This morning dawned early and your eyes felt gritty when you tried to pry them open – possibly with the help of someone small and demanding. You made breakfast, lunches, snacks. You filled and refilled sippies, negotiated juice rationing and gave in more than a few times. You hauled laundry up and back two flights of stairs and marveled at just how much there is, especially since the 3 year old won't keep pants on for more than 5 minutes at a time.
I saw you carry a screaming toddler with one arm, pulling a full cart of groceries with the other while the baby on your back gleefully pulled your hair. You braved the check out line with two wailing kids and gave in and bought fast food on the way home because, in that moment, a cup of coffee was a necessity. You went home and did the same thing again, moving groceries and babies from car to house, carrying a fast asleep toddler, baby and as many bags as you can hold on the very first pass.
You cleaned a fridge and mopped the floor. Then you swept again because someone smashed a full box of cookies while you weren't looking for a half second. You pushed nap fighters around the block in a stroller for an hour with that baby in the back pack again. Then you gave up and pushed them on the swing for another hour. You made dinner and cleaned the kitchen. Then you served dinner and cleaned the kitchen. You swept again. Your legs throbbed and your feet ached and when you sat down, someone told you they were still hungry and wanted a snack. You tried to watch a movie with your spouse after the kids were in bed but were fast asleep 15 minutes into it.
My Mom comments when I pick up two babies at once to carry them home, “This is the strongest time of your life. This moment you are working harder than you ever will again.” And I believe it.
The thing is, you haven't been truly sedentary since you started to grow that first baby. Even on the days you didn't find time to “work out,” you worked out. You lifted, twisted, chased, ran, danced, reached, swayed, rocked, walked, moved – almost the entire time you were awake. You work hard, growing and feeding babies and chasing toddlers and hauling laundry. You play hard, taking bike rides and pushing strollers and dragging gear to and from the beach. If you were created for this job that makes you move from the moment you open your eyes til you drop into bed at night, isn't it time to accept that this body looks just as it's meant to? Not photoshopped perfection, but something even better. Something used for it's intended purpose. Love.Work. Life.
Dear hard-working Mama, you're the epicenter of your family. The holder of all the hearts. Your work sculpts you into a thing of beauty, whatever your size or shape. You serve and give and empty yourself all day every day and that has transformed you into something more.
So when I see you on the beach with a baby snoozing on your shoulder and your toddler burying your feet in the sand, I'm not thinking about how you compare to the (faked) photos in the catalogs that flood your mailbox. I'm thinking about how beautiful it is to see someone who fully, wildly and humbly embraces the way motherhood has changed them – and how breathtaking the strength that results.