"No, you're not."
That was my five-year-old son's under-his-breath retort when I semi-rashly informed him that
"I am doing 8-million things right now, don't you see that?"
Of course, he couldn't see that because I wasn't doing "eight million" things like I overdramatically barked, but I was in the middle of quite a few things that had (and still have yet to) get done.
And, maybe that's why he and my daughters can't understand the urgency with which Mommy feels she must tackle all of those lesser important tasks, like laundry, dishes, and house cleaning instead of loving on, listening to, playing, or simply being present with them.
But, at the time, it was I who could not understand how the little people in my life -- all of whom I birthed and once shared a blood supply with -- could not see and be grateful for a mother who does all these things for our family.
And, it's because my kids don't care if I've vacuumed, washed, dried and folded all of our clothes or if I've loaded, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher.
They care that Mommy wants to hear from them.
They want Mommy to want to be silly with them.
They want their ideas heard by Mommy, and they want to listen to all of Mommy's plans for what they could do together that would be fun.
But, here's the thing they don't realize...
That Mommy wants to hear from them, but she can't unless she can silence the voice in her head telling her that she's not living up to anyone's expectations if she doesn't get her houses' disarray in order.
That Mommy wants to be silly with them, but that she finds it challenging to be incessantly jovial when she's always worried about their development.
That Mommy wants to hear their ideas, but that when she's in the thick of a busy day, her radar is zoned in on only those ideas that will make her life easier and her numerous tasks less time-consuming and energy-zapping.
That Mommy has oh so many fun plans for what they can and will do together, but that before the enjoyment, must come the work, because if it doesn't, then the work will pile up and speaking of piles, there isn't anything about a 3ft tower of laundry that says "Sure, take some leisure time."
And, so, my little man had a time-out for talking back to Mommy, hurting my feelings and making me feel unappreciated and I took a self-issued time-out with which I cried.
I cried to myself a little, and then I even cried in front of my son and his sisters.
We then talked about the unseen work that many mamas do, and I think they got it.
But, as they sleep and I sit here and mull over this evening's events, I think I'm the one who is starting to get it, and by it I mean the reason I'm the mother of three gorgeous inside and out beings.
And, I'll tell you this -- that reason, it's not so that I can
be the housekeeper for the home they live in,
be their live-in dry-cleaners,
never serve up food on paper plates.
I'm here, living this busy, hectic life in a cluttered, messy home so that I can love and support its inhabitants.
Even if that means that I love them in dirty clothes and we eat off of some Dixie.
Even if that means I, in honoring their request, gleefully prance around our dog-hair lined home, voluntarily oblivious to the untidiness, but purposefully and wholeheartedly zeroed-in on who -- not what -- really matters.
Today I remarked to my son that I was doing eight-million things and insinuated that I needed a break.
But, do you know who really needs the break?
They deserve a break from feeling like they have to compete with less dire responsibilities for your attention.
Thankfully, mine won't have to anymore, because I think I get it now.
I'm a mama working hard, but it's hardly the most important work if it doesn't involve my kids.