A Year of Habits, no. 17

Sunday May 1, 2011

Dear Mom,

You know how you don’t like it when we make messes in the house, well we don’t like it when you yell at us and say we are going to be grounded.  But one thing, I am not going to be like you when I grow up and am a mom.

Love
A.

 

According to this letter from my daughter today, I’m not doing so hot.  Part of the note makes me laugh, and part of it makes me want to cry.  She is sooo sensitive.  Part of me hopes she’s nothing like me; I want her to be so much better than I am.   Much of the time I’m not too thrilled with who I am, either.  And part of me thinks, “just you wait until you grow up and have kids and all the things you promised yourself you would never do when you’re a mom will all happen anyway.”

So here we are at the end of a good but exhausting week and I wish I could say things are better.  I wish I could say I am growing.  We’re just stretched so thin that I see gaping holes all around me.  By the time I get one patched up I turn around and there’s another new hole in a place I thought was tightly woven.  Is life like this for every mother, I wonder, or am I just fundamentally flawed?

I worked hard this week to keep the house looking better.  I also worked hard in the cooking department.  On Friday afternoon when I picked the children up from school most of it was looking pretty good and I felt good about it.  By Saturday afternoon I was back at square one.  The price we pay for soccer season is so high; last night I found myself questioning the value of it, wondering if it’s right to do things this way.  Last night when we put the girls to bed my husband commented on the collection of clothing on their floor.  All I could say was, “I see it too.  Please don’t make me talk about it right now or I’ll just cry.”  So he wisely ignored it, prayed with the girls, and the subject was closed.  Never mind that I’d done 18 loads of laundry on Thursday and Friday.  The bathrooms need attention.  My kitchen cabinets need scrubbing.  My kitchen floor needs mopping.

On Friday night we had two soccer games, one in Sandy and one in West Valley.  I sent my husband to one and took most of the children to the one in West Valley, where we sat in our car and watched my son play in a blizzard.  Just after half time, my 20 month old threw up without warning.  She was sitting on my lap.  She threw up all over me, all over herself, all over my steering wheel, all over the hardback book I was reading, all over my daughter’s backpack.  Awesome.

What can I say?  The trenches are the trenches, and I spend a majority of my time in them.  Somebody said that motherhood is the equivalent of being on the front lines of humanity.  It’s true.  And sometimes the front lines aren’t very pretty, and sometimes the job description isn’t much fun, and sometimes you wonder if you’re all alone.  Sometimes you gain ground; sometimes you fall back.  I’m not in a very glorious stage.  Today my children were ALL monsters in Church.  I wanted to come home and put them all in cages!

The thing about the trenches, the thing about being on the front lines, is that you simply don’t quit.   And you pray.  Right now it’s the only real answer I have.  I don’t know what else to do.  And so we move on, trusting (and rejoicing) in the reality of a Savior who supplies endless second chances.  And you hope you get it right before your children are all grown up and gone.

The End.
Jennifer

3 comments

  • you are not fundamentally flawed. I feel the same way all the time. Every day, actually. All I can say is that I wish the notes I get were that nice. E

  • Brent

    What a letter. Wow. I love you!

  • I came across your blog a few days ago when googling “life with 8 kids.” I have spent most of my breast-pumping-iPhone-net-surfing-time since reading it, laughing, nodding and usually tearing up!

    We have 6 kiddos, ages 2 months to 7 years, and as my husband’s vasectomy appointment was fast approaching (today, actually!) and the universe conspired to make us reschedule it (by doing something as silly as flooding our minivan!), I have found myself entertaining major second thoughts (and third, and fourth!)

    I went googling hoping to discover if adding one or two more little ones would either further push me over the edge or perhaps I’d be able to hang on after all. Thanks to your beautiful honesty, I am relieved to see that it’s both!

    With two kids with special needs, some days I think even contemplating adding more zoo-escapees to our too-full plate is diagnosable insanity. Days when even the engulfing relief of bedtime isn’t enough to silence the doubts in my head that I have any idea whatsoever what I’m doing. Sometimes that terrible monster, Mommy Guilt, swallows me up and spews me out on the once-clean dining room floor beside the homemade mashed potatoes that were carelessly launched by kids who are far too old for that sort of behavior. And in those moments, if I could, I would go back in time and scream at my 7-years-younger self, “Don’t do it!!!”

    But then my husband will take a minivan-full of kids (prior to the aforementioned flooding, of course) to the store in the rain and my heart will nearly strangle itself at the uninvited thought of a phone call, an accident, the mashed potatoes suddenly quiet in the bowl. And I know with absolute certainty that however loud the fatigue, the frustration, the doubt is, the love I get to carry around in me is equally intense and probably something most moms with fewer children will never quite get to experience. In those moments, I am grateful knowing my younger self would’ve done whatever she pleased anyways and told my current self where to stuff it.

    We do the best we can, and usually the best we can is much better than we think it is. Even that letter is evidence of the fabulous job you’re doing. After all, it takes a child who feels very open, secure and loved to offer up such criticism. Unfortunately, not all children today get to grow from such a place. So chin up momma, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! 🙂

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