I saw you today at the grocery store. With your babies in tow; one crying, one talking your ear off, and the other one sleeping peacefully in the infant carrier. I saw you trying to scurry through the aisles, worried their cries and chatter would draw unwanted attention. You’re in survival mode I could tell. But, don’t worry mama, you got this.
I saw you at the park the other day. You were sitting on the bench while your kiddos played in the sandbox, and one sat contently in the stroller. You looked tired, and a bit defeated, despite the fact that it was only 11 a.m. But I know how much can happen within the morning hours, and I understood your look all too well. I wanted to wave at you across the playground, and shout, “Don’t worry mama, you got this!”
You were ahead of me in the drive-thru. I could see all your kids bouncing around excitedly in the backseat. Even in the rear-view mirror, you looked agitated. I’d seen those looks before; because I’d worn that face so many times myself. I was guessing that maybe your husband called and said he had to work late and wouldn’t be home for dinner. Or maybe you were just too exhausted to even whip up some mac’n cheese. Whatever the case, I knew you were feeling the pressure of that days events. So I offered to pay for your order, as a way to say, “Don’t worry mama, you got this.”
I ran into you at the library last week during story time. Most of the kids were behaving, but yours was really giving you a run for your money. He wouldn’t sit still, he didn’t want to listen, and he wanted to be anywhere except that library. You talked calmly and quietly, trying to get him to settle down. After many failed attempts, you grabbed your bags and his hand, and you moved toward the exit. As you walked away, I gave you a quick glance and a half smile. It was my way of saying, “Don’t worry mama, you got this.”
I see you every week at practice. Our kids are on the same soccer team. Although friendly, you always seem distracted and a bit frazzled. Usually you tell me how your running here and running there, trying to pick one kid up from dance while the other one finishes up baseball. I can tell your mind is going 100 miles a minute, and let me tell you—boy, can I relate. As you leave practice early to go pick up another child, in my head I always say, “Don’t worry mama, you got this!”
Sometimes I see you at the Dr.’s office. You’re sitting in the waiting room, trying to soothe an inconsolable baby. You’re doing everything right—-walking, swaying, singing, and cuddling. But none of it is working, and that sweet baby is still wailing. I give you a look of empathy, that says, “Don’t worry mama, you got this.”
I see you commenting on Facebook posts at all hours of the night and in the early morning. I recognize these late night fb visits, because I am there too. With a baby at home that refuses to sleep. I know I should sleep when he does, but sometimes I just need 25 minutes of time to myself. My body and mind will regret the decision in the morning, especially after the 4th middle of the night wake up call. So when I see your tired eyes and fatigued body as we pass each other in the aisle of Target— I understand. I want to give you a hug and simply say, “Don’t worry mama, you got this.”
They say that the days are long but the years are short. And man, sometimes these days feel, so, so, long. When you’re exhausted by the end of the day and have only a few hours of interrupted rest before it begins all over again. These are the years of survival mode.
I know it doesn’t seem like it now, mama, but soon, these years will be a distant memory. These late night feedings, the days where bedtime cannot come soon enough, the afternoons spent calming nap-defiant children. They’ll be gone before you know it.
So the next time you look in the mirror and see that exhausted mama staring back at you, remember this. That body might look tired and weak, but the love it carries is strong and fierce. These years of survival mode, they are a rite of passage into the world of motherhood.
Now smile back at that reflection, and whisper, “Don’t worry, I got this.”
Cassie is a working mother of three small kiddos. She works on maintaining the delicate balance of work/mommy/wife life, and making sure she doesn’t run out of wine before payday. She enjoys writing in her free time and chronicling the adventures of being a mom. She has contributed to sites such as The Huffington Post, Her View From Home, Scary Mommy and Sammiches & Psych Meds. You can follow her on Facebook. She’s also on Twitter and Instagram, and you can visit her website at www.cassiehilt.com.