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To All The Struggling Moms

Photograph by Getty Images

“Don’t quit until the miracle happens,” is a slogan used in 12-step recovery programs. It’s used to bolster the spirits of the struggling alcoholic or addict who can’t get clean. Recovering addicts with long-term sobriety offer hope to those who remain mired in the struggle by assuring them that miracles do exist and if they stick with recovery, their miracle is coming.

You know who else needs this slogan? Mothers.

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Many times during my motherhood I’ve felt as desperate and strung out as a struggling alcoholic. When I was a new mother, I couldn’t imagine nursing my baby without both of us sobbing in frustration and pain. Veteran mothers who had gone before me offered me lots of assurance, all along the same lines as that given to struggling drug addicts and alcoholics.

And my struggles have not been confined to my early months as a mother. Today, my oldest child is 4, and I still fall into despair about my short temper or my inability to spend more than four hours with my kids before trying to hide in the bathroom for an extra-long break.

Would I ever have time for myself?

At every juncture, I have felt like I was drowning as I waited for the miracles to arrive. I’ve wondered if I would ever figure out the carpool line. Would I ever make peace with my own way of mothering and stop comparing myself to others? Would my children ever get along for more than five seconds? Would I ever have time for myself?

The miracles have always arrived, but they were always proceeded by dark moments when I doubted their arrival with every fiber in my being. I’ve felt like an addict jones'ing for a drink as I prayed for the hard parts of mothering my children to transform into something different. Something easier.

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When I look into the eyes of a mother struggling with some stage I have passed through, I borrow that slogan from the recovery world. Instead of telling her how my kids started sleeping through the night or when my breasts felt like they belonged to me again, I look her straight in her tired eyes and say, “Don’t quit until the miracle happens.” Because the miracles do happen, and sometimes we just need to be reminded to hang on a little bit longer.

Image via Getty

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