On my worst days I say I can’t do this anymore—and on my worst days I do it anyhow. I show up. Maybe with greasy hair, overstretched yoga pants, and an underfed belly, but nonetheless I show up.

Anyone who tells you motherhood isn’t hard is selling you something. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever loved. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost four years now, and self admittedly, my personality is the furthest thing away from a stay-at-home-mom. I’m busy and impatient; moody and intolerant. I loathe arts and crafts. I can’t pretend play to save a life. At the end of most days I feel like I’ve done everything, yet nothing at all. I’ve broken up fights, fed too many fast food meals, gone from happy and proud to embarrassed and enraged all within a matter of minutes. I’ve been challenged all day, yet haven’t really had to think. My brain feels like mush; my body feels lumpy and in desperate need of a trainer and a massage. I’ve been over-touched and just want to be alone, but then once alone I spend my time scrolling through pictures of my kids. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, it’s hard.

But it’s so, so worth it. Every day that I don my mothering hat and show up for these little people, they crack me open. Their love gets to my core—they change me from the inside out. All of my pieces scattered and shifted when I became a mother. I didn’t know this new woman; I was unrecognizable at best. But over time the pieces began to realign—just in a different pattern—making me different. I became more tolerant of people’s differences, more accepting of my own. I became stronger: physically, yes, from carrying an arched-back toddler in the throes of a tantrum, but also mentally, and spiritually. I stopped caring about what others thought and started fighting for what felt right. They were growing and so was I. But not in the ways I expected.

So I’ve come to realize that’s the gift, today and all days. We may be caring for them (exhaustedly), but they are changing us. Let them! Let yourself become better. Let them watch you gain, and grow, and fall, and scream, and say “I’m sorry”. It’s all part of the dance. And let yourself know that you are human, not superhuman. It’s wonderful to have the best day ever—it’s more realistic to not. Just show up anyway. Their spirits count on it.

And so does yours.

You may also like:

I Did it Anyway

Motherhood is the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love

A Mother’s Work Is Never Done—But Always Worth It

Stephanie Hanrahan

Stephanie Hanrahan is wife to a sick husband, mother to special needs kiddos, and a woman who often unravels then finds her footing again. Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she leaks nothing but the truth.