Overwhelmingly, when it’s going not so great, parenthood feels like a mountain you just can’t climb. You’re too tired, you’re too sick, you’re too sad, you haven’t been taking care of yourself and someone small and helpless needs you to take care of them and it just feels so… unfair. And then you buckle down and do it anyway, because the alternatives are even more horrible.

For example, I was a dumbass a few days ago and forgot to drink enough water, and I’d also been pushing too many late nights, so by the end of the day I was a complete mess. I desperately needed sleep. So we all went to bed at 8:00… and then she started coughing. And crying. And needing comfort. I laid in that hypervigilant half-sleep of the parent whose child is sick until 1AM, when she finally coughed so hard she threw up. She needed a bath, the bed needed a total strip, we made iced mint tea for her tummy and cough, and we all watched Elmo until she finally fell asleep on my chest. The whole time, I was so sick and so weak, but she needed me. There’s a well of energy you have to discover as a parent that never empties, because there’s always a mountain to climb when you’re least prepared for it.

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