It’s all hard.
Every ounce of it.
The very nature of the situation demands everything you’ve got, even when you have nothing left to give.
They need you because they need you.
Their day deliriously rotates around princess dresses and train tracks and apple slices and board books. Their world does not stop spinning around them to consider if you might be dizzy.
And whether you are ready or not, whether you are put together or not, rested or not, happy or not, the sun will rise and so will they.
It is exhausting. It just is.
I spent every minute of last night awake with her. I held her, she writhed and wriggled. She played and then she cried and then she screamed. She did not sleep and neither did I and I was just so very tired. But there were moments- in the quiet of the night, the still of the darkness, that she laid her head upon my shoulder and I felt her body relax into mine. For a few minutes at a time she gave up the fight and we lay on the bed, tummy to tummy. In the still of the night she became still. And I breathed deep and watched her body rise with my inhalations, feeling the weight of her body and the whisper of her fingers upon my neck.
The brokenness of exhaustion. The victory of peace.
It was good and hard.
It was both.
When we brought our firstborn, Brennan, home from the hospital she had severe jaundice and had to spend the first week of her life on a bili-bed. I couldn’t hold her except to nurse. Our little glowworm slept next to us, lighting up the room. It broke my mama heart.
It was hard.
And that passed and she grew and she kicked and she rolled over and she talked. She held our very hearts in her hands.
It was good.
And then she learned independence and how to test limits. We had to learn how to reinforce and redirect and consistently love.
It was hard.
We had Ellie when Brennan was 23 months old. Nursing and potty training and sleepless nights and discipline and consistent love and sleepless nights and sleepless nights.
It was hard.
And I witness miracle every single day. I see a new concept connect. I know them and they know me. We play and we laugh and we dance and we explore. I inspire and I correct and I lose my temper and I learn and I train.
It is good.
And they have my whole entire heart. Every waking breath and the half-sleep that I fall into each night is theirs. I worry, I fear, I question decisions and actions and how much I am going to cost them in therapy down the road.
It is good and hard.
See, it’s easy to believe that good and hard are mutually exclusive. That they are opposing forces, unable to be reconciled.
But time and time again, I see they are actually connected deeper than we think.
Just because something is good does not mean it is absent of hard.
Just because something is hard does not mean it is not good.
Feeling one does not negate the other.
Parenting is both.
Raising these babies is absolutely hard. It is absolutely exhausting. It demands everything, absolutely. Raising these babies is absolutely good. It is absolutely a gift.
It is fiercely worthwhile.
It’s okay to admit that it is hard- because it is.
It’s okay to admit that you are barely making it through the day and haven’t showered in three and it is exhausting- because it is.
It’s okay to admit that your babies are a gift- because they are.
It’s okay to admit that you treasure being with them- because it is the best.
Just because you feel one doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel the other and that your struggle lessons the ferocity of your love.
They are wonderful until they are not.
You have it together until you don’t.
Every ounce of parenting is hard.
But also, also- every ounce of parenting is good and every ounce of ourselves that we pour out over them is worth the empty. Just because something demands a sacrifice doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.
It is good and it is hard. It always will be, every single season of parenting. It is a sacrifice and it is worth it. Really. We pour ourselves out to fill them up and see love and brave and power and creativity rise within their very hearts. It is good and it is hard. They are demanding and they are a gift.
It seems that good and hard don’t belong together.
But they do.
It seems that love shouldn’t require such strength.
But it does.
A relationship that carries and builds and gives and soothes and speaks peace and holds dreams and restores hope and inspires creativity and loves even when it’s hard…
It is exactly what love looks like.