I’m in the university library to find the article I want on neuroscience and writing. I’m suddenly interrupted by the pull of the juvenile fiction section on the 5th floor where I remember they have all the P. D. Eastman books that my youngest daughter still loves (Go, Dog. Go!, Sam and the Firefly, The Best Nest).
I spend all my time there, and for once, it doesn’t feel like I’m just getting through some kid’s library event on my way to what I really want to be doing.
Many times over the years of being a mother, I’ve felt like I’m just trying to get through something. I’d think to myself: I just have to get through this night waking, this potty training, this noise at the dinner table, this driving everywhere, this laundry, this cleaning, this bedtime routine. I need to get through these interruptions in order to arrive at what I really want to be doing.
I believed some clever lie that kept me from embracing motherhood fully. Motherhood was something to endure, and this made me so deeply troubled and ashamed that the dark days of depression stole half a decade of my life.
My doctor told me one afternoon that “my children are not interruptions” to the life I want to have. They are my life. Exactly how God designed it.
That’s what I remembered last night: It’s 3:15 AM, and my youngest wakes me up needing a drink and a snuggle. We’ve been training her for months to stay in her bed, but still she comes, a wandering little soul wanting me in the night. I gather her to me, and when I tiptoe into the cold kitchen to get her a cup of water, I notice the fresh snow in the moonlight.
This isn’t an interruption. This is worship and wonder at 3:15 AM. I don’t sleep after that; I listen to my daughter breathing and can hear the icy whisper of snow falling outside. I don’t have to get through this. This isn’t pain to endure on the way to what I’d rather be doing.
There’s wonder and worship here–every day–no matter how sticky, loud, or sleep deprived this day seems. Our days are not something to get through as we endure interruptions to our real life. This is our life: wonderful, beautiful, and just right for us. And as I hear snow falling, I remember that sometimes we have to listen harder to comprehend that truth.
This is so profound. I subscribe to your posts because they help me to see the flair in life, but this one I just had to comment on. I can identify so much with it, and in my sleep-deprived, interrupted life I appreciate your encouraging perspective. Thank you!
I love the way you slowed down and listened that night, when you accepted the so-called interruption as your life, when you embraced it as worship and wonder. You wrote: “I listen to my daughter breathing and can hear the icy whisper of snow falling outside.”
“The icy whisper of snow falling.”
You are listening closely indeed.
That is one of the most powerful posts I have ever read. I so wish I had thought this way when my son was little. I remember that feeling of “having to get through this” with so many little everyday things. Thank you so much – I hope other young mothers will read this and take it to heart.
I so appreciate this post. As a woman on the brink of motherhood (hopefully soon!), I am storing this in a special part of my brain to be brought back out during sleepless nights.
What a great flair moment! A nice cool winter night, having your daughter snuggle up next to you.
This is gorgeous. I'm so glad I found your blog through your motherlode comment. I write a lot about the wonder of everyday life and the power of stopping to realize it, and, like you, I lost a lot of years in the black hole of depression.
I'm grateful to have found you! xo
Great post. Reminds me of Gretchin Rubin of The Happiness Project. She has a short video “The Days are Long but the Years are Short” which has a similar message.
I saw your Motherlode comment and came to check it out. I'm so glad that I did. I've been feeling like this for weeks now – that motherhood is something I'm enduring, that I have to get through to get back to “real life.” This is my life. And it is full of wonder. Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone with these thoughts.
You know, we all miss out on a lot of life because we are just trying to get through the interruptions. I see how easy it is to do this with motherhood, but I also see how easy it is to do this with singleness, with seasons of sickness, with jobs we don't like, with minutes standing in line at the post office. This is a beautiful post, and a challenging thought.
I love your blog! I am late responding but want to share that Karen Kingsbury has a marvelous poem called “Let Me Hold You Longer” about embracing each fleeting moment in the lives of our children. We log all of their “firsts”, never realizing we are often witnessing their “lasts”. We all need encouragement to embrace the moment.