I was standing in my kitchen yesterday. I was staring out the window over the sink, my eyes settling along the thick ropes of electric cables we have jutting through our impeccable tree line. I was rehashing the days events. Mostly, though, I was trying to focus on the intrusive wires so that maybe I wouldn’t give in to the lump in my throat and the overwhelming urge to sob.
I was having a bad day. I had made a few goofs at work. And while no one was chewing my ear off or condemning me for the little snafus I’d caused, I was doing a good enough job at it myself.
And then my son, my wonderfully curious, over-emoting, often-clingy, darling little man latched onto my leg. His mouth was covered in the caked-on crumbs of a cereal bar I’d caved in and given him when he should have been having a nutritious dinner. I picked him up and as he nuzzled his sticky face into my shoulder, I pulled him away, trying to forego the inevitable transfer of gooey fruit mess as long as I could. He started wailing. He spit out the bite he’d been chewing on and it plopped to the ground. As I set him down in an attempt to sweep the crumbs under the rug, he threw the rest of his cereal bar down and began to flail and flop all over it. There was now a thin layer of sweet fruit filling and gummy crumbs covering the majority of my kitchen floor.
And as he looked at me in between sobs, the tears I’d been holding back began to leak onto the floor.
My daughter wandered in from the living room, after taking a break from playing Doctor Queen Elsa fixes every creature in our household, oblivious to the entire scenario.
«Mommy, Braeburn spit his cereal bar out and smashed it all over the floor.» (insert mischievous little tattle-tale giggle here).
I took a deep breath, my head still collapsed in my hands.
«He’s still doing it, but you can make me a cheese sandwich. With the kind I like. Not the kind daddy bought. The kind you and I get, from the store. In the purple. The kind that I like. Not the kind like the pizza we eat. But the other kind, you know that has the two same colors but they’re really …»
«Yes Pearyn, Yes, I can. I will. OK. I know what kind you want.» I was losing my temper and I was shaky.
«Can you cut the crust off? And can you put it in the shape of Cinderella’s shoe? Or no, wait, can you do a turtle. I love turtles. They’re my favorite animal in the water. I like giraffes too though, can I have a giraffe cheese sandwich. Or what about one like my crocodile stuffed animal. And can I have pink lemonade with it? But in my new glass, the one with flowers on it, not the one with Rapunzel that has the straw that always squirts when you …»
«Pearyn, I know. I know. I’ll get …»
«But mommy it has to be in the new cup, not the new cup with the straw that comes out, but the one where it stays in. And then I want a cookie. Can I have a cookie if I eat my cheese sandwich? Or can I have two fruit snacks. Or can I have half a cookie and one …»
«Just stop Pearyn, just STOP,» I sobbed. «It’s not all about YOU.» Her brother was crying again and now my tiny, impressionable four-year-old daughter was trying to figure out what the heck she did wrong. After all, she was just asking for what she wanted.
And then she looked at me. She took my hand, pulled me onto the floor and hugged me around my neck.
«It’s OK mommy, you don’t have to cry. Sometimes I cry but I feel better in a little bit. But you don’t need to be sad. You’re my favoritist mommy ever. You can put my pink lemonade in the old glass, it’s OK, I won’t be mad.»
And as if it were planned, my son crawled into my lap, giant, wet tears still coating his cheeks, and as he looked at me, he took his small, chubby little hands and grabbed my face. Then he pointed to my nose and said «nowssssssssssssssssssssssssss.»
And that’s when I realized; I was so, so, so wrong.
It was about them. It IS about them. For that moment in time (and probably many more down the road), it IS all about THEM.
And that’s when I realized how utterly ungrateful I was being. How embarrassingly often I am and what had to change.
I had been so busy nursing my own ego, letting the job which already mentally removes me from my family for 40 hours a week eat even more into the precious time I had with them. And that’s when I figured it out; there were A LOT of things in my life «it wasn’t about,» but I had been wrong about most of them for a while now.
The truth is, my children will not be this innocent, this curious, this selfless, this full of unrelenting love for their whole lives. There will come a point, a few years from now, where they won’t want anything to do with me. They won’t need me to make their vegan cheese sandwiches into shapes and they won’t want to climb into my lap and nuzzle their heads into me just because it feels good.
So while I still have these times in front of me, I’m going to make it all about them.
You know the chores around the house? And the tiny tufts of dog and cat hair slowly building up in the probably-a-bit-too-dusty corners of our home? The ones that no matter how often I sweep, still find a way to form and wander through the house like a tumbleweed? It’s not all about THAT.
And those dishes, slowly piling up in the sink, the ones that should be soaking and then wiped clean before being placed in the dishwasher, they’re going to have to wait. Because when we’re talking about rinsing a few dishes or getting to read an extra Berenstain Bear’s story to my children, well, those dishes, it’s just not all about THEM.
And the week’s worth of backed up laundry? The mobs of clean clothes, slowly creeping up our basement steps, begging to be folded and put away? I’ll find time to do them at some point. But I’m not going to fret over it or worry myself. I’m not going tofeel guilty about snuggling in bed with my daughter for an extra 20 minutes while I neglect those mounds of clean clothes. Because it’s not all about laundry.
I’m a mother who works fulltime, I coach my daughter’s T-ball team, I give pitching lessons to multiple young athletes, I blog about our life, about my misgivings, about our veganism and I make as much time for family and friends and husband and wife moments as I can. But at the end of the day, it’s not all about those things. In fact, it never, ever should have been.
It’s important for the house to have some sense of organization, I get that. But the minute I let those priorities bleed into the way I mother my children, that’s the day I need to take a good long hard look at my life and remember what it really IS all about.
It’s about eskimo kisses. It’s about momma’s boy, daddy’s girl, it’s about pink lemonade, glasses covered in white flowers, noses, heads, all the body parts my tiny son can possibly compute in his brain. It’s about the sticky residue my son leaves all my face, neck and legs when he’s trying to love on me, the only way he knows how.
For this moment in time, it IS all about my kids, and that’s precisely the way it should be.