As her older children grow more independent and capable, Charisse Tierney begins to wonder about her purpose.
I’m supposed to be relaxing. The lake expanse sits just outside the window of our little vacation cabin. My older children are a couple of towns away with their grandparents, and my two youngest children are out with my husband, most likely exploring a new playground or searching for shells on the beach. The hum of the air conditioner tries vainly to calm my mind.
But all I can do is sit, staring out the window at the tree row, processing.
It’s a particularly windy Kansas afternoon. The leaves shimmer like sequins, constantly shifting through various shades of green. The boughs sway and bend. So much is happening. So much is moving. So much is changing.
Change. It’s what I’ve been feeling all around me lately. My oldest left for work this morning without telling me goodbye. I didn’t even know he had gone until one of his younger siblings yelled up the stairs to me. I was in the midst of my morning routine until it was pierced by the sudden reminder that so much of my life is anything but routine.
I no longer spend each morning cleaning the kitchen, starting a load of laundry, and wiping down the bathroom of the day -- all while changing diapers, stopping to nurse, and wiping noses. Those blurry days of babies everywhere, managing a housekeeping routine, and feeling like the only one who can manage to scrub a toilet are over.
The days I once longed for are here. I have older children who can help with chores and watch younger siblings and scrub toilets. I can’t even remember the last time I was the only one who cleaned up after dinner from start to finish.
And yet, sometimes I find myself wandering wistfully about while everyone else buzzes around me. And I wonder what I’m supposed to be doing. I wonder who I am. I long to find my purpose.
It turns out I’m not just a diaper changer, dish washer, and floor mopper. I really am something besides the many things that I do.
I look outside again at the tree row. My eyes can’t keep up with the busy, fluttering leaves and I shift my gaze down. The thick, strong trunks stand majestically under the swaying limbs. Their roots run deep with the promise of nourishment, strength, and support.
I think back to last night, when my restless three-year-old climbed into our favorite blue chair with me, snuggled up, and finally fell asleep with her tangled head resting on my arm. It reminded me of a routine we used to have when she was smaller.
And then I remember the look in my teen’s eyes last night when he asked me a question, earnestly and genuinely seeking my approval.
I’m still their strength. I’m still their nourishment and support. It just looks different now.
I once heard someone say that a mother is like the sun and her children are like the planets -- they’re just happy knowing that she is there as they orbit around her.
My children are orbiting further and further away from me, but I think they still see me shining and they’re glad to know I’m here.
I’m their roots and their sun, their foundation and their guiding light.
And maybe that is enough purpose for now.
Copyright 2020 Charisse Tierney
Image: Pixabay (2018)
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist in training. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.