Thursday, January 3, 2013

Big Accomplishments

Tiny hands held tightly to mine. The strong body of an agile toddler rested wearily on my lap, leaning a heavy head against my chest. A little boy who normally does not let me cuddle him at all because of his fiercely independent spirit could not get enough of mommy hugs last night.

We sat on the couch, his feverish self clinging to me. I'm sorry to say that my first reaction was to complain. I was tired. I did this the last two nights with his sister. What was wrong with cuddling with mommy in the light of the day after eight hours of uninterrupted snooze time?

And yet the longer we sat there, rubbing an upset tummy and placing gentle kisses on an overheated forehead, a strange thing happened. It's almost as if I started sitting on the other side of the room watching the tired mom with her sick baby. (lose enough sleep and perhaps you might start to hallucinate as well)

I saw a young mother who looked exhausted. Her pajama pants were on inside out (did she know?). Her shoulders were hunched forward. Her eyes kept closing even though she struggled valiantly to keep them open. Her little boy was wrapped in her arms, seeking comfort; seeking protection from the middle of the night sickness that was keeping sleep far away. I saw her going through the motions of mothering even when she didn't feel like it, and I whispered that she was doing a good job.

Discouragement and failure often seem like the same thing, and in the middle of the night after a string of all-nighters, they blend together with exhaustion and seem unbeatable.

And yet last night as I silently screamed that I NEEDED TO SLEEP, something about the way that little body nestled into me, acknowledging that he was my responsibility- that it was my job to make this better- gave me new perspective.

Something called thankfulness.

I was thankful for the chubby hands that wanted to be holding on to me. I was thankful for the head of cropped blonde hair in spite of the ode to nausea clinging to it. I was thankful for the skin that was hot to the touch because it was so full of life. I was thankful that he stopped crying in pain once he felt safe and secure in my arms. I was thankful to be a mother even in the midst of the don't-let-mommy-sleep sickness experiment that my children seemed to be conducting.

As I think of 2013 I often wonder if big things will happen. I dream and hope and dream some more as I work toward goals of huge achievements. And yet as I go through my daily mothering duties, I get so trapped in the world of little achievements that the big seems impossible. Little achievements that don't seem to be worth anything because they need to be repeated so many times that surely one round doesn't even count as a thing.

Unloading the dishwasher. Washing clothes. Changing diapers. Vacuuming the floor. Fixing food. Cleaning up from food fixing. Bathing children who are covered in food. Rewashing the clothes that I forgot in the washer for two days. Clothing two children in sixteen layers so that they stay warm enough as we walk out the door. Losing a night of sleep because of a needy child.

But even though if you ask me what I accomplished yesterday and nothing seems notable enough to account to you, the truth is all of those little achievements are a big deal. The biggest of deals. Comforting a crying child may seem at first to be keeping me from an important mission (like sleep), but in reality as a mother to be there for my children when they need me is my most important mission.

I am humbled and honored to have two children who look to me first when they need something. I am thankful that these last three nights have been spent in such a big way. Yes, I am totally making out with my amazing coffee today, and I'm pretty sure I announced on Facebook that I was going to marry it.

But my heart is overflowing with love (sleepy love). Because I do want 2013 to be full of big achievements. Big achievements like shutting my computer and phone off and focusing on the children who desperately want my full attention. Big achievements like making meals that the two blonde children can't eat fast enough because they love the carefully disguised healthy food so much. Big achievements like having warm-from-the-dryer, fabric softener smelling sleepers to place on the twinsies after a sudsy soak ending a long day of play. Big achievements like vacuuming the floor before the children go in for a round two snack off of the day-old toast crumbs. Big achievements like loving my children more than I love myself. Big achievements like being the mother focused on the good of the moment instead of constantly looking ahead to when this might all be somehow "easier".

I am not perfect. But I'm not failing either. Life as a mother brings with it a veritable whiplash of emotions. I'm doing it! I'm the worst. I love them! They hate me. Motherhood rocks! Motherhood is kicking my butt. 

And last night as I held my little boy close and whispered to him that it was all going to be OK, I promised him that in 2013 his mother would count him and his sister as her biggest accomplishment.

That his mother would no longer drown in the thought of acts of mothering being "little" when they are really her lifeboat that will carry her through the storm.

That his mother would work not to make her a perfect version of herself, but instead to focus on how she can be better, more present, more selfless, more concentrated on the little ones she is responsible to nurture.

Big accomplishments for 2013? 

I hope so. We're just going to take it one little day at a time.


  1. Yep, you did it again...... I'm sobbing in the car! Lol!

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  3. I heard am awesome story once from another mama. She was drowning in the every-day-mess of being a young mommy and felt like her life didnt count, like she wasn't doing anything significant. She went to her pastor and poured out her heart , and he very wisely told her, "your problem, Betty, is that you don't think washing dishes is spiritual." That little sentence relieved such a burden for her... We really are doing the biggest things when we serve our families and raise our children ! We're producing the next generation!


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