To Be the Leaf

The winds came in last night, and the trees are noticeably more bare today.  Carpets of brown stiff leaves on the ground, dancing in waves orchestrated by the wind.  I wonder: does the leaf let go of the branch, or does the branch let go of the leaf?  Either way I suppose the wind doesn’t care, it will take the leaf when the leaf is ready.  

**

I am not one to talk much about being a working mom. 

I was hard on myself in my younger mothering years, always doubting myself and wondering if I was doing right by my family to be working, to have to trust someone else to spend the weekdays with my babies.  

The point at which I let up on myself was the point at which I realized that all of us Mamas are doing our best, and all of us Mamas are doubting ourselves.  All of us have our fair share of incredible and incredibly-tough days, all of us wonder if we are doing the best for our family, if different circumstances would make us a better parent. It’s irrelevant really, the title that we use before “mom”.  Stay At Home.  Working.  Part Time Working.  Working from Home.  

When we are all trying our best, then … what does it matter?  The common denominator, the most important denominator is the three letter word: MOM.  We should aim at being a good one no matter the circumstance.   

And then there’s doubt.  While it seems to come around less as I trust my parent-instincts more, it’s a tricky thing.  It wants us to believe we should listen to it … that maybe there is some truth to what it whispers in our ear.

**

This was a day with the girls which I had so longed for,

and it seemed 

so filled 

with disharmony.  

They were the kids and I was the nag.  

How long have they been talking with their mouths full of food?  Why am I being asked to get them water when … oh, yeah,  Wild Kratts is on.  And for goodness sakes, how is it that the tissue that they blew their nose with is sitting on the floor right next to the garbage can?  It must be the same amoeba infecting the dirty clothes that are on the floor right next to the dirty hamper.  Why am I tying my 6 year old’s shoes when she tied them herself starting in Preschool?  And are you really going to ask me for a treat when the chocolate remnants from our breakfast-at-Mimis is still staking a claim on your chin?  

I felt gusts of irritation stirring up, and I struggled with it. Then whispers of doubt came up … why is this so hard for you?  Have you forgotten what your kids are like?  Are you working so much that you can’t handle your own kids anymore?  How would their Dad be handling this better?  How does the babysitter always seem so calm?  This is supposed to be a good day, why are you spending it nagging your daughters?

Though in the calm we got ready together to enjoy a breakfast-out, they dressed up and they looked as I loved to see them feel: beautiful.  We made lists over breakfast and talked about what we love to do, we sipped our mugs and enjoyed each others company.  

In the calm we ran some errands together, we sang to music with the sunroof open, we pushed our hair out of our faces and occasionally yelled over the music to mention something we saw out the window.  

In the calm we went for a picnic in the "grassy park”.  Wireless speaker and camera in tow, they ate and ran and cartwheeled and sat and played with the few toys they brought, and ran some more.  We noticed how often the wind could be heard in the palm trees when we didn’t feel a thing.  Other times gusts could be felt at ground level where a ballet of dancing leaves would entertain our gaze.  

I am still needed.  

Which may seem like a ridiculous thing to say; yet I have been saying for some time that I seem to be in an easier phase of parenting, finding pockets of space and time that I didn’t have before.  Today I was reminded of how much they need (of) me, still.  To look at them, to listen to them, to watch them, to create with them, to play with them, to connect with them, to protect them from harmless dogs who mistook their screams and running away from them as a sign they want to play.  In the calm I found comfort in that thought, that they still need me.  And yet, there were gusts of irritation that I still found myself fighting … and then the self-doubt would kick up again, predictable opportunist that it is.  


They are fast asleep; I’m not too far behind them.  It seems inevitable that if we are somewhat seasoned in this journey called parenthood, that we are also somewhat seasoned with understanding our own self-doubt.  It deserves to be recognized for what it is, to notice its presence.  However, to act on it could be dangerous, to believe it a mistake.  After all, doubt means to distrust, to be unsure about, to fear or be apprehensive about. So self-doubt is our lack-of-self-trust.  

As the winds still blow in gusts outside my lamp-lit window, the sound of stiff leaves dancing on my patio, I am choosing to take what was good from today — and rather than beat myself up on how I found myself irritated on a day I set out to cherish, rather than stew upon how I should have been a better three-letter-word today — I am going to trust myself.  Trust that it was just one of those (windy) days; trust that I did the best I could given the circumstance.  

I’m sure given a different scenario I may change my mind, but tonight, I think the leaf lets go of the branch.  



 © Houseman 2013