My daughter captured this moment on Friday at my FOSTER son’s IEP meeting. What you see is an intensely focused mom trying to understand the needs, struggles and even wins our foster son has.
What may (or may not) be as obvious is how absolutely stretched thin I am in this moment
I’m wearing a hat with no makeup because *yet again* getting a shower before the afternoon was not in the cards for me.
You also can’t tell that we just finished a trip to the grocery store where one of my children refused to listen, and as a result sulked as far away from my cart as she possibly could get away with. After which we went to the library where she started licking things in the bathroom and I shrilly lost my cool — I’m pretty sure a “what’s wrong with you?” actually left my lips.
Here’s what you don’t see – a mom disheveled in body and heart
What you don’t see is the TODDLER crawling around poopy in spite of the fact that I had literally changed her right before. My nursing cover is on because she HAD to BREASTFED right at that moment or she would throw a fit.
Three well-dressed professionals sat and smelled all the loveliness without ever commenting.
They were kind but I felt stretched — I could not honor their time and listen to all they had to say and steal away to properly change her. I couldn’t be what MY DAUGHTER and my foster son needed at the same time.
And so I sat there. Disheveled in body and heart. Running thin. Stressed about work deadlines, and overwhelmed at how I would get them done surrounded by children and housework.
And then my daughter snapped that photo.
I felt lost when I saw it. I think I still feel a little lost inside myself, and OVERWHELMED with the desire to announce to the world, “This is not me! I DO care about how I look, I do WANT to be professional, and there is inside me a smart, accomplished woman who yes, mothers, but also is capable of doing more than sweeping floors and wiping noses. Motherhood is painfully gorgeous and worthy, and yet there is more to me than just this.”
I just struggle to see it anymore behind all the leggings, and hats, and dry shampoo and baggy eyes.
And then this week I stole away to a professional conference, where an expert in my field of work interviewed me a bit, took a look at me and said, “You are an intelligent and articulate woman with a long career ahead of you.”
And you know what? In her words, I found me again.
I knew I was this person. I just needed some help seeing myself again — the real me that is who I was created to be without the constant stress and demands of motherhood.
But the fact is — I’ve been there all along — even when I can’t see it, those around me can’t see it, and random candid photos of myself can’t see it.
I felt lost. But I never actually was.
Mama, I don’t know if you too ever feel buried.
Buried by GRIEF or loss. Buried by expectations unrealized. Buried by just the constant demand to be all things to all people. Buried by too much laundry to fold, too much many meals to plan, too many deadlines to meet.
So I want to tell you: I see you.
You are an intelligent, accomplished woman. You are something of value, no matter your productivity, or whether you got a shower today, or whether your first grader started licking things in public restrooms and you LOST YOUR COOL.
Your perceived failures do not define you. But that heart of yours, that ridiculously smart brain, that is still there. That is not lost, and YOU are not lost.
One day, the outside and the inside will all align again, even if only briefly.
In the meantime, remember: you are not lost, buried, or forgotten. You are STILL you.
So hold on, mama friend. Your time to shine is coming.