THIS…is real life.

This is what motherhood looks like when NOBODY is watching.

When nobody is there to judge her for her clothes, or her hair, or her makeup, or her decor-ed out/Pinterest-looking house, or ensuring her darling kids are just “SO well-behaved.”

Related: Motherhood is filling your cup—and draining it at the same time

This is after a full day of work, daycare pick-up, two tantrums in 20 minutes.

This is after cooking supper, *trying to* clean the house, giving baths, holding one and soothing the other.

This is exhaustion.

This is overwhelmed.

This is the feeling of defeat.

woman meditating on the beach

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This is loving my babies so dang much, with every fiber in me.

This is trying so hard with every bone in my body to do my very best day in and day out, to give my babies all they need–even when I am melting inside.

This is what it looks like for a mom to NEED just TWO minutes of silence, away from the world, to take a deep breath, regain strength and continue on the mile-long list of things she has yet to do before laying her head on her pillow tonight.

THIS is behind the highlight reel of Instagram. Beyond the beautiful, styled photos.

To all the mamas out there, I know you read it nonstop and take it with a grain of salt. But please believe me when I say—you are not alone. You never will be.

Related: To the mama doing SO much she feels like she’s failing at everything—I see you

There’s a world of mamas out there, INCREDIBLE mamas, who also are having THESE moments. And even when we are engulfed in these soul-sucking moments, we still breathe, rise, and greet our babies with love and reassurance.

If you’ve stuck with me to read all of this, I just want to tell you that you can get through whatever it is that feels tough and numbing. Close your eyes and say something positive that you did today. Encourage yourself. Get back up, mama.

A version of this story was published August 7, 2019. It has been updated.