I sat beside the tub and poured water over Ivy’s belly, wishing I could make the noise and chaos behind me disappear.
It was me they needed. More of my time, more of my energy, more of me.
“Can you come?” Josh asked. “They’re all asking for you. Let me do this.”
He took the cup from my hand and took my place beside the tub. I sighed heavily and walked out of the bathroom. What I wanted to do was head right down the stairs, out the front door and into my car. I had nowhere to go, but that hardly mattered. Just going would be enough for a while. A while long enough for my frazzled nerves to relax again, my skin to stop crawling with the constancy of sticky hands pulling, tugging, needing. Instead, I took a deep breath and went into Henry’s room, where he lay on his bed in tears.
“What’s the matter, Henry?” I asked, my words hollow, my stony heart crusted with weariness. Mechanically, I climbed onto his bed beside him, and lay my head just inches from his.
“I’m sad,” he hiccuped. “I don’t want to go to bed.”
There wasn’t an ounce, sliver, tiny shred of patience left in me. But sometimes being a Mommy means Mommy-ing even when you don’t want to, when you feel like you have nothing left. So I wiped the tears from Henry’s cheeks and said, “We have to sleep so our bodies feel good and our minds can be happy.”
Sweet mercy of miracles, Henry looked at me with tired eyes, and softly whispered, “Okay.” He pulled my arm around him like a blanket and quickly fell asleep. I lay there a few more minutes, feeling the soft warmth of his breath, inhale, exhale, across the top of my arm.
And there it was.
The love came unbidden, bubbling up and over, into the cracks of my consciousness. It isn’t about you, the love said. It’s about them. There is a time for quiet, but now, they need you. I kissed Henry’s forehead and moved from his bed, going to spend a few minutes with each of the other children.
It was that extra love; a reserve bursting forth when my own well turned up dry.
An hour later, when big kids and baby were all asleep, I sat. The quiet pooled around me, soothing my skin, calming my nerves. And I offered a prayer of gratitude that I have a partner in this mothering that I do, helping, lifting, loaning love.
QUESTION: Do you have an experience with “love loans”?
CHALLENGE: So often we have to be a mommy when we’d like a break. If you have strategies for getting through those times, share them below.
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Piyaphon.