This season of life? It’s hard.

Actually, it feels more than hard. What is it? Difficult? Trying? Strenuous? Exhausting? No, it’s all of that compiled into one giant helluva pile.

You’ve probably read my most recent post, “The Seven Layers of Hell, aka Life Lately,” and if you haven’t, you may want to start there. There’s been sickness after sickness, one doctor visit after another, and loneliness. Lots and lots of loneliness.

If you’re a mom, you’ve been there. Your kid throws up, and you strip him butt naked, strip the bedding, rinse out the bedding, wash the bedding, and you just keep going. The afternoon and evenings continue and you think, “I’m kind of hungry. Food kind of sounds good right now,” but there’s more to get done.

A walk would be nice. Some fresh air, Vitamin D, breathing in something other than a gigantic bubble of sickness. But life just keeps going. Friends go out to dinner, to the mall, to movies, to work out together. Summer parties happen, food, drinks, affection.  And yet, here I am, Mom, stuck in the middle, wiping one more surface, picking up one more toy to disinfect, wishing someone would text me and say:

Hey, I’m coming over. We’re going out so that you can have a break.

It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? If you don’t have kids, maybe you’re thinking, “You signed up for this. You wanted to be a Mom. You wanted kids. You should be thankful.” Trust me, I’m thankful for my title. I’m grateful that God chose me to raise these two little souls. Their laughter is contagious, their hugs are indescribable, their kisses magical. But before this, I didn’t know what it looked like. No one does. We don’t plan for these things, we can’t prepare for these seasons, they just happen. Crap hits the fan, and when it does, you feel alone. Nobody warned you.

My husband hasn’t been absent or missing; he’s been anything but. He’s a hands-on Dad. He has been here with me in the trenches, cleaning up vomit, quick with the puke pans and making sure that we’re all cared for. But as I’ve gotten older, I long for womanhood–for a Tribe perhaps, that feels like my own, as we support and rely on each other. High school was so so. I played sports and was involved in after school programs. I had the same best friends from the time I was 4-years old until I left for college. No, we aren’t all still BFFs who call each other weekly or send goofy text messages, but they are my very best friends. I’m grateful for social media and for it allowing so many of us to stay in touch. From Boston to Denver to Utah to Michigan, it’s fun catching up on photos and watching everyone live their lives.

But what about here and now when my church community is shifting, life is changing, and all of us are going through different seasons. And when my parents live six hours away and getting there with sick children is impossible. What about the present, when I am reminded that God called me to be a mother x 2, but I am tired of hearing why. I’m tired of looking forward to bedtime, and I’m tired of praying, “Lord, please just help us to be over sickness.” Life is busy but not in the fun ways. We’ve attempted dinner parties that had to be postponed due to illness. And each time we cancel plans, my heart sinks and fights hard to see the light.

This season of life? It’s lonely. But I refuse to allow it to win. Loneliness breeds so much negativity– darkness, and so much pain. So when I scrub the dog pee out of the carpet (yes, that happened) and when my daughter dunks her head into the toilet (yes, that happened too), I will remind myself, This too shall pass. These are the days, the years, that they need me the most. (Maybe not the pets, but definitely the ever-growing toddlers.) They cling to my legs and demand a hug and a kiss even when I’m leaving for a five-minute breath of fresh air. They fight still over Mommy putting them down, and this season of puke, fevers, sore throats and boo boos, well, it’s only that–a season.

I’ve felt sorry for myself lately, but I won’t anymore. I’ll listen to their deep belly laughs and snap pictures of their kitten cuddling naps. I’ll pray for a community, hold tightly to my girls who love me well, and believe that this temporary loneliness will not steal part of my life. And I’ll also continue to be honest. When you ask me, “How are you?” I have told you, “I’ve been better but I’ll be okay,” and I mean that.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but I know and believe that life gets better from here.