No One Was Around When It Happened

at the beach

No one was around when it happened. Which, as a mother of three children ages five and under, means I was in the bathroom with the door locked. I wasn’t actually going to the bathroom, just stealing a few minutes to myself so I could check email and Facebook uninterrupted.

As I was reading through my Facebook feed, I read this amazing piece, about a mother with a sixth grader observing a mother of toddlers. I cried. Sitting right there on the closed toilet, tears streaming down my face. This time is so fleeting, this time when my children actually want to be with me, need to be with me. My five year old is already moving past it. I can see it, in real time. Why do I continue to squander it? Why am I locking myself in the bathroom when I can be out there with my children in this blink of time?

And then my three year old screamed at a pitch that, unfortunately, was not quite so high that only dogs could hear it but awfully close. And the spell was broken.

This is a constant tension for me. I love my children so much at times I actually want to eat them. I want to squeeze their squishy legs and bury my head into their squidgy tummies. I want to roll around with them like a lioness with her cubs. I want to completely envelop them, mimicking the short months they were actually part of me.

And then. Sometimes I just need a break. The mess. One room being tornadoed into a pile of paper and markers and superheroes as I’m in the process of cleaning another. The noise, the noise. It’s just so noisy all the time. Shrieking, screaming battles over a pair of socks. The increasingly high-pitched “ma ma ma ma” from my baby if I can’t get him more Cheerios the second he wants them. The need. I counted once and the word “Mommy” was uttered 46 times in the 30 minutes it took for me to prepare dinner. It is overwhelming to be needed so much. It is also lovely and necessary and I am so grateful for these three healthy children who can express what they need and feel comfortable asking for it. But it is just. so. much.

I am an introvert. I love being with other people, especially my family, but in order to recenter I need time to myself. I find this time in running and in my stolen minutes in the bathroom. This need seems to exist for a lot of other mothers. Perhaps you’ve also seen the many posts and pie charts and Facebook statuses of exhausted moms wishing for a day all to themselves this Mother’s Day.

That’s actually not my wish for Mother’s Day. What I really wish is that I can freeze this Mother’s Day – or any of these days – and come back to it when my baby is in sixth grade. Or when I’m fifty or seventy. When I have the perspective to appreciate how wonderful this time is, when the harshness of its edges have been rubbed smooth with time. When I stop young moms on the street and say “this time goes by so fast. Enjoy it.”

But since I can’t do that, my wish is that I can, for one day, live in this moment with my family. Living in the moment is not something I excel at. I can be at the top of a mountain, looking down at the view, but unable to fully enjoy it because I know that this majestic view means I’m very high up and have a very long way down. This is not just a metaphor, it is actually what happens when I am at the top of a mountain.

But on this one day, I want to focus on us – us as a unit and as individual parts – as we are right now. As a strong and kind husband, as one- and three- and five-year-old squishy, opinionated, loud, funny individuals. Because I know the number of Mother’s Days we all have together in one house is limited.

But I also need to focus on me, and my own needs, which will mean some time to myself, too. I want to embrace that dichotomy – the need to be with my husband and my kids, and the need to let them be. I want to embrace having no one around without guilt. And then I want to leave that aloneness and jump right back into our messy, noisy house, filled with love and life and laughter.

And to my husband, if you’re reading this: and chocolate. I also want chocolate.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the theme “No one was around when it happened.” This was my first time trying this out (basically writing a post based on a prompt thought up by someone in the group), and it was a lot of fun! If you’re interested, check out the Facebook page. This week was hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, Lisa (this week’s sentence thinker-upper) from Flingo, and Jessica from Ramblings of an add mommy. 

25 responses to “No One Was Around When It Happened

  1. You expressed the love yet frustration of motherhood wonderfully – that dichotomy is such a tricky balance. and happy mothers day this weekend and everyday!

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  2. What a wonderful post ! I totally get what you are saying about your family, but still needing a little tie alone. You are lucky you have running–I’m still locking myself in the bathroom!

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  3. What a wonderful post! You captured the dichotomy perfectly. Thank you so much. You are a lovely writer. I’m so glad Joanna told me about your blog. It’s a delight to read.

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  4. I used to hate when people would tell me to enjoy this time when I was in the throws of toddlerhood, but it didn’t take long to get it. Even now people tell me to enjoy this time when I complain about sitting out in the heat to watch football practice. I am now waiting until I get that. I get your post totally though, very beautiful. Yes and chocolate should be a given for every occasion and just because.

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  5. This is me too! I struggle to “justify” my need for a break from parenting, but I’m always so much more in the moment when I come back from a little rest, even if it’s 10 minutes of lying down. I hope you get your balance—and the chocolate—this weekend!

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  6. This is me, too! I struggle with “justifying” my need for a break, but I’m always more present when I get back from one—even if it’s just 10 minutes lying down in the other room. Also, my breaks are a good chance for my husband to get 1-on-1 time with our daughter, and I love hearing them play together!

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  7. I hope you get your mountaintop mother’s day, and that you can just relax and enjoy the view.

    As for running away to the bathroom – you gotta do what works for you. That’s all.

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  8. This is lovely and so so true. I experience the exact same dichotomy – wanting to hang onto the now moments while also cringing at “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY NOW PLEASE!”
    I’m so glad that you linked up with Finish the Sentence Friday this week. I’m really happy that you enjoyed it!

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  9. Oh, my gosh! We have so much in common. I struggle with this everyday. I love my kids to pieces, but I find myself counting the minutes until nap time when I can have my break and alone time. I have been trying so hard to appreciate the time that I have to spend with them because there was a time, not too long ago, when my son was a baby, and I was working full-time counting the minutes until I could leave work to pick him up at daycare. Oh my! Now I have tears!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you! And yes, I’ve already put my request in to my husband for chocolate. 🙂

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    • It’s so nice to know we are not alone in these feelings. Sometimes I find myself racing through bedtime and then as soon as I shut the door feeling so guilty and just wanting to be with them. It’s tough!

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  10. Yep, I have that love-go away thing going on with my kids as well. My alone time comes in the evening after the kids have gone off to sleep. I get a chance to be grown up again, rather than a traffic cop/short-order cook/seamstress/arbitrator/chauffeur/banker all in the Land of Wee Little People. Glad that you are able to seize those moments, at least occasionally.

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  11. You described that push-pull of motherhood so well Ali. I think this is just the way it is for us during this time of intense parenting (I have three girls, 13, 10 and almost 4). We know it’s fleeting, that we should appreciate it but we do need time apart from them. My alone time in the bathroom even when I’m not actually going to the bathroom, is a definite necessity!

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  12. Such beautiful insight, Ali…and expressed with your gift with words. As a Mom now 59…my 3 babies ( your buddy, Sarah my middle!..) grown (34,36,38) and 4 precious grandbabies, I sometimes wish I could go back to just one day hiding out for 5 minutes while they wreaked havoc in the house. But all under one roof tucked away. Those days seem like yesterday…and forever ago…

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  13. Ali,
    You are justified to have some time alone. Don’t be hard on yourself cause you are a fine mother and a great individual 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day
    xoxo

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  14. Amen, Ali!
    All of it, but especially the noise, the noise (I have 4 kids ages 6 to 14 and there is so much noise always!). And often I declare that nobody is allowed to say “Mommy” for the next 20 minutes :).
    So lovely to discover you through FTSF.

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  15. I get this, Ali. I used to want time to myself on Mother’s Day, but now I want to spend it with my kids. As teenagers, they aren’t around much, and I know my Mother’s Days with them at home are numbered. I want them all day tomorrow! Until they bug me, and then I’ll hide in the bathroom.

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  16. You’ve perfectly captured the tension of parenting here. I love your raw honesty and unfailing love for your family. What a rock star! Here’s to hoping you get your time to recenter (and a whole lotta chocolate), cheers!

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  17. Lovely post. You have expressed the joys and hardships of motherhood beautifully. I commend you for your honesty. Keep up the good work as a mom!

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