02/11/2014 08:22 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Am I Doing Enough?

As a mother, the question I ask myself the most is "am I doing enough?" Like a million times a day. Am I doing enough?

When Bub pulls Teebs right out of his pants in the middle of the hallway and between giggles and wails their skulls clunk together because for another day I've failed to teach what "playing nice" means -- am I doing enough?

When Teebs' morning coos turn louder and coarser until he is demanding to be taken out of his crib this instant and I pause for just one more long blink thinking maybe Tom will get up -- am I doing enough?

When at the end of a long, heavy day I put my feet up on the edge of the coffee table and for an instant I begin to feel relaxed and just then Bub asks "Mommy, want to play?" and I say "Just a second..." and that second grows so much longer than it should -- am I doing enough?

When the floors can stay un-vacuumed
and the tops of the televisions can stay un-dusted
and the to-do list can stay un-checked
for just one more day -- am I doing enough?

Am I doing enough?

Since Teebs was 6 months old, and belly-scooting across the carpet, he has been a wild lion, untamed. To hold him, even for a few minutes, takes strength, persistence and balance. He can wiggle and writhe his way out of the tightest arm clamp. And I find that the more I try to hold him, the more stubborn he his, the less he wants to be held. But lately Teebs has been doing this weird thing in the evenings. He doesn't want to be set down. I plop him on the floor with toys and a brother to roll with him so I can make dinner -- and he cries. It's a popcorn cry that starts as a few bursting whimpers and builds into an all-out explosion of despair. My Teebs, he wants me to hold him. So I do and I prop him up on my hip and together we go. And he is so still and unmoving, so soft and deliberately slow, that it is barely my child. And I love it.

This evening I took a quiet minute to have a snack before making dinner, but Teebs began popping into despair. I scooped him up and when I should have been cooking we sat on the couch with Bub. So soft and deliberately slow, Teebs began stealing my snack and nibbling my string cheese as if it was his own. Bit by bit he munched it to a nub.


Bub chatted lightly, we all watched the silly cartoon on the un-dusted television, no one was raising their voice or getting in trouble, no one was making dinner or preparing the house to take on another day but the string cheese got smaller and smaller, and in a tiny way my boys and I were getting closer and closer -- and in that one blink of a moment, I was doing enough.

I have to believe that those string cheese moments far outweigh anything else. I have to believe that in the years to come my babies won't remember the times I said "wait" nearly as clear as the times I said nothing and sat to be with them. I have to believe that as long as I am scraping out every last part of me that I have to give to these children, like scraping out the guts of a pumpkin, and even if after all of the scraping it still doesn't feel like enough, I have to believe that if I'm really trying then it is enough.

After Teebs finished my snack he slid off of my lap and onto the floor, confident and ready to play. He played and giggled while I made dinner. Just before dinner was ready, Tom came home from work, tired and weary from the day but ready to embrace his family. Teebs wasn't wearing pants, of course, because Bub had played too rough and they had slipped off in the hallway. But no one was crying, everyone was smiling, and we had one of the nicest dinners we've had in a while. We ate tacos, Teebs used sign language to say "more" by himself for the first time, Bub told us story after outrageous story, and Tom and I looked across the table at each other and laughed. Tonight, everyone was doing more than enough.

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