A Mom Explains the Extreme Highs and Lows of Motherhood
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A Mom Explains the Extreme Highs and Lows of Motherhood

A mother of two explains the extreme highs and lows of motherhood and how it is all normal and worthy of acknowledgement.

Published March 14, 2023 Opinion

A mere two years ago, I became a mama. And since then, I can wholeheartedly say I’ve experienced more ups and downs than I ever had before in the three decades of my life leading up to my motherhood journey. This is not to discredit the realness of life before kids (sometimes tumultuous in its own right) but to shed light on the tender, challenging, incredible, and, ultimately, untouchable extreme highs and lows of motherhood — the journey of all journeys.

I view motherhood as a gift of the absolute greatest magnitude. That aside, that doesn’t mean it comes without cost (and not just the literal costs of raising humans). Being a mom tests my strength as much as it shows me a strength within myself that I hadn’t before known. Motherhood is full of extreme highs, and it’s full of extreme lows. Let me explain.

Love’s Essence Rests in a Mother’s Arms Despite the World’s Heaviness

In my highest moments of motherhood, I’m holding my babies close, breathing in every sweet second of babyhood while I can. I know these days will one day become the “good old days” because, let’s face it, babies don’t keep. And I feel eternally blessed for these fleeting moments.

In my lowest moments of motherhood, I’m holding my babies close, trying desperately to breathe while waiting for those short-lived moments to pass. I know, I know; I’ll miss them all one day. But, my goodness, when the nights are endlessly long, and I’m struggling to keep both eyes open (literally) though I can’t even find a moment to close them, being a mom pushes me to my limits.

Love Encompasses Moms Despite Barely Staying Afloat

In my highest moments of motherhood, I gaze down at peaceful tiny faces smiling blissfully in their sleep. Small, beautiful faces that I’ll do anything to ensure self-confidence when they greet their reflections staring back in the mirror upon daybreak. In these moments, I’m in awe that this is my real life. These are my babies. Because to me, these tiny faces are the epitome of perfection, awake or asleep. (P.S. Mama, I promise you that sleep always comes. Even when it feels so far away.)

In my lowest moments of motherhood, I yearn for calm after a day of constant balancing, nurturing, protecting, and loving. Not just for my two under two but for myself. For my tired — scratch that — exhausted self. For my two pant-sizes-larger, more-experienced-yet-more-frazzled self. The one in dire need of some basic self-care (which, as all moms know, is tough to come by when your priority can no longer be yourself). Because I sometimes struggle to recognize myself after three ruthless pregnancies, two emergency C-sections, and one heartbreaking loss in two years.

Moms Relish the Simple Things and Keep Sweating the More Complicated Ones

In my highest moments of motherhood, I thank God and all my lucky stars above for the precious memories made throughout the day and those I can’t wait to make. For early morning wakeups garnished by the sweet sound of my toddler’s enthusiastic little voice squealing, “morning Mommy, my Mommy.” For delightful baby coos from my youngest as he squirms and stretches out of his swaddle, perfectly content after a bit of rest but ready for a morning full of the sweetest snuggles. I’m grateful for these little moments that breathe big life into my home and my heart.

In my lowest moments of motherhood, I plead with myself to let go of the guilt. The guilt of feeling like I’m not doing enough, giving enough, or being enough. I dwell on the countless small details of not just the day’s events but those days gone by (a surprisingly bittersweet feat, by the way, when you realize just how fast they go). I process the painful reality of missing out on both of my baby’s first cries. I relive the trauma of birth plans gone awry and the ever-present scarring that never fails to remind me of those experiences. I fight off unwelcome memories of my firstborn’s first ambulance ride and my second’s only months later.

Moms Feel All the Feelings. Good or Bad, and They Hit You Hard

In my highest moments of motherhood, I beam with gratitude for the bond I witness my two tiny humans developing over shared board books and bubble baths. For Facetime calls with grandparents and great-grandparents, for living room playdates with old and new friends, for the pride that stems from watching my babies’ personalities blossom outside of my arms, and for the arrival of nighttime. For the comfort of knowing I am my babies’ safe space, their home, as they are mine, as I nurse my infant to sleep in one arm and hold my two-year-old close in the other. These are some of the most magical moments of motherhood. The highest of highs. The joy, the awe, the wonder, the peacefulness.

In my lowest moments of motherhood, I’m haunted by the recollection of my then-newborn’s intubation for a virus far too powerful for his not-then-developed preemie lungs. In my lowest moments of motherhood, I hover over my sleeping babies, checking for stable breathing again and again and still trying to figure out how to trust myself to stop checking long enough to get some rest, not just for myself but for my babies. My babies need the best version of me I can be. In my lowest moments of motherhood, I’m up against all of this. All while stressing over days and moments that haven’t even come and the mounds of tasks I’ve got to finish (because beyond the worrying, there’s always so much more to do). These are some of the most trying moments of motherhood. The lowest of lows. The sadness, the worry, the anxiety, the chaos.

These Extremes are All Normal and Worthy of Acknowledgement

If you are in the thick of the highs and lows of your motherhood journey, take it from me: Take care of yourself. Go to therapy and lean on your village. If you don’t have a village, build one. Find a mom group and get lunch with a friend. Take a shower. Take a full, hot shower. Eat nourishing meals and drink your water. Schedule a massage. Schedule a monthly massage and get a facial. Or a pedicure. Better yet, get a full mani-pedi. Go to the gym or go for a walk. Call a loved one and spend quality time with your partner. Set a bedtime for yourself . . . and keep it. Make a to-do list but give yourself grace. You’re doing everything you can.

Motherhood is as messy, beautiful, and raw as it gets, and there are highs and lows. As moms, we have no choice but to buckle up and ride the ride: all the ups, the downs, the detours, all of it. We shift, grow, and take it all as it comes. And somehow, we always make it one more day. We make it one fleeting day at a time, the extreme highs, extreme lows, and everything in between.

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Katie is a proud mom of two young children with an extensive background in childhood education and social-emotional development. She holds her Master's in Education from University at Buffalo and… Read more

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