Friday~April 17, 2009

I can hear Ryan's voice through the window as he shouts praise,

"Yeah, you got it! Just keep your eye on the ball! See? You did it! You're doing great!"

Why is it that something so ordinary really does become extraordinary when it happens to you, with your very own child? A small ball, a concentrated little face, and a smack of the bat...it all becomes the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

Today, while the extraordinary is happening outside the walls of this messy place, I frump around, trying to catch up on life. I'm mad that there are so many dishes and I'm confused by the mound of laundry that reinvented itself overnight. The bags from a recent trip are still left unpacked, and all the pulling on my pant legs got to me today. I feel weary.

So I stand frozen, not doing any of it, just listening to the sounds through the window. The happy sounds of life I'm missing out on in an attempt to stay on top of things that have no top.

Then I realize that this is where the mom guilt begins for me. I feel bad for not liking every part of my job. I feel bad for not being able to feel happy while tackling another task that seems I just finished. I start to think that it means I don't like being a mom. I see this ugly side of myself in the midst of my frustration and annoyance and I start to believe I'm not worthy of my boys. I start to think that I should never feel a negative thing because it must mean I'm not happy.

What a twisted thing to believe.

So what if I don't feel like turning that dial, starting the towels spinning on hot, regular cycle once again? So what if I'm tired of putting the cups in a neat row in the top of the dishwasher? So what if I wish I didn't have to pull the fitted sheet over the fourth corner once again, reaching over the bed rail and face-planting into the mattress? So what if I don't like dirty shoes plunking across the floor, and dog hair I have no time for piling in every corner? So what if I don't like the smell of poo, but need to wipe it? So what if thinking up three healthy meals a day on little to no sleep doesn't sound like fun? So what?

I don't like those things because they aren't likable. And that's OK. It doesn't mean I don't like being a mother.

Because you know what? I don't like the tasks themselves sometimes, but I do love what they mean.

I love the excitement in Miles' eyes when he sees his favorite shirt is clean. I love tucking my boys in at night, snug as bugs in fresh sheets. I love watching them eat healthy meals made with fresh foods. And despite their muddy shoes, I love to see those flushed cheeks and dirty fingers, proof of fresh air and energy spent. I love it all. It's as extraordinary as that crinkled look of concentration when the bat hits the ball for the first time.

I might not love the details of the daily grind, but I love the daily grind. It means I'm serving someone other than myself, and I have to admit, that's a stretch for me.

The slow chipping away, the grinding and shaping of a person, is always painful. There are parts of myself being revealed on a daily basis that I'd rather not see. But this chipping away is the biggest blessing to my life, because it comes with Miles and Asher, and hopefully leaves a better version of me behind. Hopefully.

So I'll do what I can to finish this and finish that. But if I don't, I can always do it tomorrow. And when I start to feel angry, ugly and sad, I don't have to feel guilty. It just means it's time to put down that one more task, and simply focus on these two boys. After all, they're my favorite and very best part of this job.

"Mom , you are more awesome than a billion rockets." - Miles
I guess this means I'm worthy.

42 clicked right here to comment:

K said...

Um- I wrote a very similar post last night but didn't publish it yet. You are right, just because washing clothes and wiping bottoms aren't your favorite things to do doesn't mean you don't like being a mom. Thanks, I needed that!

Angie said...

Such a good post! I think it's all part of creation groaning for perfection. We won't love every aspect of our jobs, but we do love the children that create our job. And what better job to have?! :)

Abra said...

Love this post. Put that laundry down and go play ball!
I always get overwhelmed but then I remember this poem:

Babies Don't Keep

Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little
Boy Blue (lullaby, rock-a-bye, lullaby loo).

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep'

MidnightCafe said...

Wise words. You had some really great insights on Wednesday that I'm still mulling over, too. Thanks!

Kristina P. said...

I don't think you even have to be a mom to feel this way. I sometimes feel this way as an employee, or a wife, or a friend, or a daughter, etc.

You just are able to talk about it much more eloquently.

Wendy Kae said...

The daily grind gets me down too. I often dread cleaning the house, including all the dog hair (from the furry boy that I love so much)that builds up behind every imaginable thing in our house. I love the feeling when the house is clean, and it makes cleaning it all worth while. Then it happens all over again, starting with the huge paw print in the middle of the wood floor (again from the furry boy that I love so much). We are so blessed to be surrounded by those that we love and "stuff" that makes our houses homes, like dog hair, finger prints and huge paw prints. Thanks Heather!

Mylestones said...

Heather, how do you keep coming up with this RICH perspective? I just love it, I really do. (said the lady avoiding her laundry and dishes pile)
And I love that poem that Abra shared!

Cynthia said...

We are on a similar wavelength today. You are so right that it's okay to not love the less-fun parts of the job. If it makes you feel any better, I have 3 loads of wash waiting to be folded right now!

Becky said...

It's hard to separate it, isn't it? I love being a mom, but I, too, tire of the mundane things.

Someday I know I will be looking around the house wishing I had thirty-three messes to tackle because it would mean my kids were still at home. Until then, I'm with you. I'll deal with the chipping and hope I come out pretty and polished.

Blessed said...

Oh My... this is exactly how I've felt the last couple of days and why I made a client upset by not finishing a job on time because I knew that I needed to get out of the house and just enjoy my daughter for a few hours...

She is what really matters.

although - I have to say that about 6 months ago I kicked the dog out and haven't regretted it. I have less to keep clean inside, there isn't dog hair in every corner and Sugar still loves him to pieces and gets to play with him. I just had to do it (and I'm a dog person - I've always had a dog in the house) the dog was the one thing too many that I could do something about. Now if I could just figure out how to get the dishes to wash themselves...

Tooj said...

I was just thinking as I read along...."I agree, I hate the chores...but it feels so good to fill up their dressers with clean clothes that we're blessed to have with every growth spurt they make." And then...you said the same thing. :) I also love that poem that Abra commented with. Lovely. Happy Friday. :)

Erin said...

Ah, yes. The neverending inner dilemma I have. This morning, I have played - Uno, Risk, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Crazy Eights, and Wii Sports. I really didn't enjoy any of it. But I did enjoy it, because I saw how much my son was enjoying it.

Kazzy said...

I love Miles' comment. And you are totally worthy of your kids. You enjoy the people and the relationships, and that is what counts!

Kimberly said...

Once again I can't think what to say except Amen. You perfectly put into words what I've been struggling with like mad lately. I love my job, I just don't like some of the itty-bitty annoying components of it quite so much.

Sometimes I wonder if we have all the daily grind type stuff to do to keep us from being TOO joyful. If it weren't for the housework, this mummy gig would be too easy, yes?

K and/or K said...

If Miles has that praise for you Heather, how much more does God have? He is your biggest cheerleader!

Mammatalk said...

Fabulous. You always so elequently put to words what is so commonly thought by every mother.

Ah, heck, all ya need is a good parenting decoder ring. :-D

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Man this is good! GOOD. Just what I needed to hear...just because I don't like certain aspects of my job as a mom doesn't mean I don't like being a mom! THANK YOU!

You know how sometimes you feel guilty and don't even know why...well today you turned the light on for me friend. What a relief!

sara said...

this is such a good post and I wish every mom of young kids could read it!!

This is my favorite sentence:

So I'll do what I can to finish this and finish that. But if I don't, I can always do it tomorrow.

my second favorite sentence:

"Mom , you are more awesome than a billion rockets." - Miles

♥georgie♥ said...

awwww this post just completely humbeled me! Look at those precious faces

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Beautifully said! I adore your take on it <3 Your boys are SO lucky to have such a wise ans sensitive momma :)

Deb said...

you know, kristina p is right... i don't know if it is mom guilt or WOMAN guilt... admittedly, i do think that being unhappy as a daughter or employee isn't as potentially devastating as being unhappy as a mom. however, it does seem universal with woman that we feel bad when we're not giving 110% to whatever it is we are doing.

but i can tell you one thing... clean laundry and clean floors do not equal a good mom. go through the motions with the dishwasher and washer and focus your energy on the little ones.

another beautiful, authentic post from you, little missy.

BaronessBlack said...

I really needed to read this!
We've been spending so much time out of the house that everything has piled up and I sometimes really dread coming back home at the end of the day!
Still, Easter break will be over soon, and I live under the illusion that I'll get more done when things quieten down a bit.
Good to know I'm not alone!

Hel said...

It still amazes me that we all (mothers) seem to have the same experience with a little variation. It is soul renewing to come across a post and comments like this.

Your paragraph about the slow chipping away, grinding and shaping of a person got me thinking. I was going to fill the comment box with a whole heap of my thoughts, but just decided to post about it. Thanks for the inspiration.

The Three 22nds said...

good post. I have been thinking about this a lot lately too.

That is why this summer, it is going to be about fun and relaxing at our house!

LexiconLuvr said...

I needed this post today. How do you always know how to make it seem so...okay? Like I'm going to live through this and love it too?

charrette said...


That last line was so true.
And the one from Miles...even better.

But the first line that really resonated for me was this one: The happy sounds of life I'm missing out on in an attempt to stay on top of things that have no top.

I am so there right now. The kids are on Spring Break and I've spent so little of that break time with them, enjoying them, and so much of it trying to catch up...on the house, the bills, the letter-writing, and yes, my sleep. :) Bless you for always saying what needs to be said, in a way everyone can understand and digest it. And be inspired by it.

Muthering Heights said...

If you think about it this way, no matter what job you have, there are parts that aren't like able...and I don't know any moms out there who LOVE diapering, laundry, etc. :)

Janelle said...

Guiltless parenting is achievable! And in this post, I think you discovered how.

The symbolism in mothering is very rewarding.

Debbie said...

I hear you on th grind. Some days feel like that is all they are made up of. And the laundry is the biggest one. Well, that and the cooking. Oh, and the cleaning. I guess there are a lot of them!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Everyone with kids can relate to this. I may not stay home with them all day - but I do have to keep the home for them. I do all of the same things: loading dishwasher, making beds (sometimes), doing laundry, vacuuming (rarely).... None of it's fun - but it's all for them - and infinitely worth it.

happygeek said...

Your son's comment made MY day and it wasn't even given to me.
What a compliment!

Betty said...

I love this. Sometimes the unlikable" things that come along eith being a mom leave us so worn out we FORGET to enjoy the ordinary joys that surround us. Thanks for the reminder. I love how Miles summed it up.

joolee said...

How true.......how can we possibly stay on top of things that have no top?

My favorite is watching the kids thru the window......something purely magical about watching them from a distance that lets you see them for who they really are.....like a silent scene from a movie......love for your innocent children....magnified by that window.

beautiful post!

Bonnie said...

What a great post. Your boys are precious. My 2 boys are 8 & 11 now and I still have to remind myself to put down what I'm doing and just focus on them sometimes! You are lucky you are learning this now.

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

I love how you are helping me get rid of the guilt. :) It really isn't doing any good to any body...especially me.

This helped me put some things in much needed perspective.

Indeed - more awesome than a BILLION rockets. WOW! That is HIGH praise Heather!

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

Great post! You just voiced what so many moms deal with each and every day.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Alas, or should I probably say, thankfully, Jo Jo was indeed a regular old guy. Didn't even think he was a woman for five minutes.

Loved this post. I have had to give up feeling guilty over not being a stereotypical dance mom.

Peanut said...

Well said. What the heck makes us think we have to love every part of our job? Does anyone love every part of their job?

Sabrina said...

You are very worthy Heather!
Your boys are proof of what a good mom you are! :)

Jessica said...

I love this post. I especially love this:

I might not love the details of the daily grind, but I love the daily grind. It means I'm serving someone other than myself, and I have to admit, that's a stretch for me.

I feel like being a mom has been the most noble thing I have or will do . . . the chance to serve someone other than myself . . . over and over, day after day, is yes the most rewarding but also the hardest thing I have ever done. Perhaps the mundane-ness, the ordinary thankless jobs that are no fun- are the most honorable things we could spend our life doing, precisely because they go unnoticed but are purely acts of love.

love your posts, as always. I enjoyed catching up tonight!

Anonymous said...

I just came here via Diapers and Divinity. I'm not sure if you'll see such a late comment, but I wanted to add my accolades for putting such a nice perspective on the daily grind. I also wanted to add one thought.

I have an 8-week-old baby I breastfeed, and I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding -- I love the down time and bonding with the baby and the endorphins from nursing, and I love knowing I'm feeding her the best I can. But, it also takes an exhausting amount of time and is an overwhelming responsibility sometimes. (She's my fifth child, so my other kids have needs to meet and places to go, as well. And by the way, the poem Abra posted is *called* "Song for a Fifth Child," and yes, I've been reciting it to myself a lot lately.)

What I've realized is that my baby's needs are a great blessing because they FORCE me to spend time caring for her that, if I'm honest with myself, I likely might not spend if I didn't have to. Of course cleaning and laundry aren't such direct interactions with our kids, they are still acts of service that (in most cases) beget great love, both in us for our children and in our children for us.

Lisa said...

I am always totally amazed when I come visit. You are such a brillant writer and there is no telling what the topic du jour will be. I'm totally impressed and equally not a fan of doing sheets with the safety gate up. The faceplant visual I got was pretty funny. Thanks Heather.

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