I always know where my children are.

They're 4, 2, and 8 months. They're typically within 100 feet from me. But more realistically, they're typically on me: asking to be held or picked up or perched on my lap. My oldest child goes to school but it's a little, beautiful preschool with people I trust. I let my kids play on their own when we're at home, but we have a small home; we're all always within earshot of each other.

I get a little panicked in public sometimes when they're close but maybe for some reason I can't find them in that *exact second.* My heart threatens to jump out of my chest, and I feel weak—all in a matter of milliseconds. But then I see them, and they were never far in the first place, and all is well again. We still go on adventures and we go to the store, and do the things we need to—but sometimes I still feel knots in my stomach; worrying, watching.


But I have never had to actually worry about being separated from my children. In fact, I've never even been away from them for more than two nights. And that was by choice, for a trip.

If I'm being honest with you, I know in my heart that I've been avoiding the news of the separated immigrant parents and children. I have seen bits of headlines on my newsfeed, and I've quickly scrolled past. I knew something was going on, and I averted my eyes. My heart often feels so raw, my nerves so fried from the everyday worries of motherhood, I didn't think I could read about this pain.

But tonight I did. And I feel sick and so, so sad.

And I know why I was scared of reading the news. I can't stop picturing my sensitive 2-year-old in particular—in a shelter, crying for me, wondering what the heck was going on. Like the children who have been separated from their parents are likely doing right this second. I know there would be a look of terror in my baby's eyes. I know she'd be anxiously scratching at her skin. I know she'd probably cry so hard she'd puke. Or she wouldn't be able to breathe. She would feel so alone, so confused—so completely frightened.

And I would be a wreck. What would I do? How would I get to her? Would I ever see her again? How? How would I fix this? How would I be able to even function?

I'm lucky that my 2-year-old has not been ripped from my arms and put into a cage. But other parents are not so lucky. Other parents are living a real life nightmare as I type this.

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes who is experiencing pain, discrimination or pure evil is not easy. Because we're human; we will feel some of that, too. And that's scary. But maybe that's okay, to feel a little of their pain. Because maybe that will pull more empathy out of us. Maybe it'll inspire action and change. Maybe it'll force the world to love one another more deeply.

I'm still confused about how to help. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. It's so overwhelming. But I want to. And I'll figure out how I can do my part.

But for now, this second, they have my heart.

And tonight, I'll pray to God my children will always stay safe. And I'll pray to God that these families will find each other. And tomorrow morning when my three babies wake up, they will have me—all of me. And I'll be able to hold them in my arms. And I'll try not to get caught up in the chaos of the day and take that seemingly simple fact for granted.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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