Wednesday, September 14, 2011

High - Low

Why is it that some days motherhood feels like an out-of-body experience?


One moment I feel that catch in my throat - something so tender I can't find words. The next I'm wanting to lock all my kids in their rooms so I can scream as Ioud as I can in the kitchen.

I am higher than high one second, lower than dirt the next. This might be the one thing mothers and drug addicts have in common. A polarized existence.

Extremes tend to heighten for me when a tax deadline is looming. Doug is burning the midnight oil right now, and when he's not around I have no one to spill to, vent to, share the funnies with, or offload some of the chaos to, and I get a little... crazy.

Does this bi-polar sensation lessen as your kids grow older? Do you find more consistency, more middle ground? Or shall I just chalk these last few days up as hormonal?

Yesterday I was mad as a hornet over a grape fiasco. Writing about it now, I think, Really? It was just grapes. But we have these delicious concord grapes growing in our backyard - so many I don't know what to do with them. (Do you live nearby? Come over and fill a bucket.)

But I didn't want to waste them.


So I decided to make raisins with my mother's dehydrator.

This will be fun, I thought. Everyone can pick grapes, pluck them from the stem, and place them on a tray. That should be easy enough.

Well, the kids fought over the ladder, elbowed for their turn, pushed each other around, and shook the ladder while I tiptoed precariously at the top of it.


So I took our two bowls of grapes and redirected traffic to the front lawn, where I gave every child a tray and a cluster of grapes. Everything was going as planned for a few minutes.


Then our plane took a nose-dive. The boys began stepping on the trays, flipping them over. I tried to play zone defense but they outnumbered me. Sami opted for squashing the grapes between her toes. (Wine press anyone?) And while Ali was walking with her tray towards the house to tell me the girls had strewn grass all over the remaining trays, she tripped. Her grapes shot like musket balls all over the front porch. Total bust.

I was frustrated. I sent two girls to time-out, carried two kicking boys inside, and left Ali crying on the porch. I spent the next forty-five minutes cleaning up grape innerds. This put us an hour behind for dinner. There was some spitting, hitting, and other unbecoming behavior while trying to ready the kids for bed.

My Mom arrived at 9 PM so I could go grocery shopping, but Eliza was still finishing her homework. So by the time I left the house it was 9:30. And at 10:45, I realized I'd locked my keys in the car.

Nothing is quite so irritating as staring at your keys through a locked car window, while your ice cream sandwiches melt in the shopping cart.

Today Spencer fell off the dryer and hit is head. Not because he climbed onto the dryer, but because I put him there (I know. I do have a rationale for this one.) But he fell right after Sami handed me a princess crown and said, "Here Mom. You can be the laundry queen!"

Yeah! Lucky me! I thought. And so appropriate, as I folded and sorted, and folded and sorted.

Some laundry queen I turned out to be. I couldn't even keep my people safe while doing it.

But after looking through a few photos tonight, I realized the highs far outnumber the lows.


When Sami came out of time-out, following the grape massacre, she was rather contrite. And she handed me this picture she had drawn.

"It's a picture of you, Mom" she said. "I even drew your green eyes." She told me she was sorry, then she helped me salvage some of the grapes. I felt my spirit soften and I held her on my lap.


Last Friday, Ali and Sami started preschool. They have the same teachers Eliza did, and I am happy about it.


I never wrote about their Joy School graduation. But here they are. Caps and tassels generously made by Doug because my to-do list had grown too long that day.


One afternoon after playing in the wading pool, the kids gathered around my lawn chair and I read them stories. Gordy refused to take off Ali's goggles. Wrapped in a navy towel, he sat there shivering, and I couldn't help but giggle every time I looked down at him.


My Mom gave me these garden gloves. They are absolutely divine when it comes to digging in the dirt.


So Saturday, while I was kneeling on the grass, working through the last flower bed, I heard Gordy walk up behind me.

"Hi Mama!" he said. Then his small arm slid around my neck and he tilted his head towards mine. With his curls tickling my ear, and our two heads touching he said, "I gi-you hug Mamma." And he stood there while I hugged him back. Then he touched my arm and held onto me for a few more seconds. It was love. Purely given. And it floated me along the rest of the day.


Finding Spencer in the clothes hamper - a common occurrence


Or snuggled into Eliza's arms. She likes to be the first to wake the boys from their naps.


Saturday morning, before Doug left for work, I caught these photos of him dancing with Ali. I wish they were better, but I didn't have time to fiddle with the camera. They were dancing to this song, and Doug was twirling Ali in a circle. I couldn't look away - couldn't ignore the sudden emotion I felt as I heard her dizzy laugh, saw her glowing smile. She needs him, more than most of my children.


The energy between the two was palpable as she kicked her head back and let Doug blow on her face. He was all hers for those few moments and I could have watched them a long, long time.


Then today, I came home from an errand to find this gift on my porch. It was tied with tulle and wrapped in this darling heart paper that Sami promptly made into an envelope for a friend.

It was from a woman I've been called to care for. Her name is Mary, and I am her visiting teacher.

But today, I was the one looked after. Mary's gift came on the down-swing of all those lows I mentioned, and her kind words, her expression of love, swung me quickly to the other side.

How did she know I wanted to start a gratitude journal? How did she know I need this new approach for examining my life? How did she know the date is set, I have a plan, and I will share it with you when I start?

She didn't. But her note made me feel like someone did.

Highs and lows. They are bound together. A somewhat unlikely companionship, but without each other, they would lose their meaning.

And so would I.


  1. Your words so often touch my heart when I've let it get a little too hardened. Thanks, Cath! I'd better work on the gratitude, I think. Gratitude almost always works wonders.

  2. Totally hear ya. I have to laugh at myself when I scream at the top of my lungs, "STOP YELLING!" Oh, the irony.

  3. Your post came at the right time. Thank you for reminding me about gratitude.

  4. to be blessed...
    is to belong to you. xox

  5. what Cristie said. you are amazing! thanks for sharing your beautiful and full world!!

  6. mothers and drug addicts, yep we are in this together.

    I loved this post. Thank you for writing it and putting into words so well what we are all going through. It feels like a relief to read about my life through someone else's experience.

  7. So eloquent. "A somewhat unlikely companionship, but without each other, they would lose their meaning." I really appreciate your insights and you taking the time to put words to them.

    Those pics of Doug and Ali together are so precious. What a lucky girl to have her daddy adore her like that!

    I really hope that you can have refreshment and renewal in bits and pieces while Doug's working so much. I hate when my husband gets really busy at work. During those crazy times, I order pizza far more often than I'd like to admit. Is it really bad that I have both Domino's and Papa John's numbers memorized? Hahaha.

    Little Gordy's hug. I loved the retelling of it. Those little sweet, affectionate gestures are golden. During one of his sick days, my Chris pretended to play a guitar while he belted out, "I'm so glad to be home with my sweet, sweet, SWEET mommmmm!!!". I just wanted to capture all that enthusiastic love in a bottle.

    Can't wait to hear about your gratitude journal. What a beautiful gift. Those pages will be filled with so many pearls and jewels.

    Love to you as you ride this roller coaster called motherhood. What a beautiful job you're doing.

  8. I love how well you capture life. I'd say it's all hormonal....when my boys act exactly like you described I can handle it when the month is normal, and I flip when it's not. So I say it will get better, but the challenges will change so the love you are giving and capturing now will be remembered for forever. I love you and you inspire me to do more. Love you,

  9. Kerri - I'm with you. Gratitude does work wonders. I need to make it a bigger piece of my life. Love to you and yours.

    Shirlee - "Oh the irony." lol. Thanks for being so real. The thought of watching an instant replay of my life sometimes terrifies me. We miss you guys.

    Knit, Knit2 - I am finding gratitude to be cleansing, healing, and lifting in so many ways. Thanks for reading friend.

    Cristie - those few words meant so much to me. I love you dearly.

    Melissa - I am lonesome for you. Will I see you in October?

    Kristen - Not the best comparison - mothers and drug addicts - but in that way we can relate with each other, yes? I've been remiss the last week in reading about your life. I will be over soon. xoxo

    Anne Marie - Grace, empathy, and understanding flow from you. All the time. I wish I knew your secret. And the fact that you have Domino's number memorized makes me feel SO much better! I laughed over that one. As the weeks stretch long and Doug has to work late, I find myself making mac and cheese and stopping for fast food way more than I want to! It's a season, I keep telling myself. I want to ask you a few questions, but I'll email you next week. Have a lovely, restful weekend. xoxo

    Bec - I think you're right. Definitely hormonal. But I still reel over the fact that (hormones or not) we can feel such disparity of emotions within minutes! Wild. Thanks for reading Bec. I'm not sure you know how much I appreciate your comments. Thank you. I love you.

  10. I don't know how you do it! I just don't attempt that kind of project until Jonathan is napping and Caroline is off to school. You definitely have a hard job and handle it well. Your kids are so lucky to have a mother like you!

  11. Cath, so much love to you. I'd love to be in touch soon. This is truly a season for you. I don't know if I EVER made anything for dinner besides hot dogs and pancakes for a very long time after having my twins. And, I truly, truly mean that. At some point, the season passed, and now, I'm making homemade bread a few times a week (a pipe dream for so long). Be gentle with yourself. We are all entitled to losing it once in a while. This week I had my own "witch" night...thankfully only my husband heard the things I was muttering under my breath as I stormed around the kitchen:) Then it passed, and it all seemed so silly. And tomorrow was a new day with no mistakes in it (love Anne of Green Gables). xoxoxo

  12. Every time my kids get hurt I feel AWFUL, sick to my stomach for days. And some incidents can haunt me years later if I think of them - even the near misses. Every single incident I attribute to my failure as their mother. That my #1 job is to keep them safe. How could I have looked away for that second? What made me think it was OK for them to be doing that? Why did I put them on the washing machine or counter or whatever? Anyway, I thought you should know that if you're feeling any all consuming, awful guilt then you're not alone!

  13. Meesh - Lesson learned. Maybe we'll try again next summer! ;) Can't wait to see you in October.

    Anne Marie - Home made bread - yes, a pipe dream... I bet your boys are loving that smell in your home! It's a comfort to share our "witchy" moments. Yes, "tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it." Love Anne. I'll email soon.

    Anon - You are kind. Thank goodness for grace, and tomorrows, and the desire to do better. Yes?

  14. Hello, I found your blog through Power of Moms, and I just had to ask. Is this Mary P? Who lived in Auckland, New Zealand a few years ago? I recognise her handwriting, and such a gift would be just so typically Mary. I was in her ward while she lived here, and she is one of my favourite people. If it's a different Mary, just ignore this random comment, and be happy in the knowledge that there's a wonderful woman called Mary in the world ;-)I love your blog and your writing.

    1. Dear Kelly - Yes, it is Mary P!! She was just called as our new Relief Society President here. She is a gem. I adore her immensely. How lucky for you to have her in Auckland with you for a time. And isn't the church small, in a sense? Funny enough, my husband's parents are now in Auckland as public affairs directors for the church and we're hoping to visit in late Nov/early Dec. Maybe we will see you at church!? Which ward do you attend? Thanks for leaving a note. Love Blessings to you.


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