These are the words I have found myself speaking over and over in my head: the bills. The chores. The driving. The working. The hustle and bustle of each day. They can often seem never-ending.
Sometimes, like the other day while loading the dishwasher, I even let the actual words slip out of my mouth. “It never ends.” As I uttered those three small words so effortlessly, they echoed in my ears. It was almost as if the words were on repeat. Because, the truth is, the words are an accurate reflection of how I’ve been feeling on a regular basis lately. I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m overwhelmed. I feel each and every syllable of this phrase, as I try to jam a cup into the top rack in between seven others. As my adult son walks by, I say the words out loud and he hears them; and this time, as they come out of my mouth, I am stopped in my tracks. This time, I feel the weight of these words deep within my aching heart.
As I watch my tall, handsome, sweet, funny, 19-year-old son walk through the room, I am reminded of my other amazing boy who never got to be 19.
Suddenly, I was shaken by my own heartbreaking reality that, sometimes, it does end.
It ended for my sweet son. Life as we know it here—well, it did end. Without warning and without my permission. I’ll actually never get to wash another one of his dishes or pick his dirty clothes up off of the bathroom floor. I’ll never get to remind him to put on his deodorant or not to forget to wear his glasses. I’ll never get to blow up his cell phone or have a heartfelt conversation with him. I’ll never get to deal with his moods swings or his backtalk or his constant need to have the last word. I’ll never get to do any of the things that come along with loving and serving your child. Not on this side of heaven, anyway. And that hurts.
But, I get to do all of these things for my other three children. I needed this reminder … that it is a privilege to get to “do the things”: the things that can feel so unappealing and mundane in the moment, the things that make us want to scream and pull our hair out, the things that are so redundant and repetitious that even broken records have nothing on the motions of parenting that we perform every day, over and over and over again.
I don’t have to—I get to.
I would give anything to have my oldest son here—loving me, annoying me, hugging me, last-wording me, and driving me absolutely crazy—to have more loads of laundry to wash and one more mouth to feed. Because, so often, this is what parenthood looks like—a heaping pile of dirty, smelly laundry and a sink overflowing with dishes. It is the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, the quiet and the crazy, all coexisting to make up the most precious moments that go by way too fast.
“Don’t blink. It goes by so fast.” This is what so many people used to say to me when I was 23 and had four children ages six and under. I didn’t believe it when I was up with a 10-month-old who had his days and nights mixed up. I didn’t believe it when I was racing to get them all ready for Sunday church and fighting the three-year-old who “didn’t want to wear button shirts to church.” I didn’t believe it when I was desperate to get my three-year-old potty-trained, because having three in diapers was both expensive and exhausting. I didn’t believe it because some of the days felt so long. They still do, sometimes. But, now I know that those people were right. Time does fly, whether you’re having fun or not.
But, we get to.
We get to partake in the highest calling that is motherhood. For every hard day, there are a hundred amazing days.
I needed this reminder. Yes, me. The woman who has experienced the deepest of losses, a firstborn son entering the prime of his life. The one who still yearns for him to be present. The same one who swore she would never take another moment for granted ever again. That woman still needed to be reminded. Because, despite suffering the most torturous grief, she still experiences moments of deep frustration and sometimes forgets to remember how beautiful life is. She is still a mom who yells at her children and misses it from time to time, and she needed this reminder, and maybe you did, too. Maybe you needed to know that you are not alone. You are equipped. You are called. You are made to be their mother, and even when you screw up—when you miss the boat, you still get to do this beautiful thing called life.
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life where Shannon shares more of her story: What I Learned From Making the Hardest Choice with Shannon Barbosa – 110