Wednesday, July 20, 2011

to feed a soul.

i've been thinking a lot lately about this role of being a mother.
i had someone ask me the other day, with scrutiny in his eyes,
"now, what do you do?"

immediately i answered, "i'm a mom!" and left it at that.
but later, as i tried to fall asleep, as i tried to calm my mind and slip into dreaming, i found myself dwelling on that statement.

what do i do?

well, i feed my baby. 5 times a day. i hold her close to me and stroke her blond hair and nourish her body with everything i've got.
i change her bum. i vaseline her bum. i dress her up in cute little outfits and take pictures of her.
i feed her rice cereal.
i take her for walks.
i write her letters in the middle of the night under the moon and starlight.
i play peek-a-boo and sing songs and rock her and kiss her and clip her fingernails.
i tell her that i love her (all the time, i tell her this). and that's important, yes?
i put her down for naps and up again, down and up, all day long.
i keep her safe.

and i love her.
so much it makes my chest ache and throb when i think of it.
i love her.

also i clean.
i cook (some days, i cook).
i bake cookies and brownies and soon, a peach pie!
i make the bed every single stinking day of my life (that's something, yes? no?!)
i kiss my husband. i tell him that i love him. i cheer him on. i rub his head and wash his clothes.
i pick his gosh darn shoes up off the floor and i am also the one (the only one!) who vacuums up the dead ants in the living room.

this is what i do.
and most days, i feel it is enough.
most days, my heart tells me what i am doing is so important.

"you are telling her you love her!" my heart says.
"you are playing peek-a-boo!" i hear.

but, other days.
others days someone asks me "what i do?" and i feel a little lame.
i am a mother! yes, but is that all?

so many of you are so talented. you are arranging flowers and running photography businesses and teaching classes online. you are graphic designers, artists, master chefs and piano teachers. you run etsy shops, you sew your children's clothing, you ship off treasures you've made during nap time and make organic baby food.

i do not do those things.
i am just a mother.

last night as i relaxed with my husband and thought about this, i suddenly blurted out "i wish i had talents".
and after we went through the usual run-down he gives me when i blurt out such things (where did that come from? what are you thinking about? what in the world goes on inside that head of yours?! who are you?!! etc) he reminded me that i do have talents (everyone does!) and left it at that. my husband is not one to give you the answers, you see, he is one to let you figure it out yourself.

so i've been praying about it
and i've been thinking about it
and all i've got so far is this:

this morning i woke up with the desire to draw.
i used to consider myself a smidge creative (not crafty, mind you, but creative).
i used to draw. i used to write. i used to fill journals with words and poetry and songs that made my heart break and bleed to re-read them.

and i don't know where i am going with any of this really, except today i decided to draw something.

while my baby naps, while my life as a mother is on pause, while the afternoon gives way to silence,
i am drawing.

and i still don't have this thing figured out. i will still wonder if i am enough.
but i do know that, in this moment, drawing is feeding my soul.
and in some small way, it is reminding me of things i have forgotten about myself.

i hope i run into that man again soon.
i will smile and be polite and shake his hand and if he happens to ask me, once again, what it is that i "do"
and will hold my head up high and say,

"well, i am a mother.
and also today, i drew a picture."

that's something. right?
for now, that's something.


  1. It's funny that you should write about this today. I've been struggling with this same thing lately because we're in a new place where I know no one and I don't have a car to go anywhere. I spend all day not doing anything productive, except for playing with my baby, and sometimes I feel incredibly worthless. This made me feel a little better. More pictures of your drawings please!

  2. i think we all struggle with this. I laugh when you describe this it feels like a mirror (minus the mom part, not quite there yet)
    whenever I get asked the dreaded question, "what do you do" I say
    "Right now I am reading a really great book...." or "I usually go for a short trail run in the mornings"
    and continue to awkwardly mention such things.
    what I "do" oh hogwash I say. better yet "what do you love"
    great drawings. I have always been envious of that skill.

  3. Every time I run into "that man" I go to bed with the same questions. My heart FELT every single word of this post. It's why I went back to photography. It keeps ME (the one inside me from a long time ago) alive. Not that being a mother kills my soul or anything, quite the opposite. But it gives me back the individual inside.

    I must warn you though....We went to dinner with that man 2 years ago. This time he was a well-to-do client of Clay's from another state and quite a bit older than us. We were there with another couple that we know quite well. The stuffy man & his wife gave us that look and asked us women directly what we do. I was so happy in that moment that I had something else to say. I blurted out, "I run a photography business and I have two children." The woman smiled and said "Wow." And for one fleeting second I felt fulfilled.

    And then she turned to my friend and asked her. And my friend simply said, "I'm a mom," with a big smile on her face. The lady responded, "Oh, that's so neat. You don't see enough of that these days and I think it's sad." And she talked to my friend about it for the rest of the evening.

    It made me think. I felt like an idiot. I LOVE being a mom and I suddenly wanted to yell that at her for some reason. I felt conflicted. It stuck with me. You are a fantastic mom. I am a good mom. But honestly, I'm an even better mom when I'm not trying to make deadlines or research, etc. That's just me. And it's okay. I'm trying to fill both needs in a healthy way and sometimes that's a struggle and it takes a LOT of tweaking. And some days I think "What am I doing?!"

    I love you Jess. I hope you never think you as that little Ev's mom are not enough. You amaze me constantly with your talents. You cook (talent). You have a magical way of keeping your house spotless (talent) you write (huge talent) you love (do I even have to say it? massive talent). You make cool little stuff for your house and decorate it awesome all the time (talent). You always make people feel special (talent) and you really listen (talent.)

    That said, I would pay you too draw one of my family. I'm serious. I LOVE it!

  4. ha ha i just realized I was signed in as my husband last night.
    jeremy v is Mallory.

  5. Just so you know-I meant it, and I'm looking for a picture of my family all together that includes the new little biscuit. I honestly don't think we have one!! So sad. Must be remedied ASAP! And then I will send it to you with a $50 check. :)


thank you for your shout outs!