Clarifying Motherhood

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We. were. exhausted. The clock’s minute hand pointedly flirted toward the 10pm mark, as if silently sprinkling salt onto the wound of a seemingly never-ending day. Tick. You lost your temper. Tock. Bathtime is going to be a disaster. Tick. Just skip the bubbles tonight. Tock. You’re way off schedule already.

It was true. We’d had a busy, frenzied day, the rare kind that leaves you in a tailspin of dropped balls, spinning plates, missed messages. We’d driven many miles, endured a slew of tantrums, tackled errand after errand in an effort to satisfy the list – the one that lures you into thinking productivity is more important than presence. Bee and I were both edgy from different things – she didn’t get the cookie; I didn’t conquer the list. It was late. We were tired. A sure recipe for a meltdown.

And as the clock ticked past ten and I thought of everything I wanted to accomplish before Ken came home from his business trip, I mentally began rushing through bedtime, tempted to ignore our bath tradition altogether. But then, I paused. And I remembered a mantra I hold close to my heart for moments like this: Rushing days means rushing years.

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I believe this to be true. I’ve lived years rushing days, wishing away moments, discarding seconds as if they’re useless commodities unworthy of savoring. And if anything is worthy of savoring, it is this time – this very moment of this very day with the very children who have been entrusted to us.

And so, I reset. And I knelt down, forehead to forehead. “Lady? Are you in the mood for bubbles tonight?”

It’s moments like this that are difficult to put into words – the brief lapse when a fury of light enters her eyes and her smile blooms into a field of unapologetic sunflowers – widening beyond belief. She giggled, “Yes, yes, yes!” running down the hallway as she discarded layer after layer of clothing and readied her bath toys for a surefire adventure.

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And as the bubbles emerged and her damp hair created tendrils and her toes grew pruney, we talked. We apologized for our tantrums and laughed at the day’s misfortunes and theorized over whether or not Dad was going to come home with treats for his favorite girls. And as the warm bubbles soothed Bee’s skin, the quiet moment cleansed my soul.

It was a day of imperfections, this much is true. But it’s not lost on me that this moment of restoration – this opportunity to begin anew, even before the moon had fully risen – might have been missed. How many times have I rushed through bathtime, focusing on the means rather than the moment? How often had I forgone the bubbles – the joy, the light, the magic – in lieu of time and schedules and routines?

As I scooped her up and wrapped her into a cozy towel, I thanked her for a lovely night. She smiled, “No prob, mom,” and yawned as we rocked in her chair for a bit. I sang her a lullaby as her eyelids fluttered and the clock ticked past 11pm. But this time, the ticks weren’t harsh. Its mood had changed. Our mood had changed.

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It had been clarified, by nothing more than a few bubbles and a dose of truth. Tick. We have this moment. Tock. Let it be ours.

This is part of a three-part series of essays for The Honest Company, one of my favorite brands for mothers. Thank you for reading, and please enjoy $10 off $40 for your first purchase with promo code DFM10OFF40. (Code applies to first-time orders only, one per customer. Valid for U.S. and Canada; expires 11/26/14!)

  • I’ve only just recently found your beautiful blog and may have spent a good long while reading through your past posts and I simply want to thank you. Inspiration, encouragement, and sometimes a little kick in the butt (like this post) are all over what you’ve created here. You are an incredible woman and I’m glad to have “bumped” into your world.

  • Thank you for this post Erin. It brought me to tears in the realization that I do the same thing too many times, rush too many minutes. I’m going to slow down tonight and let my daughter splash me with the bath water while we giggle.

  • Beautiful. I don’t have children but that quote, “Rushing days means rushing years” is incredible. Also, love the new look :D

  • I think I need to get myself some of those bubbles and clarity too. Thanks, Erin. Your posts are a constant source of inspiration, even for someone living across the world. Makes me realize that motherhood (and life and love and grace and faith) is a universal language, and it connects us no matter how different our personalities and situations in life are. The challenges, the joy, ahhh–you’re sooo good at eloquently putting to words what most of us can’t fully describe! Thank you for creating a space where moms and creatives (like me) can feel at home, and be unafraid of judgment. Your life is a blessing, which is such a cool job by the way (being a blessing, that is). :) God bless you and your husband and Bee, even more.

    • Oh Riz – what a sweet comment to receive. I so appreciate your encouragement! And yes, motherhood is certainly a universal language, isn’t it?! :)

  • So beautifully written, as always, and it makes me so happy to see a young mother figure out very early in the game of parenting how important those moments are. My only child is turning 27 in two weeks and I am reliving those bathtime bubble days with my 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter and they are just as delightful the second time around. I hope you continue to memorialize in writing or just in your mind all of these moments, good and bad, for you will want to draw on them down the line. She is delicious!

    • Oh Dianah – what a beautiful perspective; thank you for sharing that with me! I’m sure your daughter is SO lucky to have you as a mother and grandmother to her daughter. I know I’m so grateful for my own mother(s) and how they love Ms. Bee!

  • I’m not a mom yet, but when I become one I might just borrow that mantra so beautiful moments like this one you had with Bee don’t slip away. :)

  • That’s a beautiful moment. Thank you for sharing. I always wanted to rush through the bath part of the evening and then one day my eldest, a first grader at the time, decided he was done with baths and the youngest followed suit. In one small area of their lives I had become unnecessary. Since then I’ve tried to savor every bit of time that we are together.

  • This article honestly just made my eyes well up. I’m a new mama and entrepreneur struggling to find enough time in the day…sometimes I feel like it’s beyond difficult not to rush through it all when you have too much on your plate. Your words are a graceful reminder to be meaningful. And ps. I’m excited to be attending Alt Summit this winter and hope to meet you :)

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