Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Ahhh of Life

So for the past two weeks, my husband has been traveling and training. I tend to not talk about him being away while he is away because I prefer not to broadcast that news, but currently he is back in Kenya with us. Now, when we are in the states and he travels, it is a challenge. Being home with 3 young girls is exhausting. But when we are in the states, there is a bit more of a support system in place, most of the time. I have a vehicle, most of the time, and am able to go places, be active, get out with the girls. I can go to the gym to burn off excess stress, or calories. I can meet girlfriends for lunch and have adult conversations. I have family and friends around to help me with the girls occasionally if I need a break, or need to run an errand alone. I have options.

But when he travels and we are here in Africa, that support system is not in place, and life is a bit more exhausting than normal, to say the least. So the past two weeks were certainly a challenge. There were days when all patience was gone, but snippy, kurt responses were just flowing. There were days that early bedtimes were just flat-out necessary for sanity's sake. There were days that I just could not come up with enough things for them to do to keep their hands busy and out of trouble. It was rough, and I was more than ready for my husband to come home.

Truth be told, though, those rough days are not only limited to my husband's travel days. Sometimes, it is just downright hard to be passionate about staying at home with the kids. I worked hard for my education and loved my career, though it certainly took a toll on my heart. But I loved being able to contribute to something bigger than myself, to be a part of the world and be passionate about giving of myself, and receiving gratitude, or any feedback at all, for the work that I did. Some days, it is really hard to get passionate about changing one more diaper whose stench could make your eyes water. It's hard to get excited about cleaning up yet another spill, or finding yet another pair of lost shoes, or washing the laundry again, not to mention the dishes. And the mouths to be fed, floors to be cleaned, beds to be made, etc. etc. etc. There are days when those sibling squabbles are just more than I can handle.

To hear that familiar wail of:
"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM! Juju pulled my hair!" 
"MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM! Toria is looking at me!!" 
"MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM! Juju won't leave me alone!" 
any combination of the above, plus many, many more, 
for the umpteenth time in a day, 
it's enough to throw me over the edge.

Last night one of the girls came to with one of the above listed complaints, I think it was that her sister hit her. So I, in my pure apathy and lack of desire to play referee just one more time for the day, told her to go hit her sister back. She looked at me, puzzled for a moment, then quickly said, "OK" and turned to pursue the offender. There are those days when I just reach my absolute end, and would much rather throw the two girls into a ring and let them battle it out to see who will be standing at the end, declare the winner and send them all to bed. 

My husband looked at me in wonderment as he stopped the offended from going after her offender. It's OK. He hasn't been here. There are those days, though, when I just wonder what my contribution is, or if I have just faded into some invisible vacuum of mommyhood that has swallowed my identity whole.

But then there are other moments, when I am reminded of what I am building into. When one of my little girls looks at me and says with a genuine heart, "Mommy, I want to be just like you when I grow up." Or another will take my face in hands and say, "Mommy, you are the best mommy I know." There are those redeeming moments when I am reminded that I am building them, that I am contributing to the future by letting these girls know that they are worth everything, and more. 

There are things that I am doing for myself these days, healing journeys that I am on, issues that I am tackling that I was never willing to venture on before. There are things that I am doing now for myself, because of them. Because I don't want them to take the path that I did. I don't want them to struggle as I have. I don't want them to make the same mistakes that I did. I want them to know their worth, their dignity, their value. I didn't, and I paid dearly for it. Still do. But them, no...I'm building into them so that they know. 

Sunday night we picked my husband up at the Nairobi airport as he was arriving back from the Congo. Our nephew was driving, and as we drove home, my husband was sitting in front passenger seat, and I sat in the back seat with the girls. The baby was on my lap, sitting on my left thigh with her head resting on my chest. Her left hand had reached up to stroke my cheek (she loves to touch my face) and came to rest there. My middle daughter was sitting on my right side and had laid her head down on my right thigh, my right arm resting on her back. My oldest daughter was sitting beside her sister to my right, and she had taken my right hand in hers and was resting her head on my forearm with my hand in her lap. My girls were all over me, resting and loving, and I was at complete peace with them. And then as we drove, my husband reached his right hand back around his seat and wrapped his hand around my lower right leg, resting it there in love and consolation. 

It was in that moment as we drove home from the airport, when the weight of exhaustion and loneliness was at its heaviest from two weeks without my husband, it was in that very moment when all hands were on me, claiming a part of my body to lay theirs to rest, that the Ahhh of life settled in. It was an Ahhh of peace, an exhalation of relaxation to know that I am paying into something so much greater than myself. It was a settling confirmation that my mundane, often unnoticed contributions throughout a normal day, have, in fact, not gone unnoticed. Because they want to be like me someday. They see something, something that I have not yet even seen fully in myself. Something strong. Something of dignity. Something of worth and valor. They see it. And my Creator is giving me eyes to see it as well.

They see it. And they want to be like me. 

She is clothed with strength and dignity. 

I am praying for the perseverance and wisdom to continue to contribute to this cause. To their cause, which ultimately, is my cause. It gives me pause to exhale, and say Ahhhhh...

Check out Suzannah's blog to read about other pilgrims' journeys, that we may all shout, laugh, and love together. 


  1. thank you so much for this post!!! i didn't ever have a career to speak of, but i, too, valued my college education and even tho i knew i'd be a stay at home mom, there are days i want to crawl out of my skin!!!
    and yet... the reminder of who we can be to them, who we can show them He is... these are the very things to get us going, yes?

  2. And had I been there, I too would have joined the crowd and said, "Well done daughter, I am proud of you and your journey."

  3. this. is. BEAUTIFUL. your voice is truthful and real, and i resonate. mommying is not as romantic as some would have us believe, is it?

    but God is good and is doing a good work. i love the image of your entire family cuddled up together like that.

    my goodness, those are beautiful little girls!


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