On Green Lights, Snowballs, and Being Needed

Our quiet house is slowly starting to wake, and the countdown is on. I know that right this moment, in six minutes, the light on my oldest’s clock will finally turn green and though she’s popped in and out of her room multiple times since waking almost an hour ago, she will actually, finally, be allowed to come downstairs. And by the time I finish this, she’ll have come downstairs requesting no less than a handful of things including orange juice, food, maybe a show, and my full, undivided attention.

My reprieve will be over. This quiet morning I’ve relatively wasted, mostly because I don’t remember how to use this kind of space anymore, will get louder and needier. But maybe, maybe this kind of space isn’t always meant to be used or utilized or crammed with the list of things that somehow feel more or better accomplished when I am alone and it is quiet. Thinking? Clipping my nails? Reading my bible? Finishing a full cup of coffee?

If there is anything I’ve learned in the almost five years I’ve been a mother, it’s that nothing is to be expected and nothing ever stays the same. So I’ve had to learn how to fit those things into the middle of the mess swirling around me instead of in the quiet spaces I rarely get.

And while I often think all the other mothers around me are getting those spaces, I’m learning more and more that’s just not the case. Even the mom of the one child who spends several days a week out of the home – the mom who seems to get to have her hair done in peace, workout in peace, run errands in peace, go to the bathroom several times a day a few days of the week in peace, and even has the option of doing nothing at all in peace for up to 10-15 hours a week – is not always or even often resting fully in that or putting herself first or filling her up. Because even when she’s “off”, she’s “on”, and somewhere, sometime soon, the proverbial green light on the clock will go off and she’ll be needed.

So now eight minutes after the light turned green, and I’ve been asked for all four things I mentioned above – as well as poking a hole in a piece of paper with my finger (who knows?), I now hear the middle one yelling from his crib upstairs and the littlest making “feed me” cries from my bedroom. It’s like a snowball of need and a juggling act all in one. See me here, running on top of a larger and larger snowball down a hill, juggling snowballs, and getting pelted with snowballs while really, really loud Christmas music plays in the background, and you’ll get the picture.

At least I really like snow, most Christmas music, and my children.

And being needed. I might not get it right most of the time, I might have no idea how to use quiet spaces anymore, and I might start keeping a mental countdown until bedtime before noon most days, but this is it, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Except a nap. I could go for one of those, about now, already.
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