“Mom, can you get me some milk?”
“Mom, he hit me!”
“Mom, I don’t get this problem. I need your help.”
“Mom, does the ‘Y’ at the end of this word make the ‘EE’ sound like ‘happy,’ or the ‘I’ sound like ‘cry?’
“Mom, I can’t find my (fill in the blank).”
And then the baby screamed for an hour.
It was one of “those” days. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of day that doesn’t contain enough coffee to make life not feel like a freight train crashing around on a Tilt-a-Whirl. Like you’re being squished and pressed in from all sides, and also on top and from the ground up.
It was a day that came after a night that was too short, and several times interrupted by a baby with a bird mouth who couldn’t find her sleeping groove, and so eating was her go-to coping mechanism.
And so many cries for “Mom.”
As the day drew to a close, I found myself dragging through each motion. With daddy out of town, it all falls on me. Gymnastics, soccer, meals, homework. On a good day, I can rock our schedule with gusty flair, but on a fatigued day, I move a bit like an elephant in quick sand.
I slogged my way through the showers and the late night studies of multiplication tables, my eyelids so heavy that Tia finally looked at me with deep concern.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “Your eyes look weird.”
We’re working on tact with that one…
As I warmed up the baby’s bottle, while quizzing Tia on her math, and listening to Sloan tell me about the new book he was reading, Landon tugged on my shirt.
“Mom?” he asked, eyes all big and hopeful.
“Just a minute, buddy.”
“But…Mom?” He pulled on my shirt again.
“Hang on, babe. I’m listening to Sloan right now. Tia what’s 8×4?”
He leaned against my side and waited for a brief moment before tapping my arm again. I sighed and look down. “What, Landon?!” I was exasperated. He could tell.
He motioned me down so he could whisper in my ear. “I love you,” he said softly, then he smiled wide, thin lips stretched across soft cheeks.
You can’t have him, friends. He’s all mine.
With a lighter heart, I finally got all four (four!) kids settled into bed, and I stood in the middle of my kitchen for a few moments, relishing the stillness and quiet that is rather elusive in our home these days. I felt almost giddy at the thought of my own warm bed waiting for me, and I began preparations to make my way to it.
I turned to see Tia standing in her doorway. She came padding out and tossed me an impish grin. “I need to get a drink,” she said.
I sighed. “Okay, but be quick, alright?” I was exasperated. She could tell.
“Okay,” she said, then halted. “But I also want to tell you about the rainbow.” She looked at me, her eyes so big they made her look like a Disney princess. How could I say no? I nodded my head reluctantly.
“Did you know that the first color in a rainbow is red, but you can’t see it because just above it is blue, and the red and the blue blend together, and that makes the first stripe look purple? Isn’t that so cool?” Her smile was so wide, and her eyes so delighted to share this information with me that, once again, I felt my fatigue roll off my back like the droplets of water that streak across the windshield.
To all the exhausted, overwhelmed, stretched-too-thin moms out there, I raise my glass to you. We’re fighting the good fight, heels dug in, determined to enjoy this ride called motherhood. We’re told to cherish each moment, but the moments all blend together into chunks of time that feel like they’re just.too.much.
But like the red and the blue of a rainbow, those blended together moments actually make something new and beautiful. They make motherhood.
We’re doing this, friends. We’re living this mothering journey, and it isn’t really glamorous, and perhaps we get exasperated more than we should, but at the end of the day we know we’re loved, and we learn really cool things about rainbows.
So we tuck those brief moments deep in our hearts, and they become the fuel to get us through the next day, and the next night, and the one after that, until we find ourselves on the other side of this journey. I understand why older women tell us to cherish this time.
They know that on the other side of mothering young children, we miss the magic in a rainbow.