I am ashamed of that time. But my husband was stronger. He could see that all I needed was more to do. And he was right. How could a mother give more? How could she possibly stretch her wings farther than the children she was working so hard to tuck under it's safety? I needed structure. I needed something to pour myself into so I did not get consumed with myself. It was then that I started brainstorming for ideas to keep me even busier. I took photographs of friends and family because I loved taking photos. People thought my photos were really nice. I had my mother’s old 35 mm manual camera that I used in high school photography class. It was in the age of film cameras. I used to work black and white photos in a dark room years ago, far before I was even an adult. I just loved art in its every form, whether it was painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpting, or taking photographs. My husband knew that I was an artist. He knew that my creativity was explosive. I started a photography business after taking a risk to buy a digital SLR camera. We did not have much money at the time, but I needed to get busy. I started spending my days taking hundreds of photos of the kids instead of pulling my hair out. I got a second hand computer from my dad and started learning Photoshop. The kids and I would play all day making up what kinds of pictures we could take next that would be added to my portfolio. Miles with a straw hat on, climbing up the big tree in the front yard. And Molly with her pretty dress on, looking out the window with her teddy bear clutched under her tiny arm. I stopped calling their daddy all day long. I stopped with the tears and frustrations. I built a good schedule so that I could have a couple hours early in the morning to focus on the computer work before the kids woke up and a couple hours while they napped. And when daddy came home, we would run to tell him what we did that day and show him all the pretty pictures mommy took.
And as if that was not busy enough…we also had a homestead. We milked the family cow, made all our dairy products, canned all the produce from the garden, baked our own bread, and butchered our own livestock. Keeping busy was the answer for our family.
And now as I look back at those years, I see such joy. Before my husband encouraged me to work harder, I see a young mother who was once handicapped by her own mind. How that mind was so self absorbed in pity and frustration. And those years are gone. Lost forever. I am sad that I did not enjoy my babies and the husband of my youth as I should have. It is a miracle that my husband did not pack his bags, I know I would have if I was treated the way I treated him. To think what a burden everything was and how my husband had the wisdom I lacked, to get me busier. It surely did not make sense, but it was our perfect answer.
My children are almost grown. Miles has only three short years left before his is an adult. Soon all my children will move on with their own lives and it is just humbling to look back at all those years and see how fast they flew by. It is a sort of grieving to realize that those years of babies are gone now for me, and that the next time I get to push a baby in the stroller will be when, Lord willing, I have my own grandchildren. Each child that was given to me was given to me as a blank slate. I could have continued sowing frustration and discontentment into the pages, but instead I worked and taught my children about work. Just last evening I had a very nice conversation with my 11-year-old daughter who is now taller than I am. I told her about how I cried when I looked at the photos of her as a wee baby. I added about how much of those years I worked so hard and it seemed like I did not get to cherish every little mundane thing of life. She looked back at me and said, “Mom, you worked so hard that it makes me want to work hard, and you always said working hard is a good thing. I think we had a lot of fun together, working hard.” That glorious answer will ring into my mind 50 years from now when I am all wound down from life, and it will always give me a sense of real accomplishment.
To all you young mothers out there that are tired and lonesome, and calling your husband because you are worn out with life, get busy! Find some way you can work with your kids to fill a need.