Folding, Unfolding



Over the last handful of years, the dynamics of our family have come to rest on the dependence of me as the emotional and physical center. My husband travels a lot, my kids are very active, we still have a younger child at home…it is a perfect storm of circumstances that relies on there being one solid axle to keep our whole lives spinning. {that axle being me}

I have come to feel that my main function in life is to make sure everyone else has a life. To be here so my husband can travel, advance in his career, be free for whatever opportunities and leadership roles come his way. To be here so the kids can get to practices, rehearsals, meets, competitions, any social functions that get thrown into the mix, and for chatting and conversing for any length and at any time. To be here so our youngest can have this last year of growth and freedom and play before starting school.

I’m here, so they can all be there, wherever “there” is.

And it makes me feel small, like I’ve had to fold my life up to fit into the tiny spaces left between their needs.

But no one has asked me to feel this way, to limit myself so severely. It’s something I’ve expected of myself more than anyone else has, though if we could dig clear down into their psyches, I’m guessing my family draws great security from knowing Mom Is Always There. It is an expectation, even if unspoken or unexpressed. And that’s what keeps me from disrupting our status quo right now. That’s what keeps me from unfolding and making space of my own – the knowledge that it would change everyone else’s world if I did.

Not that changing everyone else’s world would end it. I’m not so melodramatic to think everything would come crushing down.

But I struggle to understand what push for my own space and independence would be worth it. I struggle to see far enough ahead to where the ripples end. I also struggle to get it all into perspective, to remind myself that my son starts school in seven months, that life will likely be different then. I’ve been parenting young children for 19 years, perhaps I will be able to take a deeper breath soon, and unfold a little as I exhale.


  • Jennifer Christensen Nelson

    I love, love, love the comment….I’m here so they can be there. That’s very similar to my household. Though I get to go outside a little more than you. Last time I tried to do something for myself (go to school), Natalie had a nervous breakdown, not because of it, it was just a coincidence. That’s happened many times. I’ve learned to just wait it out. Some day it will be my turn. 🙂 Love you!

    • Love you, too!! Your comment reminds me of a day I had a few weeks ago when Eli was actually playing at a friend’s house (happens very rarely here) and I had a little time to myself. So…I went shopping. Sure enough, in the dressing room I got an urgent call from Abby that she needed something brought to her at the school. I was so angry at the time, and I went in a huff and brought her stuff to school. Later she told me what was happening behind-the-scenes, and it turns out she really *did* need those things for a good reason, and I’m ultimately glad I was there for her that day. It was a humbling experience.

  • I know exactly how you feel. No joke. I really do. I have written about this a couple of times myself, for Mother’s Day last year and last October after my son started 1st grade. I am absolutely the constant in my family. And like you, I am good with that for the most part. But yeah, other feelings creep in too. I get it.

    • “The constant,” yep, that’s us! 🙂 And though I never want to necessarily indulge these feelings, I don’t want to ignore them, either. Thanks for the comment!

  • Nancy

    Few years back I was feeling stretched thin and guilty over not being enough for my family.  I was doing a tremendous amount for a lot of other people’s kids at the expense of my own.  I am so grateful I was able to pull back and do more for my kids and home and family.  Time and season for everything!!  

    • Time and season, yes. I always try to remember that. But I think it rains a little in every season, too, and right now I’m just under a cloud. I know it will pass! (it always does…)

  • Erica

    Always love reading your truly honest posts.  You are a wonderful mother – all of your children and your husband are lucky to have you!

  • Stephanie Click

    I’m so there with you … deep in the trenches with no end in sight, mostly of my own making. Wouldn’t change a thing, but geez … somedays (as in weeks).