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Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve been trying to write a Mother’s Day post for three days now, locking myself in my office when Brett gets home and declaring, as the kids pass their perfectly capable father to come bang on the door to ask ME to get them a drink/sign their homework folder/explain why fish don’t have butts, “ASK DADDY! MOMMY’S WORKING! IT’S HIS TURN!” There’s a special tone of voice I’ve reserved for these moments, of course–mommish enough to pass as directed toward the kids but clearly intended for Brett.

Read between the lines: “Dear God, intervene already.”

Intervention is difficult though when Nella’s already lying on the floor, sliding her fingers under the door, crying, “Mommy, do you see me?” Because there’s only one way to answer that question in motherhood, and it is always “Yes.” I always see you. In my office, in my bathtub, in my sleep.

I managed to slip away to take a long shower tonight while Brett watched the kids play in the pool, but right as I went to lather my shampoo, I heard them coming…all of them. “We’re cold, can we get in the shower with you?” A minute later, I was crammed against the back corner tile, fighting for an eighth of the water stream while three kids in bathing suits drew pictures on the fogged-up shower doors–a cat, a bunny, a snake that slowly disappeared with more steam–and I tried to figure out how to rinse my hair with my tiny share of the shower head.

It is hard to find the place where they end and I begin, and while I thought I’d find it in the shower tonight but failed, there is always one place where the lines feel strangely clear–at an airport bar when traveling alone. My friend Claire and I have talked about this before, and so she sends me a photo a couple weeks ago, no explanation needed–a half-finished mimosa on a table in front of a window overlooking the runway and a stretch of planes against a cold gray sky.

“Ahh, I love it. I know that feeling,” I text back.

“I know you do. I took this photo specifically for you.”

It’s the one definitive place between two worlds and two people, and whether I’m departing to adventure away from them or excitedly coming home to get back to them, the airport bar scene is always accompanied by this electric energy and deep thoughts for me, heightened, of course, by the faint buzz of an airport beer. It’s where my intertwined identities separate for a moment, hover above like little spirits, and acknowledge each other:

“Oh hey, adventurous one that dwells within. I see you.”
“Hi, Mom. Nice to get a break, huh? You’re doing a good job, by the way. Fun working with you.”
“Hey–in case we don’t get this opportunity again for a while, I need to tell you this: I love them, but I love you too.”
“Don’t worry, I get it. And for the record, I love them too.”

And then they hug and get all tangled up again as I reach for my phone to find that picture of all three kids sleeping in my bed, the one where Lainey’s arm is tucked into Nella’s, and Dash is hogging half the bed. And I feel electric again–because nothing feels more electric than loving them.

I find it necessary to honor the part of me that is just me–to take quiet runs alone, say no to opening the office door sometimes, say yes to those trips that take me away, explore hobbies and talents and desires outside of my kids. I do it for myself, but I do it for them too–because it’s too much pressure on them to be linked to my every happiness, and I want them to find themselves outside of me as well.

But mostly, I lean in to the entanglement of it all, especially during this phase of our lives–to lean in to the fact that listening to the adventurous one that dwells within often means inviting Lainey to join me on a run, or scooting my magazines off the edge of the bathtub so Dash can climb in with me, or pausing work on the computer so Nella can sit in my lap and tell me what songs she wants me to play on Spotify.

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She wants Justin Bieber who lures the other two in, and they’re soon laughing and dancing and shouting out what song they want next. “Pitbull!” Nella yells, and the twerking begins with the first beat. They shake their hips like Shakira on the “babybabybabybabybabybaby” part, and the girls fall to the floor in a fit of laughter when Dash’s interpretive dance goes awry. Every part of me is braided in this moment, right here, and there isn’t an airport bar in the world that can hold a flame to this.

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It is during these times that I often do this thing I do where I imagine this moment is a sliver from the past and that my little old lady self has been given the opportunity to wormhole back to it. They can ask me to refill their cup a hundred times. They can shove homework folders in my face with stubby pencils that never write. They can demand for me to explain one more time why fish don’t have butts and fall apart when my answer isn’t what they were looking for.

In the end, I feel simply...lucky.  There isn’t a cell in my body that isn’t stamped with love for them. That’s why I can wave goodbye when Brett takes them all to Chuck E. Cheese tonight while I stay home and drink wine with my book club.

Happy Mother’s Day and love to all those who feel this day in different ways–the memories, the heartache, the hope, the thrill, the hard work, the beauty, but most of all…the love. 

Comments

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  1. Happy Mother’s Day to you! Loved reading this so much!!!

  2. All the emotions. I laughed, then got teary eyed. You know how to bring it all out. :) Loved this.

  3. Love this so much!
    Have you read or seen “Our Town”? I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t (and this doesn’t spoil it, don’t worry!), but one of the characters is allowed to re-live a day from their past. Your image of the little old lady reminded me of it.
    It’s one of my very favorite plays!!

    I’m still in that phase where every now and then I sort of forget that I have a baby! Like late at night when he’s asleep and I’m folding laundry, I’ll come across a little sock or something and be like “oh my word! I have a baby!” Haha :)

  4. Happy Mother’s Day! I laughed when I read this because I feel exactly the same way about airport bars. Whenever I’m having a day when I feel overwhelmed or stressed by the racket of it all, I fantasize about sitting in an airport bar, alone. …But it’s always nice to come home.

  5. ❤️❤️❤️ You captured so much of how I feel as a mama. Beautiful post Kelle. Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. super curious why fish don’t have butts!!! kind of left us hanging. :) but happy mother’s day to you! and i relate to the little old lady self imagining, when it comes to cup refills and all the rest.

  7. Bailey Lorenzen says:

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!
    Currently enjoyed watching Netflix alone while the littlest naps and big brother is at grandma’s.

  8. Christine Scharnhorst says:

    Geez, why does the realness of your blog always bring a tear to my eye? Happy Mother’s Day, Kelle

  9. Well if the goal was to make us all cry, you’ve accomplished it. :) Beautiful!

  10. Glad that you’re enjoying…..you’ll look back to see that it ALL passed SO quickly!!! It definitely is intense at the time.

    Mom of three daughters, three grand daughters and two grand sons.

  11. Erin Scott says:

    God, that was beautiful….

  12. This is beautiful and just what I needed to read today. I haven’t quite been able to formulate cohesive sentences about my Mother’s Day thoughts, and this put some thoughts to spider’s web in my mind. You always make me think about my life in the very best way. :)

  13. I sent this post to a friend to read last Friday. I re-visited it again today. Your words always speak life into me! Such a fun/beautiful post, Kelle.

  14. Happy Mothers Day to you. Great post.

  15. “It is hard to find the place where they end and I begin…”

    This line speaks to me so much. I am a new mom to an almost 4 month old and I have yet to find any kind of balance. I crave time to myself (just 15 minutes in the shower alone please!), but as soon as I get it I feel like a piece of my body has become detached. I know some balance between ‘mom’ and ‘wife’, ‘mom’ and ‘individual’ will come with time so I try not to sweat it. But some days… phew.

  16. PJ Decker says:

    Just beautiful.

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