I can’t lie to you all- it’s been a little rocky over here.
We are just pulling ourselves out of a rough patch that involved a fair amount of chaos, worry and tears. I am not going to go into all the details because it’s not fully my story to tell, but it affected me a whole heck of a lot, and our family and our homeschool, and my sleep and the state of our house and how little I’ve been able to make time for anything beyond the basics.
But you don’t need to know the details to know how this goes, right? You make some plans, and go on your merry way, and then something derails you- some big external thing or some big emotional thing, but certainly some big unexpected thing, and you are bowled over, and nothing in the plan ends up happening at all for a while. This is how it seems to be- this living a life. And so it’s been over here.
And in the midst of that, my own personal voices of fear and worry and self-doubt- those voices that are always there in the background- they step up and start shouting over the chaos. They have all sorts of things to tell me about the issues at hand (usually about how I might have handled things better, or some unhelpful words of blame,) but they also have a lot to say about how all the usual stuff is not happening as it should.
“Noodles for supper again? How do you expect these kids grow if you don’t serve them more vegetables?”
“What kind of a mother are you? You haven’t given them their cod liver oil/ clipped their toenails/ got them to bed on time/ bathed them enough/ limited the screen time etc etc.
And then there are the voices that are just for me and my own dreams and projects- they start out by telling me that the very last thing I should be doing while the world is crumbling around me is to take any time for myself.
“Look at that pile of laundry- you are planning on spending time on writing when your house looks like this?”
And “Who are you kidding? You are a mess! You have no right to tell anybody anything about living intentionally or mindfully. Today you yelled at your kids! How Heartful is that, huh?”
I figure the best way to shut them up is to tell it straight, so here goes.
The voices are right.
I don’t have this all figured out. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I am a weepy mess. Sometimes I doubt my abilities in pretty much all the things. (homeschooling, parenting, breathing.)
Though that place of self-doubt feels intensely solitary and lonely, I know I can’t be the only one who goes there. I’m guessing most mamas have their own personal dark little hidey hole full of unhelpful voices that they know well.
And yet, here’s the thing. We just keep on doing it anyway, don’t we? We just keep on doing this mama job even in the toughest times. We look our babies in the eye every single day and tell them what a gift they are. We say we’re sorry when we screw up. We breathe deep. We even eventually do the damn laundry.
We ignore the nasty voices and do it anyway.
We all stumble and fall and get scraped up and curse a bit, and then we get back up again. We are human beings doing this super-human job of growing up small, helpless, baby humans into full-sized, independent, adult humans. It’s completely preposterous, when you think about it. Who said I could manage such a position? Whoever thought I could be strong enough or wise enough or mindful enough or patient enough to do this impossible task?
Yet it appears as though someone thought I was, because I have the job. Apparently I was the best candidate, (or at the very least there were no other takers.) And though I’m not always confident in my efforts, I do the job every single day, morning till night. That’s something.
I even enjoy it a good deal of the time. And I have enough self-control not to run screaming out the door (dramatically tossing off my work uniform- apron and breakfast-encrusted yoga pants- while I flee,) in those moments that I don’t. That’s something too.
We mamas just keep on keepin’ on- through all the noisiness, and chaos and sweetness and tears and sibling battles and bedtime drama and snuggles and runny noses- we do it all. We stick it out. We face the voices of fear and worry and self-judgment and we just walk right on by and do what needs to be done. Even in the hardest times we do it. Even when we doubt our ability to do it- still, somehow we are still there- kissing the sore knees and reading the bedtime stories- keepin’ on.
And we do more than just soldier on, us mamas. We rise to it. We embrace it. We welcome it all into our hearts. We learn from our mistakes and try harder next time. We make new plans. We learn and grow and become better mothers everyday. It’s amazing isn’t it? Because when I look around I see so many mothers fighting their own battles, facing intense challenges, hearts sore for the world, and yet they are all delighting in the beauty of their children at the same time. It is a beautiful thing.
And sometimes our little charges (clients? apprentices? devotees?) might actually tell us they appreciate our efforts. We can’t count on it, but sometimes it just comes right out of the blue. Right out of the chaos and the tears even. They might look us right in the eye and say “I love you Mama. Thank you for being the best mom ever.” Or throw their little arms around our necks and say “I yuv you SO MUCH Mama.”
And our hearts just melt in those moments and we can really shake the voices then, because it doesn’t much matter what the voices have to say, when it comes right down to it. Because we show up no matter what they say. Because we have this incredible life to live with these extraordinary little people, and we remember that this wild, outrageous, all-consuming, spell-binding, fairy-dusted life is the only one we want to be living.
And that’s really something.