What are your days like? If you have young kids like I do, they’re probably filled with snack prep and hand washing, diaper changing and bathroom breaks, toy cleanup and dirty laundry. It’s not often that a mom of three living in central Maine has a reason to get dressed up and spend a night out sans kids.
Last night I had just such an opportunity. I did my hair. I put on makeup. I even bought new shoes for the occasion. It wasn’t a special date night with my husband. Instead, I spent the evening with a group of amazing and brave women.
From a quick glance at our group, you might not think we have much in common other than the obvious fact that we are all female. Our ages range several decades, our styles vary, our interests and experiences are all over the map.
One by one we took the stage and told our stories to a theater full of people. They were stories of love and loss, of hope and humor. They were stories that allowed the audience to glance into our vastly different lives. But despite our differences, they were stories with a common thread woven through. One event brought us together, but it is one commonality that unites us:
As each woman walked off the stage, she was greeted behind the curtain with hugs, high fives, and whispered words of encouragement. It didn’t matter if our parenting philosophies differed and it wasn’t a competition to see who has it worst or who does it best. We are mothers. We love our children. We give everything we have, and when that’s not enough, we give some more.
Stories are powerful. They remind us of our shared humanity, of our great capacity for love and sacrifice and our equally great capacity to fail and be flawed. And when we hear others’ stories we are reminded that we are strongest when we support each other.
When the evening was over, I returned home. It was late and my husband soon went to bed. I stayed up for a while to chat with my cousin/babysitter and come down from the emotional high the night had offered. Then I climbed the stairs and went to kiss the kids goodnight.
As I rearranged the blankets on one child’s bed, I was quickly thrust back into the reality of life with young children. Something smelled unpleasant. A closer inspection revealed what I already knew: Poop. In the pants. I carried the child to the bathroom, took off the poopy pants. That, of course, led to poop on a foot and poop on the floor. So I cleaned up the child, cleaned up the pants, and cleaned up the floor.
Finally I made it to my bathroom to get into comfy pajamas after a night of playing dress up. Before I could brush my teeth another child was crying, so I shuffled back down the hall, gave kisses and cuddles and “I love you’s”; rearranged more blankets and brushed my fingers over soft cheeks; crept back to my room wondering when the third child would give me another reason to return.
And despite the late hour and the weariness that comes after a full night of roller coaster emotions, I did it all with the mindfulness and peace that comes from knowing that millions of other mothers are also giving all they have, and then just a little bit more.