What If Only One of Us Can Live?

Neither can live while the other survives…

I hate to admit it, but some days this is what motherhood feels like.

The more I give to you, the less there is of me.

The more you need, the less I have.

The more you cling and cry and try to get close, the more I crave space, the more I want to get away (cue mom guilt extreme).

The more you grow, running now from place to place, the more I stay unshowered, greasy hair pulled back in a 3 day old bun, taunting me from the top of my head while you pull on my shirt from below, somehow despite everything, still needing me so, so, so damn freaking much.

There are other days.

Days I feel a glowing pride for all I am able to do for you, for how you are growing so strong and sure under my dedicated care.

There are days I manage to find more balance, to remember what needs to be remembered: namely, this too shall pass.

And there are days when I take what I need without guilt, knowing it’s the right thing to do, knowing that I cannot be much for you if I am not enough for myself.

On those days I feel the most at home in this exquisite burden of motherhood.

But on days like today, when the end of the day crawls painfully across the finish line, haggard and spent, it seems as though the battle is destined to end in the annihilation of someone.

There’s just no way it can go on like this, croons the lullaby from the speaker on minute 49 of bedtime routine.

Then, with skin crawling, breath held tight in her chest, the worst mom in the world goes in for the second milkless feeding and gently pulls her sore nipple from your almost relaxed lips because she is sure you will not both survive another second of this day and she closes the door — again — behind her.

And then, grace.

Sleep arrives before any further choices between you and me need to be made.

Saved by (no, not a bell, are you insane? If you ring a bell right now I will literally… never mind) the sweet, sweet breath of a resting child.

And after some tears of my own, and some deep, deep breaths, and some chocolate granola with almond milk and extra chocolate, and maybe an apple with cinnamon cut in very thin, careful, even slices, and some tea in a real mug, without a lid, that I both watch steep and sip sitting down, I too lie down to rest, grateful for the space between now and the next sunrise, when I will wake to recommit myself to slowing down, getting my ego out of the way, remembering what matters and what doesn’t, and to finding the middle ground.

So we both can live and be our best.

Somehow.

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