I know the mess.
Whether you’re potty training the strong willed two year old. Or helping the 3 year old measure cookie ingredients. Or letting the 4 year old sweep the kitchen. Or showing that 5 year old how to run a tube of jersey under the sewing machine to make a skirt for a doll. Or teaching that elementary school child how to read. Or that reckless teenager how to drive and respect authority.
It’s a mess. You could do it yourself so much quicker.
You could sound out that word for them and save half an hour. You could get it all into the dustpan all at once rather than sweeping up after a half finished job. You drive to the store on autopilot while listening to an audio book rather than stomping imaginary brakes in the passenger seat.
Don’t give up.
You may have never set out to be a teacher, but motherhood made you one. And the more of these skills you spend time teaching, the more prepared your child will be for the next skill he/she will have to learn. The more reasonable expectations your place on the child to continuously complete and improve the skill you’re teaching, the more prepared they will be for their own journeys.
Life is full of work. Your child needs to learn this and find joy in a well completed job.
You might be learning this joy yourself as you chuck the dirty underwear in the trash can and empty your purse of every wet wipe you have with you. Or as you watch half of the dirt make it into the dust pan for the first time. Or as you see your child sound out the word “read” instead of guessing “rat” for the hundredth time. Or as that teenager manages to break smoothly for the first time.
And at night when you slump exhausted into your pillow, thinking about the pill of fabric scrap from the doll cloths sewing adventure waiting to be cleaned up in the morning. Smile. That very exhaustion is the joy of motherhood. The sign of a job well done.
Smile remembering those proud smiles and their triumphant voices: “I did it, mama!”
Well done, mama. Joy is yours.
(Images in the post taken by Aeralind and Bronwyn while mama tried to slow her racing heart from both little fingers too close to the needle and my livelihood in a 4 year old’s hands.)
Dear Weary Mom,
You’re making the 2058th peanut butter (or almond or soynut or sunbutter) and jelly sandwich and wondering if anything you do matters at all.
Everyday everything you do seems undone or consumed like the sandwich there on the counter.
There’s still food on the floor under the table despite sweeping. There’s still a Lego or two threatening tender feet. There’s still the crock pot to clean and refill before heading into work the next morning. There’s still the pile of clothing overflowing the basket: whether it’s dirty or clean.
And, as you ask the little people whether they want their sandwiches cut into triangles or rectangles, you sigh deeply in defeat.
Can I whisper a secret? You really do have value outside of the check marks on your to-do list.
No one else could mother your children the way you do. No one else gives them that special goodnight kiss. No one else says “I’m sorry.” quite the way you do when you fail them again and need to apologize. No one else knows which child likes those sandwich triangles better than the rectangles.
The bulk of your work is invisible because you’re leaving indelible marks on tiny hearts.
So ignore the mess on the floor. Ignore the unchecked boxes on your to-do list. Neither of these things give you value.
Hold your head high when someone asks you “So what did you do today?” and tell them the truth.
“I shaped the next generation with my service, my actions, and my love.”
Because you did.
Okay… so these images are sort of staged. I mean, I’m in the studio with the camera on the tripod with the sole purpose of taking pictures. So it’s not like I captured us as we really are in daily life… or did I?
Watching Aeralind and Bronwyn do the back and forth running to set off the shutter and get back before the 10 seconds were up was hilarious. Totally worth a few “staged” portraits.