08 Jan 2014

When you wonder what you got done today – a check list of ordinary glory

Son, here’s the thing. Sometimes come 9pm mama is just flat out done.

So when you peer down from that top bunk bed eye to eye with me and question the end of your day with the everlasting, “but whyyyyy?,” a small world flashes before my eyes.





It’s been over 12 hours since I woke you up over and over again. I’ve found lost back packs and missing shoes and matching socks (sometimes). I’ve cooked breakfast sausages or poured cereal and delivered you on time and well loved and (mostly) without shouting to school. And then I’ve blinked and picked you up at school again.

We’ve been to the playground and I’ve pushed your baby sister on the swings. I’ve emptied mulch out of her crocs for what feels like one hundred million times and I’ve remembered the bottled water but always forgotten the snacks.

You’ve run and scootered and played soccer with your friends and I’ve pushed and pulled and cajoled to get you both out of there and off to pick up your middle brother from preschool. I’ve parked and unbuckled car seats and opened doors and pushed school bells and signed check out sheets and gathered up all the art papers and pencil drawings in the whole wide world while slinging your sister under one wailing arm and the car keys and my bag under the other.

I’ve loaded you all up again and driven you home and answered a bajillion “why?” questions and finally turned up the radio and declared it “singing time.” The closest to quiet time I can get between the three of you.


We’ve unloaded and snacked and played Marco/Polo in the basement and someone got injured and someone else felt left out and I’ve referreed and medic-ed and served up pretzels and peanut butter and untied and retied more laces than I can bear to remember. (Note to self: go back to the velcro versions, ain’t no shame in pretend laces).

We’ve had your friends over and laughed our way through brownies and glasses of milk and whined our way through good-byes and promises to come back again soon.

When dad got home you biked and your brother scootered and your baby sister ran down the side walk with her pants so low it would have been totally inappropriate if she was 13 but instead it was just dad-gum adorable at two. There was Football and foot races and more helpings of spaghetti than I could imagine would fit into that skinny torso.

You tricked us into letting you watch TV by trading your dessert and there were at least two pairs of underpants abandoned in the bathroom for very unpleasant reasons.

And that’s just the version of the day you saw, son.


You missed the part where I had a work deadline and conference calls and had to get something dropped off at the bank and something else delivered to the landlord. There was the blinking empty light on the car’s gas tank and the toilet paper that someone had to remember to buy.

There were the conversations your dad and I tried to follow up on and the friends I tried to catch up with in between making dinner and changing someone’s diaper. There’s a blog post due and that crooked shade on the living room lamp and all my clean clothes lined up on the floor because I keep forgetting I’ve given you my dresser and need some new drawers for myself.

So come 9pm, son, your mama, she’s flat out done. And when you ask me, “why?” all this nearly tumbles out of my mouth. This litany of life lived at full tilt with no time off.

How your blink-of-an-eye days age me. How they’re all marathon and sprint all rolled up into one. And how I feel them in my greying hair roots and tired bones and stretch-marked heart.

But your eyes are so big and blue behind your glasses before you take them off to hand them down to me from the top bunk. And I know we will remember today differently. And I realize I’m grateful for that. You storing up treasure and memories so golden and delicious. Me learning the art of letting go of me first and welcoming a family into a solar system where I used to be the sun, the moon and all the stars and liked it that way.

So, I catch the long line of what I’ve survived today before it spills out my lips and swallow hard and stroke back that blonde cowlick instead. And there’s no answer to sum up the sum total of today. Or this life that still surprises me when I discover I’m the grown up. Or how badly I need at least a couple hours to myself to unwind.

So I do what I always do. I laugh, I kiss your forehead, I tuck in your blanket and stand on the bottom rung of your ladder and sigh into your eyes. You smile back and roll over and take the whole day childishly for granted, expecting tomorrow to be the same.



And I step down and turn off the light and close the door half way and walk back down the hall leaving all these pieces of the gift of today – that look so much like stray Legos and beat up bean bag chairs and muddy shoes – unwrapped in my wake.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    “ain’t no shame in pretend laces.” :)

    I just love you. That is all.

    P.S. — Is that an antelope in your living room? Does Melanie Shankle know about this?

  2. 3

    I have a 5 year old son, 3 1/2 year old boy/girl twins and I work full time in an office an hour away from home. This so speaks to me! By the time I get home, cook dinner, eat, clear the table and take care of baths, bedtime, etc. I’m exhausted and yet I feel like I’m missing so much by not getting to spend more time with my kids. My oldest always asks me to lie down with him when he goes to bed and I have to say, it’s the absolute sweetest 20 minutes of my day without exception. Sometimes he’s full of questions and twitching everywhere, sometimes he just wants to cuddle but when he puts his hand on my cheek and whispers “I love you Mom” my whole day just melts away.

  3. 4

    As much as I loved this – and you know whenEVER you write about Mommying – I do… I just want to copy and paste what Jennifer said! LOL! (DOES Melanie know?)

  4. 5

    As usual, you perfectly capture motherhood. Your words, your poetry, get me through many days with a good cry and renewed love for what I do.

  5. 6

    One word: Love! (This and you!)

  6. 7

    Beautiful! <3

  7. 8

    “ain’t no shame in pretend laces”, Busted out laughing! You are a good mama, sweet friend. A good mama!

  8. 9

    amazing…you bless me in amazing ways…thank you for sharing your heart…and there ain’t no shame in pretend laces or forgetting snacks or even candy for lunch…

    I also never want to tell my kids all the things Ive done for them, so you saying that you caught the long line of things you did before they came out of your mouth so resonated with me…I don’t want to repeat that pattern in my families life. I too want my kids to stay in that childishly glorious ordinary day! :)

  9. 10

    Oh, what a wonderful post! You summed up what so many mamas feel… and (mostly) without shouting! :)

  10. 11
    Robyn Chilcoat says:

    Oh my goodness, yes! Yes to all of this post! Yes! I so feel this way sometimes and I’m still learning how to control my tongue on days that my son pushes my buttons for the upteenth time. Thank you for this!

  11. 12

    Loved this post! Beautiful and so completely true.

  12. 13

    Amen sister! It’s the “no time off” that’s been hitting me hard, too. And yet with God’s grace we keep moving forward somehow. And I suppose having those cute little faces melt our hearts helps, too. :)

  13. 14

    I so needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with the rest of us.

  14. 15
    Sarah Heinkel says:

    Thank you for your honesty and the wonderful perspective of me and so other moms you bring to life. Each read makes my nose tingle a little with unshed tears at the joy of knowing someone else out there understands.

  15. 16
    Donna Noble says:

    I read all the time, today I have to leave a comment. This just touches me so much. It can feel so lonely being a mum, and this week I found myself thinking how on earth did this all happen, how have I found myself as a wife, mother of 2, trying to finish my studies, and yet still being the only one who keeps on top of the laundry/cooking/cleaning/budget blah blah rverything!
    Its nice to feel I am not alone. Its also nice to see how you portray our lives as works of love, of wonder, so that the mundane boring everyday- ness takes on a quality of beauty. ♥

  16. 17

    With a 19 year old and a 10 year old I have a foot in two different worlds. I’m so glad they’ll remember their days differently than we do. So glad.

  17. 18

    Oh, honey! I ain’t got no grubby small faces any more, but I got a house half covered in Christmas decor, a husband exhausted from six hours of pushing 3 years olds on the swings, a heart that’s breaking for an old mama who no longer makes very much sense – but when she does it’s nothing less than a gift. I’ve also got a house crammed with too much stuff, a heart full of too many memories, joints that creak and ache, reminding me that I’ve been walking around this place for a goodly long time, and a soul that feels humbly grateful for all the ordinary glories at work in this world. Yours are some of my favorites.Thank you.

  18. 19

    Absolutely beautifully sums it up!

  19. 20
    RaisedByGrace says:

    I needed to see this today. Tonight while I was at my son’s basketball practice, the only mom there, another mother walked into the gym. I know this mom because she was in my Sunday school class until she left her husband and sons for another man. Her husband is still in the class and his struggles hurt my heart so much. She is stunning, movie star stunning, not a hair out of place, never uncomfortable in a tiny bikini kind of stunning. The energy in the room changed, and as she walked by one of the dads who was sitting right next me said joyfully, “We needed a woman in here, this place is all men and it’s starting to stink.” I didn’t even know what he meant, but what I stupidly, selfishly thought was, he doesn’t even see me sitting here. I was never as stunning as she is, but now I am so repulsive that I am totally invisible. And all of the sudden, I felt like a shabby failure. I had on makeup, I work out every day, I do what I can to look presentable, but I also have bags under my eyes and wrinkles and a few grey hair I keep meaning to dye, and I could never wear a bikini again thanks to the ten pounds of sag I have picked up after having four kids. This woman and I are the same age but I look probably 15 years older than she does. A voice in my head said, in 1000 different ways, “You aren’t good enough.”

    All of this was weighing on my heart. I resented the woman, who I have no place to judge for looking so great. I was angry at the man next to me for making me feel unworthy, and most of all I was angry at myself for not working harder at my appearance, as silly as that sounds now. But then when I read this, I was reminded that I have the life I want. I spend my days doing the things you said, the little mundane things that make up a mom but that, until you said it, I couldn’t see as sacred work. That stunning mom is on her journey and I am on mine, and my journey has taken me far from a place where I make a lot of space for vanity, and that’s okay. Maybe men won’t ever gasp when I walk into a room again, but I am in the middle or raising four people, and filling their hearts with love and wonder is enough. My husband may not have the most beautiful woman in the world, but he has the one who will stand by him no matter what, who endeavors to still be lovely and beautiful but moreso to be a Proverbs 31 kind of wife, and that has to count for something. So thank you for pulling me out of my stupid pity party. “Me learning the art of letting go of me first and welcoming a family into a solar system where I used to be the sun, the moon and all the stars and liked it that way.” Instead of reflecting on how some man didn’t notice me sitting next to him today, I am going to focus on this quote. It’s much better anyway.

  20. 22

    Awesome post! Brings back so many memories. Now one daughter is out on her own. One is anxiously chomping at the bit to get there herself. Now 3 dogs take up a better part of my day and I talk to them like I used to talk to the girls. And yes, their eyes can give that ‘but Why?’ question, too. The days have slowed down, I’m no longer tying shoes and, yes, sometimes I really miss that.

  21. 23
    Alison Fontenot says:

    Ahh, this is amazing, and so affirming. Thank you for your honesty, and the idea that they will remember the days differently than we do. Amen! A wise grandmother at church shared that when moms feel they have “done nothing” in their days, they should write it all down–and that’s what you did! It makes us realize that all the small things, though exhausting, add up to love for these little ones we serve. Thanks for the encouragement!

  22. 24

    This post is much needed these days. I am really struggling with keeping it all together – last night I actually went straight upstairs to play with my daughter and never made it back downstairs after she went to bed to clean up the house. My every day mantra – I am doing the best that I can.

  23. 25

    That is one hallaciously good bit of writing, Gal.

  24. 26

    Hi..your words are so wonderful..true life, straight from the heart of a mom of small children. I am no longer the mother of small children, but I am blessed to be the Nonna of small children. TWO little boys..one is 3 and one is 22 months. They are a handful, to say the least. My sweet daughter is exhausted almost constantly. We have all have a bad respiratory bug that’s been going around, and I don’t need to tell YOU how much more difficult it is to mother boys, except ofcourse when they are SICK, and fussy and super-velcro clingy. My heart breaks for her some days, and nights. I help as much as I can. She is a saint, and Super Mom…I told her boys I’m going to get her a cape! She is patient and loving…even when she doesn’t want to be. And I have recently introduced her to your blog..and specifically your encouragment about getting back to WRITING!! She used to write all the time. Had her own little blog even. So I’m nudging her…lovingly towards taking time out to do just that. And I’m able to do that because of your wonderful, encouraging-make-her-feel-like-she’s-not-the-only-mega-crazy-exhausted-mommy-of-small-boys, out there! So thank you!! And God bless!! You have got a fan in Chico, California.

  25. 27

    lisa jo – i loved this. thank you.

  26. 28
    Lizzie D. says:

    Thank you, for making me smile and feel normal. You have such a gift for both writing and encouragement. :)

  27. 29

    As a tear of familiarity rolls down my cheek, I find myself thinking once again…to Lisa Jo Baker…the friend I may never actually meet, “Wow! I could not have put it better myself.” Prayers for the adventures to come…for all of us!

  28. 30

    Wow, do I ever feel normal. Thanks!

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