|Photo by Ellie Holman, age 10|
A while back I was chatting with my dear college roommate, Jackie, or Princess Gorkel, Daughter of Terri-lou Punk Frog of the Kingdom of the North, as she is known to me. She was telling me how much she enjoys reading my blog when she is feeling down. I told her that I sometimes picture myself writing to all the tired mamas at the end of the day, and what they might need to hear. Now, I know that not ALL the tired mamas read my blog. Certainly one or two go straight to bed. But I bet all the mamas who DO read it ARE tired, because, well, duh... they're mamas. It's tough work. So this, my weary women, my tired-to-the-bone can't-fold-another-load friends, is for you. And most of all, it is to Jackie.
To all the tired mamas at the end of the day,
I see you.
I see you up way too late, knowing that your day will be starting way too early again in the morning. I see you as you empty dishwashers and dryers and load them back up for a second, then a third run. I see you folding tired old towels with shredded ends, and breathing a sad sigh as you pull a little shirt from the basket to put in the donation bag, surprised at how fast it was outgrown by a not-so-little child. I see your fury flare as you step on a lego, only to be extinguished by a sweet, sleeping mess-maker. I see you turning out lights and locking doors, always the last one to bed.
I see you in the morning as you make your bed, though you'd rather climb back into it. Making lunches, planning meals, watching for sales to make the money stretch impossibly further. I see you clean a room over and over, only to come back through and find it destroyed. I see you welcome your children home, putting on a smile just for them, sometimes felt, sometimes not, but you smile anyway because you don't want them to think that what is troubling you is them. I see you batting the to-do lists out of the forefront of your mind as you listen to the chatter of a small one, telling you the plot to their favorite show. Again.
I see you.
I see the way you wrestle with how strict to be about a rule broken; the balancing act between justice and mercy. I see you fretting as you look into brooding eyes, worried because you aren't quite sure if there is more to the story than you are getting. I see you trying to find teaching moments- to know when to leave it alone and when to speak up. I see you wishing a hug and a kiss could take it all away like it did when they were small, and knowing sometimes the only thing you can do is pray for them.
I see you cooking and cleaning and helping with homework. I see you rocking a feverish child, cleaning up what came-up, and offering comfort through a blur of sleeplessness. I see you helping a friend, bringing a meal to someone in need, and giving your lose change to the woman at the corner, all the while feeling that you are not quite enough; wise enough, thin enough, organized enough -charitable, loving, kind- enough.
I see you.
I see your heart of gold under your spit-up stained t-shirt, your beautiful face beneath a few lines of time and a few streaks of grey. I see your strength as you power through days and months and years of the sameness of tasks, and then take on tomorrow as well.
I see your eyes well with tears over ones you have lost, or never got to have at all (which is a loss all the same, is it not?); ones that were never born, or never grew older, or were never free of their own demons. I see you protecting your children from the world when you can, and comforting them when you can't, and carrying their pain as your own either way.
I see you.
And I know you.
And I am grateful, because when I see you, I learn. I am inspired. I am encouraged.
When I see you,
I am free to make mistakes, because I see your grace as you try again.
I am free from judgement, because I see your forgiveness and I can forgive myself.
I am free to follow that voice inside that whispers to me how to mother, because I see you follow yours.
I see you, Tired Mama. You are doing a great job. Now go to bed and try to rest. It all starts again tomorrow.