In the thick of it

You might cry, at nine o’clock pm on a Saturday night when you’re cleaning the last bathroom and your man comes in and finds you. “Hey, hard workin lady,” he says gently, and holds you.

You might cry then, though you’ve been strong all day. They’re in bed now.

It’s not so much that you mind cleaning the house in the dark and quiet, it’s just that you’re so flat tired. You don’t know how it happened, but somehow the second week of the twins’ life with you coincided with the first week of summer vacation, and the birth of four goats, and the mail delivery of twenty-one newborn chicks. It didn’t help that you had sick babies all week, and three lengthy doctor’s appointments in there. It doesn’t help that you’re ten weeks pregnant.

There is no part of your life you would dispense with, not for worlds. It’s just that you’re so flat tired.

You say you forgot what it was like, being in the thick of mothering toddlers, but you’ve never quite been here before. There’ve never been so many small people dependent on you for life and happiness, so many piles of laundry, so many poopy diapers. There’s a perpetual explosion of toys all over your floor, but it’s not only toys, it’s also the whisk attachment from the Kitchen Aid, the expensive phone they know they’re not supposed to have, somebody’s socks, the latest issue of National Geographic for Kids, the foot pedal of your sewing machine, and fifteen Kleenexes pulled from the box. The mess from a single lunchtime looks like this, when you broom it up.

food on floor_1874

You forgot the brain-numbing aloneness, and the blessed relief of a friend’s face at your door, with a box of donuts and enough warm jackets for the twins, in just the right sizes. It hasn’t really been that long since you interacted with other adults, but sometimes you’re afraid you’re forgetting how. Could you even have a normal conversation anymore? Do you remember the rules? Speech these days comes in short bursts, disjointed praises and commands.

Good job, baby!
Yay!
Honey, please don’t slam the door.
Thank you for helping me, son.
Oh no-no, don’t eat that!
Give Mommy a kiss…
Can you put away your own laundry?

Every part of your body—your dish-soapy hands, your sniffly-allergic nose, your strong feet, your growing belly—gives thanks to Jesus for His gifts.

Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you.

But you make a lot of mistakes, and you have to pray for grace and forgiveness. You lose your temper and you drop out of communication with people, and you nag your husband too much about a thing that really doesn’t matter.

You begin to take an absurd joy in the smallest achievements—getting one section of the kitchen floor swept clean, folding a shirt smooth and straight, killing that fly.

You’re going to make it. You can feel it in your body—you have enough for these kiddos, and for the one growing inside you. Enough food, enough love, enough body fat. After the crying is done, you sit on the stoop with your husband in the cool evening air, and refresh yourself with strawberries, and garden tea, and ten minutes of quiet talk under the stars. And then you go to bed and sleep in peace.

Tomorrow is new. You’re going to be okay.

*****

I wrote this in second person, because that is the voice in which I heard it in my head. “You” won’t identify with all of it, but which parts ring true?

32 thoughts on “In the thick of it

  1. Twin moms are real moms. The FLOOR after LUNCH. No longer able to keep an adult conversation. LONELINESS in the crowd at home. Multiple doctor visits a week. Children sick all week. Yep. Very relatable. How about getting up at night and drinking three glasses of water while you are up because you ignore your thirst during the day. Keep serving Jesus.

    • I must edit this… “Real mom” as in”honest mom”. and still doesn’t cut what I mean. 🙁 I get a taste of what blogging is like. Often they have a calm undertone of humility in inadequacy but other factors can also bring this into a mom.

      And I hope you get enough to eat. It’s hard to want to pull something out when you know you will have a cloud of enthusiastic witnesses.:)

      • It’s alright. I think I get it. There are different ways Jesus coaxes his daughters into humility and reality–raising twins is one of them. 🙂

        I sneak food pretty often. That made me smile.

      • “It’s hard to want to pull something out when you know you will have a cloud of enthusiastic witnesses.”
        That, friends, is why I’m thankful for a walk-in pantry. With a door.

        • I thought I was the only one who was guilty of holing up in the basement pigging out on mixed nuts, straight from the jar, hoping that nothing was stuck on my teeth when the children saw me.

          I’m not selfish, really. It is just that my husband says that I stay so busy feeding my family during meals that I don’t consume enough calories myself.
          Gina

  2. The tired, the crying, the absurd joy at small accomplishments, forgetting normal conversation rules, losing your cool. All so familiar. And I’ve only had two children. And no animals.
    Grace to you. May you find enough still moments and love to keep the strength growing in your soul and body.

  3. I am praying for you. I remember what it what it was like with loads of little ones. Now we just have lots of kiddos, but my big ones are old enough to be real help (we foster children & have three extras at the moment). I am reremembering what it is like having a toddler around – but only one at the moment….well until the next phone call 🙂
    Have a wonderful day & don’t be hard on yourself if your home is not perfect. What you are doing is amazing – nurturing & loving & guiding souls that last for eternity (as well as growing another little soul)!!
    God bless you!!
    Renata:)

  4. I remember telling Andrew about the only visible, measurable gain that happened in my day, the ironing of two shirts. I am not sure, but it it seems to me that nurturing the helpless takes more fortitude than just about anything else. But it is a safe and secure place to be, so in tandem with Jesus and His care for people. Blessings, Shari!
    Jolynn

  5. I got ready to journal in response to your writing, then was interrupted by a boy coming downstairs with a book for me to read. You are so good at writing about your own experience in a way that calls others to ponder their own.

    It can feel like it’s 4 against one at my house. 4 people loaded with energy, creativity, curiosity, and messiness against one Momma who is no match. i can feel like all I do is go in circles with little to show for it.

    “one day at a time, sweet Jesus”

  6. My absolute favorite part: ‘There is no part of your life you would dispense with, not for worlds. It’s just that your so flat tired.”
    As a foster mom as well, I love hearing your heart. Keep on, brave weary mama!
    Kendra

  7. I could identify with everything except for the livestock aspects, which could easily be subbed out for other aspects. That particular era has been gently replaced by another with a somewhat different set of responsibilities and stresses, but one thing remains the same; I can be perfectly okay INDEFINITELY until my husband asks me if I am.
    You’re doing a good job! And the rewards are sweet, so sweep that corner of the floor, celebrate the triumph, and do the victory dance…or shuffle, depending how many weeks along you are at the time.

  8. Well. I think that I identify with nearly everything at least at one stage or another in my life. Truly though, twins have to compound the issues (good and bad), especially when you didn’t have 9 months to mentally and physically prepare for them.

    Your grateful spirit is beautiful.

    Much grace to you today.

  9. “Ten minutes of quiet talk under the stars”. That’s the part I get. Ten minutes is often all it takes. You just keep motoring on, my dear. Jesus and you… you’re doing a great job.

  10. I can relate to so much of this. Bless you for doing what you’re called to do, and for being grateful for it. 🙂 And for actually sweeping that kitchen floor right after lunch. (Mine hasn’t been done since…let’s see, Sunday night. 🙂

  11. I have one daughter, but she is quite enough. I can relate to everything except the livestock and a husbands arms around me. I don’t have a husband, so there is nowhere for me to turn but Jesus. Keep going, You are not alone.

  12. We did respite for a few days this weekend, which meant we had children ages 1, 1, 2 and 5. Then we got a call at midnight asking if we could take a sibling age 7, who was being removed from the home that night. Son age 5 (who is not yet to be trusted with TP) spent Saturday running to the potty to poo every 15 minute for several hours, and all the littles were in diapers. In a moment of clarity I had an astonishing thought—I am the person responsible for SIX PEOPLE’S POO!

    It’s that kind of responsibility that makes you weary.

    In the moments when they all cry or disobey or spill things at once, I have learned that the worst moments generally don’t last more than about five or ten minutes. I can do that.

  13. this: “There is no part of your life you would dispense with, not for worlds. It’s just that you’re so flat tired.”

  14. Enjoyed this post! I am a mom to a three year old boy n twin girls 20 mon.. ( tired :)) ps were you at my house to take the picture of the floor looks so familiar!

  15. So well put! What is it about a man’s tenderness that breaks through all the resolves to be strong?! Thank God for them, and for the little ones that add so much to our lives, in innumerable ways! Blessings to you! I’ve always admired families who provide homes to hurting children, because I know it involves sacrifice. And the floor pic looks ever so familiar…!

  16. Loved this so much. You’re doing a great job as you do with so many things! We love you and are praying for you guys.

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  18. I think you are brave! Your use of the second person reminded me of how Karen Blixen uses it in Out of Africa to describe something of a universal response/emotion.

  19. Shari, you described perfectly the juxtaposition of “this is what I’ve dreamed of and prayed for,” and “I’m not sure I have the physical and mental strength to handle these blessings.” I have no children running around yet, but the combination of a 6-weeks-to-go expectant body and 1/2 acre of strawberries to pick with my husband make this post very relatable. Blessings to you and all your little people.

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