Story by Nicole Merritt
The other night my seven-year-old daughter asked me to sit with her and snuggle. I told her, quite matter of factly, “I can’t.” “Someone has to clean up dinner and apparently that someone is me,” I added.
Yes, it was a bit of a snarky response, which I realized immediately after it came out of my mouth.
She’s got skin of steel, and my embarrassingly immature, spoken-out-of-exhaustion retort did not phase her. Thank goodness.
As one who banters well, she replied with a semi-smart comment of her own, we both had a chuckle, and then I agreed to come sit and cuddle with her after I finished cleaning and taking out the trash.
As I walked back in from handling the garbage, I overheard a portion of a conversation between my daughter and husband and listened to her utter the rejoinder, “Mom won’t sit down.”
Those four words made me want to cry (and let’s be real, they kind of irritated me).
All that I do for my children and our home each day and what the seven-year-old light of my life is going to remember about me is that I never sit down with her and give her the one-on-one attention and affection she desires.
Embarrassingly this is not the first time she has commented on my inability to “just stop.” And, honestly, though it makes me feel uneasy to admit it, I’m well aware that on a far too regular basis I operate from a place of “No,” “Nope,” “Sorry, not happening,” and “No way.”
Can we play a game? No. We don’t have enough time.
Can I use your phone? No. That would mean I would have to part with it and how dare you ask me to let go of my handheld distraction?!
Can we play outside for a bit? Nope. Mommy wants to be inside right now.
Well, if we are staying inside can we play a board game? Are you crazy? No. Do you see this house? I have to clean.
Can you sit with us while we eat breakfast? No. Mommy has to get the lunches packed and school bags ready. Sorry.
If only she had a choice in this whole who you get as a mother thing and she could loudly and confidently exclaim, “No!” “Not her!” “Not that selfish witch.”
Okay, that was a bit harsh because although I may have witchy tendencies, I don’t regularly ride and rock the broom.
And selfish, well, if you call doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning for every one day in and day out then yes, I’m selfish.
But, guess what guys? That’s kind of a copout. Yep — I’m calling myself (and maybe you) out.
Please hear this, moms — Every day we have a choice.
And though, like you, I regularly exclaim (and complain) that motherhood makes me feel as though I have no other option but to keep my messy, cluttered, sticky (from God know’s what) hampster wheel that is my life with children rapidly and successfully moving forward, I do have a choice and so do you.
SLOW DOWN and, on occasion, STOP.
So long as our children have a roof over their head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and love in their hearts, then the only for sure choice we should make every day is to spend this irreplaceable time with the miracles we call our own.
Could the dinner cleanup and laundry wait? It could have.
Could my daughter wait? She could, and she did.
But, she shouldn’t have had to. And, she won’t anymore.