I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years taking the edge off my emotions through the frenzy of mothering, so busy most days I scarce could feel. And when fear or anger or other ugly emotions honed in, they could easily be pushed to the periphery by immersing myself in laundry or dishes or kissing a hurt, real or imagined. Motherhood is both a fantastic filterer of emotion and a main artery, carrying them straight to the heart and threatening almost to stop it sometimes. And so, the last month of being mostly by myself has taught me this: man, I have so many feels.
I spent the first two weeks waking to an elephant on my chest. He’s been there often, but I’d not call him friend. Sort of a pain, actually. He wakes me just before the alarm and lays there while my mind spins through the rolodex of my fears. He lays there until I catch my breath and whisper, Jesus, and then he takes off. He’ll be back. This is when the frenzy of the morning rush takes over and hijacks my every thought and motion until the bus pulls away. All summer I wondered what it would be like when the bus left and I couldn’t lose myself in the busyness. Turns out it’s ok. But only after you get used to the sensation. I spent September wearing all my feelings on the outside, nerves exposed and raw. But here’s the deal: it’s ok to feel. Distraction is a fantastic coping mechanism and the hallmark of motherhood, but take it away and you’ll still be ok.
Sisters, if you’re in the thick of it, toddlers hanging on your legs and more bites in your day than you can possibly chew, take heart. The day is coming when there will be time to catch your breath and some days you’ll think it’s a breath of fresh air and on others it will leave you gasping as you adjust. And if you are using this gift of motherhood and it’s accompanying craziness to dull your feelings, well, those too will feel both fresh and suffocating. But you’ll be ok. You’ll spend a time gasping at first and pacing your kitchen, throwing yourself at ridiculous tasks like alphabetizing your canned goods just so you don’t have to think. And then you’ll go for a long walk with your pups and check in with yourself. You’ll do it in small bits so you don’t drown and you’ll be ok. And pretty soon you’ll find yourself having longs hours being alone and you. will. be. ok. Because you will realize the truth that you have purpose beyond your kids. After all, you were many things before you were theirs and some of those will emerge from their hiding spot and new ones will buzz in and you’ll sort of remake yourself and it will be ok.
Mamas, you are being consumed by this work. It’s the nature of this beautiful beast. It consumes and consumes and somedays you think you will surely die of it, but most days you will happily be chewed up for a zillion hours straight because you know that this is the best work there is and you’ll gladly, joyfully surrender yourself to it. There is a day coming, and for some of you it’s here already, when this work morphs into a new phase. Maybe your baby going to Kindergarten like mine, darn her, or maybe your baby going to college or, God forbid, maybe your baby dying. Your work will shape shift, but you will be ok. Because you are a thousand things to a hundred people and the most important isn’t that you are a mama but that you are a Daughter and that work will never change, never stop. That work is the most constant there is. So, feel all those feelings or lose them in the minutiae of your day if you must, but please remember to not forget that you have such beautiful purpose, no matter. And if you forget, and you will sometimes, come back here and let me remind you.
this is me being real.