I realized two days ago, as I bent toward the floor and attempted to single handedly scoop up cracker crumbs and a torn book page and a lone raisin, that I’d been wearing the same clothes for a month. Not the exact same clothes precisely, but the same clothes categorically. T-shirt, sweatpants, hoodie, running shoes. Every day for thirty solid days I have worn this combination. I’ve never claimed to be a sartorialist, but come on. Thirty days in sweats? That’s twenty eight days too many for anybody excluding the ill or recently dumped.
Unless you’re a mom. Then thirty days in the same clothes, even the exact same clothes, is well within the range of normal. Why change your outfit when every other part of the day looks so similar to the one before? Strikingly, mind numbingly similar….
…wake up somewhere on the spectrum of noticeably tired to thoroughly exhausted, call out to your crying child that you are coming, you are here, mommy just needs one second and she’ll be right there, hang on buddy I hear your, I’m coming, change a diaper, using one free arm to brew, pour, and drink two scalding sips of coffee before giving up and setting the mug down, nursing that same cup all day, sometimes reheating it, sometimes making like an optimist and calling it iced coffee, remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day and know if you don’t eat you’ll never reach your weight and fitness goals, change a diaper, make your child’s breakfast with the foolish hope more than 60% will end up in his stomach, clean breakfast off the counter, floor, wall and hair of your child, change a diaper, repeat your breakfast mantra and calculate how long it would take to whip up that great egg dish you saw on Instagram yesterday, if that mama can manage to #bragyourplate surely you can too, soothe your crying child, wash a few of the dishes before being interrupted by the alarming yet familiar sound of toys tumbling to the ground, stop and listen for screaming, change a diaper, surrender to that random candy bar that’s been staring at you from the cupboard since Halloween, eat the whole thing in two bites, wash it down with room temperature coffee, is that peanut butter on the side of this mug or poop, probably not poop, hopefully not, whatever….
I sometimes wonder how I got here, to this life of mysterious mug smears and sweats on repeat. Wasn’t it just a flash ago my husband and I were two kids on a quad, him with skater shoes and me doused heavily in Gap Dream perfume? And weren’t we just traipsing around a college by the sea, laughing till we cried and sleeping past noon on weekends? Didn’t the week used to end? We got married and got jobs and got a dog and a house and life kept evolving and the days kept coming but they were each so different. Or at least, had the potential to be.
Everybody tells us this is the greatest, hardest, most important, holiest work in the world. And I don’t disagree. But why is it so….monotonous?
I’m left to wonder if God is trying to tell us something. In the stickiness of fruit on the floor and the grime of the neglected bathroom counter and in the playfulness and wonder these children march around with so naturally, could He be revealing something of His heart toward us? Are we going through the same motions over and over and over (and over and so help me over again) so He can repeat His love for us throughout our days?
When I fill my 27th sippy cup in as many minutes, I am telling my son I will always nourish him. Even on days when he cries and throws himself on the floor because it turned out to be water and not lemonade, I will keep filling those cups. Is God telling me the same?
When we sit in the backyard and squint skyward, pointing at planes and chanting together gogogo! I am telling my son there is so much joy and delight in this world and I want him to see it. For a few magical seconds I want him to ignore the wet grass underneath us and the agony of having to wear his blue shoes and not his beloved brown boots and see the amazing things filling his world. Is God offering me a beautiful world too?
When I sit down heavily, wearily, nearly fall into my seat at the end of the evening; when bath and bed are complete and I finally have a precious handful of minutes to do with any way I please, and I hear my son crying from his room…and I know sleep is going to have to be worked for tonight and my precious minutes are slipping away, I go into his room anyways. I am telling him that when he needs me, I will give up anything to be with him. Could God be offering me the same promise?
We are reading Green Eggs and Ham nearly a dozen times a day right now and I confess there are mornings I want to hide the obnoxious orange book before my son wakes. As I read the too familiar words I think Look kiddo, he is going to surrender and he’s going to eat the eggs, okay? He is going to eat them on a moat and on a homecoming float and on a yacht and in his cot and wherever else Sam asks him to eat the weird freaking green eggs. You know who else does not like Green Eggs and Ham?!
But, as he so often does, my son is teaching me a lesson. He wakes up not wanting to hide the story he’s heard infinity times. He wakes up ready to read it all over again. He wakes up excited the story hasn’t changed. He wants to experience the story each day, throughout the day, because it’s exciting and fun and unusual, and though there is that one scary blue paged section, it ends better than he could have imagined.
I think this two year-old string cheese connoisseur could really be onto something.
My same old sweats and same old frustrations and same old joys are telling me there is a message in the monotony. All of motherhood just might be a living love letter. It might be a story worth reading every day, throughout the day. One written to us from God.
This chaos, this merry insanity. These days which are the days. These babies and this work and these homes and meals and piles and playdates. To us from God.
Message delivered. Tell me again tomorrow.