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Ahh, my first baby. That dreamy smile quickly faded when I realized they were going to make me take that baby home. And raise it. Without an instruction manual.

Once again the debate over who has it worse: the stay at home mom or the working mom is raging. I have never understood this contest. It’s like a sick race to the bottom, where the winner can declare “Yes! I have it the hardest! My life is the suckiest!” And lets be serious, that would be a short lived victory for either side because the kids would still be demanding dinner.

I have finished law school, studied, sat for and passed two bar exams. I have worked, moved three times at the Air Force’s whim and stayed at home all with kids in tow. So I feel slightly qualified to say this:

It isn’t what else you are or aren’t doing all day that makes motherhood hard. It’s motherhood itself. It’s that moment, whether by accident, luck or well thought out plan that you decided to become responsible for another human being, and to raise them to be at least productive and self reliant enough to move out of your house and get a job. So that you can once again go to the bathroom in peace.

I don’t know much about motherhood (if you’ve met my kids, you are nodding in agreement). But I do know this with 100% certainty to the bottom of my soul: you CANNOT get through this without other moms. Whether it’s your mom or sister, the girl you’ve known since kindergarten, the mom gracious enough to not be mad your kid bit hers 6 times at daycare this week, the woman you always gravitate to at the playdate or the mom you see regularly during your 9 a.m. Target run. You need her. And she needs you. You can’t do this alone.

No one but another mom is going to understand what it feels like to up be up (again) in the middle of the night and weep over that precious baby because you are scared beyond belief you may never sleep again. No one but another mother knows what it feels like to have guilt hit you so hard somewhere between Warrensburg and Kansas City on Highway 50 because you’ve left you baby at daycare for the first time you feel like you can’t breathe. No one but a mom knows the secret guilt of wishing, wishing that you had a job, because then just maybe you could talk to an adult today and go to the bathroom in peace. No one but another mom knows what it’s like to struggle, alone, everyday, feeling guilty and inadequate and worn out, like you don’t know what you’re doing. No one but another mom is going to be able to just look at you and know you need a piece of chocolate, a joke, a glass of wine, an offer to watch your kids for 10 minutes.

Motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart. What they don’t tell you in any book is how gut wrenchingly hard it is in so many different ways. There are so many other things we could be doing with all this energy, so many moms that need  healthcare for their babies, affordable daycare, understanding employers to a good hearty laugh and a cocktail. How much positive change could we effect if we all just got together? Now, where’s the wine . . .

ps- there are a few of you reading this who are the best, most wonderful moms and I am so very, very grateful you help me get through everyday. You know who you are.

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