I see you there. Standing in the middle of the kitchen, talking to yourself. Or, maybe it’s the dirty dishes? You’ve broken up with them again haven’t you? You’ve decided they’re not worth the work today, or the stress. No matter. They weren’t much for conversation, anyway. It’s already been a long day hasn’t it? Your husband left the house or locked himself in the office early this morning—already away for the day before you could take your first sip of coffee or let out more than three words. You busily rushed around the kitchen making breakfast for your kids who regularly act like they are starving. This morning they demanded MILK! WATER! and ALL THE THINGS! before you actually even got out of bed or opened your eyes.
Then, it’s on to the rest of the day. Wrangling kids through brushing their teeth, finding their shoes (ALWAYS WITH THE SHOES!), and putting clothes on that look somewhat like they match. It’s getting them out the door and into the car, if you have to. It’s helping them remember they are capable of playing by themselves. It’s asking them to share and then through gritted teeth and tried and tired patience telling them to share. It’s giving them lunch that they’ll actually eat and prodding yourself to remember that you have to, too. It’s a good thing you like leftover PB+J and chicken nuggets. It’s sweeping the floor again for the fifth time and changing the baby’s diaper for the tenth and wiping the toddler’s butt for the second. It’s all the things. I can understand why you broke up with the dishes. It’s not them. It’s you.
I know what you are going through. Instead of feeling like the taskmaster, you often feel as if you are constantly being mastered by the tasks. Who’s in charge? Certainly not you. Instead, you live in a perpetual bootcamp where orders are barked and the work is often hard, grimy, and nonsensical. There’s no applause. No spectators. There’s no reward. You do it often times because you have to; because it is required of you. Where there are tasks that you excel at, maybe even enjoy—there are others that you look on with disdain. Perhaps you’ve contemplated burning the laundry a couple of times? I know I have.
I see you. I see you waiting for nap time or quiet time or whatever the time it is that you are waiting for—a MINUTE, just a minute to maybe sit down or stand up or just be able to make your OWN choice all by yourself. Just like grown women should be able to. Maybe you pick up a book or you text a friend or you take a nap. Or, if you are like me—you mourn the death of those minutes knowing that there are none for this season. Not for another couple of hours until after the sun’s gone down, anyway.
I know what you’re feeling. This life, and this work, it’s contradictory. It’s confusing.
While you’re never alone, you feel the most alone you’ve ever been. Conversations are short, stunted and interrupted. They’re through texts and .gifs; hardly ever face to face. The conversations you do have hang around the shallow end—about milestones and always, always about motherhood. The state of your heart never included. You crave more. And yet, somedays you’d rather not share where you’re at. Then, while your constantly working on the house—maybe you don’t have to worry about working on you, too.
Somedays, you feel desperate to get away. Desperate to go back to work, back to that vacation in Mexico, or back to an easier and less responsible time. That’s when the bathroom comes in handy. Or Target. You value time alone and sometimes the only thing you can do is hide. But, that’s when it happens. You think of your son and his chunky cheeks. You remember the conversation you had with your daughter. You pull out your phone and scroll through the photos you took that day and you smile in pure delight. You love your kids. You love what you get to be a part of creating, what you get to be a part of growing, what you get to be a part of nurturing. And, you love who you get to love.
That’s when you remember. This is always when I remember, too.
Time is elusive. It speeds by all the quicker in both inches in height and pounds in weight. It’s represented by the number of bins you have in the basement categorizing the clothes your kids have worn. Time ticks by in cups of milk refilled, cuddles allowed, or books read together.
It never stops.
Just like the tasks and the responsibilities. Just like the needs and the wants.
But, it’s here where you realize that the one is made bearable by the other. It’s here that you realize that all of this YOU GET TO DO. You don’t have to show up everyday for your family; you get to. You don’t have to keep your home; you get to. You don’t have to spend everyday with your kids; you get to. You don’t have to ________; YOU GET TO.
This life we both chose isn’t a have to, mama. It’s a get to. And in the thick of all that we bear and do every single day may it become a joy to. May we use time as our guide through this hard season and this hard work. A guide that reminds us that every single day with our kids counts, matters, and serves to propel them into an undisclosed future. May we see time not as an afterthought of guilt, but the rhythm in which we time our steps, our work, and our hearts.
Time is always running.
We can run with it, or we can try to run away from it. It’s our choice. We don’t have to. We get to.