Family Life,  infertility,  motherhood

Contentment Boosters (now available at Costco)

You know that feeling of shaky relief that follows a near miss in traffic, or a relieved diagnosis of “looks fine to me;” those moments where your actual life and a very different possible life come close to intersecting? Those moments are gifts.

So, too, are those unexpected larger-than-life invitations to something so ridiculously beyond you and your paltry abilities that they can only be orchestrated by the big Guy. And sometimes those demand a yes, and sometimes they require a no, and sometimes they’re more of a “not right now, but maybe in the future…” and oftentimes they’re the perfect moments to stop and stare at the life you do have, the dream you are actually living, and recognize that things are very, very good.

While mulling over some potentially large decisions the last few days, I’ve had some insight into the goodness of the now, the richness of the ordinary – or at least familiar – life we’re living as a little family of 5.75. And even if something really good came along and shook that up a little, I’d still probably miss the “right now,” which kind of surprised me.

That’s when it clicked for me, suddenly, all those “enjoy this while it’s here because before you know it…” comments uttered wistfully by perfect strangers.

They know something I don’t, that I can’t quite see yet through the sleepless fog of the present preschool melee. They’ve got the longer view.

This sounds so weird, but as I was lying beside my oldest son during the bedtime marathon tonight and snuggling into the curve of his slightly sweaty 4-year-old neck I caught of whiff of some very adult-scented feet coming from underneath the covers and it actually made me catch my breath. And not just because it was gross.

Because my baby’s feet stink. And not like a baby’s, but like a big, grown up boy’s.

I had a LOST-style flash forward of football cleats, dirty backpacks and closets full of sweaty gym clothes, and I tightened my grip on his little shoulders, pulling him in for a tighter hug.

It’ll be over in a heartbeat. And yet, my heart is still very much slogging through the longest hours of these longest days.

Yesterday at Costco not one but three separate shoppers stopped me to look my brood over, look me in the eye and tell me, each of them almost verbatim, God bless you mom, you’re doing a good job. Your family is beautiful.

And I could see that they were right, that I am doing a good job, and that these kids of mine are so beautiful.

I honestly got a little bit teary eyed after the third encounter, because there’s only so much affirmation my wizened heart can handle, and just because the intensity our schedule lately, and of the discernment the last few days had brought with them had exacted an unexpected emotional toll.

I also thought long and hard on the drive home about my sisters who are suffering in a way that is silent and maybe even invisible, the ones who wrote here in this space last week about their broken, open hearts and the hardships and the unseen crosses, and I felt so incredibly foolish for ever complaining about the hard parts, because wouldn’t any one of them die to be complimented by a perfect stranger on their overflowing doublewide cart?

And don’t they deserve to have an older woman put her arm around their shoulder in the produce aisle and look them in the eye and say “you’re doing a good job, mom;” to be recognized in some way for soldiering on under the burden they’ve been entrusted with?

Maybe this is all a bit disjointed, but it seemed to click together in my tired brain as I spoke with a dear friend yesterday and shared some of the details of my week. A major confidence booster, she rightly called the opportunity I’d been presented with.

And then, something more than that, contentment booster, she joked.

And she was right, because I was struck dumb at the realization that, wow, as good as things could be, and indeed might be down the road, things are also very, very good right now, just as they are.

No matter what the future holds, it feels incredibly important to take a deep breath, look around at the unimaginable beauty and bounty of this life, and to offer sincere and, honestly, awestruck gratitude for it. All of it. Even the poop in the bathtub.

And another thing, before I fall into bed and sleep the second-trimester sleep of the dead: I no longer care when somebody poops in the bathtub. Darling Genevieve facilitated this gem of self discovery tonight, ushering in a new era of laissez faire motherhood that honestly couldn’t be bothered to intervene in the inevitable, content simply to clean up the aftermath.

And that, my friends, feels like some kind of victory in and of itself.

May your dreams be sweet, and your bathtubs bleached.

9 Comments

  • Beth (A Mom's Life)

    As a mom to a 10yo and a 12 yo, I agree. It does go by too fast. What we have right now is just perfect even with it’s many imperfections. And ultimately, life is good. (Even when they forget to wear their deodorant!)

  • Ashley

    I was just telling my husband recently that we’re entering a strange new part of parenting…one where we still have bitty babies, but we also have this BOY, almost nine and growing right before our eyes. I look at our seven-month-old, who is the spitting image of his oldest brother, and I just can’t believe how fast the time has gone. The line is so cliche, but it’s so true and I’m getting a taste of it already! Definitely trying to enjoy everyday as it comes, the good and the hard.

  • Ashleu

    So beautiful, Jenny. It made me cry some happy tears reading this.

    It’s a funny realization, isn’t it? I’ve just recently been blessed with similar feelings. Even though we’re smack in the middle of some of the hardest times, with teething and diaper rash and poor sleep and my 18 month old pulling absolutely everything out of the drawers and scattering it about, and my 5 year old dawdling all. day. long. Even though I’m perpetually tired, and the floor is perpetually filthy, God has blessed me with the gratitude that, really, these are the best of times. And I’m so grateful for that ability to be present in this moment, and be grateful for it despite its challenges. Because the thought of these times will always bring joy to my heart.

  • Meaghan

    You have me tearing up over here Jenny! Beautiful reflection and like always – thank you! Your writing is such a gift to me. God bless you Momma – you most definitely are doing a great job and have a beautiful family.

  • Diana

    “I also thought long and hard on the drive home about my sisters who are suffering in a way that is silent and maybe even invisible, the ones who wrote here in this space last week about their broken, open hearts and the hardships and the unseen crosses, and I felt so incredibly foolish for ever complaining about the hard parts, because wouldn’t any one of them die to be complimented by a perfect stranger on their overflowing doublewide cart?”

    Thank you for that! We are some of the many who have struggled with infertility in the past and now have a son through adoption. We are listed for number two, starting the process over a year ago. It’s tough to hear others complain about their multiple children when we’d love to have more by now. I know all parenting has it’s struggles but it’s just nice to hear that side acknowledged. And even with my long awaited for child, it’s still hard to appreciate every moment in every day. I don’t know how he’s two already!!

  • melissa

    Oh the poop in the tub. Shockingly, my oldest never did that but my Agnes so so enjoys to poop in the tub. There being another kid in there with her when she does it has lead to some pretty hilarious moments. I loved this.

  • Cami

    Perfect timing after a day like today. We haven’t popped open a bottle of wine in probably a year but thanks to my wine-loving cousin’s wedding favor from a year and a half ago, we had something to uncork this afternoon after naps were skipped, tantrums were being thrown, baby sister was awoken, and all our attempts to discipline our wild boys were intensely ignored. As a breastfeeding mom, I’ve been sipping the same glass of wine for hours but it sure is helping me turn my tears to laughs, especially when my 2 year old kept moving during a bang trim. He has kind of a bowl cut since his hair just grows straight down the front of his forehead. However, I achieved an artistic interpretation of south metro’s view of the Rockies’ mountain range on that sweet forehead tonight. Having 3 babes in 3 1/2 years hasn’t been a party 24/7 but I’m certainly trying to remember these moments are fleeting, and as I compare my 2 mo old to my 3 year old, I feel a little robbed that I can’t keep them small as long as I want. They are too stinkin’ precious and I’m already sad for the days when their life moves on, no longer in need of our hugs and kisses each night, our encouragement when the hard-worked-on Lego tower crashes, our comfort when incurring boo boos, our excellent knife skills for yet another sliced apple, our song singing to calm them at bedtime, our snuggles when they wake up in the wee hours missing us… I could go on and on. They need so much from us and sometimes the giving hurts really bad. But it will hurt worse when they don’t need it anymore. Ahhhh… THESE are the days.

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