I have four kids, six and under and I homeschool. I'm fairly certain that people think I'm crazy for homeschooling...and I am. It's something I wasn't sure I'd do permanently. And I'm grappling with the realization it might end sooner than later. But, right now, all of my children are home. All the time. As I watch the school children walk to the bus stop out of my back door every morning, I'm gently reminding mine to go get ready. Those mothers' houses get quiet and less chaotic, and ours is just getting moreso because of that morning homeschool/baby-filled rush. As their children board the bus, those moms are readying to leave to run errands alone or with fewer in tow. I'm feeding a baby, pouring cereal for the toddler and preschooler, and calling to my first grader to check on progress as she readies for the day. The baby screams for food, I'm wondering where I left my coffee again, and turn to see the middle two finally sitting down to eat.
I sit and think sometimes about all the things they can do. Work out uninterrupted. I struggle to find 20 minutes in the day to add that habit back in. Go grocery shopping and not worry about the Commissary closing. I'm usually there at 6:30 in the evening, doing a Supermarket Sweeps run, nodding to the guy who's reminding me all the check out lanes are getting ready to close. Inevitably, I forget five things. I'm not brave enough to take my four grocery shopping. The other moms join clubs, volunteer. Meanwhile, I'm saying no. Childcare is hard to come by at these events, my homeschooler has "aged out" of them, and I struggled to find a babysitter. Especially one who will watch four young children. So, I say no. Again and again. And it's lonely and hard.
Motherhood is lonely and hard. I have been pondering a lot on that lately. A dear friend of mine recently responded to a text of mine asking for advice saying it perfectly: "This mothering gig is hard. So hard." Oh, yes. It is. As much as we love to be surrounded by our people, mothering is difficult and isolating. And it's easy, I think, to look at mothers in a different season and envy the silence and hard earned free time. Every time I sit down, someone is demanding my attention. Even during "quiet" time. In any given moment, someone is asking me to rock them, another asking for some quality time, and then there's the trouble maker two year old who's quietly causing mass destruction in my wake. I've been burnt out lately. Lonely lately. Terribly lonely.
But, I had a thought today. As I sat on my porch staring off into the distance, I wondered something. I know some of those mothers look at my life and miss it. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. My life is full. Many people ask if we will have more, are we pregnant. (Oh, goodness. Let me get a handle on my life with four!) I am still adjusting to my newly expanded family. It's loud, hectic, trying, and busy. It's messy.
But it's beautiful. And sometimes I forget that.
Those mothers have quiet and calm and time for themselves. And oh, how wonderful. But, I still have tiny feet pattering through my house. Oh, how I will miss that patter someday. I have four children who are desperate to spend time with me. Imagine that. Four people who desire my company. Who yearn for my approval and attention. Oh, how I will miss that yearning someday. I have four people who are seeing the world for the first time through excited, innocent eyes. And I get to witness that! Oh, how I will miss that fresh excitement someday. I get to sit down with my daughter and teach her everyday. I taught her to read! That is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Oh, I will miss teaching her one day.
As hard as this time is, as busy and sometimes stressful, I want to remember that someday I will miss it. I will miss holding tiny ones in my arms, even in if they are screaming and fighting sleep. I will miss the pattering of little feet, even if it is into my shower where I am desperate for five minutes alone. I will miss the exposure to all things new, even if they demand to share it with me while I am finally answering emails received days ago. I will miss teaching her, even if it's while attending to the baby who refuses to nap--again.
Because it goes so fast. I will blink and they will be gone. And the tough times will be over. The sleepless nights, the gracious but aching no to another activity or meet up. The missed workouts, the epic meltdowns at church or the store. But those tough times are laced with beauty too. I must not forget that. And for every tough moment, every missed opportunity, there is a greater blessing. For every time a dream or vision of my life that changes abruptly, there is bigger beauty. There, in front of my eyes are four--four--tiny people who just want my heart. Who just want me.
They want me! They patter, clamor, call, cry for me. And someday, they will be gone. In school perhaps. Or off living their own lives. And my house will be quiet. My life less chaotic. There will be beauty there, too.
But there will be no tiny people.