I just folded the last of the laundry.
Before I climb into bed tonight, there will be more dirty laundry piled in the utility room floor.
I mopped the floors this morning - right now, they feel cool and deliciously smooth beneath my bare feet.
Before I climb into bed tonight, the floor will be sprinkled with a thin layer of grass clippings, cat fur, and sandy grit tracked in from the driveway.
I cleaned the bathrooms today. Shazam!
Before I climb into bed tonight, I guarantee there will be toothpaste spatters on the mirror and poop swirls in the toilet bowl. Poop happens.
I will work hard all day, and then go to bed and get a good night's sleep. When I wake up tomorrow morning, little evidence (if any!) of today's labor will remain. Housework is like the bull Elijah sacrificed on top of Mt. Carmel when he was challenging the prophets of Baal. It is consumed, licked up, completely erased.
Much of mothering is the same. You tie shoelaces, and then tie them again, and again, and now, here again, the shoelaces are untied and Baby needs you to tie them once more. You cook breakfast, clean jelly-sticky hands and faces, wash the dishes, wipe up the crumbs off the table...and begin planning what to prepare for lunch. You pile onto the couch with the kids and read a book, and another, and another.
And yet, at the end of the day, when you are so tired that you can only speak in one-syllable words (forget complete sentences) and you run bath water for the littles, not because they are dirty (they are), but because you are operating on autopilot and you always run the bath after dinner...
At the end of the day, someone needs help with the knot in their shoelaces, and someone needs a bedtime snack, and there is the plea for just one more book.
Tomorrow, you wake up with someone tugging at your blankets (Mommy, what're we having for breakfast?), and you look through sleepy eyes and find that yesterday's sacrifice was completely consumed, like the bull on the altar on Mt. Carmel. Not a hair or a grease splatter remains.
Dad walks in from work at the end of the day and asks, "What'd you guys do all day?" - and you look at the goldfish crackers ground into the carpet and the peanut butter hand prints on the storm door window and the snot running down your 3-year-old's face and the dirty dishes piled in the sink and think, "Nothing...obviously."
And a well-meaning friend calls and asks if you're interested in starting a home-based business with her because she knows you could use the extra cash and because you have nothing else to do all day...obviously.
And the rest of the world - shiny and glamorous - walks past you at Walmart with its manicured nails and highlighted hair, and flits lithely across the TV screen at the dentist's office (such perfect teeth!), and stares reproachfully at the screaming toddler wrapped around your leg in the checkout line at the grocery store.
They don't know...obviously. They can't see the smoke of the flame-wrapped carcass of the bull as it ascends to heaven.
I am not a young mother, but I once was.
I can see the smoke, young mother, the smoke rising every day, every minute from the altar of your life.
The smoke stings my nose and burns my eyes and makes me weep.
Because, young mother...
3 months ago