I “work” 84 hours a week.
I make food. I plan trips. I remember birthdays.
I spend a lot of time outside ensuring the safety of others.
I make phone calls to schedule appointments.
I clean clothes, wash dishes, sweep floors, vacuum. I wash windows, pick up, and organize.
I do art projects. I do music time and dancing.
I do a ton of reading.
I do a lot of talking and explaining, defining.
I am a stay at home mom. I am a homeschooling mom.
I change diapers and put ointment on sore bottoms. I encourage good hygiene. I worry about health. I coach through constipation.
I kiss boo-boos.
I fill water bottles.
I let the dogs out and feed the cats. I order flea and tick treatment. I endure the safety of the animals.
I order coop deodorizer for our 25 chickens and sell the eggs.
I worry about the fox who is eating them.
I buy clothes and shoes for the kids and for my husband.
I worry about their education, their mental health, their happiness.
I remember to make gifts from them to their grandparents. I schedule time to spend with other people. We go to story times and gymnastics and it’s stressful but I worry about being home too much.
I think about everyone constantly.
I am a mom.
I don’t get a day off or a lunch break. When I leave the house it’s to go grocery shopping. Or to get my allergy shots so we can keep our dogs. Or it’s to go to therapy so I can learn how to take care of myself and slow down the out of control spinning I do. Occasionally I leave to do something differently. It’s rare.
I bring the kids on walks and worry about the cars driving too fast and the drivers who are probably texting or eating or talking on the phone and don’t care about the humans in front of them.
I bring the kids to get their hair cut. I get my own hair cut at home by a neighbor.
I am also a woman. A person who has needs. And sometimes that means I am completely exhausted from the demands of motherhood.
84 hours a week I am awake and thinking and worrying and playing and reading and dancing and cooking and coloring and painting and racing and kicking a soccer ball and pushing a stroller and wearing a toddler and planning a garden and finding worms. I am finding doll clothes or motorcycle guys or socks or shoes or sweatshirts or shovels. I’m protecting block towers from Egan-zilla. I’m cleaning sticky spots off the floor and my face. I’m researching and reading and learning all that I can about this journey I’m on and finding the right path for us.
I worry about my husband who works so hard for us and never gets a break from chaos either. I worry about making sure we all get what we need. I worry about having one on one time with him and each of my three children.
I worry about ticks and mosquitoes and mold.
I worry that I am not doing enough on top of all that I am doing.
My house is always a mess despite my efforts to keep it tidy. My kids are always hungry despite all the food I feed them. I am always tired despite the 8 hours of sleep I’m finally getting. My kids are always dirty which I’m completely okay with, actually, because kids should be dirty.
For twelve hours each day, 4,380 hours per year, I am actively mothering. For the hours I am not engaged in Mom-mode I am still there if they wake in the middle of the night and I’m next to them to comfort them. If I can’t sleep it’s because I’m thinking of them. But for 12 hours a day (or more most days) I am engaged. I am making 4 snacks a day, 2 meals a day, getting one kid to nap and begging another kid to poop. I’m breaking up fights and encouraging the use of words instead of violence. I am providing guidance. I am their teacher, their role model. I am exhibiting behavior I’d like them to replicate (most of the time) and showing as much patience as one person can show.
I am their mom. Despite the exhaustion these people are here for me to embrace when things get messy. They look to me to see my reaction when they make a mistake. I hope they only see love and understanding. They tell me when they are upset or they don’t feel well. They want me to hold them when they are sad, to snuggle with them when they need connection. They look to me for fun, for laughter, for tickling and running and hide and seeking.
They are my kids. My family. My people.
I work 84 hours a week to raise humans who will be active in our world. Who will be kind and generous. Who will know right from wrong. Who will be role models for less fortunate peers. Who will guide and love. Humans who will know it’s okay to cry and emotions are a part of life. Humans who will accept others despite their differces. Humans who appreciate nature and understand the importance of respecting our beautiful Earth.
This life is not as I had expected. It is more challenging but also more rewarding and fulfilling. When I see Waverly share her popcorn with Gannon because his is gone, or when they give me a bite of their cookies because I gave them the last ones, or when they stop to ask if someone is okay when they get hurt, I know. These long days with no vacations, no pay, no breaks, they are worth every minute spent.
I wouldn’t change this life for anything.