Moms. We are a powerful bunch. Blood, vomit, skinned knees and elbows, broken bones, broken hearts, lost lovies, middle of the night hugs and holding. Can’t find your favorite blanket? No problem. Want to play basketball this winter? We’ll get you there. Gotta do a fundraiser? Let’s do it. We make it happen. We handle it.
But in a world of perfect pinterest pictures and crafts and recipes; in a world where ultimately the buck stops with us; in a world where many of us don’t have the luxury of generations of women with us throughout the day…
…we can feel responsible…for EVERYthing. How our children act and feel, how the house looks, the finances, menus for meals, making sure our kiddos get enough rest and love and warm clothes and friends and piano practice and exposure to the arts, birthday parties, homemade cupcakes, the right presents…etc etc.
We are the family’s pediatrician, chef, party planner, CPA, soccer coach, chauffeur, social planner, interior designer, hair dresser, breadwinner, school board rep, historian and picture taker…
We get up. We make it happen. Kiddos are bathed and dressed and sometimes we are, too.
But over the years, though I have felt this ever increasing surge of “at the end of the day, I’m responsible for it all,” I have also found myself saying, “I can’t do it.”
And more and more on a regular basis.
This morning was one of those “I can’t” days.
I can’t stay up till midnight editing family pictures in time for today’s party and get up early and not be exhausted. I can’t be present to my kiddos when they seem to really just need ME this morning and do the final touches on my presents for family. I can’t make homemade butternut squash soup, vacuum (at least the main floor!), straighten up, clean the main bathroom, get dressed, get the kiddos fed and happy and off each other, get Christmas cards in the mail, get to mass, get ready for the party at our house WHILE BRIAN IS AT WORK.
I can’t do it alone.
“I can’t do it,” I found myself silently saying to myself as I threw the unbaked butternut squash back into the frig and responded harshly to the kiddos asking for a snack and looked at the disaster of a kitchen. I called Brian, “I can’t do it.”
A tightness gripped my stomach and spread up to my throat. I had to admit I couldn’t do it today.
I am not super mom. And though I don’t try to be, I admit, there are times I feel “responsible” as though I were super mom.
Today, this morning, I am tired and cranky and alone mom. I am frazzled mom. I am in-need-of-a-nap-and-some-help mom. I am in-need-of-breakfast mom.
I couldn’t and I didn’t.
Unknowingly, my dear friend and neighbor happened to call in the middle of it all. “I’m going to the Common Market, do you need anything?”
God bless you! “Yes, I need twine!”
“Yes, twine. To wrap the cards I made for the girls in my family.”
“I’ve got some. It’s in tangled in a ball — the kiddos got to it and….”
She didn’t even have to explain. I got it. And she got me!
My five year old, who is always spot on and honest and an extrovert who shares, “Mom, you’re kind of like Aunt Petunia this morning (the awful aunt in Harry Potter). What gives?” And he gave me a hug.
So Brian came. I slept. He made the soup, put Clara down for a nap, and straightened up enough. And from upstairs, I heard…nothing. And it was beautiful.
I received their kindness today.
We’ve all heard, “Tis better to give than to receive.”
Nope. It’s harder to receive. When you give, you are in control. You are “on top.” Often someone feels indebted to you. You get a warm, fuzzy feeling and often a warm and verbose “THANK YOU!”
When you receive…you are brought to the vulnerable raw, helpless, needy parts of yourself. You are humbled by your own weakness and often times…brokenness.
It’s hard to be in that place. God forbid we admit being needy and vulnerable and unable to “make it happen.”
Over the years of having kiddos I have been brought to my knees many times — in prayer, sleep deprived and exhausted rocking and nursing, to the toilet vomiting (mine or my kiddos), the floor wiping up god knows what spilled, and into the arms of my Brian saying, “I can’t do it.”
It’s hard to admit that. But I can’t. I can’t be present to my kiddos and get a million things done. I can’t be on the PTA, our CPA, FB, or…some other acronym…and cook homemade meals, blog every day, work, write, do yoga, meditate…..blah blah blah.
So I don’t.
But I can do a few things. And do them with love and attention and kindness. And that’s what my life is about — being mindful of slowing down, of noticing what really matters, of being ok with not having it all together. That’s what parenting is teaching me.
I…we all..can do one thing in a moment instead of mulit-tasking and busying our lives and doing a crappy job at it.
We can sllllllllow down.
Leave the dishes. Forget nicely wrapped presents. Slow down and receive the moment.
This hug from your little one,
this kindness from others.
And so, this morning, my “act of kindness” was to myself (and ultimately, my family!). I took a nap so I’d wake up as Lisa. Not Aunt Petunia. Lisa whose eyes smile tenderly at my little ones. Lisa whose can greet family and make folks feel welcomed and loved. Lisa who can handle a new marble game all over the floor. Lisa who can hold Little C all afternoon. Lisa who can read another chapter and another and another of “The MAgic Tree House” to my son. Lisa who can say, “Thank you” to Brian at the end of a beautiful, humbling day.