had earlier scar them for life? I reassure myself that the intense worrying and the guilt will lighten a little one day down the road, as I nod off in their beds because I’m just so tired.
When one of the kids has a fever or an unexplainable sickness. When their friends are mean to them. When they’ve lost their appetite or their feelings are hurt. I worry and worry until I feel slightly sick and can no longer focus at work or during conversations. Everything else in the world seems small in comparison.
Motherhood has made me weak.
But I’ve learned not to fight it. I’ve learned to embrace my weakness. Because if I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t know the good.
And there is so much good.
I wouldn’t be able to feel small arms around my neck, or wrapped around my legs in a hug. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to hold tiny, soft fingers in my hand. I would miss out on chasing gangly 6 year-old legs around the park. I wouldn’t know the perfection that is a toddler’s round little belly.
I wouldn’t know deep, deep love. I wouldn’t hear “Can we snuggle?” in the middle of the dark night from beside my bed. I wouldn’t say “I love you. Did you know that?” over and over again – and really, really mean it.
So, I willingly take the weakness. Because it brings so much with it. Motherhood has made me weak. But it has also won me over.