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En(courage)ment for hard times, motherhood

now that my kids are older

I wrote the following a couple of years ago, tongue in cheek, after a stressful outing with my children. Just found it today. It’s funny how the stressful stuff with kids becomes material for a good laugh later. Time passes, and we see ourselves and our children from the bird’s eye view of hindsight, and it all takes on the haze of blessing and hope and offers a little comic relief. If you’re in the trenches of motherhood just now, and having trouble breathing, while trying to figure out which battles to fight and which to leave be, it helps to know that you aren’t alone. Our children are far from perfect and so are we. Even with consistent, loving parents, kids misbehave and make lots of mistakes. We do too. And we all have stressful days and years right alongside the beautiful ones. In fact, they’re all beautiful once a little time goes by. Even the hard ones teach us. These years while our children are living at home are a treasure. 

Written sometime in 2014 (kids age 7, 8, 11):

“Now that my kids are older, going shopping in department stores isn’t nearly as stressful. In fact, it’s kind of fun. Entertaining even. Sort of. We stride through the clothing racks, purposeful and cultured. The world is our oyster and our soundtrack is something calm, like at a spa.

“Sort of.

“My son decides to try a sweater on. In the middle of the aisle. With the hanger still in it. Then my other son screams something unintelligible and tosses his shoe at his sister. She tosses a pair of folded jeans back, price tags waving wildly as they soar over the racks. I hiss to stop acting ridiculous and then duck down to avoid detection by other adults and Official Store People. But just then I notice the first son army crawling under the partitions in the dressing room where people are trying on clothing, grinning in my direction to see if I’m impressed. Get off the floor this instant, I whisper-shout, and then look down to see the other two are barefoot. Where are your shoes!?

“They hold them up and explain that they are trading shoes with each other.

“Now, while you’re standing on a floor a thousand dirty shoes have traveled, shoes that have walked through urine and spit and the flu and dog poo?!

“They look at me blankly.

“I sigh and make a beeline for the register to buy the items I have selected, and my small entourage follows, running in and out of clothing racks, stopping to unzip all the hoodies, hiding and darting and swirling all around me, like a choreographed ambush.

“I turn and look at the trail we are leaving, clothes strewn across aisles, hoodies hanging by a sleeve, all the neckties on a rack swinging gaily like mad pendulums, and a couple of Real Adults, staring after us in frowning disapproval.

“I am That Mom.

“I choke down a sob, fake my children out and pause, letting them stampede ahead of me with a casual wave of my hand, taking a moment to breathe sanity in, exhale annoyance. I will not yell. This is fun, I tell myself. Like a traveling circus.

“Myself laughs at me. Who are we kidding.

“The other day someone complimented me on my children. Said they were so well behaved, good job Mom!

“‘Well, you haven’t seen them go to Kohl’s yet.'”

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Jillian Rose
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