I wake a beat behind. A morning in sluggish motion with cereal and sandwiches requiring more attention than they deserve. A cold walk to school. Goodbye kisses rushed.
I return home to do the amount of daily required cleaning, laundry, and food preparations necessary to pacify my family. Lists and piles occupy my mind.
I pause and breathe deeply. I am overwhelmed by my insignificance. I impact only the world between the four walls in which I live, for the four people with whom I live. Nothing more.
I set down my pile and pick up the child reaching for me. His “hold you’s” supersede my “should-do’s.” I get on the floor and actually play. I smile at his musical words, uniquely made sounds from that tiny mouth. His body indents mine as we read.
I count his teeth; note the length and beauty of his lashes. I kiss his stomach and tickle his warm neck. I squeeze him a bit too tight and whisper time-stopping “I Love You’s.”
Infrequent are my insignificant days. My inability to revel in them pains me. I know their joy, yet feel their judgment.
I hear the voice telling me this isn’t enough. I hear it when I look beyond this, to the world outside. I hear What did you do all day?Why isn’t this done? What did you accomplish?
It’s my voice. I’m the accuser.
I cage my insecure monster of comparison.
I free myself with the truth all mothers know. These quiet days are blessed. These days — these moments — are a privilege.
I inhaled and loved my growing child today, I answer myself.
I look at his face and find my peace. I look in his eyes and see his world reflected. For today, I rest grateful in my significance to him.
Sonya Spillman is a lover of laughter, coffee, red lipstick and Jesus. She is a motherless mother who writes at spillingover.com to share herself with her kids, avoid paying for therapy, and give voice to a journey through grief, grace, and growth.
Very near to where I live, for a certain portion of the year, there is a little flock of little birds that flies in low, fast, continuous, little circles– and it just doesn’t seem to make any sense. I wonder why they do this – go round and round, over and over, day after day.
I don’t know what type of birds they are or why they do what they do. I like to think that there is a reason, an actual purpose behind their actions, even though it might not be immediately apparent. The birds never go far – it is a limited area, confined by invisible boundaries — though they always seem to be in a frantic hurry to get somewhere. Of course, despite their persistence, they never actually get there.
The birds fly their circles, above a corner gas station, in between my house and our local YMCA. This is the other direction from my son Jonah’s elementary school, but along the same main road. I spend quite a lot of time driving on this road.
A typical day goes something like this — get up and get dressed, eat breakfast, make kids’ lunches, hug, kiss, and wave good-bye to Joshua as he leaves for middle school on his bike, and then the same to husband as he leaves for work in his car, and then again to Jonah after I drive him to school. Next, drive to the Y, exercise, and drive home. Shower, work, do laundry, wash dishes, eat lunch. Drive to pick up Jonah from school. Drive home. Supervise homework, snacks and music practice. Discuss school day with kids. Drive boys to swim practice at the Y. Drive to nearby grocery store, shop for groceries. Drive home to drop off food. Drive back to Y to pick up kids. Drive home. Make dinner for family. Eat dinner with family. Ensure kids get to bed at a reasonable hour. Kiss the kids goodnight. Watch some TV. Kiss husband. Go to sleep.
This typical day routes me by the circling birds no less than 6 times, and sometimes more – because there are often additional places that I need to go such as meetings, errands or volunteer work, and of course there are band practices or friends’ houses to which the kids also need to be driven. As a result of everything, I am constantly pressed for time, rushed, and feeling frazzled.
My neighbor, who is older than I, and never had kids, comments that she always sees me, constantly going in and out, back and forth, day after day, and wonders how I keep up with everything. I see other women my age, driving mini-vans with kids in their back seats along the same main road, and wonder, do any of them notice those birds up there?
Each time I drive by the birds, I consider looking for an actual, scientific explanation for why they might be flying in circles. I could call the Audubon Society easily enough. Or buy a book on bird behavior. Or even google this phenomenon. But, in the end, I never do any of those things.
Instead, I simply go in and out, drive back and forth, and watch the birds go round and round — over and over, day after day. It is with much fascination for their boundless and vital energy, along with a certain amount of disdain for their apparent lack of destination, that I continue to watch the birds fly in quick, never-ending, little circles.
Lisa Pawlak is a San Diego based freelance writer and mother of two boys. She is a regular contributor to Carlsbad, Orange Coast, Hawaii Parent and San Diego Family magazines — and has also published with Working Mother. Lisa’s personal essays can be found in Coping with Cancer magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and in six anthologies of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Additional essays will be soon be available in Greenprints, The Story Behind the Recipe and How to Survive Tantrums and Babysitters.
A thick, dense blanket stretches
from one end of the horizon to the other
catching in bunched hitches
on tree lines, over rooftops
more gray than white,
more beige than gray
a loose, loveworn cotton
and in the back seat, the baby
sucks on his sections of the sky
as if it all were a dream
just like each day before
Amber Koneval is an alumni of Regis University with a B.A. in Religious Studies and English. She lives in Colorado where she works as a full-time nanny by day and a full-time poet by night. Her poetry has been published by such journals as ‘Time of Singing’, ‘Doxa’, ‘The Wayfarer’ and ‘The Chaffey Review’; and her first collection, ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’, was published by eLectio publishing in 2012.
He is my dragonﬂy. He hatched in my waters; A little larva, Molting,
Shedding skins. Some day he will move From motherland
And ﬂy away.
Shelley Little is a full-time writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Funds for Writers, The Centrifugal Eye, Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, and Shemom. Her recent short story, “Clear-Cut”, won First Place in the Midwest Iron Pen Competition, and her poem, “Remains of a Life,” received honorable mention in the Bettendorf Love Poetry Contest.