"What's wrong?" my friend asked me one day. "Nothing . . . this is just how my face looks now," I answered. My friend doesn't have children yet, so she has no idea the complete and utter exhaustion of motherhood. Dark circles under my eyes, messy hair (don't care), and coffee breath are the norm for me — and have been for quite some time now. Almost 10 years, to be exact.
When I had a newborn, it felt like there was no end to my day. It was a constant cycle of breastfeeding, diaper changing, and rocking my baby to sleep. Although I tried to prepare myself for motherhood as much as I could by reading baby books and online articles, I still found myself stressing over every little thing. When my baby was having difficulty breastfeeding and showing delays in gross motor skills, for example, I lost so much sleep worrying about her.
It didn't get any easier as my baby got older, either. Because then came potty-training, picky eating, temper tantrums, and dealing with separation anxiety as she began attending preschool. Although my child was finally sleeping through the night without having any potty accidents, I was still almost as exhausted as I was when she was a baby. Our daily activities changed as she got older, but my child demanded my care and attention in other, just as exhausting, ways.
My oldest girl is now almost 10 years old, and you'd think I'd be less tired now that I've been a mother for nearly a decade, but I'm not. I had another baby about seven years ago and experienced all of the same things with her, all while taking care of my older child. And it hasn't stopped — now that my oldest is a tween, we're dealing with deeper issues, like self-esteem, peer pressure, friend drama, and internet safety. What tweens deal with nowadays is so much more serious than what I ever dealt with at that age. It's overwhelming and even frightening, but I'm here for it all. That's my job.
Being a mother is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining, no matter how old your children are. Over the years, I've realized that every new age my kids reach brings new challenges, but it also brings new and exciting adventures. I've accepted the fact that I will probably always be exhausted as a mother, but time is so incredibly precious, and as each day passes, my kids are getting closer to spreading their wings and leaving the nest. All I can do is be the best mother I can be to them, even if that means being exhausted for the rest of my life.