“Mommy,” “Mama,” “Ma” – these few words echo through our home so many times a day it would be a challenge to count. “Mama” is the most popular version, and for some reason, perhaps because I grew up in the south, I prefer that one. It just feels right.
My daughters are still quite young, 4 and 6, so “mom” hasn’t really entered their vernacular, which is fine by me. It feels as though “mama” being dropped in exchange for “mom” would symbolize my children being too grown-up. I’m not ready for that yet. I want to cherish them being little for as long as possible.
I stumbled upon this poem recently, “Song for a Fifth Child” by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, and I think all moms should read it. It goes like this:
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
I love that. How many times have I looked at my house, the mess, the toys scattered around, the crumbs under the dining room table (that I just swept yesterday) and felt frustrated, tired, and like I will never catch up? It happens so often, that feeling, that guilt that my house isn’t “all together” that I can forget that I have the precious present of these little ones in my home, and that this season will not last forever.
I’m trying to slow down. Take a deep breath. Enjoy their little faces, their laughs, their messes – okay, maybe not their messes – but having them around means having messes, and it’s life. And it’s okay.
The tension and struggle of wanting a clean, together, perfectly decorated house even while having these two precious kids scattering things about will still exist. And there will be moments when I lose my cool and regret it later. But I’m trying. Little things like this poem, and The Mother Letters book, help me remember to take a deep breath and give myself, and my children, some grace.
We can all use more grace.
Have you heard of The Mother Letters? It’s an e-book available as a PDF and e-reader book, and it is beautiful. It started as an idea from a husband as an encouragement to his wife, who he knew was struggling with the same question all mothers ask themselves – “Am I doing this right?” He compiled letters from mothers, to mothers, to present to her.
The project had such a wonderful response that it ended up as a book, and it also includes some beautiful art you can download that features encouraging words from the letters themselves.
These are some of my favorites.
To all you “mamas” out there – next time you start feeling overwhelmed, I hope you will give yourself more grace, and go love on those babies – because they truly don’t “keep.”