The Magnetic Field of Mothering

Last night I got much more sleep than I ever do. Because of this, I awoke with a spring in my step and a knowing feeling that this day was going to be a great one! One for the journal! A magical day of dinner in the crock-pot by noon, chores and school done to completion, tasks and duties checked off my list, and satisfied kids after a day well spent.  I was sure I would definitely get in some reading time because the day would orchestrate itself so beautifully.We read scriptures, ate breakfast and my husband left for work. Our morning routine is to do chores before you come downstairs and eat breakfast before 9:30. (We start our homeschool at 10).
If those two things are done, the kids have free time until school begins. As I noticed my children enjoying their “before school free time,” I felt content. This day was wonderful, just like I thought. Sigh… the world is bright and beautiful!
But, as I went to change a load of clothes in the washer and passed the rooms of my children, I saw a disturbing trend. Dirty clothes, clean clothes, messes, everywhere, in their rooms. Beds unmade, drawers hanging out, dirty towels. What? But they were all downstairs reveling in their free time, while a finger to clean their rooms had not been lifted!
I began to feel the heat creep up to my eyeballs. I had told them 10,567 times about the chore rule. It was not new. In fact I think some mother in the 16th century had instituted it and I was just carrying on tradition!
As I walked from room to room, getting angrier by the minute, calling each child up to clean their messes, I was met with resistance and excuses. My well rested façade began to crumble, and I hoped the windows were closed, because mom was about to blow.

By the time I reached my oldest son in his room, I had lost all semblance of patience and love. I was mad, and everyone was going to hear my madness. He met my yelling with his own, and a real conversation never had a chance as he defended his right to have his room the way he wanted it.  I ended the yelling match with a declaration to charge him rent, and then he could keep his room as dirty as he wanted! I ended it badly. Angry. Not wanting to apologize or make it right. I just wanted to be right. It was 9:30 am and in my mind, the day was ruined.

My children, are wonderful children, my oldest son, a diligent scholar and example, my second son, patient and kind, who dutifully cleaned up all I had asked without a word, My twins, who cleaned up better than ever hence the dragon lady come back, and my 4 year old saying ”Mom, but I didn’t do anything wrong!”. All of their faces flashed in my mind. They hadn’t set the tone for this morning and ruined my day. I had. I was the one who lost it and got angry. I was the one who was wrong.

I went to my room to say a prayer, and read my scriptures as I always do before we start school. I felt unworthy to ask for help, so I asked for forgiveness. But my heart was still not right, and I began the ranting in my head, “Why couldn’t they just do their chores, I reasoned, why the disobedience? Why do I have to remind them 999 times to do things that are posted and laminated on a wall for heavens sake?”

I already knew the answers.

Because I loved them, and because I was their mother, and because that was my job, and   my stewardship. I settled down and breathed a sigh of relief, as no one came into bother me or break the silence of my thoughts. A rare thing that no one trailed after me needing something, needing to tell me something or asking a question. No, they were all reacting to my reaction… by staying away. I had nothing to give them right then, and they knew it.

We went about our day, did school, all the normal things. But, my basket of goodness had been dumped out and scattered by the wind that morning. I just couldn’t seem to replenish it. No more going to bed early I promised myself, as if that action alone had caused all the problems. I felt melancholy and frustrated. After school, as I needed to do some work and asked for some quiet, I was interrupted 9 times in 5 minutes. As I prepared for my camp meeting, again more interruptions. Hadn’t I just spent hours schooling them, reading aloud, making interpretive egg shell paintings?

I got a call from a friend I had not talked to in a long time, I went upstairs as they were all happily engaged in their own things. As soon as I began my assent, they seemed to be on my heels.
“Can we have a snack?”
“Mom, can you help me…?”
“Can we play the Wii?”
“What should we do while you are on the phone?”
“There is nothing to eat!”

As I paused and asked them to please entertain themselves for a bit while I had a chat, they acted as if I was cutting off their air supply. I closed my door and sat down with a sigh. My door proceeded to open 12 more times in a 20 minute period.

Whispers of:
“Can I have a cookie?”
“I need to talk to you for just one minute”
“He choked me again!”
“Can I go over to my friends?”

I felt any energy stores deplete as I hung up the phone. I just needed some peace, some quiet. But everywhere I turned, I was a magnet. Why did they need me so? Why did just me being in the room with them make the difference, even if I wasn’t even interacting with them? Why did my presence mean so much? Why couldn’t they go 1.25 minutes without something? I felt like a magnet, and they must attach themselves to me to sustain their lives. Was I that powerful? Just that morning, I had repelled them, and with the passing of a few minutes they had forgotten, forgiven and moved on, and once again I was the center of their world. I was their earth’s core. If I was in sight, all was well.

My presence was so powerful, that they would follow it anywhere.

I should have been comforted by this. But I wasn’t. I was bothered. And truth be told, still upset with myself for losing it. Their love was unconditional. I like to think mine is too, but this  particular day (and many others too) it seemed based on chore performance. How I wish I could go back and rewind this morning. But, I can’t . All I can do is begin again. This time with an apology.”I am sorry mom lost it. I am sorry I yelled. I am sorry I made you feel that dirty clothes were more important than you. I am sorry for bringing contention into our home. I am sorry for throwing a fit!”

I was not content with what they were giving me, so I chose contention as a remedy. How dumb is that? I chose the opposite of what I wanted. I had done this before. I should know how this ends, and that it ends badly. I also know that I do not want them to feel that I think what I did was ok.  I will tell them tomorrow when they are awake. I did not take the time today to make it right, and they forgave me anyway. But tomorrow I will show them, that I am content with them, our life, our home, and my role. If I am that powerful, then I must show them what power really is. Sometimes it is saying you were wrong, weak, and behaved badly.
Someday they will be in my shoes, and they will feel the world on their shoulders, and I want them to know how to hold it.

“When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons’ needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur – and it is a danger to guard against – is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone.” -Anonymous

What are some of the great things about living in the magnetic field of mothering?
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3 thoughts on “The Magnetic Field of Mothering

  1. I am going to leave a comment on here and not fb so it will always be in your records.=) I love this one and I think I remember reading it before? But I needed to read this today and every day. Since I know you (and like you even with yelling), it is so comforting to know this happens to everyone. We all feel the guilt, frustration and anger with our kids. And the worst thing is when you lose it. Thankfully, they forget, forgive and LOVE us no matter what. Which is the real lesson that you portrayed here. That to love unconditionally is a lesson our children will teach us, if we are willing to listen and look. I loved the lines: “Hadn’t I just spent hours schooling them, reading aloud, making interpretive egg shell paintings?” and “Their love was unconditional. I like to think mine is too, but this particular day (and many others too) it seemed based on chore performance. ” I am so happy you shared this because so many can relate.=) Prepare yourself, I am sharing this on my blog!!

  2. Love, love, LOVE this, Jonelle! This sounded exactly like a day (or many days) from my life. And although I’m ashamed of my behavior, how comforting it is to know I’m not alone, and not the only one who continues to struggle with the same things over and over again. I love your refusing-to-give-up attitude and your determination to make tomorrow better. Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes (that I have pinned to the bulletin board in my bathroom so I will see it every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed): “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying: I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your wisdom and insight. 🙂

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