Thursday, July 23, 2009

Every Step You Take, Every Move You Make

Jason's been working 8-5 this week, which means 7-6, which means I'm running low on patience and giving much credit to moms who are home full-time with kids and have spouses who work long hours or travel. Except for a couple babysitter hours on Tuesday (when I had legitimate work to do), it's been just me and the kids until the last hour before bedtime at night.

I think most moms do this thing where they look around and think of the ways that other mothers have it easier. If I had a babysitter that much; if I had grandparents who swooped in every few days to help with the kids; if I had a cleaning lady; if my kid went to bed so early; if my kids slept in; if my kid still napped; if I stayed home with my kids and didn't have to be out the door at a certain time; if we ate out instead of cooking; if I worked and had a kid-free lunch hour every day; if my husband got home well before dinnertime every day; if my husband worked from home . . .

I used to do this, too. But you know what? It's just plain hard sometimes, all of it, no matter who you are or how much money you have or how much your husband is gone. And I chose it.


I took the girls to the pool yesterday morning when it opened right at 11:00 because it was humid and partly sunny, and because I had pushed them in the jogging stroller and was sweaty but knew All Hell Would Break Loose if I attempted a shower. (Because that's the vibe we've got going here right now: All Fighting, All the Time.) The weather didn't look promising, but the girls were the happiest they've been at the pool in a long time. They forgot their fighting for long enough to play catch with a ball in the water and take turns jumping in. Annie showed me how long she can float face-down holding her breath (about 15 seconds). When it was time to eat, I let them order the dreaded Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, Cool Ranch Doritos, and pop - possibly the least-nutritious lunch possible, but oh, well.

We were sitting and eating at a little picnic table - their hair wet and messy, their skin flushed from the swimming and jumping - when it got much cloudier and darker. Annie looked up, mid-bite.

"Is it going to rain?" she asked.

"It looks like it might," I said.

Her eyes got big. "What if it does?"

"Then I guess we'll leave," I said.

"What if it rains on us before we can leave?"

"Then I guess we'll get wet, right?" I said. "Good thing we already have our bathing suits on."


We were playing in the driveway today after Annie's dance class (It was the last one of the summer, so at the end, she got to choose a family member to dance with her. She chose Jemma, and the two of them sashayed around the room, holding hands and giggling, and thus this morning is now among The Best of Jemma's Life.) and I was tired from my late-night reading. I was sitting in the grass, watching Annie scoot, not really paying attention to what Jemma was doing at the end of the driveway. Then I heard Jemma talking to herself.

"I don't know what this is. Must be raisins," she said, and something clicked in my brain where I realized Raisins Outside = Poop. By the time I was next to her, she had about five little brown turds clutched in her hot little hand. I had to explain it was probably rabbit poop, which did not really strike her as disgusting, and then we went inside to wash it off. Because "Getting poop off of child's hands" is just another basic thing that falls under the category of Thankless Mom Jobs.


So this week has been long, and interesting, and hard. But even now, even when they are with me EVERY SINGLE SECOND and making noise and bickering and whining and asking the same questions a bazillion times, I realize that the days are long but the years are short. I realize, too, that being their mom has made me cope with these things better than I ever would have if I was by myself. When you're a mom, and your kids are with you every single second, they're watching you, learning from you, noticing, remembering. So you are brave when you have to smush a spider, patient when the old person at the grocery store is taking too long, positive when the clouds threaten to rain on your pool. You make ice cream and popsicles for fun. You grow a garden and cook healthy food and share your bounty with the neighbors. You give second and third and fourth chances for them to meet your expectations. You forgive them over and over. You act like dancing with Miss Amy is the Best Thing Ever and like picking up rabbit poop is No Big Deal. And you wash your hands a lot.


  1. That last paragraph really made me think. Sometimes I forget how much they watch. It's a big, but wonderful, responsibility.

  2. nail hit. marvelously written.

  3. Indeed....this is why the best word I can use to describe a really good mom is: brave.