Being a mother is a great many things. At any given moment, I am thinking of four other beings before myself. My head is filled with this constant guilt and worry, even though I am not an anxious person and I tell myself rationally that guilt and worry are wasted energy. If there is nothing you can do about it, then why worry, right?
Motherhood is this crazy conflicted state of consciousness. There are always a million things to be doing, that need attention, need love, need handling and protecting, and yet.. there is just one who can do it all. There is just one mother for every child — even if there are two, there is still that need for “one” that individuality that each child needs from that one person at any given time (or every given time!).
Our Friday morning was hectic, insane yet typical. Kids all waking and climbing in bed atop my sleepy, over-tired and achy body at 6am. Thirty minutes lazed away because I ran a bit too hard again last night and my right leg begged me to stay still a moment longer, and then another moment longer. Then the “Oh, shoot, it’s nearly 7am and we all have to eat breakfast and I forgot to make school lunches and someone has a poopy diaper and another needs her hair washed because suddenly “messy hair” is not acceptable to her any longer, and the dog needs food and the cat puked and daddy is busy working his butt off starting our new business and everyone needs mommy.” Every kid just needs their mommy.
Then one is off, at school safe and sound and happy and there are just two. There are just two now to feed and clean and prep for preschool drop-off of child #2 and we still have 30 minutes and this should be no big deal. Except child #2 refuses to choose a dress. She wants a dress, doesn’t want Mama to pick her dress, can’t get her dress down herself and is jumping atop the overloaded top box inside her closet to reach a dress and pulls down about 10 in one swoop, hangers and all, but none of those are the “right dress.” Still not accepting help, but knowing she needs help and fighting that fact, she sits screaming for 10 minutes for no clear reason except that she is four years old.
I step away, turning my attention to dressing little brother. I look down and see blood covering both feet. Apparently he cut his foot somewhere in these last 10 minutes of dress-fighting with big sister and has been dripping deep brown-red fluid all across the carpet. Grabbing a band-aid, I stick it on and cover his goose-bump flesh with a pair of gray sweats. I turn to help big sister with her “dress-debacle,” which hasn’t progressed, turn back to see the bandaid removed, pants removed and a 2 year old boy hacking like a seal from his current and latest bout of croup, lying on the ground screaming about the bloody foot and his resistance to bandaids.
Glancing at the clock, it is now 8:40am. I had hoped to be out the door by this time. Neither kid is dressed. “Alan, can you please come help me?” I shout through his closed home office door. “I have a phone call in an hour and have a lot of work to get done before that. What do you need?” he asks in reply.
All I can do is laugh. “I need to get the heck out of here,” I reply. Ten minutes later and we are miraculously out the door with two clothed children. Hair unbrushed and flying every which way, as usual, but naked butts covered and bloody feet hidden under clean white socks and brown scuffed up tennis shoes. At least we are out the door.
Another 30 minutes later and we are back in the door. Nothing that absolutely has to be done this morning. Yes, lots that should be done, could be done, but all Mama really needs is a run. Little brother is eager and on board as long as he can bring along a bag full of tools, dog is ready to go and before I know it we are loaded into the single Bob and on our way to bliss.
Only 10 minutes pass and I find myself feeling… guilty. I am happy, so happy, content but still there is this guilt. Alan is working away at the computer and here I am, out running in the mountains, loving this life and admiring majestic views of the valley and beyond. Then I remind myself that just one hour earlier I was in the barracks, sleeves rolled up battling two kids to simply put their pants on, laughing because the only other option was crying. “No room for guilt, just keep on running,” I tell myself, “The kids will give you enough challenge in just a few hours.”
This is the crazed conflicted mind of a mother. A deep sigh and remembrance that all in one breath, child-rearing is the best of times and worst of times. I kissed my littlest on the cheek, turn and ran home.
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