Dear mom: What to do when life is dark and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel
I remember sitting down in my room one evening in 2007 after tucking the children in bed. My husband’s schedule had been incredibly demanding, and motherhood, to me, felt like a prison. It hurts me to say that now, but that’s how I felt.
I was pregnant with our fourth child, which was very exciting after a painful miscarriage, but I was so tired and so taxed and so hormonal. I felt isolated, overworked and dark. Very, very dark.
I remember pulling out a notebook and writing down all the feelings and questions that came to me. Is this how motherhood had to be? Did it really need to feel so impossible? Was there anything I could do to make it better? Or did I just need to endure it and stop being so whiny? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?!
And then ideas started to come, and I filled up that notebook with brainstorms, and I started to make plans, and little by little, that tunnel started to feel mighty light. And the scribbles from that little notebook have grown.
Every single time I’m in a tunnel (and there have been a lot of them), I ask, “What can I do to receive light in here?”
And you know what? An answer has always come.
The light has poured out from my friends and family members, seeped through the pages of books, and shone through music, podcasts and uplifting media. It’s appeared in my journals, my phone conversations, and, most of all, from heaven.
If you are navigating a tunnel right now, don’t you believe for one second that you have to go through it in the dark.
It is entirely your choice to light that tunnel up.
Once you’re through your tunnel, your work isn’t done.
I saw this photo the other day, and I had to share it:
This is from a book called “She,” and the quote reads, “She not only saw a light at the end of the tunnel, she became that light for others.”
Isn’t that what keeps us going? The idea that perhaps this deep, wrenching pain of a tunnel we’re in can somehow help someone else in the future?
This is why being a mom is so priceless to me. Motherhood is the epitome of helping someone else through the tunnels of their lives.
I still call my mom when I’m struggling, and even though she won’t remember the conversation, her heart goes out to me, and she says, “April, you sound tearful. What’s the matter?” And then I let down my guard and choke back the sobs as I say, “Oh Mom, it’s just so hard.”
She listens. She takes my side. She tells me she wishes she could take my place.
Then she says, “I’m going to jump in the car right now and come take care of you.” And I know that can’t happen, so I say, “Mom, I just need you to let me tell you all about it, and then you can say, ‘There, there.’”
So she does. And it works.
The most meaningful and purposeful experiences I’ve ever had have happened in my own home, with my own family, in the midst of some of the longest, deepest tunnels.
Even though we don’t know the specifics of each others’ lives, there’s something extraordinary that bonds us as mothers. In one way or another, we’re all tunneling at the same time.
And somewhere inside each of us is the capacity to get through it and to shine. Really shine.
Today I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to you: Let the tunnel refine you, light up the process, and then give back and become that light for others.
Because someday, when others (especially your children) are talking about how they got through their tunnels, they will be talking about you.
QUESTION: What helps you get through your “tunnels”?
CHALLENGE: The next time you find yourself in one of those hard moments, stop to consider what you could do to let the experience refine you, how you could bring more light into the “tunnel” and what you could do in the future to help others in similar circumstances.
This article is courtesy of Power of Moms, an online gathering place for deliberate mothers.
This post is featured in the new book "Motherhood Realized."
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