I’m tired as hell. Baby T is experiencing the 4-month sleep regression, if that is even a thing. Or maybe he is just trying my patience. Or it’s the impending super moon. I don’t know what the root cause is, but the outcome is complete exhaustion. He won’t stay asleep, and is wakeful often during the night. Even if he isn’t up to eat or be changed, the noise from across the hallway is echoed eerily in the monitor on my nightstand. My under eye circles are so dark they make eggplants jealous.

The fun is multiplied during the day because every time I put him down, he starts crying. I am lucky to get him to take a nap in his crib, so I can eat, or shower. Usually eat. And go to the bathroom in silence. The rest of the day, though, he babbles happily away…as long as I hold him in various positions and keep him entertained. He is literally being a milk leech at this point, but latching to my breast isn’t enough. My little guy is like a cute tumor protruding from my body at all times.

No one told me it would be this hard. No one warned me that motherhood was the hardest thing I would ever do.

Okay sure, I knew being a parent would be challenging. I was aware, although not completely prepared for, the sleepless nights. I knew I would be responsible for a tiny, demanding human.

I didn’t know it would be this hard.

I am not only a mom. I am a caregiver, a teacher, a nurse, a chef, a maid, a wife, a lover, a sacrifice. I didn’t mention a woman. It often feels like there isn’t enough of me left to be one in her entirety. I try. I try to be everything to everyone, and leave little for myself. An unintentional martyr. I look for no credit. I only seek to make sure I give my boys everything they need. Their fulfillment is my happiness.

I didn’t know it would be this hard on my body.

My breasts are heavy and low from milky tissue. My belly jiggles from remnants of a 36 week pregnancy stint. I gave my body to create a little miracle, and I love him so much it often makes me teary. I don’t recognize the woman I see in the mirror much these days. Gone are the days of a full face of makeup and styled hair. Gone is the toned body I had worked hard to achieve.

I didn’t know it would be this hard on my mind.

Many days are mentally challenging. The hormones make me emotional, the sleeplessness makes me foggy. T often tries my patience. Some days I feel like I cannot be the mother that he needs. Some days I mark my success by keeping him fed, clean, and safe. Even when T is quiet and content during the day, having to constantly hold him and never being able to put him down is a mental challenge I did not expect. Who complains about a happy baby? I feel guilt. I just want ten minutes to myself.

I didn’t know it would be this hard.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to sometimes feel drained, if not somewhat resentful, that you can’t be you anymore. It happens. Creating a life means permanently changing yours. Change brings many things. There is no such thing as all happiness all the time. There is an ebb and flow with every life event.

I didn’t know I could be this happy and love this deeply.

I don’t recognize the woman in the mirror much. But I like who I see a lot better. She is strong and secure. She doesn’t worry about how she looks to anyone else anymore. She cares about what is truly important in her life. She works hard. She loves harder. She finally feels complete.

Motherhood is hard, but it is the best thing that has ever happened to me.