My weeks are crazy. I work full-time, I drive around 2 hours/day round-trip for my commute, and I try to run a livable household. I know that’s not anywhere near as crazy as some people’s lives, but it’s a full plate for me. I’m grateful to have my husband as a partner-in-crime, but during the week, we feel a bit like “ships that pass in the night.” It’s why we cram SO much into our weekends, and why my house stays messy. I’d rather make life experiences and memories on the weekend, then deep-clean my house. No kid ever grows up and says, “Gee, remember all of the fun we had while cleaning the house? Remember how much we LOVED a clean floor?”
So, my house is messy, but my heart is full, on the weekend.
During the week, however, it’s a different story (okay, my house is still messy, even during the week). During the week, for me, I’m up at 4am, off to work by 5:15, in my office by 6; I leave at 3, get Rico from school at 4, try to come up with something for dinner (and cook it, unless I just say “to heck with it,” and feed him peanut butter sammies), and I’m usually in bed by 8. The days kind of blur together, and I know that’s common.
When I get home from work, there’s this feeling of absolute hectic panic that sents in. What am I making for dinner?!? What groceries do I have? WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS CHILD GOING TO EAT?!?!?!?!? Meanwhile, while I”m assessing the supplies, Jericho is throwing a three-ring circus in our little living room, complete with occasional yells of, “LOOK AT ME, MAMA! LOOK AT ME!!!!”
Sometimes, I stop everything and I take a look at the chaos he’s created. His little imagination is the greatest gift, and I love to see where his brain takes him.
Sometimes, I can’t stop (raw chicken, anyone?), and I have to yell back, “I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t! I’m making dinner.”
Occasionally, this conversation upsets him or makes him angry; usually, he just keeps repeating himself incessantly until I finally am able to stop what I’m doing, and give him my full attention.
One thing I really wanted to stress when becoming a mom, was that I never, ever wanted to be too busy to give my son what he needs in life. If that’s a hug, if that’s a cuddle–I always wanted to be able to stop the world and give him that gift. I wanted to be present for every single moment of motherhood. It didn’t come easily to me, and I always wanted him to know he was more important than anything or anyone in my life.
Medically, that hasn’t always been the case. Whereas some women are physically just made to be moms, I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them. After I had my daughter, I went into heart failure. I did the same thing with Jericho (though not nearly as badly). 4 years after having Hannah, I had issues with fibroids, scar tissue, and an abdominal wall fusion that required major surgery. A few months after having Jericho, I had 2 different procedures to get rid of my evil gall bladder. This was followed by a complete hysterectomy (again, scar tissue and fibroids) and a thyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer. Being without a thyroid has been the most challenging part of my entire convoluted medical history; the fatigue, combined with the emotional imbalances that come when you don’t have a thyroid to regulate your hormones, have made things difficult. David has really had to jump in more than anyone realizes, to keep our son well-cared for when I literally cannot get out of bed.
I’ve done really well since earlier this year; earlier this year, I wound up with mono, which meant that I spent a lot of days coming home from work, fumbling through something quick-and-easy for dinner, praying for David to just get home from work, and then going to bed at 6pm. Maintaining that level of fatigue is nearly impossible, and it took some pushing for me to get the right diagnosis with my PCP. Once we knew what it was, and that it wasn’t thyroid-related, David & I both took a breath. Had I been that tired on what was looking like a permanent level? We had no idea what we were going to do.
So, gradually, I’ve felt better and better, and now, I’m back to my “normal” post-thyroidectomy self. My levels are good, our house is still standing, and our child is happy….
Unless I can’t stop everything and pay attention to him.
On Wednesday, Jericho wanted me to hold him for a while. I started to say, “just let me read the paper,” but stopped mid-sentence, picked him up, and put him on my lap. The fact that he WANTS me to hold him, has an expiration date. I’m aware of it more and more, so I take the hugs whenever I can get them…unless raw chicken is involved.
Yesterday, he was running amok in the living room, and wanted to me to come and watch him. I was making dinner and dealing with raw chicken, so I told him that I couldn’t come into the living room. He was frustrated, but I explained that raw chicken is disgusting, and that I was up to my elbows in grossness. His fascination with gross outweighed his frustration, so he acquiesced to my instructions to “stay in the living room!!!”
This means that he promptly came into the kitchen to watch the rest of my food prep.
While I was working on dinner, I found myself having one of those internal conversations with God: “Lord, I wish I had a clone. I wish I could take the time and pay more attention to him, but there is just so much work to be done.” I think my Mom-Guilt was in full play. I mean, why am I working? I’m working because we’re broke. Why are we broke? BECAUSE I SHOP TOO DANG MUCH. Oh, and we’ve also had 2 million-dollar babies, periods of extended unemployment, one year with 2 mortgages (2008), and blah-blah-blah. We’re in debt. So are most Americans. I work to work on debt and to prevent more. I work to provide a future for my son. I work because I’m good at it, and I like it. I work for a lot of different reasons. The mom-shaming that is so exacerbated by social media is something that I simply do not have time to embrace. This is how I parent. Go parent your own way for your own child. I refuse to embrace the judgment ascribed by so many that do not work, or even by so many that do. We are a double-income family because we HAVE to be. Period.
But my conversation with God, though brief, really summed up a lot. I wish I had a clone, or maybe more hours, or maybe an assistant (HA!), or Rosie the Robot. I wish there was more of me (and less pounds of me). I wish I could be a perfect, always-present parent.
I am not.
And I felt God answer in His way, in His beautiful, gentle way, into the recesses of my heart: “You are a good mom. Your heart is always with your son. Even when you’re not paying attention to him in his way, you are paying attention to him.
It’s not your job to entertain your son. It’s your job to care for your son.”
Consider me undone, Lord.
Sometimes caring for my son means I focus on making him a healthy dinner, instead of embracing the circus in the living room.
Sometimes caring for my son means I surrender to knowing that I can’t do it all, and to trusting the man God gave me to do more than he should have to do.
Sometimes caring for my son means I tell him, “not right now.”
I wonder how many times God has said the same to me? “Cassidy, My job is to love you…to care for you…not to entertain you.
My job is not to tell you what you want to hear.
My job is not to give you the material things you want (hello, iPhoneX!).
My job is not to make your life easy.
My job is to love you.
My job is to call you to higher things and higher thoughts.
My job is to draw you into Me, and for you to run with Me.
My job is to be your Bridegroom, and for you to understand what it means to be my Bride.”
Oh, Jesus….to be Your Bride…
Suddenly, all of the accoutrements of stress wash off, and I’m laid out before God. I’m reminded of my only job–my Only Job–even above being a wife and a mother.
My job is to love Him.
My job is to make Him the center of it all…the goal of my every day, the focus of my every moment. My job is to be for Him, above all others…and in that, everything else comes into alignment.
Regardless of the chaos of the day, the endless need to give attention to others, the rush, the pace, and the fatigue, He is my Center.
He’s not my “entertainment.”
He’s my heart.