Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Tonight I sat on my back patio eating sweet cherries and dark chocolate chips with a day's worth of projects scattered across my lawn.  I spent the day spray painting candle holders, disassembling thrift store chairs, and planting various succulents.  I can't seem to stop myself from buying succulents.

When Jordan is gone I try to get a lot done for two reasons.  First, I need a good project to keep me from crawling back into bed.  Second, Jordan and I together are possibly the slowest decision-makers on the planet.  I took us three weeks to decide where to plant our blackberries.  It took us a year and a half to find a suitable house to buy.  And we have been debating the pros and cons of raising chickens for about 4 years.  I anticipate a definitive decision by next summer.  We are both careful and deliberate, but sometimes my creative soul likes to put a nail in the wall without measuring, or buy a plant just because it's beautiful.  So I tap into my creativity and work on projects when Jordan is out of town.  I am sure this worries him a little.

At day's end I admired my completed projects.  I managed to avoided the sadness that sometimes settles on me when I am home alone with my thoughts.  As I gazed across the evidence of my productivity I couldn't help but remember last summer's project...singular project.  I managed to salvage an old wooden picnic table from my mother-in-law's back patio.  It was in pretty good shape, but needed to be sanded and painted.  Jonah was finally taking regular naps, and I thought it would be a simple project to tackle.  I was wrong.  It seemed to take forever.  When you are a full-time mom your window of productivity dwindles significantly.  My window was unpredictable at best.  I would sand one leg of the table, with a baby monitor strapped to my waist, until I heard Jonah stirring in his bed.  Sometimes I would ignore him and keep sanding, hoping he would fall asleep again.  He never did.  The next day I would sand a little of the table top, or begin a coat of paint, once again to be interrupted by sweet mumbles or cries.  As time passed I slowly whittled away at this simple task in my rare and quiet, solitary moments.

I felt very attached to finishing that project.  I needed some evidence that I could accomplish things and be a mom.  I think everyone wants to feel accomplished.  But today as I looked over the multitude of completed projects before me, and gazed at my community pool blue picnic table, I had a small regret enter my heart.  I wish I would have been more accepting of the season of motherhood.  I wish I would have done less, and set more projects aside.  I wish I would have hurried into pick up Jonah as soon as I heard his little coo.  I wish I would have spent more time holding my sweet boy, even if my picnic table would have remained unfinished.

I know it is an unrealistic wish.  We each have a need to be doing things that are fulfilling to us as individuals outside of our roles as parents.  Projects for me brought some measure of fulfillment, and I was a good mom.  I gave my heart and soul to Jonah, and put his needs first.  But childhood is fleeting, and life is fleeting.  Despite acknowledging my best efforts I still feel moments of lingering regret.  Tonight I find myself longing for another minute to stare into Jonah's sweet blue eyes, instead of admiring another project completed. 

If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly. Thomas S. Monson


  1. David and I had a somewhat related conversation last night. Right now I feel a lot of self inflicted pressure to get XY and Z all squared away before the babies are born. Unfortunately, my energy and ability to get things done is about 1/3 my normal capacity (if that). So I work hard at these organizing projects and run out of energy to get the usual done, and then feel badly about it. I am used to not having health limitations and I don't handle it very well. Maybe this doesn't seem that similar, but your words resonated with me and I appreciate the reminder to just BE instead of feeling so compelled to DO all the time.

  2. I needed this post. We have been eating at a card table for months now while our kitchen table, that I am sentimentally attached to, sits in the garage, partly sanded, unfinished. Each night when I go to bed I think back over the day to what I accomplished, and find myself feeling discouraged by that, and many other unfinished projects. Like you said, I determine my worth based on the day's productivity but do not take into accoun my never-ending efforts raising four young children.

    I'll make you a deal, I will try harder to appreciate my time with my kids and be less consumed with projects, if you will give yourself more credit for trying to be a mom and and individual at the same time, without feeling too much regret about the way you lived with Jonah.

    Thanks as always Julie.

  3. Hi Jane!

    My thoughts are like matter where we are in life hard things, easy things, fun things, sad things we must live in the moment. Moments are what threads our lives together and in the end all those moments big and little with make up who we are. I guess I'm just trying to find happiness now--even though my own loss is terrible. I want to be happy now, with what i have.

    I have tons of unrealistic wishes and unrealistic regrets too. It's hard to let them go, isn't it?

    Your story is heartbreaking. To loose a child is unthinkable. I can't imagine the pain and loss you feel (by the way his photos are absolutly adorable--his spirit shines through screen!) What an amazing child.

    But to loose a may be the most un-natural loss. Even when my grandfather lost his son a few years ago a was astounded by the amount of pain. My uncle was 45 when he was in a horrible avalanche and lost his life. Tragic but I thought it was great this son had a life and had experienced so much and maybe that thought would lessen the pain. But it doesn't. A part of my grandfather died that day.

    Maybe what I'm learning is that pain is pain. No matter how it comes to us. We all feel the devastating grip of pain and the hollow numbness in our guts. So you are my sister in this pain. We have completely different stories but our hearts are both broken...and I think we will see that in our quiet hearts is hidden the strength and power of our Brother who can heal every loss.

    Thanks for all you are here on your blog. You are helping people. And so sweet of you to add me to you sidebar list. thanks