This is to the new mom. The mom that has spit up on her clothes. The mom that has breast milk leaking through her shirt and is wearing the same clothes three days in a row. The mom who hasn’t showered or used the bathroom alone in years. The mom who locks herself in the bathroom crying because nobody told her it would be this hard.

I was that mom. My husband would find me in a crumpled mess crying daily six months after I had my third child. Although I did not suffer from postpartum depression the reality of having 3 kids under five years old home all day long was hard. Many times a day I would question the decision to have three kids. I loved each of my kids so much but I constantly questioned it. Did I make the right decision? How am I going to do this? I can’t handle it. I will never be able to mother these children the way they deserve. The loneliness coupled with a body that I didn’t even know and the isolation of motherhood in those early days dragged me deeper into a fog. I was not myself. To an outsider I was fine but to those close to me something changed. I felt this way for years.

I didn’t want to leave the house because it was just so hard.  Taking all three kids out was exhausting. It was full on cardio! Chasing, trying to be patient and trying to smile.  I had to look like I had it all under control.  At least when I was home I could contain the chaos.  No one could see the crazy.

Eventually it slowly started to change.  We would have moments where we were starting to have a family rhythm. There were more good days then bad and I finally started to feel like myself again. It took years to find my way as a mom and as myself.

Today I am no longer the mom with babies. I’m the mom who drops her preschooler off and can go shopping or home to binge watch TV shows and have a cup of coffee(that stays hot!). Not too long ago I was the mom who had one in preschool and two in the car crying or missing their nap. There was a time where I had to please 3 little ones and try to keep my sanity. Now my days are spent playing with my youngest son and soaking up this last year of having a child home. The days of hiding in the bathroom seem so distant.

Parenting elementary kids has its own set of challenges. There are sibling arguments, figuring out appropriate youtube videos, electronic time battles, and the many outside influences from peers to pop culture. I send my babies to school everyday trusting their teachers to take care of them because after all, we went through hell to get here. I miss the days when I had them all to myself everyday and I realize how lucky I was. I’ve forgotten the long days and nights of feedings, diapers, teething, nap schedules, and colic. They have been replaced with snuggling babies, first steps, first smiles, and first words.

Nothing will ever compare to those first few years of motherhood. The years when your body is no longer your own or recognizable. The years that you thought were supposed to be the happiest times that you longed for but turned out to be so hard. The years that looking back were little miracles and moments that have bonded your family and gave you what you have always wanted.

As a mom that made it out onto the other side I want you to know that it is all worth it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Please know that you are not alone in this. Even in your darkest loneliest times you are not alone. There is a community of moms out there that may not know your name but they know your secret. When you see them in your matching new mom clothes, baseball cap and yoga pants, give them a smile and know that you are never alone.