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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Keep on Treading Tribe

I used to see the piles of clothes strewn in every corner of every room and feel helpless. Tears welled. My shaken voice would raise. Those clothes were an exact representation of the failure that I felt as a mother. Growing mountains of messy, all consuming guilt. Wash, dry, fold, put away, get muddy, outgrow, buy more, pass on, change seasons, repeat. Never ending piles. Never put away. Never ahead of anything at all. The treading everyday life of parenthood. Each day repeating itself. Never getting any closer to shore. Just (barely) keeping my head above water. Maybe one minute gaining inches forward only to have the flu or teething or a tantrum in aisle two to push me back farther back than I felt I even began.

I have a dear friend who is pregnant with twins. She texted me a picture of her bare beautiful belly. Her skin glowed with the badges of motherhood; the marks of growth that feels too big to contain. Her belly button protruding just enough as if to say two stunning lives are growing here and we just need to make more room for them; they need every centimeter of valuable real estate possible. I used to have that same belly button; those same badges of a mother's work and honor. You get amnesia of all the "wise" words strangers say to you in public when you are pregnant but one comment I will never forget is a five year old whispering to her sibling, "I can see the baby's nose." Some of my most favorite words ever.

Now that all four of my babes are in school I have that glorious pleasure of going to the grocery store alone. Some may view these trips as a chore but I find them to be a blissful vacation- all that gorgeous food, oh so many options! How lucky are we to live in this land of being able to create any recipe you dream and to do it within driving distance? LOVE. And to go to this place without having to strap anyone in and no constant request for snacks and more snacks and high fructose corn syrup and to be alone with my own thoughts and time and recipes is borderline orgasmic for me. Which is why on a recent Trader Joe's solo trip, I couldn't help but to be surprised when I stopped and stared at a mother in the trenches. She had a baby in a bjorn that had just traded in its newborn wails to succumb to sleep on her chest. A two year old hung off the cart in cowboy boots opening another mozzarella stick while a four year old in an Elsa gown followed behind driving an overflowing little red cart recklessly colliding with the sample station. That momma was forgetting what it feels like to breathe. I showed her that her haven was near; there is a free coffee sample station as well. She smiled, poured a cup and breathed it in like it was a cappuccino poured on an Italian countryside.

I am you I thought. No that's not true. I was you. But I am still part of your tribe. The surviving motherhood tribe. The tribe that in the thick of it all is barely treading to stay afloat and never goes to the bathroom alone and too often forgets how to breathe. The this-is-so-insanely-hard-why-don't-people-talk-about-how-insanely-hard-it-is place in life.

And in a blink it evolves. It is still insanely hard but at least you can shower alone. And sometimes you have a moment to think and eat warm food and breathe. And you remember in awe what it felt like to have life flutter inside of you. And to have  a newborn fall asleep on you. And to have cowboys and princesses accompany you to the store. And that is why strangers give you that sympathetic "I've been there" stare and the "please please enjoy it" hand gestures. It is not out of jealousy or meaning to be rude or longing to restart that journey. Oh hell no. It is because we are all part of that same tribe and sweet love it will get easier. You will wear your badges with pride. And you will realize, perhaps not in the moment that you most need to, but in a moment of being alone in a store looking at a mirror of the past and see, truly see, that motherhood is consuming and exhausting and just may be the most important work of your life.

The pure irony of it all is that there are endless days that you are going to want to fast forward only to look back and wished that you had hit the pause button.

So now I'm hitting pause and looking at the piles upon piles of clothes drying by the basement fire and thinking how lucky am I? We were blessed to have a two hour delay this morning and there was nowhere we had to be like all of the other mornings and so my kids went out in the snow. They are grown enough to zip up their own coats and young enough to feel like they are flying when they sled down our hill. Bliss.

If you are treading, please keep on keeping on. And please remember that there are lifeboats in the form of girlfriends and wine and babysitters and even the woman (creepily) staring at you at the store. Ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in it. You are not alone. This tribe is for life.

Love, health and caffeine to you...


  1. one morning over winter break i had a moment where, for the first time in a long time, i felt myself floating instead of constantly treading water. i woke up on my own and a few minutes later was greeted by my youngest (6 year old boy) who said "mama, i made your dream come true, i slept until 9!" it was a simple, but wonderful moment, that made me realize we're moving into a new stage of our life.

    1. I absolutely love this. Here is to the floating stage... may it not fly by too fast. Thank you for reading. Xo

  2. I'm standing in my kitchen crying...the twins are 2 1/2 and Declan is 2 1/2 and we are the cusp of some air but not there yet. Please keep writing.

    1. Thank you beautiful Becky... I so appreciate your words. Keep on breathing love- you've got this superwoman. xoxo

  3. Your tribal knowledge is ironically true and your warriors will grow up faster than you can imagine, they will learn to drive, they will challenge you and you will gently push them in the direction that makes them the individuals they are. You and Steve are doing a fantastic job with your warriors and their kindness makes me enormously proud.

    Jack Thomas