“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – John Trainer, M.D.
It’s been one of those weeks as a mom. Kids constantly picking on each other, yelling, screaming, whining. A toddler who suddenly forgot he’s potty-trained. A baby who quickly goes to sleep in my arms, but won’t remain that way after being laid down. A sick child throwing up in bed all night. Overall constant neediness and inability to entertain themselves or to even be in a different room than the one I’m in. Sometimes. I. Just. Want. To be. Alone.
It’s all normal mom stuff, but when it seems to come at you all at once, it can be hard to handle at weaker moments. Although seeing their mother dissolving into tears momentarily distracts my little boys from fighting amongst themselves, crying is way too exhausting to utilize as any sort of tool. I had to get a grip and regroup this week.
And that happened when I remembered a simple little sign I had seen in the pump room of a Newborn Intensive Care Unit almost five years ago, which said something like, “Your healthy, happy baby is your masterpiece.” My first son, whom we’ll call Buddy, had had a pretty traumatic birth thanks to a rather forceful forceps extraction.
Little baby Buddy ended up in the NICU for 12 days, which many of you parents out there know is no fun. For almost two weeks, all I did was drive back and forth to and from the hospital, pump, pump, and pump some more, and try to get my baby to feed so that we could get him out of there. All this while trying to heal from my difficult delivery while getting barely any sleep. When I saw this particular sign on the door of the pump room, I thought it was a nice idea, but didn’t give it that much thought at the time.
Funny that it came to mind this week, though, and that these simple words impacted me so much. These children aren’t just side projects that I attend to in my “spare time” while I get other things done. They are my masterpieces! They are my life’s work, right now at least. Shaping and nurturing and growing them is a privilege I wouldn’t trade for anything. This is not the perspective that naturally arises while cleaning up my three-year-old’s poop from the carpet, but just look at this sweet face:
He won’t stay little forever. Soon the day will come when he can wipe his own butt. (Hopefully sooner than later!) But I’m so glad I have the privilege of being his mom. They’re worth it all. And much, much more.
Seeing them grow up from helpless babies into wonderful, loving, caring little people is one of my favorite things about being a mom. My sweet daughter, the next morning after throwing up several times in the night, came to me and thanked me for being there for her when she was hurting, and for cleaning up everything in the middle of the night. She said that she was sorry that I got even less sleep than I normally get waking up with her baby brother. What an empathetic heart in a girl only seven years old.
And my baby, only 2 1/2 months old, so helpless and needy right now, but so pure and innocent. I’m so excited to get to know what kind of person he is, to see this new masterpiece unfold. When his cries wake me in the night, I just want to stay in my warm bed and go back to sleep. But then I remember that I’m his whole world right now, and it won’t stay that way. I love that I get to be everything to him. As tedious as it can be to be needed in these basic ways, it’s really wonderful too.
I am so thankful for these masterpieces that are my whole world right now. The work may not be glamorous, but the products are more beautiful than anything else in the world to me.