It is 5:37am and I am sitting on the porch waiting for my tea to kick in and my brain to get going so that I can do a bit of writing before juggling a full day of motherhood.
Motherhood. So physical. So the work of the hands. We cook, clean, sign papers, drive carpools, make snacks, adjust swim caps…
I think my hands have rarely been still in the past twenty years. Even with the arthritis that is already beginning to assault my joints, my hands are insanely strong. I didn’t know why until one night last week.
I was washing my one of my two Haitian daughters’ long, thick dredlocks, a process that involves soaking the locs with hot water and then squeezing the suds through them over and over until they are clean. Then the process is repeated to rinse them. It is much like washing a heavy sweater by hand except that it takes a lot longer.
I had been working for a bit and stopped to rest my hands and brush my own sweat plastered hair out of my eyes when it hit me…
Oh, that is why my hands are strong.
The work of reconciliation between siblings.
Those horrible yet beautiful moments when we have to take our child to a neighbor or teacher to apologize for a wrong.
Seeking our child’s forgiveness when we are the one who blows it.
The moments we take the time to not just reprimand a child but lovingly reach for his or her heart.
Just hanging out with them because they need to know we not only love them, but that we like them too.
And on and on…
Today, my hands will be busy but so will my heart.
I will accompany one son to the Navy recruiter’s office…
And another to say goodbye to a friend.
I will keep my phone close because at some point, my 17-year-old daughter will text me from Germany. She is visiting Dachau today. Her soul will be heavy with the weight of all she has seen and learned.
I will take my youngest three children on an adventure. We will look for the best Tennessee swimming hole and drink deeply of summer.
And just love each other for awhile.
If you are a mom, your day too will inevitably be filled with labors of both hands and heart. Maybe there are times when you wonder if the work you are doing has value. Perhaps there is someone in your life who presents the question, “What did you do today?” and it feels less like small talk and more like an assessment of your role as a productive member of society.
Whether you work outside the home, stay home full time, or weave together a combination of it all like me, there is just one thing I want you to know-
You are enough.
This, what you are doing, it is of incalcuable worth. It is never going to be easy. We don’t need to do it all the same. We aren’t in competition with each other. Regardless of what Facebook would have you believe, there is no perfect mother competition going.
I mean, you have already won. You are the perfect mother for your kids. Who cares what the person next to you is doing? That is for their family, not yours.
So, go on. Get up and have that coffee or tea. Wake up your brain and begin the work of hands and heart today. You are a mother, their mother.