Looking at my life, I am often surprised. While I always dreamed of being a mother, I never imagined that one of my crowing achievements would include successfully taking apart a Dyson vacuum to clean the trail of sugar, cocoa powder, oil, and pair of underwear that coated the inside. I imagined story time and hugs and baking cakes with my children–not the frustration and weariness that consumed me after seeing the ‘cake’ that my daughters mixed on the dining room carpet.
There are days when I look around and think this life is ridiculous. Feeling overwhelmed by the chores that I never finish, the worry that I’m not discipling my children well, the constant fatigue–there have been times when I’ve whispered “why do I bother?”
With all the frustration that comes, I’ve questioned why I chose this path. Why didn’t I go back to work sooner? I could say it’s the hugs that keep me here or the sweet smiles, but, in reality, I know those joys are not unique to stay-at-home moms. Many moms work and come home to giant kisses; they spend the hours when they want to rest playing tea party or wrestling on the floor.
If I’m honest, the reason is that I want to be here. I don’t want to miss anything. I’m selfish with my children. I want to break up their fights and feed them lunch and laugh at their dancing and send them to time-out. I want to see all the parts of their day that add up to the over-tired meltdowns at 6:00 p.m.
And I want them to remember that I was there.
My mom was there. She was there as a stay-at-home mom when I was little, and she was there when ‘Jennifer the babysitter’ watched us while she worked part-time. She was there when I was in middle school and she worked, and she is there now that I’m 30-something with my own kids to raise.
I think about my life with my mother, and I can’t remember all the details. I can’t remember baking cakes or making crafts. I can’t remember the stories that we read or all the times that she pushed me on a swing. My horrible memory is partly to blame–but those details aren’t important. I remember what is important–she was there.
She is there.
A trust is between us that wouldn’t be otherwise. For 32 years, she has been by my side. For 32 years she has poured into my life, through the explicit advice she has given and the implicit lessons she has taught. I see a woman who worked hard for her children, and a woman who has compassion for others. I see a woman who displayed integrity always and sought accolades never.
Without explicitly saying these words, my mom taught me a lesson–what I love best about my job is that I am here; I see most of my children’s days and have opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise–but I can be here even when I’m not.
My kids might not remember the times we baked banana bread or planted vegetables in the garden. They might not remember the time they had to scrub the crayon off the wall or apologize to their sister.
They will remember if I was here, truly here. They won’t pin down a moment, but they will feel the lifetime of moments, the hours of undivided attention, whether those hours were given over the course of a full day or after the workday was done until bedtime.
They will remember how I made them feel, just like I remember my how my mom makes me feel. And when I think of my own mother, well, I can’t help but smile.
This week I tried combining Mama Kat’s previous prompt of what I like best about my job with this week’s prompt–what is one lesson from your mom that has never left you? I’m not sure if it worked, but, alas, here it is! What is a lesson you learned from your mother?