05/12/2015 02:50 pm ET Updated May 12, 2016

Embracing the Interruptions of Motherhood

Becky Tountas

Cheerios are everywhere, always: in my diaper bag, in my daughter's pockets and behind the sofa. They crunch under my feet in the kitchen. My daughter picks them up from the floor and eats them. I shrug. "At least she is eating something for breakfast," I tell myself. I find them in her toys and tucked into the folds of her clothing. Sometimes I wonder if they multiply overnight, filling the crevices of my house.

The house phone rings and I never answer it. I worry that it will wake up my daughter. The shrill sound of the ringer makes me cringe.

My daughter, who loves to sleep, refuses to nap. She says that she wants to go downstairs and play with her toys. I leave her in the crib and hear her singing a toddler version of "Let it Go," with the words jumbled together. I try to relax, maybe to do a workout video or answer some emails, but I find myself checking the monitor every five minutes and accomplish nothing.

I want to feel productive, so I Google "toddler sleep problems" on my iPhone. The Internet tells me it is normal for 2-year-olds to fight their naps because they are "asserting their independence," but does not offer any advice for how to remedy the situation. I feel on edge as I watch my daughter on the monitor, desperate for my two quiet, calm midday hours. She jumps up and down in her crib. I fidget in my seat and look at the clock.

Tick tock.

I turn off the monitor and sit down at my computer, but can't concentrate.
My daughter's art table is covered with markers without caps. I find her half-completed drawings scattered around her playroom along with bits of dried up Play-Doh. I think about cleaning the toys off the floor, but it seems pointless. Instead, I maneuver my way around the room so I don't step on anything.

Spring has finally arrived and we spend the afternoons outside. I stand with the other moms on the street talking. Out of the corner of my eye I see my daughter wander into a neighbor's garage; I mumble an apology to my fellow moms and run after her. The unfinished conversations are left dangling in the air.

I make notes in my head of the women I want to talk to more. These potential friendships put a smile on my face, but I wonder when will we have the time to talk without interruption.

My own unfinished projects seem to multiply every week, like the Cheerios. When I try to make phone calls, my daughter climbs onto my lap and starts singing so I hang up and promise to call back the next day. The to-do list on my phone grows daily. Every time I open my computer to write, I find a dozen half-written e-mails. They beckon me to answer, which I do in short, rushed sentences. I think about writing my book everyday. My ideas are scribbled on scraps of paper on my desk.

In trying to keep up with my loud, noisy daughter, I seem to leave everything else unfinished.

It begins in the morning, when her little voice pulls me from my sleep. I jolt awake from my dream, happy to be in my world of messy floors, interrupted conversations and crushed Cheerios. There's nowhere else I would rather be then in the middle of this beautiful, constant chaos.

The rest can wait.

This post was initially published on Becky's Blog and an earlier version was published on Mom Babble.

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