By Stephanie of Mama & Baby Love

Motherhood is a lot like surfing.

Both are really, really hard—and you get your butt kicked all the time!

When you are learning to surf you have to figure out the balance, not of standing up, but of simply not falling off the board when you are laying down. Then you practice paddling around and build up your arm muscles enough so that you can paddle to the outside (that’s surfer slang for where the waves are not crashing yet) without drowning. To get to the outside, you have to move in direct opposition to the energy of the water coming to shore, which means you are fighting wave after wave and paddling and trying not fall off.

Getting out past the waves is a feat within itself. It will nearly kill you. But when you do, you can look back at the beach and say, ‘Wow! Look how far I’ve come!’

At this point, you sit up on your board and take in the scenery. Let the peace of the moment sink in—although its not totally peaceful because you can’t push the thought out of your mind that there is possibly a shark inches away from your leg, mistaking you for a sea turtle. You can use this time to gather your energy again before you take it to the next level and try to catch a wave.

In the distance, you see one coming. Your heart starts pounding. You get back on your belly and try your best to get ready so you are in the exact right position for the momentum of the wave. The wave gets closer and you paddle and kick with all your might, but sometimes it is just not enough and the wave passes you by.

You see another one and get ready again. Again, you exert every ounce of energy you have from the depths of your soul, but again—it is not quite enough. The wave passes you right on by, never giving you a second glance, moving forward towards the shore as if you weren’t even there.

One more wave is coming in this set. You curse under your breath and think to yourself, I will not be passed up! And hallelujah! You are up! Wobbly as hell, goofy and ridiculous looking, but you are up—you caught a wave! You feel the power of the ocean working with the power of your being, and for one brief moment your light is shining so bright. You feel like you can do anything and that all is right with the world.

And just like that, it’s over.

The wave was short and sweet. And just as you hop off your board thinking you are the biggest, toughest mama in all the world—the next wave crashes on you. You take a turn in the washing machine of the ocean. Not knowing where up or down is, where your board is or if it will bonk you on your head at any moment. Not knowing how much longer you will have to hold your breath. You are terrified. Then finally you make your way to the top and gasp for air.

What happens next depends on your personality.

Some paddle back out and do it all over again. Some, like me, paddle back to shore and take a break having had enough struggle and triumph for one afternoon.

Then I sit on the beach looking at the waves, being still and processing my experience. And then, when I am ready, I go back out and do it all over again.

To me—motherhood, life, and personal development—are all like that. You try your best, give it your all (mostly getting beat up and making mega mistakes along the way) but also getting to catch those glorious moments of success and clarity every now and then.

When you decide to work on yourself—to dive into the ocean of personal development and waves of motherhood—it can get ugly for a bit. It can feel exactly like those waves crashing on top of you and the only intent of the wave is to make sure you stay down.

Working through the hard times and experiencing the chaos, is a part of the process of transformation that you cannot escape. But I can promise you this—hard times don’t last forever.

All the hard work you put into your own personal development and healing will be rewarded.

Lots of love to you on this beautiful but oh-so-hard motherhood journey. Remember, having the support of someone who can throw you a flotation device when you need it and guide you back to shore, makes all the difference in the world.

A version of this article was originally published on Mama & Baby Love.