Have you ever experienced a season of parenting that feels especially hard? Where the questions outnumber the answers? Where you find yourself experiencing less joy and more heartache?

Maybe you are questioning your ability to parent your kid well. Maybe your child is having problems at school. Maybe finances are tight, or your child is experiencing health issues.

Or maybe you can’t pinpoint anything major, but all the little things have added up, leaving you feeling overwhelmed or defeated.

Perhaps you think if you share your struggle, no one will understand. Or even worse? If you do choose to share, someone might tell you to “stop complaining”—that children are a blessing and you should just be grateful.

So you remain silent, and you forge on.

But sister? You and I weren’t meant to walk through these hard seasons alone.

The first few months of motherhood were extremely rough for me. My son had feeding issues right from the start that continued to plague us for weeks. When he wasn’t asleep, he was crying or on the verge of crying. He didn’t sleep well at night and his naps were short and sporadic.

I was sleep deprived beyond measure. When my husband left for work, I cried because I didn’t know how I was going to survive another day alone with my unhappy baby.

During one especially difficult night, I remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” It was hard to reconcile my current reality with all the naïve thoughts of newborn bliss I had conjured up in my mind during pregnancy. Motherhood was harder than I had ever imagined it would be.

When my son was about a month old, a well-meaning friend asked if I was loving every minute of being a mom. I wasn’t even sure how to respond. Her comment made me feel like I should be, and I definitely wasn’t. I felt like there was something wrong with me.

After a couple of months, I decided I needed to try to meet other local moms. Our hospital had a mommy/baby group, and I was hopeful I would meet someone else who had experienced some of the same things I had.

What I found, instead, were moms who looked like they belonged on the cover of Parenting Magazine. They gushed about how wonderful breastfeeding was. They were heartbroken about going back to work. Their babies never seemed to cry. I smiled and pretended to relate to everything they were saying, but their experiences sounded nothing like mine. Still, I had hope that if I continued to go to this group, I would eventually meet someone who felt like I did.

During one of these sessions, I had stepped away from the group to comfort my son. The nurse who ran the group came over to check on me. When she asked how I was doing, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The dam burst.

I sobbed and told her how hard motherhood had been. I told her how lonely I was. I told her how guilty I felt for wanting time away from my son. She gave me a hug, and when she opened her mouth to speak, she gave me the greatest gift anyone could have given me in that moment: “I understand exactly how you feel. I was you 10 years ago.”

She went on to tell me about her own struggles as a new mom. She validated my feelings. And she taught me a huge lesson about vulnerability. She taught me it was OK to share my truth. When I felt like I was drowning, she threw me a life preserver. I left that day feeling lighter than I had in weeks.

In hindsight, I know there were probably other new mamas in that group experiencing some of the same struggles, but maybe they were too ashamed or scared to speak up. I wish I could go back and let them know they weren’t alone.

Why do I share this story?

Because I am going through another hard season of parenting now.

But I’m no longer afraid to reach out. I have learned to be vulnerable. I know there are other mamas who have had these same experiences, and sharing what I am going through is how I get through these hard seasons. I have realized I don’t have to walk this path alone.

And I also know that sharing about the hard parts of parenting doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be a mom—despite what anyone else might say.

Friend, if you are in a hard season too, don’t be afraid to share your own truth. I know from experience how scary it can be. But you will feel a huge weight lift from your shoulders when another mama comes alongside you and says, “I understand. I have been there, too.”

We are all in this together. And that is a beautiful thing.

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Miracles in the Mess