These Are Days

It’s what motherhood is made up of.

I used to think that it was when the kids were sick, and I was up half the night running baths at 2 a.m. to clean vomit out of curly hair. Or those longs nights when the baby was going through a growth spurt, needing to nurse and be held and consoled back to sleep every 90 minutes. Or maybe on the days that I had a few extra kidlets running around the house because a friend needed me to do some kid sitting so she could make it to a dire appointment. I used to think that it was those moments of familial disorder and upheaved schedules that I would find myself curled up in the fetal position, both mentally and physically, wishing for it to all stop. 

It’s actually quite the opposite for me. 

It’s the days that are...tedious that wear me down to the nubs.

It’s the grey, overcast winter days that just. won’t. go. away. and let spring break through and finally begin to have its way, where we spend the days cooped up inside, the same place we have been for weeks, biding our time. It’s the quiet days. The days where we don’t have anywhere in particular to be, no one in particular has cause to stop by. There isn’t an itinerary besides brushing our teeth and hair, putting on pants one leg at a time and just being.

Those are the days that I rub the back of my neck, close my eyes and have to think happy thoughts and say quiet prayers so that I can buckle down and get it all done.

Praying to get it all done when there really doesn’t seem like much to get down.

Monotonous days are what eat at me. Chaos I can usually, for a spell at least, handle. Maybe it’s because in those instances I don’t have a choice? Because the kids can’t take care of themselves when they are ill, and the husband has to put on a tie and head out the door to work everyday and be somebody so it’s up to me and Motrin. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any other option than to feed the squealing, wiggling baby, and the quickest path back to sleep is the one of least resistance anyway, so what’s the point?

The days that meander on by, without play dates and Chick Fil A and library story time and trips to the park and welcomed phone calls from friends and ice cream…those take a toll on me. Maybe it’s because I welcome the distractions. I want the 12 hour gap between wake up time and bed time to be as painless as possible. Am I soaking and savoring or am I sprinting? Sometimes, I think it’s the latter.

I don’t intend to be this way. To constantly feel the need to hurry things up. In fact, I wonder just why I can’t seem to sit still and feel like I am fully in the moment. Because I’d like to think that I would appreciate the stillness and the focus. But, in truth, I want the rush. There is less involved in that than in the slow and steady pace.

Like, I know that it’s better for me to want a salad and to run a mile on the treadmill, but in truth, I want a Twinkie and I want to watch Law and Order: SVU on the sofa right. now. and not move or answer the call of “mom!” to any little body or vacuum the carpet or any of the above.

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It’s beckoning me. This silent voice. “Slow down and just be and savor.” The days are long, but the years are short. That’s the best statement encapsulating motherhood that I think I have ever heard. These days, man, you want them over, sometimes. You can see yourself at 8:30 p.m. reading a long neglected book, or watching that movie you have been putting off, or maybe getting into bed to accrue eight actual hours of shut-eye. And standing between you and those moments of bliss are unruly children, a messy house, piles of mail, a ringing phone and dogs under your feet. Those rest periods are too tempting. They’re all that we can focus on at times. We forget to try to make the best of what IS in front of us.

People wonder how a stay at home mom does it.

It’s the narrow door. The road less traveled by. The path seldom tread upon.

Long days. Short years. Only so many sleeps until they’re blowing out candles on their birthday cake, or swinging a baseball bat for the first time, or buckling their shoes on their own. That’s the trick. “Hurry up”, moms say. Sleep through the night, brush your own teeth, put on your own pants, find your shoes yourself, unbuckle your own car seat, learn how to read. We focus on the inevitable release, not the connection. Don’t worry. They are hurrying. We’re just too busy sometimes to notice. The trick is, do we breathe it all in as best we can. Breathe in everything, exhale grace. For me, no, hardly at all anymore.

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Being there for every moment that you can be. To help them through every step. To teach them not to wipe their noses on their sleeve, or dump macaroni and cheese on the floor when they’re all done with it or to be afraid of the dark. That’s the road less traveled on anymore. Be proud to be innovative and unique. Be proud of what you do. Be proud that the work that you do is kingdom work and that even though you can’t always see it for what it is, you know it has to count somewhere.

The narrow door.

The way of joy. 

Clinging to joy on the days when there isn’t much else to cling to. It’s easy to have joy on sunny days spent at the park. It’s hard to have joy on days with monster laundry mounds and interrupted sleep and needy, argumentative children. But, it’s the way of joy. To let them be your joy. It’s the way of Life to accept the gifts that He has given us. Children that teach us to be still, to be patient. The work isn’t just being done by us for them, the work is being done IN us, by Him. Joy is vital. Happiness of fleeting. Joy appreciates value every day that you choose it.

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This is the narrow door.

The way of joy.

The way of goodness. 

Can we give it back? The grace that we have been shown? That we have tasted? Can we comfort as we have been comforted? Loving our children with an ethereal, Christ-like love? That’s a tall order when I can’t even seem to make it down the stairs in the morning without wishing for coffee and thirty more minutes of shut-eye. Now, we’re talking about divine love and labor? All of their life is a labor, a masterpiece work still being constructed. Mosaic tiles laid out together. We can’t always see the grand picture. On the days of fever, flat tires, speeding tickets and lost toys we have to trust in the goodness. That one day we will see it all come together, fitting tightly together. Those days where words hurt, feelings are bruised, we chalk them up to goodness. Because we can try again tomorrow.

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This is the narrow door.

The way of joy.

The way of goodness.

The way of faith.

You don’t know if you have faith unless you survive the hurricanes. Unless you are a lonely puddle. Who after the rains come and dump and pound, are filled to the brim, clearly reflecting the heavens above back. A pothole or canyon in the ground is nothing until it’s filled. It’s empty. We are nothing until we are filled. We aren’t anything until we have His everything. We can’t mother unless we have faith.

These are days. Long, tedious days. Brimming days, busy days. They’re precious. Love them. Gloss over the ones that aren’t so great. But live them out. And be glad.

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