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Hang on, Mamas

by Andrea Updyke

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This week has been a struggle for me, but I’m hanging on. I’m not facing anything earth-shattering but you know those weeks where you hear “no” more than “yes” and everything seems harder? That was this week.

Eight years ago today, I woke up as a mom. I had a brand new baby boy and no idea what the future would hold. To be honest, I loved being pregnant. I was one of the lucky ones, I admit. But during most of my first pregnancy I felt so alive and excited. I didn’t have too many issues until sleep became laughable at the very end. I guess carrying a nearly 11lb baby will do that to a person! 

Pregnancy for me, was freedom. I loved my giant belly and my waddle and the idea of my growing family. I embraced it fully. Of course, holding Oscar in my arms was mesmerizing and began this journey of becoming a mom. Nothing compares to that moment and I realized on that first day I would never stop this thing, this becoming. 

Paving the Way for Motherhood

Over the years, I’ve described my life as three really different lives. They are lives I somehow lived as one person, but the seasons were so drastically different, they’re hard to reconcile. 

At the moment, these seasons are easily divided into thirds. My childhood and teen years were spent in Florida with a loving traditional family full of friends and laughter. As the daughter of a Pastor, I had some unique travel opportunities growing up, taking mission trips to the Mexican jungle and spending a winter in Israel. My love of travel and learning about other cultures was born in these years and I carry it close to this day. 

When it was time for me to make my own choices though, I got off to a rocky start. I stopped attending the local community college after one semester to get married real quick. In my naivety, I thought I would take a semester or two off and be back at it in no time. But life doesn’t always go according to the optimistic plans of a 19-year old. The ending to that marriage was swift and unpleasant, sending me into a tailspin and consequently, North Carolina. 

Thus began my wandering years. When I first moved here, I lived with my parents to get my footing. I needed to work for a while so I could establish residency if college was going to be an option again. They graciously opened their home and I will be forever grateful.

Read: Facing Reality Doesn’t Mean Ignoring Beauty

After a year or two of working various admin jobs, I landed a position at an insurance agency and worked my way back into community college, taking classes at night and working full-time during the week to pay for it. I found some roommates and an apartment and was slowly forging my path. It was a long and winding path but I eventually transferred to and graduated from N.C. State with a degree in Political Science and a Spanish minor. 

Later that year, I met Jerry and as that story began to unfold, I knew I would be here in Raleigh for a while living my third life; my real life.  

Life as Mom

Well, today I had set my alarm for 6am so I could be up and enjoying my first cup of coffee before the kids came out at 7am. We have a system in the mornings where they play in their rooms when they wake up (usually around 6:30) and then come out for breakfast at 7. In the past eight years I’ve learned that I’m a morning person when I am in control, but if someone else drags me from sleep it’s not pretty. 

However, on this particular morning I found myself wide awake at 5am. Rather than scroll through Facebook waiting for my alarm, I decided to start my day. 

As I sit here reflecting on my three lives and my 8-year old man-child and my 5-year old firecracker before the sun is even up, I have to laugh. I am soooooo a mom. And I love it. 

A normal day as the mom of two boys

The Role of Mom

We’ve heard the celebrity speeches when they thank their kids and say their greatest role is mom or some such version. I’m no actress, but my brain still categorizes my life in this way with different roles or parts I’ve played as a woman. I think of these crazy different seasons and who I was in those times and I do feel a bit like I was a person trying on different roles until I found one that fit.

The role of Mom fits. 

I’m not one who would go back and change things about my past if I could. I know that I am here as a result of the life I led. And if you watch The Flash you know how messy time travel can be, so I’ll just leave it there. 

Hang on

What I might do however, is sneak a little note to myself to say hang on. Just, hang on. Hang on when you feel so lonely it’s turning your stomach. Hang on when you’re broke and you don’t know how ends are going to meet. Hang on when you have to move across the country to catch your breath. Hang on when the first school says no and the second school says no and you realize you are missing a high school math credit and it will cost you months of progress. Hang on when he breaks your heart. Hang on when you break your own heart. Hang on when you fail. Hang on when you wreck your car, again. Hang on to something out there. Hang on to something better. Hang on to truth. Hang on. Hang on. 

And even though I didn’t travel through time to tell myself these things, hanging on was all I could do in the hard times. I knew it in my gut. Sometimes all I knew how to do was hang on. And it was mothers who encouraged me and pulled me through. Because mothers know. They know the slow process of growing and birth and transition and pain. They know how to hang on. 

Hanging on is What Moms Do

Eight years into motherhood, I feel so much more grounded and secure in who I am. In part because of what motherhood is teaching me each day about myself and how I must adapt, but also from this collective knowing that this is what moms do. This is what we all do. We hang on. 

This week , the news won’t quit and life is tricky. The general public is agitated and the mood is tense yet here we are, celebrating life. We’re celebrating our first born and the day that changed us forever. It’s a pretty crazy juxtaposition from the rest of my mood and something that tells me to stop and appreciate it, to hang on.

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Maybe you are hanging on, wondering how you will take the next step and the next. I want to tell you something. You don’t have to know how you’ll take the next step, but you do need to hang on and trust that it will happen. And then the next. And then the season will lift and you’ll be able to look back and fit the puzzle pieces together.

We might be hanging on by a thread, but lets hang on because tomorrow we will be the ones telling that young girl to hang on. She needs us to show her how. You’ll find a minute to be grateful and you will catch your breath. It will happen, but it might not be today. So hang on. 

Funny. That sounds like something my mom would say. 

Hang, on Mamas. This is not the end. Read encouragement learned from years of hanging on by a thread. No one does it like a mom!

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3 comments

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3 comments

Corianne February 10, 2017 - 4:43 pm

Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m a mom in survival mode, just struggling to hang on, and I really appreciate reading this today.

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Andrea Updyke February 15, 2017 - 8:06 pm

Thank you so much for your comment. Some days are just so hard! Survival mode happens to everyone. You are not alone and I hope this week brings better days for you.

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