The Golden Penny
Muscles that feel they could give out at any moment. Eyelids that weigh more than the small human you continuously have to cart around because she’s going through a ‘phase.’ A mind that wanders and can become lost in any split second due to pure exhaustion.
This…is part of being a mother.
My paying job is one that entails mental labor. My mind constantly thinking of the best angle to approach a story, determining the best way to present information to the public as my neurons sweat and bleed in an effort to maintain a steady turning of the creative engine within.
I may not be lifting or walking or pushing, but mental labor takes a toll just the same. Forced to always be one step ahead of the person you’re interviewing or the story you’re covering…
Add that to the never-ending job of motherhood we all do for free, where I usually find myself always one or more steps BEHIND, chasing a tiny, very mobile human.
As I return home, my mind weak and tired and screaming for rest, my beautiful gift from God is screaming for a snack or to be held or for what seems like no reason at all.
With my girl on my hip, I open the pantry, pull out her water and pour it in her cup. Maybe that will calm her for a moment…
Through the thread of an opening my stone-like eyelids allow, and the view in between a squirming child who now wants down, but the moment her small feet touch the floor wants back up…I see three baskets of laundry demanding attention as well.
I work to come up with a game to make folding clothes “fun” for a nearly 17-month old. “Look Remi, this shirt is purple, these pants are blue.”
I make it through said shirt and pair of pants before I must force my aching body, still screaming for a nap, to rush across the room to snag a penny from those small hands.
How…where…did she find this? I teach her that it’s not safe for her to have, work to show her how to give me things like that as I fill the void of the penny with her sippy to hopefully stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. Because…pennies are made of gold…?
She drinks some water and begins to let the water pour out of her mouth while belting out the most adorable yet mischievous giggle imaginable.
“No, Remi…stop that.”
Her shirt now soaked…
I head to her room, step on a building block along the way just to realize I don’t have a clean shirt.
“Right, in the three baskets of laundry…”
I dig through the now wrinkled clothes that will likely end up back in the dryer to create the appearance that I didn’t let laundry pile up enough to fill three baskets…
I find a shirt, it doesn’t match, but it covers her belly.
Back in her room, I set her down to put her shirt on and realize her diaper needs to be changed.
Up we go to the changing table, or apparently in her mind a torture chamber as she arches her back, kicks her legs and flops around like a fish out of water as I struggle to take off a sock.
In some form of mysterious triumph, I pull her pants back up and pat her on the bottom, now covered with a fresh, clean diaper.
As I walk to place the penny in her piggy bank, I see her small legs quickly take her in the direction of the pantry.
“Shoot, I left it open when I filled her sippy.”
Like racing for victory in American Ninja Warrior, I drop the penny in the bank, jump over Clifford the dog, dodge that pesky block, squeeze past the door and make it to the pantry just before she pulls the jug of water down from the shelf, which was sure to flood my kitchen and my eyes.
Speaking of eyes, mine begin to burn, but through the blur, I spot a few dishes in the sink I could surely knock out before my daughter loses interest in the tea party she’s already given her attention to.
With a cup and fork left to go, I begin to feel tugging on my pant leg accompanied by a sweet, consistent, high-pitched whine from a small person.
“Hold on one second, mommy is almost done.”
We are still working on wrapping her around the idea of ‘reason.’ So, I speak, I explain…and often times little changes.
My patience is a force to be reckoned with most days…but at times… I kneel to find myself eye to eye with my pride and joy just to experience that feeling that a penny is gold, myself.
Tears often creep up on me, as I softly ask, “what is it that you need honey?”
She hugs me…
Her little arms stretch around and squeeze my neck tighter than her little fingers ever tried to hold onto that ‘golden’ penny.
And with the same voice that moments ago produced a scream still causing my ears to rattle, she softly said ‘momma.’
And in that moment I realize how important I am to her.
Sometimes she needs and demands a drink or a snack or breakfast or a diaper change, but sometimes she just wants me. And that won’t be forever.
While my world consists of a job, chores, and motherhood…hers really just consists of the people she loves.
Isn’t that really what life should be about?
Are we the ones teaching reason? Or is it our children?
Amid the kneeling…
“Look, snack crumbs on the floor.” I head for the sweeper, sweet girl in tow….to start the second hour of my return home.