Strong women fall apart, too.

I often get compliments about how strong I am, how well I handle stress and negativity — so much so that if someone has the audacity to question this skill, I get low-key offended. I’m described as positive and resilient, and most days, I’m proud of that assessment.

These last few years have tested this ability. They’ve been harrowing, on several levels. I’ve endured moments I thought I’d never survive, days when the pain of my reality was so overwhelming, I thought I might not make it through.

There is NO PAIN like that of a stranger having the sheer arrogance to pass judgment on your parenting when you know that you have only wanted and tried to achieve what’s best for your children.

NONE.

Yet…I’m still here. Still making memories with my loves, still advocating for them and fighting (albeit in the background) for what I know to be right. Still going through the motions of the most important parts of motherhood, trying to set a positive example for my ladies to follow in the future. Most days, it feels like I’m getting cheated in this process, stomped on and phased out unfairly. Other days, I can see that I’m making progress and I’m able to don my armor and battle the demons another day.

Only time will tell if my efforts — my struggles, my pain, my loss — will have made a difference. Until then, I have no choice but to wait, to wonder, to hope…and to continue. Continue to fight, to teach, to show, to love and to believe.