Not On My Watch

The alarm went off at 4:45. By 5:20 we were on the road.

Wind-blown, covered in dust and the distinctive smell of horse everywhere, it was nearly 3 in the afternoon before we were back home.

She was off to shriek into the phone to her friends and grandparents. It was her first blue ribbon, her first reserve grand champion.

I quickly got ready to meet with yet another contractor. He would be here any minute. I was crossing my fingers that maybe he would finally be the one to take on this project. It’s too small of a job for most people to be bothered with. It’s nothing to them. To me it’s everything.

At 5pm I slid into the tub. Ahhh, the power of warm water. Ready for a long soak.

Soon, there’s a heavy, hurried knock on the bathroom door. “Mom. I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat. When are we having dinner? I’m really hungry.”

 “Ok. I’ll be out in a minute” I replied, begrudgingly.

Her brother and I are at the table. Waiting. Did she hear you call her for dinner? Yes he grunted in that way only 14 yr old boys can do, mustering a generation of disdain in one guttural sound.

We start without her.

Her dinner half-eaten she pushes her plate to the center of the table. “I’m done. Can we go now? Sarah’s waiting for me.”

“Are you kidding me? I thought you were starving? You barely ate anything. I got out of the tub to get dinner ready for you and…” I stammered.

Without pause she looked straight at me and said, “I didn’t ask you to get out of the tub. I said I was hungry. You chose to get out. Don’t put that on me.”

She was right. Infuriatingly right.

And here I was, facing that blurry line, again, the line between service and martyrdom.

I chose. To put mom before self—when it absolutely wasn’t necessary.

It was not “on her” as she said, but that’s right where I put it. The unspoken implied guilt: Look, I got out of the tub to cook dinner for you. You should be grateful.


Generational patterns, perpetuating the lie that “I should” always comes before “I need.”

No. Not today. Not on my watch. She will not learn this from me.

I look at her, exasperated, with wounded pride. “You’re right. You’re exactly right. I’ll take you to Sarah’s as soon as I’m done eating. Please put your plate in the sink.”

As she hurries out of the car she calls back, “Thanks for dinner mom. Bye. I love you.”


Mothers are different. (I’m sure dads are too, but I’ve never been one so…)

There are experiences in life that even with the most genuine of intentions you simply cannot understand until you are knee deep in them. Mothering is one of those experiences. No matter your intellectual knowledge on the subject. No matter your ability to empathize. No matter your close proximity to mothering. Until you have raised a child and have done the actual mothering, day in and day out, you can not enter the gates of understanding.

Mothering doesn’t make you superior, but it does afford you an unparalleled experience.

You see the world differently.
Your priorities shift.
You willingly choose family over the quickest path to success.
Your ability to make sacrifices and feel good about them increases exponentially.
You come to understand that you know absolutely nothing about anything.
Everyday is a learning experience.
Everyday you fail miserably at least once.

You learn time is not yours to keep.
Your learn that the daily to-do list is always longer than your stamina.
You learn that the daily to-list is not sacred. It can be sacrificed.
You learn that sharing your heart is better than having control.

Mothering is unique. Mothering is humbling.

And, if we’re lucky, mothering will wear down our shells and crack us open to a new reality, to a world where whole-hearted love is the answer to everything. Everything. Especially the impossible.