I have considered a blog several times over the past couple of years but never felt focused or inspired to explore a specific theme. Motherhood has challenged me to think differently about the ways women connect with, teach, and learn from one another. From the early days of nursing, I began to sense glimpses of God’s nurturing, maternal ways with humanity. One day this week, all of these thoughts and insights somehow merged and inspired a blog. So here we go.
My husband has been out-of-town for work this week, and that means I have been alone with a two year-old for many days. Nine, in fact. On night four, my son got in bed with me at about 2:30 a.m. We managed to get a little rest before breakfast time. As the coffee was brewing in the kitchen, I went downstairs to the basement to move clothes from the washer to the dryer. The load of whites was pink. Inadvertently, I threw a red pillow cover in with the whites. And they weren’t just regular whites, they were whites with color.
Frozen in the basement, my son came downstairs to look for me. He’s learning to use the potty and was wearing cute frog underwear with his pajama shirt. I called my mother and grandmother to ask for advice and waited as my grandmother decided how I should proceed. Meanwhile, my son forgot about the underwear and went poop on the basement steps. I cleaned up the mess and the boy, listened to my grandmother again, then went back upstairs to begin the laundry rescue.
I slowly soaked the pink-whites in the kitchen sink with a little bleach. I chose items I cared for the least as my test cases. The colored parts–blue toes on socks, green trim on washcloths–all began to fade. I had to use more water, and that meant the pink just wouldn’t come out. I decided to leave the second batch for a while to test what time would do.
This was Tuesday. The only day of the week scheduled to be warm and sunny, so I knew I needed to take advantage of the weather to get things done. I dressed the two of us, we looked good. We grabbed our things, loaded the car, but the car wouldn’t start. Grinding noise, but no ignition.
We are fortunate to have a great mechanic in our church, so I called him immediately. The only option was to have the car towed to his shop, so I did. I did not panic. I made a healthy lunch, we ate our food, and then the tow truck arrived to carry the Subaru away.
By then it was nap time. My two year-old has also decided he does not want naps this week. Instead, he takes all of his clothes off. I went in every 30 minutes to redress him and put him back to bed. This went on for two hours. No nap.
Meanwhile, ants have taken over our home as they flee the rain outside. Striving always to be the great mother, I had attempted various all-natural remedies to chase the ants away. In between fighting the no-napper, I fought the ants. Then I took the poopy items from earlier outside to hose them off. By 4:00 p.m. I was tired and also had a tired, grumpy child.
I was scheduled to attend an important meeting at church that night but no longer had transportation. I called the team leader for the night’s meeting to tell her why I’d not be in attendance. As I recounted the day’s events to her, pink laundry-poopy steps-ants-no nap-bad car-no hubby, I almost fell down the basement stairs. The woman on the other end of the line, a true friend, said, “You need to stop.” It was something of a mom voice–the kind rooted in wisdom that hears and sees deeply. “You need to take a deep breath,” she continued. “Let that one out and take another breath.” I burst into tears. I don’t remember quite how she put this part. Something like, “That’s exactly what you need to do. Let all of those toxins out of your body.”
Another call beeped in. It was the shop. The verdict on the car…it started at the shop on the first try. The engine was flooded, but there was no clear reason why. Lesson learned: try to start the car again before the tow truck takes it away. Cost: $77.50.
I got off the phone and locked myself in the bathroom until I was calm again. I heard scooping and pouring going on not far away. My son was emptying most of the cat food into a bowl of water, rendering it useless. I heard the great mother’s voice, though, and took a deep breath. We gathered the mess and tossed it into the yard. I came back to find nine puzzles all scattered together in the living room and took a deep breath. We sat down slowly and quietly to put all the pieces back together again.
Later that day I had the opportunity to sit and read from a daybook I quite enjoy. In the day’s entry were these words:
“Though we are grown, we never outgrow the need for someone special to hold us close, stroke our hair, tuck us into bed, and reassure us that tomorrow all will be well. Perhaps we need to reacquaint ourselves consciously with the maternal and deeply comforting dimension of Divinity in order to learn how to mother ourselves.”
–Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance
My hope for this writing experiment is to give regular thought to mothering ways and how those ways connect us to the Divine. What are the daily lessons of motherhood? How do women nurture one another? As Breathnach challenges, how might we mother ourselves? I am listening for the voice of the great mother.