I was just off a call about my parenting business. And as I tried to reorient myself to the journal article I was writing about a girl activist, my email pinged- an urgent request. I looked at my calendar- I was so busy last week I forgot to write anything down. I have been running, leaping from meetings with school superintendents to play dates to workshops with dozens of teachers and going from decorating cake pops with the girls to slipping into heels and showing up for consulting gigs. And then I come home, and after my girls sleep, I curl up in my office and dream big, plan curricula, write posts about marketing and scribble notes on feminist theory.
And tonight, my sweet hubs took the girls for bath and bed even though it was my night. He did it for me because he saw the tears pooling in my eyes before I even felt them.
But then my girl began to scream. I leapt from the leather rocker that was my most impractical first time mom buy and now resides in my office (because not even the coolest mom can rock twins in a chic leather rocker, it just doesn't work), and raced to the bathroom. Skyebird held up her finger, stuck in a bottle of bubble bath. I unscrewed the bottle from the top. The top was wedged well below her knuckle and her little finger was turning purple. I tried butter and soap and mayo and EVOO and cold-pressed coconut oil, to no avail. She screamed.
I lifted her from the tub and called for my hubs to hurry, to do something. I wrapped her in a towel and rocked her. He raced around, trying to cut it off with child's scissors (really?!?!) before showing up with some wire cutters. I was ready to make an urgent care run and was imagining my child's finger dying for lack of oxygen. Skyebird continued to scream, burrowing her face in my neck. And then Papa came through. He cut the plastic, and cracked it. It opened right up and the purple drained from her little finger, and I breathed a giant sigh of relief because this wee one still has ten perfect little fingers.
Everything- the paper and the urgent email and the tears pooling in my eyes and the book I was reading and the texts from a young person in crisis- it all stopped because she got the bubble bath top stuck on her finger. It seems silly, that a finger wedged into a bottle would stop everything, but it did. And I am grateful.
Everything stopped, and it was enough for me just to mother this little girl. When she came into the world, she was breech and her little legs came first, and my eyes were wide because they were so limp and so blue from lack of oxygen. Tonight, her little finger was turning purple and blue, just like her little legs as she was born. And both of those times, it was enough for me to sing to her, to hold her tight, to rub her back, to fix the thing making her hurt, to nurture her, to make sure all parts of her got oxygen, to stop everything else in my life as abruptly as necessary so I could be with her at a moment's notice.
That is enough.
It is enough to mother. Rocking and rubbing and caring for little bodies, it is enough.
I often feel like I need to do all the things. Like the world is hurting and there are many fires, and I have a hose, and I should fight all the fires. And in between the fires, I see all these beautiful pockets of possibility, garden plots ready to be planted, tiny buds waiting to be nurtured, stories waiting to get written, friendships ready to be born. But the truth is, lots of us have hoses. And if I spray all my water all over everyone else's fires, there's none left to fill the girls' bathtub or pour myself as glass of water.
The hope is big. Big hope. Big desire. Big caring, wanting, loving.
But sometimes it just all feels like too much. It feels like hold up, mama. Make pancakes with chocolate chip smiley faces in them. Stay the extra hour at the park. Put on a movie and take a nap. Paint my nails. Make something with that bookshelf full of art supplies that I look so longingly at every day when I settle into my home office. Indulgence. That bookshelf is my indulgence.
But all around me, I see things that need doing, projects that could be inspired, work that could be meaningful. The need and the desire and the caring is all so much to manage sometimes. It feels like my heart breaking in a million pieces all the time. It is not sadness; it is generative and beautiful and hopeful. But it is also broken.
Sometimes it feels like, well, I shouldn't complain because there are so many wonderful things, and I want to do them all, and I love them all, and there are so many ideas, and, and, and.... Someone said to me tonight, "but chels, it's not just that you want all the things. it's that you want them because you care, a lot." And of course, then the tears came.
But you know what, the things I care the most about are these three small humans, who are here in my life, who's bodies I care for, who's hearts are big and bold and need tending. It's so striking to me, the way I am so often pulled back down to earth by my children's material, embodied needs. Fingers stuck in bottles of bubble bath, or knees scraped from falling off a bike, or a shirt with a drip of water across the tummy that needs, according to my youngest, immediate changing.
All of those things are enough. It is enough to just be in it with these three babies. Enough to change their shirts and go to the zoo and wipe their noses and turn over rocks hunting for worms and rolly pollies with them.
It is enough.
Chelsey is a digital storyteller, geek, mama, researcher and yogi. She loves to make things and her favorite food is artichokes.