I’m. So. Tired. And I’m scared. Scared to admit how hard I find it. Scared to let people in to see my struggle. Scared of the judgment I expect to see. Because I knew motherhood would be hard. But I never expected it to be like this.

It’s like boot camp. You get dumped in the deep end and you learn to swim through it, while somehow in the process you earn entry into the “mom club” where you finally get things that no uninitiated person would ever fully grasp. There’s a kind of camaraderie there. You form a bond of sorts with every other mom who has been through the same struggles. You see, in some respects it is fashionable to be tired when your newborn is keeping you up at night. You may even find a few words of “glad I’m not the only one!” when you share that it’s your 4 year old who is *still* not letting you get a full night’s rest. But when your experience begins to stray from the common narrative, or linger too long on the negative, you begin to wonder if the masses would be as accepting.

I’ve read every blog that’s crossed my path about the strong-willed or spirited child, clinging to any shred of hope that my child is normal. Of course, every child is an individual. But can it be true that some kids are really that much harder to live with than others? Or is there substance to the fear that maybe I’m not good enough, strong enough, kind enough, to love my children through the pains of growing up.

I follow blogs by people who have fostered and adopted multiple children, special needs kids and kids with attachment disorders, and it terrifies me that I find myself nodding along when they describe some of the struggles common to adopting and fostering when this is the child I birthed from my very own body. I tried to do everything right, from pregnancy onwards. And yet still I find it so hard to connect with my child, to let him feel secure. And still we fight.

They say if you want to grow in holiness, get married. If you want to bump it up a notch, have kids. There’s nothing like a crucible to bring about refinement. But I guess that is the hard part. Sin. I had a friend who gave me one of those being a mother after God’s heart type books when my firstborn was a baby. I couldn’t really get past that first chapter about getting my own heart right before I could properly mould a child’s heart. Problem is, there’s so much selfishness there and so much dying to self that needs to happen, all. the. time. It just gets overwhelming sometimes. And then you add the sin of stubborn little people, who are learning and pushing boundaries. And who don’t yet have the Holy Spirit. I sometimes wonder how anyone gets it right.

But you see, everyone else seems to have their stuff together. I’d totally believe them if they tell me they never raise their voices. Well, I’m a passionate, emotional type person, and I haven’t yet figured out how to completely cut off that side of my personality. If I’m angry, you’ll hear about it. Unfortunately, so do my kids. I’ve been reading all the positive parenting stuff. I’ve prayed. I’ve preached the gospel to myself (however half-heartedly). And there has been progress, don’t get me wrong. But some days… Some days I just want to run out my door and never come back because I’m convinced my kids would be better off without me.

It’s in those moments that the struggle gets real. When your children haven’t complied with any of your requests all day. When you’ve been butting heads from the moment you got dragged out of bed to 10 o’clock at night where your little people take turns refusing to go to bed (or stay there). When you haven’t had a chance to connect meaningfully with another adult in days. Where you have no energy to crawl around on the floor and play trains or break up another sibling fight. When you haven’t had a moment to yourself all day and the words “Mommy,  I want you!” make your skin crawl.

These are the moments that make up so much of the hard days. The moments that I have to cling all that much harder to the truths of the gospel. And to hold on to those moments of tenderness and beauty. My kids have seen me cry. In anger. In frustration. In sorrow. And they’ve seen me begging God for grace. These moments of weakness have opened the doors to some beautiful conversations about God and sin and grace and forgiveness. My kids are learning that we all need Jesus. Their mommy most certainly does.

[For more stories of parents who have found it particularly tough, click here]