Thursday, November 3

Xs and Ys

Sometimes I happen upon two quotes almost simultaneously which, like the meeting point of an X and Y axis, create a bull's eye of truth that hits right at the heart of my experience. At the moment, they are:

"Whenever you do what you don't want to do, it is a spiritual practice."  -Karen Maezen Miller, from a tweet about a week ago

"Only one feat is possible: not to have run away"  -Dag Hammarskjold

I make no secret of the fact that I am deeply struggling in caring for my 9-month old son right now. His sleep is a mess from teething/learning to crawl/standing and cruising around the furniture. I wrote about it in this post last week; I'll probably write about it next week, too. It is, no doubt, the defining fact of my life right now. It's messing with my brain, big time. When I sit up with him at night, half-asleep, achy, feeling lost and crazy, my mind clouds up with dark, brooding, menacing thoughts, most of them summing up roughly to this: I am not good enough. I am a terrible mommy, and therefore, I am a terrible person.

It is incredibly easy and seductive, as a mama, to exhaustively list all of our perceived faults, and give ourselves no credit for all the good that we do in a day. It feels good to hear other people tell us that we're doing a good job, but we don't really believe them. Surely if they knew about all the stuff that's going on in our heads, what we feel we're really like, then they would retract their praise. But even amidst the densest fog of self-doubt and self-loathing, as these two quotes indicate, there is one redemptive truth one can cling to, and catch a bit of clarity from.

I show up.

I show up for my son, no matter what my state. True, sometimes I let a few wailing minutes go by, and true, I often mutter curses under my breath, but I go to him.  "This is your new spiritual practice: getting our of bed." (KMM again.) I show up, I hold and nurse him. I pick him up when he falls down. I pick him up from daycare two days a week. No matter how much I fantasize, in the dead of night, about getting in the car, setting the GPS on a course to Mexico and never looking back, I'm still here, day in and day out, and I show up for my little guy. I have made the choice to be a SAHM, and sometimes I feel like this choice is costing me a great deal, but it's still the toughest job I've ever (mostly) loved, and I do not, not ever, regret one minute of being present for my boy.

I have not run away. I will not run away. I may do it grumbling, but I do those things that I do not want to do. It may not at all feel very spiritual, but there is no doubt that it is a practice, this mothering gig.

That could be the shortest and most complete job description of motherhood: showing up.

And I do. Job well done.


  1. I can identify! I think every Mama feels this way at some point. I love my kids unconditionally but somehow I still drag my feet and grumble sometimes too. Staying home is the hardest and sometimes most frustrating job but most awesome and important job ever. Every day is a rollercoaster around here! But it begins and ends with love! Thanks for sharing and being so honest. P.S. I love Maezen too!

  2. as your kids pass through the various milestones in their life-you will always hold dear to the ones that occurred when they were babies.

    My sons are grown men now-and I will always be there for them. Job well done Mama indeed!

  3. I saw your post at KMM's twitter: showing up is all and everything you have to do.
    I wish I could say it would get easier (my boys are 3,5 and 2 now) but I don't think it does... Some mornings I have to bite my lip not to curse at them - hey, I never expected to write that 'out loud'... But I still show up. And most of the times with a loving smile as well. Because that is our never-ending job!
    Hang in there :-)

  4. Thanks for your sweet comments! Just knowing I'm not the only lip-biting mama out there helps a great deal.:)


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