When nothing is everything

11/06/2012 at 2:22 pm | Posted in me, Motherhood | 9 Comments
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I’M GETTING NOTHING DONE.

This lament runs through my mind every day. Especially when I’m home with the girls.

I know I’m not really getting nothing done. But the somethings that pile up can become too much to bear.

And I find myself scrubbing dishes as Sophie pulls on my legs. Or shouting to Lily from the mudroom, “I’ll be right there!” as I toss laundry into the dryer. She is always (ALWAYS) asking me to play with her. And in some cringe-worthy moments I’ll snap, “We made you a sister! Play with her!”

We didn’t choose for me to stay home two days a week to be a maid. Of course doing my part to prevent the house from becoming a pigsty is part of the deal. But I’m home to be with my kids. To spend more hours with them than I do sitting behind a desk. And I know how lucky I am to get to do this.

I just wish I could shut down that voice in my head. The one that tells me it’s more important, more pressing, to get stuff done.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Every mom friend I talk to shares this burden, whether she stays home with her kids or commutes to an office five days a week. There is ALWAYS a mountain of work waiting for us at home and children begging for attention at the same time.

It just feels so good — like my life is in order — to accomplish a small task. Clearing off the kitchen counter brings me peace. So does putting away clean laundry. It’s therapeutic. And oddly addicting.

But I got a wake-up call Sunday evening, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

While Marc was away last weekend, I stuffed those three days full of all sorts of fun activities for the girls. We visited with friends, played outside, made smoothies and watched movies. I even took Lily to the ballet. But on Sunday night, as Marc and I were corralling the girls for bed, Lily moped over to me, put her head in my lap and said, “I’ve been waiting all weekend for someone to play with me.”

I won’t lie to you. Her words split my heart wide open. Tears sprung to my eyes, and I put down the laundry I was folding (of course) to go upstairs.

But as I sat up there on my bed feeling stunned and confused by her comment, I saw the simple truth in it.

She is never more happy than when one of us lies on the floor and plays Candy Land or works a puzzle with her. She just wants me to play with her and to be fully present in that moment, even if it lasts just 15 minutes.

And as I thought back on the weekend and replayed Lily’s powerful little statement in my head, I realized I actually did spend a lot of time cleaning or cooking or tackling whatever task was bothering me most at any given moment. All the while asking Lily to play by herself for just five more minutes.

And the thing is, the house is still pretty much a mess. There’s new laundry. New dirty dishes. Toys splayed all over the playroom. Little bits of leaves tracked in from outside.

But, above all, there’s a little girl who needs something so simple. Time with me.

I need to work on this juggling act. Or better yet, put some stuff down to make more room in the rotation for Lily and Sophie.

This is not to say that I’m going to abandon my chores or not encourage my girls to carve out alone time during the day. I’m just going to try to reorder my priorities.

Because getting nothing done means more time with my kids.

And that’s everything.

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9 Comments »

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  1. Oh I can relate to this. I’ve promised myself that when I pass her room I’ll sit on the floor and talk with her. I’ll close my computer when she comes to me. I listen to her stories that have no end and repeat themselves four time in two seconds.

    None of this is easy. Except for the part where we beat ourselves up. That reflex is strong.

    You’re doing great. Celebrate your successes.

  2. This spoke right to my heart. Seriously. I had a wake up call a couple months ago about this when I told Landon I wouldn’t play with him. Broke my heart to see his reaction. But I still struggle with this when I’m home with them. It’s hard when nap time is the only time we have to get anything done! But I am trying harder to remain in the moment with them.

  3. It’s a hard balancing act because they do need to play alone and they do need to know that sometimes they need to wait for something even though they want it at that very moment. And at the same time, I’ve totally felt the stung of realizing how many times I’ve said “mommy just needs to finish the laundry first” and I wish I could say that I pick them over laundry or any other cleaning every time but it simply does not happen.

    And ya know, it would totally help if Madison’s version of playing wasn’t bossing me around for 20 minutes :).

  4. I have to say this really strikes home for me as well. I’m always feeling guilty after the boys are in bed thinking about how I could just do whatever at that time rather than earlier in the day when all Jackson wanted was to play Legos.

  5. Oh, G-d, I so know. This breaks my heart. I feel you. Completely. Thank you for sharing and for taking the moments to let us know how to be more in tune with ourselves and our kids.

  6. If you died tomorrow, would you want people to say, ‘she was a really great mom for her kids,’ or ‘she had the cleanest house in the neighborhood’? I had to remind myself many times…

  7. This is such a powerful, and humbling, reminder.

    {Thank you.}

  8. Well put sis, as always. I had one of those moments with Olive this morning & all I want to do now is call her up at our parents’ house and apologize. And then be super fun & not pooped when she comes back home. Here’s hoping!!

  9. yes . yes. yes. can totally relate. my 4 year old is so demanding too. sometimes it’s mind numbing playing cars and saying the same things over and over. but, it’s what makes him feel loved. SO IMPORTANT. thanks for this xo


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