Have you ever been in that place? You know, the one where you wonder if being a parent is really worth it? And, how in the world you are going to keep going? In this podcast, I share something a stranger said to me that made me stop and think and he reminded me that it is worth it!
Hey, mama! How are you doing?
Hey, mama! How are you doing? I know you are in the middle of the craziness of being a mama. I’ve been there, I’m still there…
I know what you are going through! I’ve been so busy as a mom I’ve often said, “I don’t even have time to sneeze!”
I want you to know that I see you!…..
…in the grocery store, when your child is throwing a fit and everyone is watching, judging…
and maybe you have no idea what to do with this difficult child or maybe you have set up a program and not giving in to your child’s every whim is part of the program.
Either way, your cheeks are flaming and you feel the stares.
I see you….
…Eating a cookie in the bathroom, so you can enjoy it in peace,
…trying to shower as fast as you can because your toddler is close by, screaming for your attention,
…hiding in your closet, crying over a teen and how you just can’t seem to get it right
…or beside yourself with worry when your 16 year old isn’t home and it is 2 a.m. and she isn’t answering her phone
I see you…
…the morning after a sleepless night, still making school lunches, checking backpacks and cleaning up even more vomit.
…so weary of carpooling and driving your kids and trying to get them on time to everywhere and it feels like a never ending nightmare of living in your car.
I see you
… trying to maintain your marriage and struggling with the difficulty of two people trying their best but just not quite making it.
Oh, and that time you came out of an important meeting and realized you had some sort of dried, food laden drool on your navy blue jacket? I see you then, too.
I see you…
…dropping into bed late at night, struggling through a night of very interrupted sleep and then getting up in the morning, bleary eyed and worn down, because you have to.
…And the endless diapers and hands that smell like poop even after you’ve thoroughly washed them 3 times.
I see you….in the midst of all that and more.
I know you sometimes wonder if it is worth it.
And I say, “Yes!” It is worth it! Even though it is hard and messy.
One day, a kind stranger helped me to know that.
When my kids were younger, I used to take them camping in Malibu, on the California coast. My husband would stay home to work and I camped with the boys because it was cheap and we had three little boys and lived in a southern California suburb with not many places to run and play freely.
I don’t know why the campground was called Little Sycamore because the sycamore trees were so huge, their large limbs would lay on the ground and the boys would climb all over them and they would swing from the limbs that were higher off the ground.
There was a freshwater creek behind the campsites that eventually flowed into the ocean and my boys would catch frogs and keep them in a container filled with water, to be released when it was time to go home. It was a little boy’s paradise!
Several times a day, we would walk a short way to the end of the creek, at the estuary, right where the creek met the ocean, laden with bags of toys,boogie boards, towels, water and snacks and we could climb down the short but steep hill that was the side of the creek bed. Then we would wade in the water and go under the bridge, above which was Pacific Coast Highway. Then finally, we would be on the beach.
After we adopted our daughter, Emmalene, we started taking her with us on our camping trips. When we would reach the small but steep hill we needed to go down to enter the creek, because she was wheelchair bound, one of the older boys would go down first and then I would climb down as far as I could, without slipping, and then hand his sister to him so he could carry her the rest of the way down. From there we would go to the beach and dig a hole in the sand for her so she could sit up and see the ocean and watch her brothers playing in the water.
One of those days, as we were returning from the beach, something happened that I will never forget.
I can still smell the scent of sunblock radiating off my children’s warm bodies, mixed with the salty ocean breeze of early evening, all of us laden with the now wet and sandy bags of toys, boogie boards and towels, doing the Emmalene arm exchange in reverse, up the hill. The boys ran ahead to the campsite and one of them brought the wheelchair back to me for her and went back to the campsite.
I was standing by the campground shower/bathroom area, lifting and then strapping Emmalene into her chair. I was weary from the physical struggle of it all and thinking about getting everyone cleaned up and needing to prepare dinner over the campfire.
There was a small parking lot adjacent to where we were, where cyclists would park their cars and then ride along Pacific Coast Highway. As I worked, I noticed a man in his 50’s approaching us. I was a bit wary but we exchanged greetings and then he said something that profoundly touched me.
He said, “I had a special needs child and I have been watching you.
I want you to know that you are doing a wonderful job. I know it is hard but you are doing great.”
And then he was gone.
In that moment, with that comment, he pulled me out of my worry, concern and place of physical tiredness to a place of validation and pondering. He caused me to pause in the midst of “it all” and realize that, as hard as it was, and as messy as my life was, I really was doing a good job. I was doing the best I could. Someone had seen the hardness and recognized it and validated me because he understood. He had been there.
So, I want YOU to know that I see you….I know how hard it is….I know there are times you just know you can’t possibly keep going but somehow you do. I know there are times you want to give up, times you wonder if it is worth it and why you ever wanted to be a mommy in the first place.
I get it. I know. I see you.
To quote my kind stranger “I want you to know that you are doing a wonderful job. I know it is hard, but you are doing great!”
So in the hard times…
…grab your toddler, hold him close, nuzzle his sweet little neck and breathe in the scent of that beautiful soul. Know you are the world to him and that IT. IS. WORTH. IT!
…grab that ornery teenage boy and give him a sideways hug around the neck, since that is all he will tolerate, and smile and tell him you hope he has a great day at school.
…And when your teenage daughter is mad and screaming at you…just tell her you are sorry for what she is going through and tell her that you love her and will always be there for her.
…Gather those kids around, any way you can, and enjoy the good, the bad and the messiness that is part of your beautiful journey.
And, when you think no one sees you or understands, remember, the kind words of my stranger,
“ …you are doing a wonderful job. I know it is hard, but you are doing great!”