I drove past you the other day. You were on a walk with an infant strapped to your chest, the handle of a stroller in your left hand, and the leash of your small and energetic dog nearly yanking your right shoulder out of its socket. Your face said it all.
Your eyes told me you had reached the end of your rope. Your expression told me that you're clinging to some sort of freedom you refuse to lay down. But, I got the feeling that your world is putting up such a fight that you're not sure it's worth it some days.
I'm sure you were stuck in the house all day and the walls felt like they were closing in on you.
I'm sure you grew tired of cleaning up the same 15 toys a dozen times.
I'm sure you started to wonder if all this mothering of little ones is making a difference or not.
I'm sure you found yourself wondering where you are these days.
I'm sure you need a break.
You've given up career advancement. You've let friendships slip to the back-burner. You can't remember the last time you had a girls' night out or ate with both hands in your very own kitchen. For that matter, you can't recall the last time you actually sat down to enjoy your own meal.
You sometimes wonder if you and your husband live on two entirely different planets. The most pressing household needs—hungry children, sticky fingers, toys strewn under the dining room table three minutes before dinner is served, poopy diapers—seem to complete for both of your attention.
And in these different worlds, he still gets to hold onto pieces of his life that you feel like you haven't seen in years ago. He makes time for Saturday morning golf, Friday afternoon happy hour, and career development seminars. He makes time for football games, haircuts, and morning workouts at the gym.
And you're feeling like your individuality doesn't really exist anymore.
You've paused hobbies and have put personal passions aside during this season of life. You traded in your gym membership for baby yoga in the living room, and you now cut your own hair every six months using a complicated system of tilted mirrors. Because they're easier for now; they fit your life now.
I know these things, woman with two children and a yanking dog, because I've been where you are. I was there, and I lost myself 1,000 times. But—I'm here to tell you—I've made it to the other side. And the woman I've found there is a woman I'd like to spend a day with. She's a woman who I happen to like more than the single woman who had a thriving career, passion for travel, strict workout routine, and full social schedule.
I found that when I learned to let go of the rope I was ferociously clinging to, I was forced to jump into a new kind of life. And as it turns out, letting go of that rope was the greatest gift.
Letting go made me a bit gentler. It taught me that I don't have all the answers and that, the longer I live, the fewer answers I seem to have.
Letting go softened me. It slowed me down. It invited me into a life that's less about me and what I want in any given moment, and more about others and how I can invest in a way that brings joy to the lives of others.
Letting go taught me that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to keep it all together or put on a mask. I simply need to show up.
So, lady with the kids and the yanking dog, I applaud you. I applaud you for trying, and I applaud you for showing up.
I see it on your face that you're barely hanging on, and I'm here to encourage you that letting go isn't as terrifying as you thought it might be. Let go of all that's draining you dry, and keep putting one tired foot in front of the other in all your human imperfection.
This season won't last nearly as long as you expect, and when you emerge on the other side, the woman you've become will look back on the journey with a tender smile. Because you're accomplishing so much, every single day—and it's really pretty amazing, mama. It's just hard to recognize that in the fog.
There are clear skies ahead, though—promise.