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Dear Tired Mama: You Will Survive

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Dear Tired Mama:

You wonder if it will ever get better. Wonder, too, if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wonder incessantly if you will ever have energy again. All while you also wonder if you ever will see a semblance of your former self again. You are so exhausted. And tired and worn out and frazzled and spent.

I hear you, friend, and I truly feel for you.

I remember those days.

I remember three and a half short years ago corralling my screaming child in the church bathroom. We were finishing up a weekend of family camp, and Littlest One and I were at the sink -- her screaming while I was cleaning the worn-in grime off sticky little hands and feet. I asked her, while I scrubbed, where her shoes were.

Of course, she did not know, answering me instead with another ear-piercing trill that echoed thunder through my head.

I tried to figure out what could possibly be so wrong that she needed to lose her right lung and both of my ears for it. She spit out her answer, the rage evident in her every word. She was upset because she wanted a "balloon tree." Yes, that's right. A bunch of balloons on a stick. Something every toddler must have in order to be happy, I am sure. If I remember this day correctly, an extra-strength Tylenol was next on my immediate to-do list for the day.

I scrubbed the brown bottoms of her little feet that day while I tried to talk some reason into her, to no avail. Thankfully, a friend came to the rescue with the diversion of a funny story, which was rewarded with one small smile by the child and, in due time, the missing shoes. The lost were then found, thankfully. But there was still the minor issue of her needing the "balloon tree."

I left the bathroom that afternoon, screaming child still in tow, and met up with a second friend. She happened to be talking to someone else at the time, but as soon as I approached, she stopped and turned to me. She looked at me with compassion, and this is what she said:

"These times are precious. Someday you will look back on this, and you will remember that this was a precious moment."

"You will look back and remember that these trying and draining moments of your life were indeed significant and worth remembering."

While precious can be taken to be rare and lovely, it finds its meaning in its fragility. Precious can also mean fleeting. These moments of childhood, rites of passage and stages of growth, are momentary. They are fleeting and, in and of themselves, they are strangely precious in their own little ways. Like a beautiful sunset that is here one moment and gone the next, so are the moments of childhood.

Over the years, this little reminder surfaced once or twice. But in the last year, I have thought of these wise words on more than one occasion.

You see, my friend and mentor left this earth one year and two months ago. Her name was Wendy, and she was something else. A woman who still influences many decisions I make these many months and years later.

While she was with us, Wendy doted on five precious children who are now mostly grown, and a few of which have gone on to live out their own lives with significant others. How she loved her kids. Was she perfect in her parenting? Nope. But she sure had a handle on making moments precious. I often think of her and remember her advice to me that sunny August afternoon.

While the moment I spent that day in a church restroom was not a stellar parenting memory replete with triumph and victory, the snapshot I carry in my mind of that time and place was indeed memorable. If not for the warm fuzzy feelings I associate with that day (there were none), certainly for the advice proffered to enjoy each stage of my children's lives.

Three years later, I can look back and echo my good friend's sentiments: those toddler days filled with highs and lows were indeed precious.

Mamas, you will get through this. You will survive. And there will come a day when you will reach that light at the end of the tunnel. Believe it or not, you will look back and remember that these trying and draining moments of your life were indeed significant and worth remembering. When that moment comes for you, dear friend, it will be well worth the journey.

While these crazy, chaotic moments are certainly not always enjoyable, they are precious and fleeting; and I am sure that someday soon, you will even find the words to say so yourself.

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