Like books, down pillows, encouraging podcasts, bear hugs from Andrew, bone broth, and a sometimes that big glass red wine at the end of a long day, music is a balm to my soul. It’s a thick salve that heals and helps and gives hope. It’s a marker of time, a finish line, and a dance party in the making. It’s one of my essentials, the sound of music, and a seasonal marker. It’s good company, too.
I do believe I have mentioned this before, although perhaps not as much as I have mentioned my love for mothering and my staying home with our kids, but there there is absolutely another side of the coin of staying home all day and being the caregiver for little ones whose needs are unrelenting. This side, the challenging one, is not always shared on social media.
Let me shout a resounding “YES!” that the deliciously good outweighs the difficult ten-fold, but that doesn’t mean it erases it. Parents of small children who are in this season alongside me, I know you feel it too. That yes, there are hard days, easier ones, afternoons that are unbearably quiet, mornings that hurt ears, nights that can drag on, moments that bless, minutes that can be strangely lonely, times you want to bottle up and preserve like the way the sun shines on their fine hair, and then there are strings of hours that ultimately require more than I as a person am able to give. Sometimes I feel this all at once, but probably it’s more like I feel this all at once all of the time. Sometimes it stings. Sometimes it feels empty. Sometimes it overflows my cup. Sometimes it feels overwhelmingly close. Other times, it’s feels like a distant like a bird on top of a barn. It’s really difficult to explain (especially to strangers) what it’s like mothering small children without seeming like I don’t appreciate my role or my family, but I think that’s because we live in a “I’m fine! Good vibes only!” society. I do appreciate them more than anything else, but in light of honesty, I happen to be very happy and also very drained. And I don’t think a nap or a vacation will fix it. And I also think it’s okay to say that.
Parenting is all over the place. Like our weather in the Midwest, nothing is predictable nor consistent. It’s like you smell your baby, and miss them when they nap, and then cry because you can’t shower alone so you don’t, and then you cry again because of the guilt because someone just told you that it’s all meant to be enjoyed, and you know that already but you know that it’s also just really hard. Tell me you have these days too. Tell me, that even though you are never alone, that you are never not being touched or sat on, you sometimes feel like there’s no one else out there who gets it…like everyone in the world is moving all around doing things to keep it moving, and you’re trying to figure out where the heck you fit into that or even if you want to?
Tell me that even though you are content and love staying home, you could really use a little something to pick you up and hold you for a moment during your day. Something perhaps, to shine like a lantern in a cave. Tell me I am not the only one who could use a long phone call with a dear friend, or a mug of hot tea in bed, or just fifteen minutes of yoga solo. Together, let’s encourage and embrace the things that help us rise up and seek joy in the mess of our days. There is magic in the mundane, but we like anyone else must cultivate that magic like the work it is an engage in the little things that make us smile. What a courageous and beautiful way to live, I think.
And because I’ve said it before, you know this too: I wouldn’t want any other life, nor do I want this phases of mothering babies to skip pages like a book in the wind. However, because I am “in it” so to speak, I think it’s healthy to acknowledge and share mothering with all of it’s chapters, not just highlight the feel-good ones. I also know enough about myself in this point in my life to know that I need a few things to help me through it, music being one of them.
Like most of you, sounds of the holiday are a staple in our home right now. From the time I wake up, throughout the day and into supper, I’ve always got something playing around the house that makes things flow more smoothly. It’s like a little escape, something that’s just mine. I’ve put together a playlist to take us into Christmas and thereafter. I am sure by now you are tired of many of the traditional holiday tunes out there, so I’ve created a playlist that leans more towards the folksy side. It’s really beautiful and I hope it shines a light and spreads holiday cheer in your home. And remember parents, it’s okay and healthy even to say that it’s hard. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at once and to not fall back on the passive “I’m fine!” when someone asks you how you truly are.