For October, it was fairly warm and sunny, with the leaves not having changed, as we sat on the sidelines of our daughter’s soccer game. It was the kind of game where the girls moved in amoeba fashion after the ball as the coaches encouraged them to pass to each other, with the vain hope one might hit the goal.
I had stepped away from the other three sisters, leaving them for Daddy to contend with, so I would have a brief moment to catch up with a friend. She spoke of a semi-relaxing dinner out with her three children; her youngest just a few years ahead of mine. My eyes widened dramatically as she mentioned the words “out past bedtime” and “didn’t need electronics”, and that was not immediately followed by “meltdown of epic proportions” or “poured a glass of wine when I walked in the door”.
Trying to avoid snorting derision, I relayed my dream of being able to accomplish such a feat with all my girls in tow. A dream that, though they might get older with each passing day, seems to move further away, just outside my grasp.
“Oh, don’t feel bad,” she reassured me. “You’re still in the weeds.”
Such very wise words. But it does not make the weeds any thinner.
It is a strange spot, when your reality finds you stuck in the midst of a dream come true, but it is just a tad more challenging than you imagined. For us, it was four beautiful daughters, each with their own unique gifts, needs, and challenges, as children tend to come. Just like we had pictured, they were here, and they were perfect.
Our daily lives were anything but.
My words-of-affirmation loving heart adores the reassurance that comes my way from treasured friends:
“I just don’t know how you do it! You’re my inspiration!”
“You’re here and involved and everyone has shoes on!”
“You have such a peace about you and your beautiful family.”
This encouragement tends to appear at just the right moment, when my insides are feeling rather counter to these songs of praise.
I have found no time more abundant in multi-tasking and emotional breakdowns than trying to prepare dinner. On a typical day, I am one small plate short of becoming a tapas chef, since no one in my house likes the same thing. We have reached the point where our two golden retrievers will not even eat the same cast asides that get thrown to the ground in a fit of tears.
If you couple that with my attempts to lose the baby fluff that has taken up permanent residence, a husband who chose a diet to be “supportive” (even though weight seems to melt off him like the polar ice caps), and a toddler who still struggles with feeding, meal time is when the weeds are the thickest.
I have always been one who embraced organizing with both arms. If there is a way to color-coordinate it in my calendar, sign me up! Meal planning should be such an activity, but despite my persistent attempts, it cannot be tamed into a schedule in this house. At least, not one that stays within a monetary and carbohydrate budget.
As the days shortened this winter, I found my outlook following suit.
We should just eat standing up, with the maximum number of refined sugars on our plates, staring at the television. There is no need to talk to each other, since it will involve one sister yelling at another over something that really, truly, doesn’t matter.
As I was close to waving the white flag over mealtime altogether, I stumbled across an entry in my journal, which offered a startling bit of perspective.
I get to spend everyday living the life I always prayed would be mine.
But sometimes, the whining grates on my brain like a mandolin.
The never-ending string of demands becomes the yoke no one is sharing.
And the days I’m supposed to treasure and cherish move by at the pace of a snail.
No matter how many times I blink, I still open my eyes to a strikingly similar scene, filled with diapers, cups with tops, and preschool carpools. Our bank statement still buckles under the pressure of babysitter salaries, just so I can grade papers and answer emails. And no matter how many outfits I go through each day, someone else’s chewed up food is still on my clothes.
But, I realize that, one day, no one will need my hand to cross the street, or ask me to cut up their food, or have me carry them up the stairs. No one will care what I think about their outfit, ask me to play with them and their friends, or climb into my bed at night. The days are quickly disappearing where they reach out only to me for comfort.
One day, there will be no more pacifiers, playground play dates, or singing songs in a circle. What I complain about today will be replaced with infamous “big kid problems”, and I will long for the simplicity of the times when I was the center of their worlds.
I can’t help by hope that the physical exhaustion of mothering and molding these four precious souls into women will be replaced with peace, in the knowledge that we gave it our all. And I can look at him and smile, when it’s just us again, as we’ve launched our dream into the world.
I know I will miss it one day, though that seems so distant now. I will cherish that sweetness, while still looking forward to the future, as the best is yet to come.
From behind the weeds of raising my little ladies, I know that, though it might not seem like it, this too shall pass. In the thickest of the thick, the moments where it does not seem that, for the life of me, I will ever be able to “get it right”, I know there are still great things to come.
A new phase, a new chapter, a new perspective will be ours.
Beautiful friend. And so very true- those long nights when everyone has climbed into our bed at some point I just think, one night, not too long from now they will be on their own. I won’t know what they are doing every moment, if they are home safely, if they are asleep- and I cherish their little feet kicking me in my own bed, as my head rests on the last sliver of pillow;)
Such truth! I know our worries will just shift as they get older, and I just hope we have the mental reserve to tackle it after the sleep deprivation 🙂
After recently watching an old family video of me, my siblings, and my mom, from when we were not much older than your girls are now, Annie said to my mom, “Mom, you seemed so calm!” I’m sure Mom didn’t feel that way then 😉 And although teenage years are “special” for other reasons, so I hear, I know she misses all of those good old days that weren’t so peaceful then.
Life is short and precious, and it sure does fly by, even if it doesn’t seem that way some days. So glad that you’ve found such a fulfilling way to embrace your “beautiful mess”! I am a firm believer that we all have our own beautiful messes in one way or another, but that just makes it all the more beautiful to witness the compassion and love that we strive to instill in others (as we save some for ourselves, too!).
Congrats, my dear, and I look forward to reading more.
Thanks so much, my buddio 🙂 Cheers to our beautiful messes!
All the love! This is so beautiful – as are you, and each of your beautiful little ladies 🙂 xoxo
Beautiful writing from a beautiful lady. You are going to be such a blessing to so many people! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Love you!
I couldn’t make it through a day with the girls without my tribe! Love you!
So well articulated. It brings back memories of my younger days. Life with our children is a journey with lots of twists and turns and before you know it the journey involves grandchildren, each chapter building on the last.
I love hearing this from the moms who are out of the weeds! Thank you for all your encouragement 🙂
“Four Girls, Eight Names, Sixteen Times”
When I was starting a family many years ago, my boss at the time shared an interesting perspective. He was about 15 years my senior, and similarly had majored in that Finance/Accounting/Mathematics realm where numbers reign. He and his wife had three children.
“You know,” he said, “As the number of children in a household increases, parents anticipate that the activities will increase at a similar rate. This is not true. As the number of children increases arithmetically, the associated activities increase geometrically. Therefore, one is one; two are four; three are nine; four are sixteen.”
Boundless love, skill, and patience are required for Sixteen Times…..Truly Amazing to me!
What an excellent perspective! Everything certainly compounds exponentially in our house 🙂