I worked late that Wednesday, so late that Brian handled supper and bath time and put all the tinies to bed. So instead of driving home, I drove through the night straight to my mother’s house. My dad was off travelling again and, really, that’s just the excuse for our solitary evenings of tea and oranges.
I’m curled up in the corner of the couch in the light of the Christmas tree and she is sitting in the chair across from me, her feet up, her face washed and bare. Our hands are curled around the cups that I bought her for Christmas two years ago, just for nights like tonight. We’ve talked through our days and the season, the tinies and the men in our lives.
It seems that we always need to get through the details, the mundane daily stuff, of who is doing what and when and why before we can get to the really good heart stuff. Her eyes are the same colour blue as my daughter and my son. She laughs too loud (so do I) and she’s an incredibly beautiful woman, even more so as she ages. Her lines are falling in pleasant places and she looks so much like her Dad, it’s uncanny sometimes. I can see the grey at her temples and the bones in her hands are tiny like a bird’s. We talk a mile a minute, cramming a lot of laughter and weirdness into a short amount of time, diving straight in.
She’s listening to me. (Isn’t it such a gift to just be listened to?)
as everything in my heart spills out
about how tired I am sometimes,
about how physically and emotionally exhausting
this mothering thing can be sometimes
with its sheer constancy.
I jump from yammering about
homeschooling and my many thoughts on
true education and spirituality
and then I’m telling her that we kind of want to
sell everything and move to Africa or India
to make some sort of a difference
and have you heard about this, that and the other thing?
How this person did this thing and I thought it was
awesome or terrible or hurtful,
and everything that I want for myself
and all the time I want back
and money concerns
and how I kind of need a minivan
because three car seats don’t fit well in our car
but if I have to drive an ugly vehicle,
I want it to be weird-ugly not boring-ugly
and on and on and on.
I made a bit of a fool of myself, to be honest.
When I was little, the primary emotion in our house was joy. She was happy and we knew it (clap your hands!). She loved us and loved my dad and loved her life and we all knew it. We weren’t rich. We didn’t have a lot of stuff. We didn’t “change the world.” But we were really, really happy together.
I don’t know that my tinies would describe me – yet – as a person of joy.
“So what did you do, Mum?” I am really, truly asking her because I don’t feel simple or restful. (One of her favourite things to tell me is that a woman can definitely have it all – just not all at once.)
“How do you calm down your mind and heart of all the mundane daily things that somehow sap the energy and time when there is all this world to save, all this difference to make, all this stuff to do and become? How do you have the joy in all of this? It always feel like I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough or being enough for the kids, for my husband, for my home, for my community, for my world, let alone for myself. I just never feel like I’m enough.”
During those years that I was off travelling and learning and moving and being a “hero,” all I wanted were these evenings to sit next to her with a cup of tea and a Christmas orange just to talk it all over. This is a bit of a dream come true for us, these lazy nights with her in her sweats and me in my work clothes, peeling oranges by the fire.
Has anyone ever loved me as fiercely, to such a bone marrow level, as this woman has loved me?
She is gentle now. “Have you ever thought that it’s not about the things you do, Sarah? That you can do all of those things and be all of those things and still it wouldn’t be enough. Because really, the accomplishment of stuff or things won’t give you that feeling of being enough. You just wear yourself out on a treadmill of expectations.
Enough doesn’t come by accomplishment.
Enough is just contentment. Joy is contentment. With who you are, where God has placed you and resting in the season and work he’s call you to – today. That’s how you simply know, right now – it’s enough. And it makes your soul glad.”