On the day your child is born, something is born in the mother as well. Sometimes it goes undiscovered for a while, sometimes it takes something tough to bring it out, but when you are born a mother, you discover that you possess a newfound ability in Momdurance, the ability to get through things much more difficult than you ever imagined, a strength you didn't know you had, and perhaps one you didn't even possess before you became a parent.
The Momdurance training starts right away when you bring that baby home. Get ready for the mental and physical trials and tribulations of sleep deprivation paired with trying to figure out what this brand new small human's needs are pretty much on a minute to minute basis for those first couple of weeks. Breastfeeding? Another great Momdurance training. Your body, having just been subjected to most likely the CRAZIEST thing it has ever done (birthing a human) is now up for providing sustenance to that human and you have to figure out how to do it NOW. And then...NOW. Again! Oh wait again! Sleep for twenty minutes. MORE FEEDING. Baby boot camp, indeed.
Perhaps one of the biggest tests of Momdurance comes the first time your child (or children, bless you) have the stomach bug. A long day spent cleaning up vomit is then followed by, guess what? A NIGHT of cleaning up vomit! And what is worse than your playroom carpet covered in puke? EVERYTHING in their room covered in puke. In the middle of the night. When you are supposed to be doing, what is that called again? Oh that's right, SLEEP.
We have all stood there, in the face of the dreaded stomach bug having just hit our house, wondering, so...what do I do now? I am holding a child covered in their own vomit, I am exhausted, possibly also infected, and I am pretty sure I now have barf in my hair. I have stood in that very position (last week in fact when they were all sick AT THE SAME TIME, not cool guys) and the thought flickered in my brain for an instant, is just giving up an option here? Where is that application to run away and join the circus? For a brief moment I pictured myself as the brand new flying trapeze act soaring through the air under a big top with no barf in my hair and then no...wait, the baby just puked on me again. Time for the directly into the bathtub approach! That's when you just put them in, clothing optional, and sort it out from there. At least they are in a confined space that can later be thoroughly Cloroxed (this approach is also very popular with blow out diaper situations). When in doubt, put them in the tub and take it from there.
No thinking, just doing. Just getting through it.
You see, Momdurance is all about pushing through, you go past the "I can't do this" part, till you get to the middle where you have no choice BUT to do it yet you are still not quite sure HOW to do it. There you are, in the mix, no way to give up and not sure how to get it done. No breaks, no time outs, you just keep going. And the thing is, the training is in the doing. It's not like an actual marathon. You don't get to train for months on end, slowly working up to it until you are confident of your abilities. No no no! Just the opposite, in fact. Imagine being woken up from a deep sleep, dragged out of your bed and thrown into the NYC marathon totally unprepared while still in your pajamas still bleary eyed and not sure what is going on, that is more like becoming a mom. Oh and you have to run it while breastfeeding.
Some children present their parents with entire years of Momdurance challenges. The terrible twos (threes? Fours?) can be one of those situations. Maybe this is not exactly what you expected. It can be hard. It is hard. And every day you have a feeling like you are failing. You buy a behavioral book, you read articles, you try your best. And therein lies the real value. You are trying. You keep slogging through. It might not be perfect, but you are trying, and that is what motherhood is. Some days you walk the marathon, some days you jog while dumping water over your head and shoving orange segments into your face, some days you run at a nice quick pace and feel pretty great and have your favorite workout mix blaring, but all days you keep going.
Sometimes motherhood can feel like every single day you are using 110% of your energy, and you fall into bed completely exhausted, maybe to be woken up in just a few hours, who knows? But you still get up the next day and do it all over again. I've had days where I think, "This stage has just got to pass, I can't do this anymore" and guess what? I did it for WAY LONGER than I thought I would. You think it's impossible, then you just keep going, and before you know it you are on the other side.
We see stories of other mothers going through things we cannot even imagine. Losing a child, having a child battle a serious illness, and we wonder, how do they do it? They get through it because they are mothers, they were born mothers to stand beside and endure what comes along, to fight. They can put aside everything else and just get it done.
One of my favorite quotes that I see pop up on Pinterest and Instagram now and again is from Winston Churchill, where he says "If you are going through hell, keep going", and I always feel like it applies strongly to motherhood. If you are going through a tough time, just keep going. You're in it, you're doing it, you can keep going through to the other side, because you have that strength to endure, you are a mother.