You called today around 12:10 P.M. It is a Tuesday, which means that my little boys are home with me all day. My husband has been gone since Saturday morning and won’t be back until Friday afternoon. We are in that weird time of the morning. Everyone has eaten lunch, but it’s too early for nap. The boys are playing quietly until the phone rings. Then, like all self-respecting children three and under, they take full advantage of the situation. One starts
reorganizing dismantling a kitchen cabinet. The other finds a package of pasta and dumps it on the floor. The only other phone trick they have is trying to talk to me loudly and urgently while I am in the middle of a conversation. However, this is typically reserved for when I am trying to do something that is actually important, like make a doctor’s appointment or call a customer service line (“Representative. Representative. I said, ‘REPRESENTATIVE!'”).
You call because you are at a store and found little boy shorts for $1.60. You want to get a pair for my three-year-old and a four-year-old friend. There are only three pairs left: two size 4 and a size 6. You say the friend’s mom will want the size 4 even though he is almost five because the mom thinks she has small children.
I am confused by this statement but only half paying attention as I try to pick up pasta. The boys run to one of their rooms and start slamming the door. Should you get all three pairs and then let the friend’s mom choose? The dog whines at the door. I let the dog out and return to address the door slamming. What about me? Do I want the size 4? Do I want them at all? There is screaming. The three-year-old is pinching the toddler with some play kitchen tool. No, I say, we don’t need three pairs of shorts. Again, I am trying to listen while holding the bedroom door open with my foot to save little fingers while removing the pinching weapon. You tell me that you are trying to do something nice for me and that I am being mean. I am quiet, as I realize I am not giving the reaction you expect. Why don’t I call you back when I am finished, you tell me. The thing is, I am never finished. It is never over. It’s like you forgot.
I am struggling a week-and-a-half after having my third baby in four-and-a-half years. I am tired, and my head is throbbing from lack of sleep. You came to see the new baby and are irritated with me for being short with you. It’s like you forgot.
You ask me over and over during that visit when we will go running. I say that I am not ready to run and not even sure if I should run. You question me. It’s like you forgot.
I feed my children snacks in the car from time to time. Yes, it can make a mess but sometimes we have to get stuff done and that is the only option. You tell me that you would never feed a child in the car. It’s like you forgot.
You come to visit, and we go out and have fun all morning. We come home, and I tell you I need to do some work. You say are going to take a nap, leaving me with the kids. It’s like you forgot.
We get to spend some time together while the kids are at school. I suggest lunch at a restaurant. You want to go home for a peanut butter sandwich. I eat almost every lunch at home and it is often at the kitchen counter and whatever my kids don’t finish. It’s like you forgot.
The thing is, I don’t want you to forget. You raised four kids, and I know you remember. You remember the good, the bad, and the ugly. You remember how hard it was to do errands with little kids. You remember trying to keep the house clean, similar to trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it. You remember being by yourself and having those days where you barely interacted with another adult. You remember the anticipation of doing something without your kids in tow.
I know that memory is in there somewhere, and I need you to find it for me. I don’t remember how stressed you were when we were little, but I understand it now and appreciate you for it. I need your support when you are here but especially when you are a thousand miles away. It is hard being a mom, and no one knows that more than you. There are many ways to be a successful mom, and I am trying my best. Please help lift me up in this journey the way you did a million times before when you raised me.