As I type these words you’re sleeping soundly upstairs, wrapped in your pink comforter, nestled in your ice cream cone sheets — not anywhere close to becoming a mom (unless you count Baby GooGa). But there’s something that’s been weighing on my mind. Something I want to set straight long before you join me in the most amazing, most exclusive club that ever was: Motherhood.
You asked me a question, and I’m afraid my answer fell short of the truth. You asked me if mommies’ hearts get broken. I remember it well. You were having waffles for breakfast, and you asked me for more syrup, to which I responded with a big, fat negative. You pouted, and in the saddest little voice you could muster, you said “You’re breaking my heart.” I laughed, you cried, and that’s when you asked me the question: “Do mommies’ hearts get broken?”
My answer to you — because you were only four years old at the time — was “Mommies’ hearts are so strong they never break.”
My sweet, sweet girl, when I told you “Mommies’ hearts are so strong,” what I meant to say is that they eventually become strong and only get stronger with time and experience. My fear is that, because you are growing up in a world where things like #momstrong and #strongerthanamother are plastered on Facebook memes and coffee mugs, you’ll feel flawed or weak when you realize becoming a mom didn’t magically turn you into Wonder Woman, able juggle work, baby, dinner, laundry, relationship, and friendships (because #momstrong).
It’s important that you understand true “mom strength” isn’t something you gain by simply becoming a mom or buying the T-shirt. You will be tested time and time again, and you’ll feel like those tests are breaking you, but in fact, they’re strengthening your will and emotions. You will watch your children suffer, watch them fail, and say no a schmillion times — but eventually you’ll gain your footing and your confidence as a mom, and you’ll become emotionally stronger than you ever imagined . . . but it’s not a painless process.
Motherhood does not exclude you from heartache and pain (exhale); it amplifies it. The emotional agony and pain that you will endure as a mother is unlike any you’ve ever experienced. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, babies and children do bring so much joy into our lives, but there will be moments when life rips the joy from your hands and replaces it with worry, despair, and agonizing heartache.
When our babies — even our grown ones — are sick or just plain sad, it hurts, sometimes literally! In fact, the word “hurt” isn’t even strong enough for what you’ll feel when your baby has his first alarmingly high fever, when you drop off your crying toddler at daycare, or when your child comes home broken because nobody sat with her at lunch. True, these moments aren’t earth-shattering, but as you’re going through them, in the thick of those mini-storms, you’ll feel a pain and sorrow in the pit of your soul that will feel like your heart is breaking. But I assure you, it’s not. It’s actually getting stronger. It’s getting #momstrong.