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Regan Long Headshot

Running on Fumes...

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As a mother, no matter how many other jobs we have, no matter how many other "hats" we wear, we are officially on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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 are the job. We push our limits on a daily basis until we can push no more. But then what?

We begin to travel and exist in cruise control and may I add, very dangerously do so. We are there physically, but emotionally and mentally we have already checked out. Have you ever caught yourself driving in this frame of mind? But somehow, by the sheer grace of God, 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, my God, 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 while barely maintaining an eye open at the wheel?

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 (come on, we know we have still been known to do this on occasion) 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, if at all possible.

Each day I battle with the fact that this disastrous economy prohibits so many women from being able to spend more time with 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 running; and it's only just begun.

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 for, well, just a few more hours.

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 drown in urine, vomit, tears and spit-up, but we still must kick and tread high, uncertain waters to stay afloat.

We are the doctor, lawyer, teacher, police officer, chef, chauffeur, maid, cheerleader, hair stylist, family therapist (even though most days, we personally need about 4-5 therapy sessions of our own), financial advisor, dental hygienist, spiritual leader and amongst many other fabulous titles, household CEO.

When we find ourselves sulking in the self-pity, tearing our hair out and fighting the incessant yawns from the sleepless night before, that is right when and where we must seek out the positives in each day, even if some days, we must search a bit harder. We vouch 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; you are 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 literally takes seconds to change the momentum of your day and the next thing you know, your focus is just to hang on tight and pray to God that you, and more importantly, the children, stay alive until bedtime. 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, candy bar in hand, and just sob yourself into a sweet slumber.

There are so many days we constantly question ourselves, we continually doubt and tell our self that we can't, we won't, 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 curve ball and whether we are ready for it or are completely blindsided, it's on us. We need to switch to our Superhero form and do what we do. Some days may be handled more gracefully than others, but what needs to be done, gets done.

We watch the same television shows and movies over and over to the point where we can recite each and every line of the characters we only attempt to escape and erase from our memory.

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 our 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. It attempts to chain you down for as long as possible to recuperate and recover you.

As a mother, we have learned that unfortunately, life doesn't get easier for us, but rather we must just get stronger. We make mistakes and by God, pray 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 that 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. We have the ability to turn the impossible into possible.

We are the most imperfectly perfect creatures on this earth, and we go by the name of Mom.

Long is a teacher, author, columnist, photographer, grad student, and most importantly, wife and mother to three, soon to be four children under the age of 6.

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