My alarm used to go off Monday through Friday at 3:15 a.m. 

I’d drive the few miles to the TV station where I worked, in the dark of a city still mostly asleep. I’d cake on makeup, straighten my bleach-blonde hair, and act pleasant and awake on live TV for a couple of hours. It was a grueling schedule, and I thought I knew then what it was to be tired. 

Then, I became a mother. 

And now, I KNOW. 

Motherhood ushers in a particular brand of exhaustion only moms understand—the kind that settles into the very marrow of your bones and leaves you perpetually a little delirious. 

It’s restless nights in pregnancy, constantly feeling uncomfortable and physically worn. 

It’s the wait—the long, l-o-n-g wait for a baby to finally be in your arms. 

It’s anxiety over properly spaced feedings, and how many dirty diapers did she have, and can we remedy the gassy tummy? 

It’s still of the night rocking with a feverish baby, whispering prayers and soothing lullabies.

It’s marriage taking a temporary (but seemingly never-ending) back seat to the constant demands of the tiny human in your care. 

It’s adding a sibling (maybe a few?), multiplying your love, but dividing your already dwindling energy. 

It’s toddlers who can’t possibly eat bent cheese or broken granola bars, who absolutely cannot believe you didn’t know they require the red cup, not the green one. 

It’s searching for matching shoes before flying out the door, always five-minutes later than you planned to leave.

It’s signing permission slips; practicing spelling words; shuttling children to soccer practice, piano lessons, playdates. 

It’s laundry that lives in mountains in the corner of the living room floor. It’s dishes that multiply at an astonishing rate, disproportionate to the number of people actually using plates and cups and the smaller spoons.

It’s so. Many. Papers. On. The. Kitchen. Counter. 

It’s worrying about the friends the kids are choosing; the choices they’re making; the influences they’re valuing. 

It’s praying for their safety. Rejoicing when they succeed. Suffering when they hurt.

It’s all the things seen and unseen, the definition of motherhood that doesn’t fit in any dictionary or Wikipedia entry. It’s physical. Emotional. Mental. And all things in between.

It’s no wonder mothers are always this exhausted. 

These days it’s true, I’m a far cry from the bleach-blonde talking head I once played on TV—and yes, I’m infinitely more tired. 

But you know something wonderful, despite it all?

I wouldn’t trade this tired for the world. 

You might also like:

A Mother’s Mind Never Rests, Because We Carry The Mental Load

To the Tired Mom in the Middle of the Night

I’ll Hold You Instead

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom