Dearest little one…
You ask me to play but I need you to wait. I'm working.
Do I work, you ask?
Of course I do.
I am working. Every day.
Are you watching?
What do you see?
Do you see me taking care of your brother? Changing his diaper? Wiping his face? Holding him late into the day?
That is me showing you how to love others. It is me showing you how I first loved you. It is my model of doing what is gross because it needs to get done. It is giving love to someone the way I want you to love others. The kind of love you give when you don’t know what else to offer.
Do you see me washing the dishes, folding the laundry, sorting the piles and piles and piles of shtuff?
That is me doing what I’m not very good at, what doesn’t come naturally for me, what I look for every excuse to avoid, but do it anyway. Not very often. So rarely that when I do the dog assumes (usually accurately) we are expecting company. But I still try. We both do, your dad and I. Together we do our best to live comfortably in this home and show you how to care for our space.
Do you see me running? Do you see me dropping you off in childcare to catch a yoga class? Do you see me eating this apple and not that cookie?
That is me doing my best to make healthy choices. That is me knowing that taking care of my body is how I plan on staying active long enough to chase YOUR children around someday.
Do you see me staring at my phone, at my computer, out the window, at nothing at all?
That is me working and thinking, little one. That is me reading an email, responding to a text, asking for help. That is me rewording a blog post, practicing my art, challenging my mind and sharing this with the world. That is me making a to-do list, pondering how I can do this better, praying to God above to bring this long day to a close. And sometimes, that is just me connecting to friends, to colleagues, to my mom, to someone, anyone, who will be the adult connection that is lacking in this parent-child dialogue we share.
What about when I do sit down and play with you? What about that game we made it or the story I read or when I pretend to eat your playdoh sandwhich.
That is my work too. I am teaching and guiding and raising and shining. Because play can be work too.
All of these tasks you see me doing, some big, some small, some important, some not, some for you and some for others, all of this you see is me doing my work, the work that I am called to do today, in this season. You are my work. Our family is my work. Our neighbors, our church, our school, our friends, they are all my work.
There is no order of importance. I am not putting you first and me second. Me first, you second. Your dad first, all of you second, mom third. Jesus first coffee second.
That is not what you should see.
Instead you should see all of this side by side by side.
Jesus BESIDE me BESIDE you BESIDE laundry BESIDE marriage BESIDE coffee BESIDE school BESIDE church BESIDE playing BESIDE breathing.
A little here a little there. More here less there. In and out. Up and down. Weaving, making room, finding the cracks. Filling up. Letting go. Balancing it all day after day after life fulfilling day.
So yes, my dear one. Your Mama works. All mamas work. Side by side, ALL of these tasks, this is Mama working. Just watch and you'll see. I'm showing you, in the best way I know how, all the ways we can be called to work.
And also doing my best to find more grace and less guilt in this thing called work.