Monday, June 11, 2012

Motherhood This Week: Asterisks


Today I'll fold up the tarps and towels we fashioned into vomit-safe islands around the house last week. I'll put away loads of clean laundry, and wipe down counter tops and door handles with disinfectant. I'll empty the fridge of take-out left-overs from last week, write up a meal plan and pick up a new propane tank for the grill. I'll sort through the shoe bin by the back door and pair up the mates, find every flip's flop amidst the jumble.

And I'll get out my calendar and plan another week in the life of the Cobb family.  

This time with bold-faced, two-times-the-point-sized font asterisks for the unexpected.

A perfectionist forgets about the asterisks as she plans and dreams her children's perfect summer. She forgets that kids wake up grumpy some mornings, or sick in the middle of some nights. She forgets they'll start thinking syrup tastes like dirt on pancakes-for-dinner-night or that they'll be too distracted by the dinosaur bones they find in the garden to concentrate on digging holes and watering plants or that a three-year-old bandit will have swiped the carefully-placed tampons and recital tickets from Mom's purse at the exact wrong moments.

A perfectionist overlooks the reality that her best laid plans - made in the names of her children - will sometimes change dramatically with the whims of their natural unpredictability.  She forgets or hasn't learned yet to be okay with this, to take it in her stride, instead startling awake in the early morning hours to the cacophony of broken promises and failure drumming in her ears.

She reaches for her husband, who has been reached for in this same pounding moment a hundred times, and he smooths his brown warmth back around her, the same sweet brown warmth every time like molasses on an anxious, frozen pat of butter on a biscuit, and he melts her, reminding her that failure was never born of such heartfelt trying.

He reminds her that love made the plans, and love in return remembers nothing of their brokenness.  That asterisks are simply the stuff of real life.

  • This week we will pick fresh strawberries and to make our own jam*.
  • And go swimming*.
  • And clean up bedrooms*.
  • And churn home-made ice cream*. 
  • And get back to our after dinner walks.*
I will accept the asterisks as they fall like stars around us, and in their glow I'll love my children more than my plans, and learn to love myself more than my ability to edit real life into my version of perfection.


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  1. Definitely something I needed to read!! I always make my lists, and I ALWAYS forget the asterisks.

  2. Beautifully written my friend. Life and motherhood are definitely achieved around the asterisks! Enjoy your week, and I hope several of your plans happen and the ones that don't...well they can just be pushed back to next week :)

  3. Love this, Megan! The unexpected, the asterisks, are the stuff of real life. We all need this reminder.

  4. Yup! Motherhood is a wonderful teacher isn't she?

  5. "He reminds her that love made the plans, and love in return remembers nothing of their brokenness. That asterisks are simply the stuff of real life." THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!

  6. Lump in my throat, tears in my eyes . . . this was eloquently put. Our kids, and the stuff of real life, are not obstacles -- they ARE the real life! And God bless our good husbands, who remind us of this.

  7. This is so beautiful and so wise and so true, I've left it open on my iPad for 2 days now, so I could keep its aroma near. I love your humor, and your descriptive writing, and your passion for your family, and your quest to grow. I just love everything this piece represents. It's you.