I wonder if I’m really getting through

I wish I had my act together. The trouble is, there is this underlying current of chaos running underneath everything I try to accomplish. As I stood with another Mom of four boys during the games, she sighed and said, “if only it wasn’t such an awful mess when they eat.” I stopped her and said, “No, don’t tell me it’s STILL messy when they eat.” Her youngest is now 9.

I was hoping to hear hints of a soon-to-be-in-my future reprieve from my need to pull out a snow shovel after every meal. But then she looked down at my little one, and said, “That age was a hard phase. They are so hard on everything — and if you can get through that…”

Get through that. Yes, I thought with relief. If I can get through that. But my skin tingles a bit whenever I catch myself saying “get through this.” It reminds me of a passage I read in Penelope Leach’s book, The The First Six Months. A book that got me through my first few years of motherhood — a book I read over and over again, even after my kids were no longer 6 months old. I can’t quote it exactly, but it was something like this: instead of getting through it, why can’t we accept this phase, and celebrate this, because this is, after all, a part of our lives and theirs. And this is what it’s like to have a child — it’s not different from this.

Embrace. I just wish I could start my plan of working for just those 15 minutes. It hasn’t happened yet — I’m still putting out fires. And it’s just so nice to have everything clean; and that’s really what I spend my day doing. Making things clean, because a bomb is always going off in my house somewhere. I worry late at night if my love is really getting through. I spend so much time moving everyone along, to one clothes change, laundry, meal, and meal clean up and homework to the next. And my second oldest REALLY wants a bunny. I think he NEEDS a bunny. But I just cannot manage one more little heartbeat in this house.

So, yesterday after church, my other son tells me, “Mom they asked us to write you a card. I didn’t know what to say. So, I just wrote this:

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26 comments on “I wonder if I’m really getting through
  1. I am glad I am not the only one worrying about my parenting skills, and feeling as though my life has no organization! ah!

    The picture is priceless! How often do they really say “thank you” and mean it? 🙂 So cute!

  2. That sweet note reminds me of those new Tyson (I think it’s Tyson, chicken anyway) commercials where each child lauds their Mom’s praises. A simple thank you has to help. Hope your Monday is bomb-lite.

  3. I worry about all of the same things as you. But I have started cutting down on activities. I’m going to stop teaching college next semester, and I’ve cut freelancing down at the local paper for awhile. After this semester, I’m just going to have my normal full-time research job for awhile. So I can use all that other time for our family. We’ll still fill up the time, I’m sure. I had an amazing mom who worked full-time and who had to be super busy. I don’t remember her playing with me so much, but I have piles of fun memories of holidays and cookies and dinners and her on the sidelines at sporting events. So, you know what? I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are thoughtful enough to worry about whether or not we are getting through and being good parents…well, that in itself is a sign that we ARE! I think you are amazing and it sounds like your boys do too.

  4. I understand the “want” to get through the rough parts, but sometimes these are very memorable parts as well & if we just try to get through them instead of living them then we might miss precious moments. Eventually they will all grow up & you won’t have any of these moments ever again. Easy for me to say being single & childless I guess, but that’s not to say I don’t have times when I wish I could just be get through it more easily either! LOVE your sons note – that’s a keeper for sure.

  5. And isn’t that all we ask of them? To say, “Thanks”?

    I think it’s so much harder to just relish the moment for what it is. Instead we have to grind our teeth at what could have been. I hope the note put things at peace at least for the moment.

  6. Good grief I worry about my parenting skills all the time! It’s amazing how inept I feel some days. I am constantly putting out fires…

    Your cleaning with a snow shovel comment made me laugh. At our house it isn’t exactly like that since lately my kids don’t eat anything on their plates, they just move it around. Unless I feed them gross processed food or a Kid’s Meal (have you ever noticed that processed food is almost always a shade of brown? Bleech!) Our stupid garbage disposal is well fed lately and my cooking self esteem is in the toilet! =)

  7. By the way, I agree with you about just embracing the moments. I know that someday we’ll all look back on them and wish we were still crawling on the floor picking up art projects and cheerios.

    Isn’t it nice when our small people say thanks!?

  8. I’m thrilled to have the note. My son, however, is surprised it means so much to me. So (un)relaxeddad — the “more that I want” is for him to know how grateful I am for the note.

    The fact that I posted it, and all of your comments, I think has made it apparent.

  9. Ok, so I decided that the only way to keep a truly clean house is to not live in it. I’ve only got 2 little ones running under foot and my house is a DISASTER! I don’t like it, but I’m learning to live with it. I do as much as I can while still spending time with my babes and I go to bed at night and thank God for this time with them even if there are still toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. BTW… I love your about page! I need to work on mine.

  10. Tonight before I left my son in bed he said, “Mom, you’re superfun.” He will never know how much those words mean(t) to me. I understand what you’re saying, SusieJ.

  11. Isn’t it beautiful that just when you’re pulling your head bald, when you think you cannot withstand the next phase, when you feel completely unnoticed and under appreciate…they do these things.

    Priceless.

  12. It will always be the little things… God’s small gifts! You seem like an amazing mom! The best praise and most meaningful is that from our kids… seems like you got it! Smile!!! You’ll get your 15 minutes… someday!

  13. We live in the same place – with the chaos and disorganization. I am also in awe of Scribbit with her posting schedule and tips for organization. She must work very hard at it or she just might be superhuman. Perhaps a robot? She won’t tell me.

    My mother always tells me the same thing, when I start to stress too much. She asks, “Will it make a difference a year from now? If it won’t, that’s the thing to let go of in this moment so you can get yourself back together.” And it’s true (although she needs to give me this reminder quite frequently).

    The note from your son is wonderful. It makes it all worth it.

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