“This one will be their skiing machine,” he explains, not diverting his eyes from the task—his hands stained in marker and wrapped around plastic bricks awaiting assembly. “Their backs will go in here, and they will ZOOM off into the snow!” With his exclamation he jumps from his wooden chair and runs off.
“Mom, come look at my jelly fish!” his big brother calls. I grab my coffee and continue the rounds. Each boy busies himself at a separate workspace, each area scattered with Legos, markers, paper, and stickers. I lean over my oldest to admire the blue and green jellyfish he’s drawn.
“Feee-ish! Fee-ish!” I hear his toddler brother call from the kitchen. I wander in to spot him sticking fish stickers to paper. “Good job, Buddy.”
On a normal day, they would sit side-by-side creating imaginary worlds together. Today, however, their own projects engross them. And somewhere between each call of “Mom, come and see!” and trips to the microwave to reheat my coffee, it settles over me—this realization that motherhood is found right here. It resides in their small, simple requests, “Mom, come and see my picture! Come and see my Lego truck!”
How many mornings do I miss it, too preoccupied with lesser things? How many days do I walk right by this simple, beautiful call to stop and acknowledge, to linger and smile, to speak a word of encouragement? How often is my mind too busy with the things I call lofty and important, but pale in comparison to this sacred calling of “Come and see!”
What if this call of motherhood is far simpler than we have made it out to be? What if it is both as little and as big as pivoting from our preoccupations, and choosing to be lavish with our time, gifting it to these little souls that grow and thrive from our presence. Our hand resting on their shoulder, our shadow cast over their project on the table, our smile a silent affirmation of our acknowledgement—I see you.
This is motherhood in its simplest, most beautiful form. And it is something each of us can give, even in our most exhausted and depleted moments. When all energy and high aspirations and carefully-planned activities allude us—our presence remains at our disposal. And these little people long for it.
It is there in the silent moments, settling over two hands clasped together. It is there, also, in the words we think hard on, the ones we stop before they leave our lips, the soft answer. This I realized the other day as we sat in the car together. His Daddy pulled up to those calm, deep blue waters of Lake Michigan before we left the woods behind for the city. My foggy head was in drastic contrast to those clear waters.
My middle son’s voice broke through the fog from the backseat. As his four-year-old vocabulary struggled to find the words, I already knew the direction of his question, and so I interrupted his words and answered. His mouth closed, shut by my own interjection. “I’m sorry,” I told him, “Go ahead.” He repeated his question, and this time I waited through the backtrack of words until he found the right ones. Slowly, patiently, I let him form the question I already knew before I offered my answer. Be quick to hear, slow to speak.
How quick I have been to inject efficiency into my conversations with him by simply guessing his question and answering before he found the words. How many times had I shamed him with my interruptions? How many times had he felt as though his words were not enough, not fast enough, not refined enough? I’m saying “I’m sorry” a lot these days.
Come and see. See me in my interests. See me in my words. See me without interrupting me. Just come and see.
It is a part of this pivot—this step back and away from my own agenda, my own pace, my own expectations, and a step toward them—toward their words, their expressions, their interests, their hearts.
It begs our presence, this sacred calling. It demands our attention, an intentional slowing down, a pivot of eyes, interest, agenda, and heart. And when we land where they are—we find our sacred calling, too.