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Stephanie Hanrahan on motherhood, for Mother's Day, Photo courtesy of Ashley Wright Photography

Motherhood: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Loved

It's the best of times, it's the worst of times

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas! Take the time today to relax and let your family celebrate you and all that you do. Because we all know, you do a heck of a lot. Stephanie Hanrahan of blog Tinkles Her Pants has a message for you on this day, too.

I know I’m not the only one. On my worst days, I say I can’t do this anymore, and on my worst days, I do it anyhow. I show up. (Maybe with greasy hair, overstretched yoga pants, and an underfed belly, but nonetheless, I show up.) And anyone who tells you motherhood isn’t hard is selling you something. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever loved.

I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for almost five years now, and self-admittedly, my personality is the furthest thing away from a stay-at-home-mom. I’m busy and impatient, moody and intolerant. I loathe arts and crafts. I can’t pretend play to save a life.

And at the end of most days I feel like I’ve done everything yet nothing at all. I’ve broken up fights, fed too many fast food meals, gone from happy and proud to embarrassed and enraged all within a matter of minutes.

I’ve been challenged all day, yet haven’t really had to think. My body feels lumpy and in desperate need of a massage. I’ve been over-touched and just want to be alone, but then once alone I spend my time scrolling through pictures of my kids. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. But it’s so worth it.

Every day that I don my mothering hat and show up for these little people they crack me open. Their love gets to my core—they change me from the inside out. All of my pieces scattered and shifted when I became a mother. I gave birth to a baby, but also unknowingly to a new woman.

I became more tolerant of people’s differences and more accepting of my own. I became stronger. Physically, yes, from carrying an arched-back toddler in the throes of a tantrum, but also mentally and spiritually. I stopped caring about what others thought and started fighting for what felt right. They were growing and so was I. But not in the ways I expected.

So I’ve come to realize that’s the gift, on Mother’s Day and all days. We may be caring for them (exhaustedly), but they are changing us. Let them! Let yourself become better. Let them watch you gain, and grow, and fall, and scream, and say “I’m sorry.” It’s all part of the dance.

And let yourself know that you are human, not superhuman. It’s wonderful to have the best day ever, it’s more realistic to not. Just show up anyway. Their spirit counts on it—and so does yours. You’re doing a great job, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

This essay was originally published in May 2020.

Stephanie Hanrahan was just your seemingly average housewife until she grew tired of pretending and took an axe to her white picket fence (also known as making her private journal public). Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she chronicles her journey as wife to a husband with chronic illness, mother to special needs kiddos, and a woman who often unravels then finds her footing again.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Wright Photography