Monday, March 20, 2017

The Most Important Job in the World

The tides of motherhood tend to ebb and flow like the ocean waves. So do the tides of writing sometimes. 

This week, I was watching my favorite show, This Is Us, and the main couple was having an argument - each pointing out the sacrifices he/she had made for their family. The mom, Rebecca, shouted, "I'm a freaking ghost, Jack!" (or something like that) referencing the feeing that she no longer had any identity of her own - that no one sees her anymore. With that line, came a wave of emotion for me - memories of feelings I had as a new mother and awareness of how those feelings tend to circle back around these days when my job as a mom often feels reduced to the duties of a chauffeur, cook, and laundry wench.

Then, as I was digging through some old posts today, looking for some writing inspiration, I came across this gem. It was a piece I wrote as a submission for another project, but it was rejected and has been sitting in my draft folder collecting dust since then. 

I needed to read it today and decided share it with you in case you need to hear it, too.


As long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I went to college, graduated with a degree in Birth through Kindergarten education, got married, and taught in the public system for a few years before having kids. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would be quitting my job to stay at home and raise my children.

What I didnt know was how isolated I would feel; how lonely it could be to stay at home with an infant all day and, sometimes, go for a week without having an in personconversation with another adult. I didnt know how quickly I would lose my identity or how long some of those days would feel. Everything had changed. My schedule was different. My responsibilities were different. Even my body and my income had changed immensely! There were days and moments when I questioned myself, my skills as a mom, and, truthfully, every one of my life decisions. I thought that maybe I wasnt cut out to be this person and to do this mommingthing after all. 

Ultimately, though, I found a new group of mom friends, adjusted to my unfamiliar status, got used to the new routines of life, and persevered - even thrived - in my new found role. We even added two more daughters to our family. Still, there was a nagging sensation of discontent that I couldnt quite put my finger on.

Eventually, I began to figure out what it was that would never let me feel 100% satisfied.  I realized that I felt something like a gerbil on one of those exercise wheels - running and running but never getting anywhere. Every day for me was the same old repetitious monotony - feed them, dress them, discipline them, teach them, bathe them, wash the dishes, do the laundry, sweep the floors. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I had my foot on the gas, but no matter how hard I revved the engine, I simply did not move forward. I had no tangible rewardfor my efforts and, therefore, I deeply lacked a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Lets face it - being a mom is hard. I was doing it day in and day out, though. I was giving it my all, but what did I have to show for all this work I was doing? Nothing. I had no paycheck, no plaque on the wall, and I couldnt even get any of my blog posts to go viral. I felt completely exhausted and utterly invisible.

One night when our girls were in bed, after I had finally pinpointed the root of my dissatisfaction, I voiced my feelings to my husband. You can measure your success by the numbers. You make a sale and you get compensated accordingly as well as patted on the back. You get awards and accolades. Its easy to see what you accomplish. I do this job - which, quite frankly is harder than your job - every day and it feels like I dont accomplish anything because every day I have to do it all over again. I clean the house and, tomorrow, it is a mess again. I have to reprimand the children for the same things over and over. Its like they dont even hear me. Im like a puppy chasing its tail, moving my body as hard as I can but only going in circles. I have no sense of accomplishment or success.

My husband responded in a manner that forever changed the way I view my job as a mom and how I measure what I achieve every day.

He said, Go look at our girls sleeping and you will see how peaceful they are. That is because of you. Every day you keep them safe; you feed them; you teach them. Every night, they go to bed with healthy bodies, full tummies, bright minds, and hearts that know they are loved more than anything in this world. THAT is what you accomplish. THAT is your success. Every single day. YOU do that and there may not be any awards given for it, but there is absolutely NOTHING that is more meaningful or more significant. Its the most important job in the world.

Caught up in the minutia and repetition of it all, I had never looked at it that way.

He went on to tell me how much he appreciated everything thing I do. He travels a lot for his job and said that knowing I was there with our girls made it easier for him to do what he has to do as the primary (and, at that time, only) income generator for our family.

In a three minute conversation, my husband had recognized what I gave up, validated the importance of my daily duties, and expressed his gratitude for it all. That moment changed me as a mother and I am forever grateful for his encouragement that night. I have since shared his wisdom with several other moms who confided in me that they were experiencing the same struggle. 

When we, as moms, are in the throes of motherhood; doing it day in and day out; running ourselves ragged on the hamster wheel of parenting, sometimes we lose sight of our own significance. We become This kids momor That guys wife.We lose ourselves and our sense of self-worth. In those moments, we have to remember that what we are doing each day is truly the most important job in the world. As cliché as it may sound, we really are shaping the future with every diaper change, every Goldfish cracker, every book we read for the one millionth time, every shoelace we tie, every homework reminder we give, every mile we put on the minivan, every reprimand we give, and every I love you to the moon and backwe say.

So, in case no one has ever told you, Im telling you now.

Mamas, you are important. You are appreciated. You are beautiful, and valuable, and amazing. You may feel invisible, but I see you. So do your children and the people who surround you. Think of yourself as a Master Mason - each little brick you lay seems so dull and inconsequential, but, in the end, you will have built something incredible and amazing! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Currently . . . March 2017

It honestly feels like I JUST wrote one of these. Maybe that's because February was a short month and my "Currently" post was late last month, too. Here we are, though, at the second Monday in March and I was determined to stick to my original plan! :-) 

So, currently, I'm . . . . 

1) Listening to show tunes. Seriously. My youngest is fascinated with music from Hamilton and Wicked. We saw Wicked last summer when we took a family trip to NYC, but none of us have seen Hamilton. Every time we get in the car, though, they grab my phone, plug it in, and play some Broadway tunes! 

2) Adjusting to daylight savings time. Fortunately, the time changes have never really seemed to bother my kids much, but it will be a lot harder to get going in the morning when it's still dark outside and a lot harder to get them to come in and do homework when it still light in the evening! 

3) Juggling and feeling overwhelmed by crazy schedules! I wrote about all the miles and miles I've been putting on my minivan and it won't stop any time soon. My middle daughter is playing middle school soccer, so she has practice or a game every single day. My oldest has started volunteering at a place that offers therapeutic horseback riding to kids with special needs. It's only once a week, but it's pretty far out. Of course we still have our own horseback riding lessons, my youngest's piano lessons and girl scouts. Inevitably, at least two or three things always seem to be on the same day and I'm left trying to figure out how to clone myself so I can be in multiple places at once. If anyone else has that figured out yet, please let me know! 

4) Listing all the things I need to clean out over the summer. I swear every single closet and drawer in our house needs to be reorganized and pared down. I have this grand idea of making a list of each one and doing at least one a week during summer break. We'll see how that goes. If I'm going to try it, I should probably muster up a little more enthusiasm and determination for it! 

5)  Crying because this week will be the last new episode of This Is Us until the next season - and no idea when that will start. Of course, I'll probably be crying over the content of the episode, too. If you watch and you've seen the teasers, you know what I mean. But, I 'm also excited because I'm . . . .

6) Starting a This is Us Facebook discussion group!!! Ok,Ok. I'm doing it through work (my church) and the discussion will be faith based. Although, religion certainly isn't a big part of the show, there are tons of places where we see faith, grace, forgiveness, and trust. Even though I'm doing it through my church, the group will be open to others as well. I just wish the NBC "powers that be" would spill the beans on when Season 2 will be on air! 

7) Hoping that there is no more sickness in our house! Our middle daughter had the flu late last week. It wasn't too bad, but she missed two days of school - and the first two soccer games of the season that happened to be on those two days. The doctor gave her Tamiflu, but it upset her stomach, so she has just had to wait it out. As I type this (Sunday afternoon), I'm planning to send her back to school in the morning.

8) Making slime. First there was the bottle flipping craze and, now, there's slime. My middle and youngest have been bugging the heck out of me to buy them glue and slime ingredients. They tried it with glue and laundry detergent, but it didn't work. Then, I made slime with preschoolers for a story time activity at work. I brought home the leftover ingredients and they couldn't wait to make more! Want to know how??


What are you CURRENTLY doing, reading, making, watching, or listening to?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Miles and Miles

I recently wrote that we were in the process of figuring out our next vehicle. Well, much to my chagrin, our next vehicle ended up being another Honda Odyssey because it was the sensible thing to do. We did get a different color and, of course, it's newer, but mostly - almost exactly - the same. We drove it off the car lot on a Saturday evening with 89 miles on the odometer. When I pulled in the driveway on Friday evening, the odometer read "644." A little quick math will tell you that means I drove 555 miles in less than a week and I never left the county in which I live. I drove miles and miles between dropping kids off, picking kids up, going to work, taking kids to riding lessons, piano lessons, soccer practice, home in the middle of the day to meet the cable guy, and the list goes on. Miles and Miles.


I turned 40 last week. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I survived. My fabulous family and sweet friends made it a joyful week-long celebration with lots of happy wishes and chocolate! I wonder how many miles I have walked, run, or driven in the past 40 years?? How many more will I travel in the next 40?? It's hard to fathom, but I'll make it with the help of people who love me walking alongside me. Miles and miles we'll go.


It won't be too much longer until I'm driving a few less miles because my oldest daughter will be driving some herself. She will be taking driver's education in April and will be able to get her permit in August when she turns 15. Of course, that will be followed by getting her actual license a year later. On one hand, I will be relieved when she can drive herself places so I don't have to. On the other hand, I'm terrified. I remember my mom saying to me, "It's not that I'm worried about you. It's that I worry about all the other crazy drivers!" Now, I know exactly what she meant! I've begun trying to be conscious about giving my own version of driving lessons when we are in the car. Just other night, as we drove home through pouring rain, I was giving her advice about keeping a greater distance between cars and lowering her speed when driving in the rain. I can only hope that, in the future, she'll hear my voice in the back of her mind as she drives miles and miles on her own.

My middle daughter is now playing soccer on her school's middle school team. I am constantly amazed by her boundless energy. She goes to school all day, runs miles and miles on the soccer field during practice, then comes home and rides more miles on her bike in the driveway. I wish I had an ounce of the energy she has - although this level of energy apparently requires mass quantities of food to maintain! As I entered all the soccer game dates into the calendar on my phone, I was overhwlemed by the amount of additional miles I will be driving over the next couple months to attend all of them. Of course, many of them overlap with her sisters' activities, too. Miles and miles I will go.

My youngest has been struggling a bit with school lately - which means I've been struggling, too. She is such a compassionate, tender-hearted kid that it is hard to be stern with her. However, when it comes to academics and work, she has a lazy streak a mile long, so we had to deliver a little "tough love" to address it. She is only in fourth grade, so she has miles and miles of school ahead of her. Hopefully, the lessons she is learning now will pay off down the road.

You know what seems miles and miles away? Summer vacation. As much as I despise hot, humid temperatures, I adore the slower pace of summer. Sleeping in, hanging out by the pool, and reading lots of books is pure heaven. It's a couple months of the year when I DON'T drive miles and miles in my minivan - unless it's to the beach or the mountains. We haven't panned any summer trips yet, though. Hopefully, we'll be able to go somewhere that is miles and miles away from our ordinary routine. :-) 

Do you have summer plans yet? Where will you be traveling?

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