Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding Moments to Breathe

(reposting from the Fall 2010 edition of Women on the Move, http://momsmoments.ca/


“Yeah baby.”
“Yes sweetie.”
“What is it love?”

Seriously? I turn to see her, my almost 2-year-old, who has now turned the entire carton of goldfish upside down on the couch and is dancing on the tiny pieces underneath her feet.

“Mama. Yook.” She points at the scattered yellow crackers, grinning from ear to ear. “Uh oh, Mom.”

This is typical for me, a working, stay-at-home single mom. It’s times like these I really wish I could call on someone else to have an extra measure of grace. I search for the teachable moment, but instead my pure exhaustion is just under the surface, grating against my nerves.

“You’re kidding.” She blinks. “Do you realize how tired I am?”

The dancing stops and she blinks again and points at the mound. “Mama, yook!”

You know that old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk?” I’m pretty sure it exists because we all know it’s inevitable the milk will spill and we will find that it is the one thing that makes life feel simply unbearable. It will be that spastic moment we’re weeping and not even sure why.

I bend low to help pick up the pieces. She watches me, and in a moment follows my movement. One goldfish at a time.

Being a single mom is hard. Anyone who says otherwise must be paying a Nanny. It’s hard work. It’s wearisome. Being the only one in the game without a relief will wear anyone down fast, and sometimes without warning. I don’t think any single moms imagined that this would be part of our story. I had dreams. Hopes. Plans.

But things happen. Our dreams scatter into stormy gales, and we’re left grasping at pieces of what we once held so dearly.

Next thing you know, you’re standing in a kitchen, looking at blinking eyes and a pile of goldfish, wondering how you’re going to breathe deep enough to get through the next moment.

I don’t know much, but I know it starts with bending low, and starting with one fish. Putting one thing back where it belongs. In the bowl. In the garbage. In your heart. Before you know it, those little people who watch quietly at your side, will bend next to you. They’ll pick up their pieces. You work together and teach.

“Yeah baby.”
Her tiny arms wrap around my neck, and I breathe.

The mess will disappear. Hurts do heal.

{p.s. just a reminder that we are migrating over to theorganicbirdblog.com. please update your feeds and readers!! thank you!}


  1. I saw your post in my "blogs I follow" and clicked. I must be super speedy because you haven't even linked up yet! The whole time I was reading I was resonating because I am weary a lot and I'm not even a single mom!

    Anyway, back to your post. In a word: Beautiful. My heart ached and then filled with joy as the images played out in my head. You are amazing. You are wonderful, even in your weariness.

  2. Andrea,
    Love your writing, love your observations, love your heart. So glad we met through Jen!

    Your last paragraph about picking things up one at a time is the best. Can't wait to read more.

  3. Andrea, I don't know how single moms do it, when I struggle to do it and I'm not alone in the game. Hurts do heal with time and those dreams that seem crushed will become new better dreams.

  4. Such a beautiful post...especially that last line. I am so grateful God loves us..mess and all but does not leave us in that mess. Times are hard...often to a point where we wonder how we can make it...and yet we do. I think single Moms are some of the strongest and bravest people I know. What you do matters. So. Much. Especially to that sweet little one.

  5. Andrea,
    I love this. I think all moms can relate to this -- the weary, day-in-day-out trudge, the picking up the pieces. It is hrd -- and doubly so when you are doing it alone! This is beautiful writing -- so raw and honest.

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving your heartfelt comment on Graceful today. You know, I worried when I published that vampire post that readers would think I was creepy and weird. I'm so glad it resonated with at least one person! I'm still afraid of dying...just not quite as much (on most days!).

  6. @Jen

    Thank you Jen! You were super speedy yesterday :)

  7. @Amy Sullivan

    I'm glad we've met too :) Thanks for stopping by!

  8. @Michelle

    Thank you for those encouraging words. I know being a mom is hard across the board. So glad we have ways of encouraging eachother online!

  9. @Critty

    I'm so glad he doesn't leave us in the mess too. What beautiful grace. Thank you.

  10. @Graceful

    Thank you for stopping by my little nest! I didn't think your post was creepy or weird at all. And I definitely have it bookmarked! I wasn't kidding :)

  11. If it makes you feel better (or gives you a laugh), I totally thought Maddie had turned over a bowl of ACTUAL goldfish and was dancing on them. Quite an image.

  12. Oh, my. This is so riveting. I love the parallel you found between putting the Goldfish back one at a time and the pieces of your heart as well.

    I am convinced God gives us children to teach us about Him. There are so many parallels to how we love our children and I concur with what Christy (Critty) and you said - I'm so thankful He doesn't leave us in the mess.

    And single moms? My heroes. Seriously. What you are doing matters SO MUCH. I admire your courage.