There’s a reason motherhood memes packed full of snarky humor get shared like the plague on social media. What can I say to sum up this whirlwind of hormones and feelings and real life? It’s hard. That’s it. There’s nothing profound about the fact that motherhood (parenthood) demands everything you have and then some.

Some days can feel like a literal uphill climb without any of the right gear.

On others, the stars align, or you all slept well the night before, or someone somewhere did some kind of rain dance and now everything’s running smoothly. The toddler even tried a new food without complaining. And it was green! Truly a miracle.

But even on those uphill climbing days, you come to find that there’s a small piece of you that knows how to tackle the climb, even when your brain is suggesting that you’re ill-equipped for this adventure.

I’m not prepared for this. No one is, but we learn as we go.

What am I doing? The best you can.

What if I don’t make it? You can and you will.

I’m going to ruin this kid’s life. The fact that you worry about ruining anyone’s life means you care enough not to. Careless people don’t worry.

Will I ever sleep again? Sorry, no.

(The brain has a point on that last one.)

The truth is that the choice to be a mom doesn’t end once you decide to birth a child (or adopt one, or foster one). Motherhood requires a constant choice to be a mother: to show up, even when everything feels wrong; to love those little people in your house, even though you know the days are long but the years are short; and to put one foot in front of the other, on good days and challenging ones alike.

That small but powerful voice arguing with your brain’s faulty logic keeps you going, gives you strength when you didn’t know you needed it. Because it is strength. Motherhood teaches you the lessons you need when you need them (and no sooner).

You learn how to be strong, and sometimes it’s unconscious.

You might not be able to lift a car over your head, but you can withstand the force of a grocery store meltdown. You can dry tears that flowed freely just moments before – sometimes your child’s, sometimes your own. You have the skills that you need to handle whatever’s happening because you made a choice, like you do every day, sometimes by the second, to be stronger than you feel.

Not all days as a mom are challenging. It can seem that way at the beginning, when everyone’s getting the hang of things. But the good days eventually overpower the bad. Your brain might remember every sleepless night and the 3 a.m. feeding and the colicky evening, but that small voice inside your head – ever the optimist and cheerleader – forgets it all.

You find a different kind of strength.

The moments of grinding your teeth from frustration melt into moments of true joy as you watch all your hard work start to take shape. The toddler can get his own snacks, brush his own teeth, sleep without diapers. In these hard-won moments, you realize that you’ll need a new kind of fortitude as you prepare for the days ahead. In just a few short years, your mini-me will be much, much bigger. School and driving and love interests and so many choices.

But as big as your little one gets, the small bit of you that knows what she or he is doing, it will be okay. You’ll find your path and your footing, even if it’s just a step at a time, one in front of the other.

And for some women today, that first step may be confirming the pregnancy or making a decision about which path to take. For many others, that step is looking for resources and support for parenthood – no matter how you decide to go about it.

Call us. Come in. We’re here for you. Empowering women, supporting moms, and helping you find your inner strength – it’s what we do.

Choices Chattanooga is a faith-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the state of Tennessee. All services are confidential and free of charge. Walk-ins are welcome but ultrasounds are available by appointments only. Choices does not refer for or perform abortions.