I know you're busy fixing lunch, refereeing the latest ridiculous argument between the two oldest, washing everyone's dishes for the fourth time today, but I need to tell you something important: I see you.
I see you rubbing your temples, wishing the baby had strung together a few more hours of sleep so you didn't feel like crawling back into bed at 9:30am. I see you, sighing as you bend to pick up tiny toys strewn about the living room floor. I see you, glancing the clock, calculating how long it is until the next activity requires you to find misplaced shoes, make sure everyone's been to the bathroom, and buckle toddlers and preschoolers into car seats.
I see you, deep in the trenches of motherhood.
I see you blowing raspberries on the baby's soft, round belly, delighting in the giggles that follow. I see you, heart brimming with pride as you listen to your kindergartener read a book aloud for the first time, grateful for the sparkle of joy reflecting in his eyes. I see you, kissing those sweetly sticky heads when you think they're asleep, tucking blankets around their chins, and murmuring soft "I love yous" into the stillness.
I see you, buoyed by the joys of everyday moments.
But, I've got to ask: do you see you?
I'm not talking about the one 75% of this household calls “Mommy.” Don't get me wrong, she's pretty great; she's doing the best she can at a job she was born to do—but she's not all there is to you.
Think about it: before you earned the title of Mommy, you were...who?
Sure, you were basically the same deep down, but you define yourself now in very different terms. Car seats and classrooms. Pediatricians and play dates. Bath times and babysitters. But if you visited a parallel universe without all those "Mommy" things, would you be able to pick yourself out of the crowd? Don't worry, it's OK if the answer right now is no. But someday soon, steal a few moments to rediscover the person behind the sticky fingers and responsible schedules, because she's worth it, too.
Take time away from the kids. It doesn't mean you love them any less if you need an hour or two free from their constant needs. Go on a date, and try to remember what that was like before you had kids, or a house, or half a dozen busy schedules to manage. Do something just for you, and don't feel guilty about it later. Taking care of yourself helps you take better care of the ones who need you so completely right now.
It's true what they say: "The days are long but the years are short." Sooner than you think, your round-the-clock tending will be less demand at home. And when that day comes, it would be a shame to meet it feeling lost and left wondering, "What now?"
It sounds almost terrifying, I know, but don't let "Mommy" define you completely. Embrace your role, but don't lose yourself to it.
Because, you know something? The one who's older and wiser, whose life has been enriched by love and loss and happiness and hardship, who is a better version of the self she was before she was Mommy? She's pretty awesome.