Dear Mommies

Dear mommies,

Not long ago I was sitting in a room full of you when I started to get worried. We were watching babies struggle through tummy time like little miniature beached seals, talking about new teeth, sleepless nights and rice cereal. You all seemed kind and friendly but I felt vaguely trapped, as if in a small room that was slowly collapsing. I racked my brain looking for a window to afford me an expansive view–a glimpse of your passions, opinions, and ideas–but nothing worked. Despite asking several questions, each potential conversation promptly derailed itself. One infant started crying, another spit up, and then a two-year-old sibling rolled a ball my way, babbling something I interpreted as an invitation to play. That’s when I gave up, rolled the ball back to my incoherent little partner, and began to tremble at what’s ahead.

The fear is mixed with curiosity and a measure of arrogance. Having birthed my last baby almost 8 years ago I wonder if I was ever like you. Did I engage in discussion that didn’t address bowel movements or baby food? How long could I attend to an adult conversation before unclipping my nursing bra or making faces at my toddler? And, will it be the same this time around? Will the world of babies consume enough of me I won’t remember what I used to talk about before the birth of my third child? I ask these questions well aware I may be eating my words in a couple months; that sleep issues might eclipse subjects like good books, relationships, plants, the supernatural, long-term goals, and teaching, or anything else requiring more than a 2-minute attention span.

But I’m still comfortable in the saddle of my high-horse for now. It feels good to imagine myself as more interesting, more evolved, and beyond something–even if it’s just one of many parenting phases. I could stay up here for awhile and enjoy a long canter except for one thing: what you mommies are doing makes all the difference in the world. Your small talk and single-mindedness matter.

When I see children who don’t have enough words to function in a classroom or communicate basic concepts I’m reminded of you. When you talk to your kids in that grating monologue voice (why is it always so loud?) at the grocery story, telling them you want more bananas, or a bigger watermelon, or the bagel beside the cookies, they are learning. When I hear children–children much older than yours–unravel with fury, sobbing or screaming and unable to cope with even the smallest reversal, I think of you. Shielding myself, especially my swollen belly, from their unpredictable limbs makes me wonder about the scenes of rage they’ve witnessed or endured themselves. Remember this. When your little ones won’t stop crying and frustration crawls through your body like a trail of biting ants, your children are learning to deal with anger. When you yell in their cherub faces to GO TO BED and then apologize later, kissing their sweaty foreheads, they are learning how to say sorry. When you face disappointment and they watch your face crease with stress before you remember to breathe, they are apprentices in the school of resilience.

And so dear mommies, don’t stop, no matter how boring you might be. Please don’t stop. I can listen to another poopy story. Or feign interest in how much your child eats or weighs or pukes or cries or sleeps. Your devotion matters even if it costs you a few years of stimulating conversation. I am grateful for your keen intuition and instincts, the sacrifices you make, your unwavering focus, and the tight grip on the task you hold in your hands. Your commitment to a few little bodies makes this planet more liveable. You are growing people, not wild animals; in these few short years your children are discovering empathy, kindness, self-control and what it means to be human. And that’s worth it for all of us.





11 thoughts on “Dear Mommies

  1. Although I am not succumbing to your peer pressure of having a third baby (tempting as it is!!) I anxiously await reliving that precious (and oh- so short) period of parenting with you!!

    Along with fishing plans for next weekend, book club, music lessons, math homework and training bras… I will be more than happy to discuss poopy diapers, sleepless nights, teething, first smiles, first teeth, second teeth, first step and more importantly Tricia- I hope we are there to enjoy many of these times with you and your family:) The Pucketts can’t wait for baby Reed to arrive!!

  2. There are many times I’ve been in this situation and feel like screaming…”I’m still here!” Pointing to my brain…”I’m still up here!” Wanting desperately to talk about something other than the seemingly minutiae of raising small kids. And at the same time, I’ve been in professional situations where I’ve also wanted to say, “yeah, but you don’t get it… I have two small kids at home.” And yet, you’re right, those parents who care, who worry too much, who think things through more than they need to (I think I might be describing myself here…), they’re making a difference.

    I read somewhere the other day about the sacrifice of motherhood, and it really resonated with me. And so, for now, perhaps I need to sacrifice engaging conversation and lively debate… At least I’ve still got books and blogs to read!!

    Thinking of you, take care!


    • Yes! You describe that balance–or is it imbalance?–perfectly.
      So glad to see your comment here! Though I’m guessing that means you’re still waiting… We drove by your part of the woods on Sunday and both Stan and I were wondering how you all are.
      Keep on, keep on.

  3. I loved this. The older my kids get, the more I see what a hard time it is having the little ones, so physically demanding, so monotonous, so stressful and frustrating and irritating. I think if I did it again I would lower my standards. Be messier. Eat more store bought pizza or Kraft dinner or salad in a bag. Give myself a break, because now I see how hard it all is. Bless you, mother of a young one, you are doing life’s hardest work.

  4. -Somedays I feel like I have the attention span of a gnat as I try to talk with someone and keep my eye on a very busy 2 year old.
    – I like the new fad of walking meetings, I say this will be a “walking visit” to my friends that come over for tea with their older children, as my two year old hustles all over my country yard.
    -I think moms of little ones would talk or could talk about other topics, but it’s just that raising up kids is a big project, full of funny moments, and worried moments and what does green, grey, yellow, or pink poop mean moments.
    -I also think, if I had a touch more sleep my conversations might be a bit more enlightening:)
    -Enjoy the quiet peace of a newborn when your baby arrives Tricia, I forgot it’s when they get moving that the pace picks up!!

    • “the attention span of a gnat”… that’s funny! Bonnie you are, and have always been interesting to me–even as a sleep-deprived mother of a monkey toddler. And, I clearly remember having conversations with kidless women, when my children were under 5, and feeling frantic; I couldn’t keep everyone happy–not the women I was talking to, my kids, or myself. Yikes…

    • Bonnie, you need to come for a “walking visit” to Thunder Bay. I think our 2 monkeys would get along wonderfully!!

  5. You are all such wonderful moms!! I was crying reading the blog and your comments and then I read you Bonnie and ” the attention span of a gnat” and I just laughed out loud.
    You are all such precious girls. I love you all!! You are all making a difference in your world

    • Just one more comment! I remember a distinct moment many years ago, while i was washing some very poopie diapers and I just got this realization that my brain was rotting!!! I had many more years of teaching years after that so i must have got at least some of those brain cells back.! So take heart mothers, it really is over in a blip but it sure does seem like an eternity at the time.

  6. Oh..Tara and Maryanne and of course Tricia, nice to hear from you! And so nice to hear about other monkey toddlers and rotting brains. Sometimes I swear my brain is swiss cheese, with thoughts slip sliding through the holes never to be seen again!

    Tara…who knows what mischief two monkey toddlers could get into 🙂

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