Lint. Pieces of tissue. Brown, dried leaves.
All day long, I pick things up and shove them in my pockets.
Crumbs. Wrappers. Twisty ties. Small plastic bears. More lint.
A scrap of paper, tiny doll shoes, grass.
I’m not crazy. Not a hoarder, or a compulsive cleaner, or a collector of anything at all.
I’m a mom.
More to the point: I’m a mom of a 1-year-old boy who explores the world by putting it in his mouth and a 3-year-old girl who has more minuscule toys than I realized until her brother came along.
So, all day long, I take things and shove them deep into my pockets, to keep him safe. Sometimes I have to fish bits and pieces out of his mouth first, but then into my pocket it all goes. The garbage can is in the kitchen, and somehow, this just became easier.
At the end of each day, I empty my pockets, the day’s debris a reminder of how tedious, how mundane, how important it is to mom.
Because “mom” should be a verb, right? Then that’s all I’d have to say and other moms would get it:
“How was your day?”
“Well, I mom-ed all day.”
Ahh. I see. You’re exhausted, over-touched, also overjoyed, worried that brain atrophy is a thing, and in deep, deep wonder and joy at the lives and world you’ve created.
Ahh. Today was full of mom-ing. So you’re conflicted, certain, empty, full. You’re never alone but lonely. You’re happy and bored, jumping out of yesterday’s yoga pants with how itchy you are for life again. And you also feel blessed, so blessed, in your mundane and extraordinary world.
I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I look forward to the two days per week that I work, in part because of the contrast they bring. They are days when I pee when I have to, when I cross items off my to-do list in linear fashion, when everything remains in its place unless I touch it. I feel productive, I talk to other adults, I write, I focus. My pockets stay empty.
I’m still mom-ing though. Isn’t that the funniest thing? I never stop mom-ing. I miss my kids, wish I could grab them into a giant hug.
When you’re a mom, you’re a mom. There are no days off, no real shortcuts, and every mom with kids older than yours will, at least once, remind you that this stage will be gone in a blink so you’d better enjoy it. Better take it all in. Even though, some days, it feels like all I’m capable of taking in is lint and teeny, tiny doll shoes.
What I’ve come to realize, though, is that it all matters. And that being present for it all, approaching each day with intention, changes everything.
Last year, there were too many days that I looked up and saw it was suddenly noon. Where did the day go, and what was I doing while it was speeding along? I could hardly blame myself for the postpartum lull, but I still didn’t like the distance between what my mind was thinking and my body was doing. I was there, being mom, and I was also either far away or on to the next thing. I was running over my to-do list or full of internal lament over how much I wished I could nap.
I will never, ever give the advice to “enjoy every moment” because, please. Every moment? Like when I spend 20 minutes chopping vegetables and then everyone throws their dinner on the floor? Or when bedtime becomes a battlefield? When I’m up at 2 a.m. again? No.
But I will advocate for finding the moments, for living your mamahood with intention and presence. Today I won’t worry about the to-do list. This afternoon I’m going to leave my phone in the other room so I won’t be tempted to mindlessly browse Facebook. Tonight, I’m going to give myself a pedicure and have a glass of wine because I’m still the woman I once was, dammit.
When you find yourself really living your life, the oddest thing happens. You’re still a lint-collector, laundry-doer, bottom-wiper, yes. But you’re also the architect of your day and theirs. Which means you can live those days by embodying that which you already are: the creator of their lives. And also of your own.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy