As mothers, no matter how many other "hats" we wear, we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no sick days we can call in for someone to take our place. There are no personal days we can prep for - it's us. We push our limits on a daily basis until we can push no more. But then what?
We begin to travel and exist in a "cruise control" mode and very dangerously do so. We are there, physically, but emotionally and mentally we already have checked out. Have you ever caught yourself driving in this frame of mind? Although somehow you made it safely to your destination, but have no clue how? You have no remembrance of barely getting yourself in the vehicle, turning the key and if you have the children, did you secure them properly? Did you actually read the exit signs to make your turns, stop at the red lights and follow the hundreds of traffic laws?
As mothers, we push ourselves to the max, because for the majority of the time, there is no other choice. We can cry about it, throw ourselves a little pity party, stomp our feet and complain until there's no one left within a mile's radius to hear us, but sadly nothing changes. If anything, we've just made the situation worse.
Each day I battle with the fact that this disastrous economy prohibits so many women from doing what they feel they should be doing, like perhaps being able to stay home full time and raise their children.
We peel arms off from around our necks and legs, wipe cheeks and noses from the tears of our little ones coping with saying goodbye to mommy and off we go.
We go from one job to the next, meeting the requests of the workforce then answering and delivering the demands of our squadrons at home.
There are times it is physically hard to pick ourselves up and make it from one room to the next. Some moments call for some mental coaching of trying to tell one leg to put itself in front of the other and cheering on your eyelids to stay open.
We are up all night, whether it's feeding, consoling or pacing the halls, but that doesn't mean we get to sleep all day.
We are the doctor, lawyer, teacher, police officer, chef, chauffeur, maid, cheerleader, hair stylist, family therapist (even though we may need therapy sessions of our own), financial advisor, dental hygienist, spiritual leader and among many other fabulous titles, household CEO.
When we find ourselves sulking in self-pity, tearing our hair out and fighting the incessant yawns from the sleepless night before, that is right when we must seek out the positives in each day, even if some days we must search a bit harder. We vow to chase the mindset that these challenges will only make us stronger.
To say that motherhood is a roller coaster may just be quite the understatement.
One hour you are living on a high and proud; you are basking in your children's glory and the world seems to be standing still as you are beyond overjoyed. The very next hour, as high as you were flying, you quickly come crashing down.
It's all you can do to remain somewhat stable as you are ready to explode, crumble to pieces or lock yourself in the nearest closet.
There are so many days we constantly question and doubt ourselves simply because there is nothing left.
But the truth is, we never know how strong we are until it's the only choice we have.
Throughout the day you can find yourself using the wise words of a sweet little fish and quietly whisper, "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming."
Every day we are faced with a new curveball and whether we are ready for it or are completely blindsided, it's upon us and now we need to switch to our superhero form and do what we do.
We watch the same television shows and movies over and over to the point we can recite each and every line of the characters.
We bounce and dance and sing to the same songs, again and again, and despite feeling as if our head could pop if we hear it one more time, we still smile and belt out singing as if this was one of our all-time favorites.
Did you ever notice we run ourselves into the ground so much, so hard and so frequently, that we just keep going for the anticipated fear knowing that the first moment we actually take the much needed break that is several weeks, months (OK, years) overdue, that is when your body will collapse.
The second it gets a taste of a real, true rest, it will not let you go back to that unrealistic pace and attempts to chain you down for as long as possible to recuperate and recover.
As mothers, we learn that unfortunately life doesn't get easier for us, but rather we must just get stronger. We make mistakes and hope we've learned from them the first time around. We scrape and search tirelessly for mental toughness and when our bodies say "no," our minds clamber back with a fierce "YES."
I think the best way to define the role of motherhood is, it's the perfectly imperfect job. We have the ability to take failures and messes and turn them into beautiful disasters. We have the ability to tell the doubters to step aside and watch it be done.
When we are asked how we do it every single day and make it happen, we can take the words from Katy Perry and confidently reply with, "Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar."
We are the most imperfectly perfect creatures on this Earth, and we go by the name of Mom.
Long is a local author and mother of three. Her column is published on the first and third Sunday of each month.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.