… Ok, so we actually did end up driving to Las Vegas yesterday (6+ hours), then checking in at the airport with Dudley (2 hours) then waiting for our redeye to board (another 2 hours) then we flew to Washington, DC (nearly 5 hours), then drove through the morning rush hour traffic to our little home on the creek (3 hours). And in all the bleary whilrwind, I never had a chance to get online and post our second winner of the “Living the Dream” contest, Jessamyn of Learn as We Grow! So congratulations and read on… (and check out her blog!)
I woke up this morning with a deep, piercing longing. The kind of longing that
doesn’t go away without great intention. I woke up to a small sweet voice
speaking right into my ear. “Mama:UP UP! Mama:.UP UP!”
It was time for me to get to work. But today I didn’t want to go. I wanted
to call in. I wanted to use a vacation day. I wanted to not show up.
I redirected my toddler to his daddy’s side of the bed.
“Ask daddy if he can get you some more juice bud”
I hear his pleading into his daddy’s ear. Josh gets up and they both go into
the kitchen. The momentary solitude allows me to escape into my own mind which
is now remembering the imprints of last night’s dream. My body begins to feel
the emotions that came along with my dream. I am remembering:and
feeling:and wanting to escape into my imagination once again.
I think I lived in South America. I can’t remember what country it was
exactly:.but it was foreign to me. I had just arrived there, in a small
village. I was a teacher. I had a certificate that allowed me to travel the
world and take on teaching jobs for 6 months at a time. If I enjoyed the place,
I could stay longer. If not, I could move on and discover something new and
different. I taught English. I was able to immerse myself into various
cultures. I was multi-lingual by the time I had reached this village. I
enjoyed my life.
My babies didn’t exist in my dream. I didn’t know what it was like to be a
mother. I was a traveler. I followed my intuition, I was an activist for
justice, and I sought out new and daring adventures. There was no one else to
worry about but me.
Now, in the waking hours, it is hard to even imagine what that felt like. But
it was so real to me last night. The feeling of complete freedom lingered with
me, and when I woke up to my reality, I couldn’t help but LONG for more of my
I didn’t want to get up today. I didn’t want to start work. I didn’t
want to meet the demands of my reality. I just wanted to dream.
There are so many times when I struggle with my life at this point. Sometimes
it is something that debilitates me; sometimes it is just a moment of longing
that is short-lived. In college I was a women’s studies major. I knew the
political science of women’s issues with my mind. I knew the complexities of
what it means to be a woman in this world through my studies and through my
experiences up to that point. But nothing teaches you about it more than living
it out day to day. And nothing gets you right into the realm of the personal
and political inequalities that come with being a woman and a mother in this
society than actually being one. I learned it with my mind in college, and now
I am learning it with all my heart and soul as a mother. Sometimes it feels
like I don’t have a place. I have been exiled from the corporate world with
my decision to stay at home with my babes. I have been challenged with the
decision to stay at home full time or take on the balancing act of working
outside the home as well. I am challenged with all that is implied in my
decision to stay at home with my little ones. I am finally understanding why
the personal IS political and how undervalued we as women, as mothers, can often
feel at times. Sometimes, after I haven’t talked to a friend in a while, my
answer to the typical question, “So, what have you been up to?”, actually
astounds me. Often times, without even thinking, I blurb out something like
“Oh, I’m JUSt being a mom!”, all the while trying to scrounge up some
story of how I am saving the world through the comfort of my own home. The
minute those words make their way across my lips I want to take them back. I
want to leave out the “JUST”, I want to compose my words in such a way that
reveal the true height and depth of what it means to mother, of what it means to
be a Mama. There really is no way to translate it.
So, lately I have been thinking about all of that. I always think about it. I
always wonder about my place. Sometime I fight to see my own importance.
Sometimes I see things as clear as day and KNOW that my work is more valuable
than gold. But sometimes, on days like to day:.I can’t help but feel
insufficient. I can’t help but wonder if there was something else out there
that was meant for me. I can’t help but notice that in my mind I am saying
the words “Who am I? What do I do?”
My thoughts are quickly interrupted by the scuffles from my 6 month old moving
about in her cradle. She’s waking to start her day and she is hungry. It is
time for me to start my work. It is time for me to show up.
I reach into the cradle, greet her with a soft kiss, a gentle squeeze and a
whispered “good morning love”. She meets it all with a bright smile and a
long stretch. I pick her up and put her to my breast. She nurses. I am a
I walk into the kitchen and notice that Asher hasn’t eaten breakfast yet. I
conjure up some berries, make some bacon, and toast a bagel for him. I arrange
it all on his plastic toddler plate and present it to him with a smile. I am a
I gather a change of clothes and diapers for both of my babes. I change
Journey quickly and easily and wait patiently for Asher to decide he is ready to
get dressed. I am his support when stepping into his over-alls; I gently nudge
his hands through his shirt sleeves. There. We are dressed. I am a guide.
I turn on the TV for Sesame Street and walk over to my computer. I read the
list on my desk of things to research. Today:I look up natural remedies for
ear infections, I read a post on a feminist housewife’s blog, and I research
books for homemade baby food. I am a student.
I sit down with a parenting magazine and read up on the various food groups,
how many servings of each that my toddler should be getting construct a chart
and place it on my fridge. I am a nutritionist.
I have to involve myself among the interaction between Asher and Journey.
Asher is blowing in her face in attempt to make her laugh. Journey isn’t
enjoying the spit shower in the least bit. I have to intervene. I am a
Asher doesn’t listen to my requests and continues with his behavior which has
now become less of a spit shower and more of a “licking your face while I pin
you to the ground” sort of thing. I separate him from us and tell him to join
us when he is ready to play nicely. I am a judge.
Asher wants to play with a toy boat that he has. He can’t quite grasp how to
make it glide across the tile. I show him how to gently pull back and release
it. He tries by himself and he gets it! His face lights up. Again! Again! I
am a teacher.
Journey starts to fuss as she sits on the floor with her toys. She needs some
attention. I crawl towards her on my hands and knees, making noises that get
louder as I draw closer to her. She joyfully anticipates my arrival. She
laughs. I am an entertainer.
It is time for Asher to take some medication. I administer the medicine and
lovingly praise him for his willingness. I am a nurse.
I read in my book on natural children’s health care about eye and ear
infections. I search for homeopathic remedies and proactive recommendations. I
am a researcher, a healer, a naturopath.
Asher and I get out some play dough and start to make shapes. I start rolling
the dough between my palms and form a snake. It becomes a cobra, with forked
tongue and all. Asher is thrilled. I am an artist.
I start to play pee-ka-boo with Journey on the floor. Asher comes to join us,
mimicking my every move because of the reaction it is getting from his baby
sister. I am a leader.
We turn on some music. Baby Boogie is today’s choice. I sit Journey in the
middle of the living room. Asher grabs his toy lizards with both hands. We
turn up the music and dance about the room. Asher shows me his latest moves and
I fire back with some of my own. I am a dancer.
We are outside enjoying the sun. Asher wants to kick a ball. I alternate my
body between kicking with Asher and swinging Journey on the baby swing. I am an
Asher screams from his bedroom. I hear his yells “Mama HEP! Mama HEP!” I
see his small frame stuck between his toy box and the wall. I reach under his
arms and take him out. I am a rescuer.
I make a list of things to do before our small trip up to the mountains this
weekend. I start to create a packing list. I begin to compose a grocery list.
I am an event coordinator.
Asher can’t find his baby fishy. We trace his steps. I think of when I last
saw him with his fishy. I remember he was playing with it when we were outside.
I seek out the place he LOVES to hide his toys in. There is baby fishy. I am
It is time for Journey and Asher to take a nap. First, I lay Asher in his bed
and start to take his song requests. Today he wants a fishy song, a BIG fishy
song, a whale song, and a shark song. I do my best to appease him. I begin to
create new melodies and lyrics. I am a musician.
I sit down with Journey and rock her. Noticing how much hair has grown on her
head. Adjusting to her desire to sit up and then lay down again. Watching as
to how she drifts off to sleep. Noticing when her body gets heavy and her
breathing changes. I am an observer.
Asher wakes with tears. He is scared or uncomfortable or mad. He is very
tired. I ask him to talk with me, to use his words so that I can help. He
tells me he wants his lizards. I help him find his lizards. We sit in silence
for a while, me holding him, him holding his lizards. He is content. I am a
I sneak a few moments while the children are entertaining each other to write
in my journal. I let my heart run out through my hand. I allow my yearnings to
exist on paper. I try to make space for all of the thoughts flowing in my mind.
I close the journal. I am an author.
Journey is letting out high pitched squeals. She is very unhappy. I use
deductive reasoning. I have just nursed her. She has just been changed. I
spent almost an hour with her in the sling. I think she is cutting some teeth.
I give her a teething ring that has been in the fridge. She starts to gnaw on
it and seems to be content. I am a problem solver.
I take pictures of my babes as they move about the day. To capture the essence
of their individual personalities is my goal. I want to be able to look at
their pictures and not only remember the moment but also the spirit of the
moment by what was captured. I am a photographer.
I sort through my mail and read a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center
and their efforts to bring justice to victims of hate crimes and to rid the
world of hate and prejudice through education, tolerance, and social justice.
It is time to renew my membership. I write a check and put it in my diaper bag
to be mailed. I am an activist for social change.
I keep an article on how to teach children ways to share concern for the earth
and our natural resources. I have Asher help me empty the recycle bin today. I
am always looking for ways to become a better advocate for our earth. I am an
Bath time begins! Asher splashes about in the tub. We sing the bath time
song. I give him minutes of splash time as I sit closely and admire his energy.
I am there to watch over him. I am a lifequard.
It is time to read books before bedtime. Asher picks out three books. He sits
down next to me and says “Mama read book.” I am a storyteller.
The babies take baths and I massage lotion on their little bodies. Taking
great care to try and calm them with a loving touch. I am a massage therapist.
Asher is having trouble sleeping. He comes out of his room saying that he is
“sared”. He says there is a monster in his room. I give him a flashlight
and tell him that it keeps the friendly monsters at bay. It seems to work and
he is safe to dream. I am a magician.
My babes are asleep and I am able to put some attention on my husband. He is
stressed out from work. We have been having some terrible luck with our van.
He is down. I wrap my arms around him on the couch and lay close. It has been
a long day. I am a lover.
I lay down in my bed at the day’s end. I anticipate waking several times
throughout the night either to calm a frightened Asher or to nurse a hungry
Journey. I know that my job doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. There is no
beginning and no end. Moments turn into days, days to weeks, weeks to months,
months to years and there is no paycheck:no review:no raise:no
compensation plan:no retirement plan:no cash bonus. And yet, right in the
circle of it all, I feel complete. I go to my bed feeling fuller after a days
work. I look at all the things I became that day, the moments in between that
there are no labels for and all the opportunities I had to exercise different
parts of myself. I look forward to tomorrow. For it is a new day, with new
roles and new parts of myself to discover. There is no other job, no other
place that could fit my spirit more perfectly. There is nothing that could
better encompass my eclectic nature. I must always attend:always show
up:and really there is no other way to do it. There is no other position on
this earth that requires the flexibility, the change of titles, and the
willingness to be all sorts of things:than being a mother. So, tonight I feel
grateful. I feel grateful for those moments of longing because they help me
feel the fullness of this life. I feel grateful for the wholeness that is
required of me to fulfill my role as a mama. I feel grateful that I am all of
these things and beyond. I feel grateful that I mother these two children, that
there are two bright stars of the future depending on my ability to seek and
grow and learn and change. When I lay down tonight with the day’s events on
my heart and when my mind begs the question “WHO ARE YOU?” there will be no
hesitation in saying:
I AM MAMA.
Beautiful! And again, thanks to all who submitted stories. Keep submitting them, too, because I always post new entries on “Mommy Story of the Week” and you never know when you might see your own story published!