Some days, I’m just a shell of a person. I walk around the house like a robot, doing those things all stay-at-home moms do, as if I were on autopilot. In the middle of my daily chores, I do stop what I’m doing and watch my children. I take snapshots of them in my mind, like one of those old Polaroid cameras.
A touch….a smile….a memory.
One day, my five-year old won’t be running around the house with her fairy wings and ruby slippers, slaying dragons and wiping her nose with her sleeve (like I’ve told her not to do).
One day, my three-year old won’t be climbing on chairs to reach the things I’ve put up high, to keep him from getting to them (what’s the definition of insanity again?). He won’t have those cute little blonde curls, or those little chocolate smeared hands, and he won’t reach those chubby little arms up, smile at me and say “mommy.”
One day, my 12-year-old won’t be staying on the computer all day playing Minecraft, always getting annoyed by his younger brother and sister, and asking me to “close the stinkin’ door!”
One day, my 12 year-old stepdaughter won’t be asleep on the couch. How in the world can she sleep through all this noise?
One day, they will be all grown up. There won’t be messes to clean, huge piles of dishes to wash, or laundry piles the size of Mt. Everest. There won’t be marker stains and tiny handprints on the walls, or toys lying around. There won’t be “blankies” or “teddies” or “night-night times” – and there won’t be noise.
One day, it will be quiet.
One day, writing will be all I have to keep me occupied.
I am trying so hard to remember this on a day like today, when they are all fussy and whiny because they all stayed up too late last night, and ate too much candy. I am trying to keep myself from losing my temper because my house is a wreck, the kids are loud and we are out of every single snack they have asked for, for the last eight hours. I don’t have the energy, or the money to take ALL the kids to the grocery store….the DAY before Memorial Day, when everyone in town is grocery shopping for their pool parties and barbecues.
So, I have declared “quiet time” – and I’m sitting here at my computer, enjoying a quiet moment….a calm before the afternoon storm, and I am reflecting on some things.
Who am I?
I am Mom.
I will always be Mom.
I am a writer.
I will always be a writer.
What do I want?
I want quiet. And yet, I don’t want quiet.
Quiet means: No noses to wipe, messes to clean, children to cuddle, toys to pick up.
Quiet also means: Writing time, tea time, coffee time, nap time, reading time, reflection time.
I want to write.
I am writing. I write whenever I get a spare minute, which usually means I stay up too late, and get up too early. I live in a perpetual cycle of sleep deprivation. But there is always coffee.
So, essentially, I am what I want to be and I have what I want. There may be days where I think I know who I am, or what I want…but all I need to do is look around me: As long as there are messes to clean, dirty dishes, piles of laundry and legos to step on, and things to write about, I have a purpose.
I need to write that down again….
I have a purpose.
I know other stay-at-home moms feel the same way I do….they get bogged down with the stress, the mess, the same thing day after day, over and over….and they forget who they are and forget what they want.
Take a mental Polaroid picture.
See the little toddler boy, sitting on the floor laughing with his hand in the peanut butter jar….
Don’t see the mess you’ll have to clean, see the little boy. Remember how little he is right now. In five years, in ten years, in twenty years….he won’t be the same….but you will remember the picture you took in your brain, that mental Polaroid picture….of him as a toddler, laughing with his hand in the peanut butter jar.
See the little preschool girl……she’s five years old, and she still thinks the moon is made out of cheese. She thinks the tooth fairy leaves glitter, and that Santa Claus will bring her a real Giraffe and an in-ground swimming pool. See the way her curly hair falls down across her face, and how she uses her chubby hand to swipe it back. In five years, in ten years, in twenty years…..she won’t be the same….but you will remember the picture you took in your brain, that mental Polaroid picture….of her as a five-year old preschooler, standing in her daddy’s giant shoes, wearing her purple fairy wings, and singing a song she made up in her head.
I have to remember these things in my moments of “I can’t take it anymore” stress.
I have to walk around, ignoring the mess, ignoring the noise and take pictures with my mind. I have to do my best to remember to treasure the moments that will be gone in the morning. I have to stop wishing they would just “get a little older” so I won’t have to clean so much, or listen to the noise, or get up every five minutes to make a peanut butter sandwich or chicken nuggets.
I need to remember to be present. I am here. This is now. This is me.
I am Mom.
I will always be Mom.
I always want to be Mom.
I am also a writer….
And so I write about being a Mom, so that I can remember who I am, and what I want….and so that I can write about who they are right now. One day, they will read this and know that Mom was always watching. She watched them grow and enjoyed it EVERY step of the way. She remembered to stop worrying about cleaning up the house, and she took mental Polaroids and wrote about how wonderful they were, and how special they are to her.
One day, I will read this with tears in my eyes, and I hope that they will be tears of joy, and not tears of regret.
I have to go now…..I have Polaroids to take, chicken nuggets to make, and I need some cuddles and kisses.
Writing can wait.