A few years ago, I was up to my eyeballs in diapers, laundry, stuffed animals, doll clothes, Legos, peanut butter sandwiches, sticky fingers, and skinned knees. My waking hours felt consumed with tantrums, demands, quarrels, and tears.
We moms often go through our days exhausted, barely able to see straight. I adored my children so much my heart hurt from joy. But, despite my love, sometimes I drowned in the chaos.
I have lived with varying degrees of loneliness and depression for a long time, but when my children were younger, the heaviness was palpable and profound. I looked forward to their bedtime as the highlight of my day. I suspect every parent feels that way occasionally. However, I usually attributed my exhaustion to my insufficiency.
My mom killed herself when I was twelve. For many years after that, I struggled with the idea of unconditional love in families. Being a mother was filled with all sorts of emotional turmoil related to my own mom.
I write about growing up in the wake of my mom’s suicide in my first book: Some Things You Keep. Getting my story out of my own head and heart was therapeutic for sure. It has helped others as well. One woman told me of her plans to take her own life until she read my book and chose to continue living for her children. Bleeding my words onto paper was worth it if others gain life.
As my heart softened into motherhood and as my focus turned from my own wretched heart to the nurturing of my kids’ hearts, I began to enjoy and lean into my family. I relied more heavily on my Christian faith and grew in confidence. I came to understand that I am and need to continue to be the best mom for my children.
Even through the anguish of the early days of parenting, most every night I read picture books to my three children. This provided healthy downtime and togetherness as well as a dose of magic.
Do you know what happened when I took the time to read to the darlings? They calmed down. They listened. They learned. They snuggled with me and each other. They got along. My heart relaxed. Even if the magic lasted only a few minutes, it was worth it!
My children are now all grown or nearly grown. But, occasionally, I still force them to listen to me read. They roll their eyes and make fun of me, but they put up with it.
I write for kids and for adults.
I write to advocate for family time together.
I write because words have magical powers.
Stories – big ones, small ones, heavy ones, light ones, serious ones, funny ones – have potential to heal and bring us together.