What Pulls Me Apart Holds Me Together

My son, Dillon, was sick again. My other son, Blake, had more than the usual share of snot running out of his nose. I shifted from a regular Wednesday to a “sick day”, and conceded that most of my to-dos would not get done today.

But, there was one thing I really needed and wanted to do. In the grand scheme of life it could have waited until the next day. Of course it could have waited. Most things can wait.

I heard all the voices in my head, “Life is short and children grow up quickly and today, your kids need their mommy.” I needed the world to stop spinning. Just stop moving for thirty minutes so I could complete my task. Okay, forty-five. (I always underestimate how much time something will take, so the extra fifteen wouldn’t hurt.)

Dillon is a big boy now. Taking care of him involved tucking him into a snug cocoon on the couch and turning on his favorite TV show. But, not Blake. It was barely 9 a.m. and he was already bored. He insisted on standing two inches from the television screen. I could hear his cries of, “Mommy, hold you. Mommy, I want a snack. Oh, sorry Mommy, I spilled it.”

I watched as coffee stained the pages of Seth Godin’s Tribes. The book is about being a leader. I was being a terrible leader. The voices of reason wrestled with the voices of my critics, “Angie, you just had a baby. You have three kids now. You’re supposed to be tired and cranky. Give yourself a break.”

Sometimes the simplest, and the hardest thing to do, is be their mom. I thought that once I took a leap of faith and started doing work that really mattered to me, work that added a sense of purpose and meaning to my life, it would get easier somehow. I thought it would make me feel whole, not fragmented or conflicted. My work is like a fourth child. It seemed to be calling to me and demanding my attention. I did not want to choose. But, I can’t be everywhere, and everyone, at once.

I glanced over at my daughter, Cate, so tiny and precious. She was sound asleep in the vibrating bouncy chair. I thought, “Thank you, Little Miss.” Later, she stirred and let out a pitiful baby moan. I picked her up and noticed she was hot. Yellow gooey stuff was oozing from her eyes. I knew my infant was sick. I called my husband at work and told him to come home so I could take her to the pediatrician.

I felt sober, awake and calm as I heard the doctor say, “I’m sending you to the hospital. You need to be prepared because they will probably admit her.” I put Cate in the car and headed downtown. I didn’t question what I needed to do in that moment. I called my husband with instructions. “This is going to sound so much worse than it probably is. It is probably just a virus but they have to make sure. I need you to pack a bag for me.”

The world had stopped spinning. There was no confusion. No tug. No conflict. For two days, I sat with Cate in a hospital room while they ran a bunch of tests. We bonded as I played paparazzi. She gave me the stink-eye.

During our stay at the hospital, a friend came to visit. I was thrilled to have her company, but I was so tired I barely spoke. There were long pauses in our conversation because my brain felt blank. I apologized, and told her how much her being there meant to me. Then, she said something I won’t forget, “Angie, you don’t have to perform.”

“Thank you,” I said, wondering why I assume that I do. Most likely, out of fear. The fear of losing it all.

Two days later, Cate and I came home. The house was clean. My husband was my hero. Dillon and Blake were the most adorable creatures I had ever seen. That’s when I realized what pulls me apart also holds me together.

Over the years, I have weeded out the clutter, pruning my personal and my professional life so it reflects what matters most. And still, my plate overflows. My life is loaded up with the good stuff, and many times it is messy and imperfect, and spills all over the place. Maybe that’s the point.

Managing my priorities is not about performing. I don’t have to keep all the balls in the air. It’s not my job to be everywhere or everyone at once. I don’t have to hold on so tightly to every little thing. Sometimes, I have to have enough faith to let go.

QUESTION: Have you ever had an experience where suddenly, your priorities became very clear? What did you learn?

CHALLENGE: Do you have trouble letting go? Decide what is important in the moment and focus on that.

Rope photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cate photo courtesy of Angie Mizzell

 

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Comments

  1. Lou Mello says

    Oh my goodness, Angie, I didn’t even know this was going on. So glad Miss Cate and the boys are OK. Your perspective is always right on target, do what has to be done and just soldier on. You and Shawn are such great parents and partners.

  2. April Perry says

    “My life is loaded up with the good stuff, and many times it is messy and imperfect, and spills all over the place. Maybe that’s the point.”

    Angie, this is absolutely beautiful. You have a way with words, and this totally inspired me. Love you!

  3. Emily says

    This so perfectly reflects something that’s been ruminating in my heart over the past few weeks: Being present…being simple…just taking a leap of faith to let all of the balls drop and throw my whole heart into being “mom.” I find myself so easily distracted with “worthy” projects and goals that I feel like I’m missing the mark these days of simply just being in the moment with my kids. I really resonate with what you said about it taking a leap of faith and just letting go…of all of the balls flying in the air and of the pressure to have multiple balls flying in the air. Sometimes, I think it’s a leap of faith to not feel guilty about saying no to other worthy goals and to allow ourselves to be ok with being completely immersed, fully present, and not distracted in our mothering. Not to say that every spare moment has to be fully engaged in being with our children to the exclusion of necessary housework and other worthwhile responsibilities. But just in the times that my kids are clamoring for my attention, I just wish I could more readily take the leap of faith required sometimes to let go of all of the balls I’m juggling and just be with them…entirely unencumbered in the slowness of childhood moments. I just felt like what you said really touched on what I’ve been feeling, and I’m just so glad to read that I’m not the only one who wrestles with how to put everything in it’s proper place. Thank you!

    • says

      Emily, I really get what you’re saying here. It’s how those worthy projects tug at us, and how we know we don’t have to stare into our children’s eyes all day long, but how we also feel the tug is making us miss some important moments in our children’s lives. I get it. But I also think being aware of the tug and thinking about alternate ways of doing things, even if we don’t do it perfectly, makes us better moms.

  4. says

    Thank you, April, I’m also inspired by the wonderful work you and Saren and the “team” do here at the Power of Moms. So nice to have a place where we can encourage one another and build each other up.

    Thank you, everyone for your kind commments!

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