Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Disease

Sometimes, the hardest part of being a mom--for me--is just being still, being present in that one particular moment. To just sit and play with my kids. To stop whatever seemingly urgent task I am doing and just look them in the eye and listen. It's like I get sucked into this tornado of cleaning, folding, phone calling, emailing--and I can't stop.

It's my disease.

In my mind I tell myself this lie that says, "today I have to do this but tomorrow. . ." But the next day comes and it is a new pile or mess or errand. And most times even if I am physically sitting there, my eyes are scanning the room and mentally creating a list of what needs to be done all around me.

Yesterday, I sat down in Lucy's room and played restaurant. She would say "What u want? You want pizza?" After a few minutes of pretending to eat and sip my tea, I felt myself getting up--my thoughts completely shifted to the load of laundry I hadn't switched over. I had to snap myself out of it and tell my crazy-cleaning self, "no, you are playing now, remember?" I pushed my butt back into the tiny wooden chair and asked for some more tea.

See, crazy as it is, the hard part of having five kids isn't all the laundry or picking up--I can do that all day long-like a hamster in it's wheel going 'round and 'round. The hard part is to divide myself between five little people and give them a piece of myself that is genuine and present.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "You are so calm. You never seem stressed. That is why you can have five kids." I can tell you (and so can Steve) that that is a total lie. It is just the way I deal with stress--I go into task-mode and shut down emotionally. Translation: I get really quiet and clean like crazy. And more and more--especially after baby number five--that has been the mode I've operated in. And I hate it.

In my head, I know that someday when my kids think back about their childhood, they won't remember how clean the house was. But there it is staring at me, that crayon under the couch, that pen mark on the wall, that last cup in the sink.

In my heart I know what I want them to remember--how I was there--laughing, crying, playing. How I listened to them when they had a story to tell me--how ever long or short--how I was willing to act silly and be wrong sometimes and laugh at myself.

That is who I want to be right now. Not the lady in the background--with a sponge in one hand and a towel in the other.


Shelley Blackwell said...

thanks so much for the encouragement to remember what's really important. I am that obsessive cleaner and I know that my kids don't care, they would so much prefer my attention.

The Schmidts said...

Good reminder Erin! I totally relate, although you'd look at my bathrooms and think otherwise! -Rhiannon

The Pavliches said...

i am with you all the way on that one! thanks for being real.