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Challenge: Keeping Your Cool

A mom's mantra when motherhood is overwhelming

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Remember what you have.

It's my mantra when I am about to lose it; a phrase I repeat to myself throughout the day. As I wade through piles of both clean and dirty laundry. As the dirty dishes continue to multiply. As I clean up another cup of spilled milk and sweep up another batch of Cheerios.

Remember what you have.

As I hold a baby in the middle of the night when I so desperately wish to sleep. As I comfort the child who had a nightmare and replace batteries in her flashlight at 3 a.m., the flashlight that she is certain will keep the monsters away. As I am called to clean up vomit, change sheets, and give baths when the latest round of illness breaks the night silence.

Remember what you have.

When one child refuses to nap and the other is crabby from too little sleep the night before. When I do nothing more than hold a crying baby and listen to high pitched whining all day. When nothing I do makes the baby happy and everything I say makes the child angry. When they both want all of me and I don't have enough to give.

Remember what you have.

When I return to the kitchen after being gone for a moment, only to find the table decorated with permanent marker and the walls turned into a painted canvas of handprints. When I step on another Lego and wonder if I will ever walk without a limp again. When the baby takes off his diaper and stains the carpet. When the child leaves used toilet paper on the floor.

Remember what you have.

When I can no longer remember my name because I am only addressed as Mom, Mama, and Mommy. When all I do is manage requests and demands from needy children. When the chattering and complaining, screaming and crying makes me want to escape. When the thoughts of my children are so loud that I can no longer have thoughts of my own.

Remember what you have.

When the days of mothering little children are long and exhausting. When I resent the tasks I have been called to do and grumble under my breath. When it's hard and I'm tired.

I remember what I have, because I will never forget what I don't.

I have two babies here on earth who cry and whine and scream. But there are two in heaven whose voices were never heard.

I have two babies who need me so much, and two whose needs I never had the chance to meet.

I have two babies who fill my arms, and two who have left my arms achingly empty.

I have two babies whose lives are evidenced by my messy house, and two whose lives seem to have disappeared without a trace.

So I remember that I have the privilege of raising two children. The privilege of hearing them call out for Mama. The privilege of holding them, and cleaning up after them, and listening to both their cheery and cheerless voices.

I remember that I have two children who need me so much, and want me too. I have two who adore me even on the days when I'm not at my best. I have two who I love so much, and two who love me in return.

I remember what I have because I know there are too many women whose arms are empty. Who long to hear someone call them Mama, who ache for someone to need them. Who would welcome all the crying and whining and crafting mishaps in the world, if it meant they had a child to hold. I know, because I was one of them.

So I remember what I have, which turns the burdens of motherhood into blessings.

This post was originally published at A Beautifully Burdened Life.

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