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I'll love you for a thousand more...

I’ve made a decision.

I’m done.

I’m finished with saying how hard mothering is.  I don’t need to convince you or anyone that this is the hardest work of my life.  I don’t need to compare your work-day with my own 16-18 hour days, my pre-5 a.m. start times and my middle-of-the-night treks up the stairs.  I do aim to be grateful and to allow thankfulness to keep me from being pushed off the cliffs of insanity.  But let's be real, sometimes I’m calling a best friend and I’m in tears because they just turned into monsters before my eyes and everyone else’s in aisle six and I’m exhausted, humiliated and so emotionally vested that I could just lose my mind and heart in it all.

But I am finding there is a very real difference between calling a friend or your Mom for help or advice, someone to say, "I've been there, too." and simply letting our mouths run wild, throwing our kids, our husbands, our very gift of this very life, under the bus.  A bad day doesn't make a bad life, but consistently focusing on the bad days will never have a positive impact on our days.  Never.

So, no more comparing. Not you, not me.  No more trying to get others to see how hard our lives are, so we garner sympathy or affirmation.  Because, at the core, isn’t that what we’re wanting?  Especially for those of us that “just” stay home, there is that mentality that, “Well, goodness, what do you DO all day?  If we give you a blank stare when those words come out of your mouth, it’s not because we have nothing to show.  It’s because we don’t even know where to begin.  And we’re incredulous that you would ask such a thing. Think such a thing.

But we all do.  Heck, I do it to my husband whenever he wakes up from a full seven hours of sleep and says, “Man, I’m tired.”  I smile on the outside, but on the inside I’m fuming.  Really?  You’re tired?  Did you not hear the dog going bananas at 2 a.m.?  Did you not hear me go up to check on the boys five separate times in two-hours because Travis kept crying out?  Did you hear them joyfully screaming at each other at 5:40 a.m. today?  TIRED?  Have you even seen these circles under my eyes?  I mean, really.

But, I don’t need to lay out all that I do, all the ways I’m a dang good mom.

I don’t need to explain how hard I work, all the different hats I wear. 

You don’t need to hear me say it.  And I don’t need to hear me say it.

But what we all need is the truth.  

This is my best and hardest work. I prayed for this, I begged for this, I give thanks for this. 

I don’t want to be insecure.  I don’t want my children to grow up realizing that I was always watching someone else, trying to see how they were mothering, see if their kids were happier, see how in the world she got them to eat an avocado like it was a cupcake.  I don’t want my husband to come home and wonder if he’s letting me down or if he has failed to make all my dreams come true.  I don’t want him to think I’m unhappy.  I may be fatigued beyond the point of no return. But is that any excuse to do anything but love more?  These beautiful, brilliant, bright little lives... how did I get to be so lucky?  

They are napping now, but when they wake it’ll be hours until beditme.  So what.  They’re going to want kisses and snacks and more Thomas the Tank Engine.  I give thanks.  There will be tantrums and he may not listen when I’ve asked him to and we may not make it to the potty in time.  Don’t care.  I may have not mopped my floors since Christmas, but we’ve played.  I may not get to making a new recipe that I pinned on Pinterest, but we can make pizzas together.  Maybe I wasn’t so successful in getting them to eat corn today for lunch.  Not a deal breaker.  There’s always another day.

If I’m really, really lucky.  There will be another day.  

They are almost four and almost two and I feel it all slipping away faster than I can fix myself an iced coffee.  The days are blurring into years.  So fast.  So, so fast.  I feel I just held them for that first moment.  I feel we just brought them home from the hospital, just started life together.  And we’ve been talking about preschools and kindergarten and I want to cry and throw up all over myself.  No, no, no.  Not yet.  Wait. 

I want to love them more.  I have to love them more.  Better.  

Mothering isn’t about working at home or working and coming home or doing this full-time or that full-time or creating a masterful home business.  Nothing else matters if I’m not loving.  If I’m caught up in comparing, I’m failing.  If I’m caught up in recounting the ways I’m used up and demanded of too much, I lose.  If I focus on how many hours I get (or don’t) every night, I get snagged in a web of loss, when my reality is so overflowing.  

I take gifts, greedy.  

And I’m done with that.  I’m done being that greedy child.  I’ve had years now, practicing the gift, the very gift, of giving thanks.  And there are times it feels like maybe it would get old, but it never does.  Sometimes I sense the gnawing to go dig the journal out, leave it bare-faced and open on the kitchen counter, all day... just to remind me to pause as I hustle past to fill another sippy cup, to throw away another diaper, to fix another cup of coffee.

We are all like a small child at a birthday party, knee deep in gifts and bright paper.  And the crime... the one all of us mothers jump in to remind them of as we pull the discarded gift close before they can tear into the next: “What do you say?  Wasn’t this such a  nice surprise?  Say, thank you.”  They tear through every one of them, barely glancing at what has been revealed and then it’s on to the next gift.  Just one more thing to make them a little happier.  A little more distracted.  Seemingly more complete.  And they miss... they miss it all. 

We miss the whole, wild, wonderful thing.

So, I will say, "Thank You!" to a good God.  For the demands and the work and the love.

Because, really... wasn’t this all such a nice surprise?

"Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.
Don't be quick to fly off the handle.
Anger boomerangs.
You can spot a fool by 
the lumps on his head.
Don't always be asking,
"Where are the good old days?"
Wise folks don't ask questions like that.
On a good day, enjoy yourself.
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days,
so that we won't take anything
for granted."
~ Ecclesiastes 7:8-10, 14, The Message


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