Friday, April 28, 2017

Motherhood: Is This It?

The alarm rings and I am the first one up. This was my goal for it is solitude I’m seeking. I drag myself from bed and head directly to the coffee pot where I wait anxiously for it to do its thing. Then I settle in for the short few moments before I am joined by the rest of the household. Some mornings I opt to exercise. Other mornings are set aside to study my Bible. Sometimes I just sit there holding coffee, pretending to read and basking in the relative quiet.

I’m just a busy mom, rising early and trying to care for my temple.

The instant I left my bed, I heard movement down the hall and a toilet flushing. But she has stayed in her room because she knows it’s early. You could move your big toe an inch and the noise of it would wake her. I hear the hushed sounds of the audiobook she has turned on. I wonder what she is working on. I know she has begun to create; always, always creating, this one. I will soon find out that today it’s magazines. She has formed little books by stapling together folded pieces of paper. Later she tells me she wants us to be the editors. She will gather submissions from all her friends. Who do we know that has a dog and could write about pet ownership? Do we have time to work on the magazine this weekend? Can she sell them when they are finished?

I’m just her mom, just her editor and cheerleader and the one who tries her darndest to keep her big entrepreneurial dreams alive. Only that.

Eventually she emerges from her room, but only to retrieve strong tape and a magnet, she tells me. She has breaked momentarily from the magazine project and she wants to hang her newly-laminated morning routine chart up in her room so that she can check off her responsibilities as she goes along. It’s just that she needs to figure out a way to affix a magnetic dry erase marker to her wall, she says. My coffee and Bible and I are cuddled together on the couch. I tell her that I don’t think it will work because she doesn’t have anything magnetic in her room for the pen to cling to. She says, so matter-of-factly, that she knows but that if she tapes a magnet backwards to the wall, then the pen can stick to it. By golly, she is right! I’m a little dumbfounded. And then the pride wells in me as I wonder at her innovative nature. I cup her face in my hands and get down at eye level. “You are amazing,” I tell her. And she smiles and she scurries away to set up her contraption.

I’m just her mom, just her words of affirmation source and her bucket filler.

The time keeper on the wall reads 6:57 AM and I hear another one shuffling on the stairs. Her clock battery must be running slow because she has made an appearance before seven o’clock for three days running now. I’m back in my spot on the couch, clutching my coffee and trying to read a couple more words of scripture before the day takes me by the reigns. They, my three, usually wake in order of age which makes me grin a little. This next one rounds the corner and spots me, beams, and breaks into a full sprint to my side. She jumps on the couch and burrows beneath my arm before telling me I’m hogging all the blanket. I can tell that she so looks forward to this moment each day, this breath of calm, just the two of us.

I’m just her mom, just her snuggler.

The next burst of activity happens around 7:30 AM. Now it’s the littlest scurrying around, the sound of wheels rolling around on the hardwoods. Eventually he makes his way downstairs, arms always heavy laden with toys. He sees me in the kitchen; by this time, I’ve left my perch on the couch and have started in on breakfast. “I got dressed all by myself!” he exclaims as he barrels into my legs for some affection. Three plus years of hard work and training and my son can finally take care of a few items of business all on his own.

I’m just his mom, just his teacher. Just that.

The silverware clangs together and I’m grabbing dishes out of the dishwasher by the fistful. The blender whirls, the toaster pops and the three-year-old runs to the drawer to grab the plates without my even asking. He wants to know if we are having pancakes this morning, as he does every day. Not today, I tell him. Today it’s English muffins and smoothies. I ask him to grab me a butter knife. “Aye Aye Captain!” he bellows and he is quick to obey. This phrase of his is my absolute favorite. I’m unsure of its origin but I’m 97% sure I have a kid’s show to thank. I promise I don’t make him call me Captain, but I’m not going to lie, it’s sort of fitting. I pour the drinks and lay out the spread and holler for the girls to join us for breakfast.

I’m just their mom, the one who prepares and provides their meals, their nourisher and their Captain.

We finish the meal and they ask to be excused. They are halfway down the hall before I can get out the words: “Have you done your routines?” They run up the stairs to double check. Are their rooms picked up? Dirty clothes in the hamper? Beds made? On a really good day, they make it all the way through the check list. On a regular day, they miss a step or two and leave for school with bedding strewn about and pajamas on the floor.

I’m just their mom, just the organizer, the one equipping them and teaching them responsibility for the future. Only that.

The alarm on my phone is going off again. This time it is to alert us that it’s time to leave for school. Lunches are grabbed, shoes and coats are put on. It is library day for one of them. Shoot! Where did you put your library book? Wait, you had homework? Why didn’t we check your backpack last night?! Too late. Rain is in the forecast so pack a rain coat too! It’s never pretty despite all our best efforts but eventually we are out the door. We look both ways, we cross the street and walk down the hill.

I’m just their mom, their safe keeper and their transportation. I’m doing the best that I can.

The boy and I arrive back home. I look at him and realize I can no longer see his eyes; his hair has grown so long in all my business. I sit him in front of a show to distract him and I gather my supplies. The show features trains and he is happy. I move the clippers quickly, wetting a towel and taking it to his lips and nose periodically to rescue him from the tickling nature of the stray hairs.

I am just his mom and his barber.

The show ends and at first, he protests and asks for another. I tell him no and suggest we play a game instead. His eyes light up as he exclaims “Connect Four!” I tell him to set it up for us and that I will be right there. Another “Aye Aye Captain!” and he’s on his way. He makes me take the first turn, like always. I drop one circular coin in the slot and he immediately follows mine with one of his. It's like tic tac toe except the winner must get four in a row instead of three. I slide in another coin and he jumps to “block” me again. What he doesn’t realize is that I can get four in a row horizontally or diagonally, and not just vertically. I manage four in a row three times over, but to him, we win when all the slots are filled. Eventually we aren’t even taking turns anymore, we’re just racing to stuff our coins in the columns as fast as our fingers will allow. We laugh when we run out of coins and he exclaims “I won!”

I’m just his mom, just his playmate. That is all.

Now it’s time for errands. He wants to wear his “tie shoes” and so I bend to loop his laces into bows. He can buckle himself into his car seat on most days now - hallelujah! Except for those days when he can’t. On those days, I help him. But my assistance comes at a cost and I make him give me a kiss or two as payment. Once we are on our way, I reach back my while driving and touch his soft skin. His hand automatically grips mine and I can see him smiling in the rearview mirror. We cruise this way, hand in hand, until my neck and arm can no longer stand to be torqued.

I’m just his mom, just his hand-holder and source of physical touch. Just that.

There is lunchtime and story time and quiet time and chores and a walk or a bike ride and then we are off to pick up his sisters. On most days, it takes nothing short of moving mountains to get the three tired troops up the hill and back home for a snack to reenergize them. Someone always cries. It is obvious we are done. D-O-N-E.

We arrive home and one of them won’t come inside. Instead, she sits on a rock in the front yard wailing, backpack thrown down next to her. Somedays she calms relatively quickly and rejoins us. On other days, I text the neighbor to let her know I am in fact aware of the child scream-crying on my lawn. No, she has not actually been locked out and abandoned by her mean mom. It’s just that I wouldn’t let her go to a friend’s house that we weren’t even invited to after school. Eventually I encourage her inside and I take her in my arms. There is an obvious shift in the tears that is sudden and wild. She is no longer angry, she’s hurt. As I hold her tightly, she tells me her friend is no longer playing with her at recess and threatens to “never play with her again.” These things she’s been holding inside and I am the first recipient. I look her in the eyes and feel the hurt right along with her. “Baby girl, that would make me cry too” I tell her.

I’m just her mom, just her comforter.

The other one is really struggling. Most days have been hard ones for the past two and a half years running. There are so very many tears. She feels chaos and discomfort that no child of her age should never have to experience. She knows intimately the meaning of the words “stress” and “anxiety.” During the period of her life that should be the most fun and carefree, she appears heavy and sad. She feels Every. Single. Thing. And the weight of all these feelings is wearing her down. It wears me down too. Oh, how it wears me down!

I am just her mom, just her emotion coach, her advocate, the one trying to wade through all the chaos and come up for air with some answers. Only that.

There are days when nothing works. We try everything and eventually we just sit and we hold each other. Despite all the tricks and tools we’ve gathered, we don’t have it all figured out and life gets the best of us and coping is hard. So, we cuddle, we talk, we soothe. I tell her it’s ok and we cry some more.

I’m just her mom, just the one who knows her best and who she feels safe releasing all the emotion to.

The other kids start to melt down. They see my attention is monopolized and they want some too. We’re supposed to be doing homework and the girls need to read for 20 minutes each and heaven forbid we try and incorporate physical activity or doctor’s appointments or swimming lessons somewhere in there and, oh, someone should probably make dinner. Did I mention yet that it’s witching hour? We are all beginning to break. Someone hits and gets sent to his room to “take five” and cool off. I must stand there and hold his door closed, and, by the sound of things, the door jamb will likely no longer be standing at the end of this. I’m getting sass and bickering from the other two and I count each one to three and send them to their rooms too, all the while holding my station at the boy’s door. Soon he calms down enough that I can release the doorknob and I too run to my room to send the SOS text to Daddy:


We all “take fives” in our rooms and thankfully I have a lock on my bedroom door. It was intended for other purposes and yet it has never come in as handy as it does during witching hour. I no longer have any idea what the troops are doing out there beyond my door. And honestly, I don’t really care. I can’t.

I’m just their mom, just their disciplinarian, trying my dardnest to raise them up in the way they should go. I’m trying my best but sometimes my best just doesn’t seem to cut it.

On most days, my life feels so very, very small. Tiring and small. It’s this smallness that makes me feel insignificant and question what on earth I am possibly doing in this work of mine. My orbit is tiny and each day I climb aboard for another loop around what feels like the same crazy path. We don’t seem to be moving forward. We are circling. The monotony of it all, the daily grind at times makes me want to poke my eyes out.

Maybe you feel similarly? Maybe you too struggle with the significance of your work in mothering? Maybe you are balancing all these things in addition to a career or a desire for a career or even just a longing for a space to pursue your passion.

If so, can I take a moment to speak a work of encouragement? It’s for you and me both.

You do so much. On most days, it doesn’t feel like it. You look back and scratch your head as you survey the mess and wonder “What on earth did I do today? Did I get anything done?” Well, allow me to remind you. Yes, dear mother, yes you did. You got so very much done. You spent your day comforting, coaching, nourishing, wiping, training, teaching, cleaning, loving, answering, transporting, disciplining, encouraging, playing, hand-holding, advocating for, editing, safe-keeping, cooking, cheerleading, dream-stoking, snuggling, organizing, equipping and leading. And that's not even the half of it. You were not “just” momming. You were shaping humans. You were pouring yourself into the next generation of contributors to this society.

You may feel small and insignificant but, this work you do, it matters! So, press on and keep raising those humans to love and respect others, to work hard, to experience joy and pleasure in life, to serve God, and to bask in the love and grace of our Heavenly Father.

Be encouraged, my friends. Small work? I think not.

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  1. Kelsie, you have such a tremendous gift. You capture the day of a mom so perfectly and shine light on the importance of mothering in what seems like a monotoness "little orbit." As always, thank you for your words.

  2. Is it bad that I'm jealous of your day? It sounds so dreamy and relaxing. Of course the grass always seems greener...
    Thank you for the closing words of encourgement! You are a beautiful writer.

  3. I definitely struggle with the small work too and need to be reminded I'm not just "mommying"

  4. It's all big work! When we parent, all the work we do is important!

  5. It's so not just that... And you are an awesome Mom!

  6. This was great! You are an amazing writer.


posted by kelsie