I'll Always Be a Harried Mom

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I wish I was a harmonious.

I am not.

I'm harried. Hurrying: "You're always rushing around so," my 93-year-old mother complains, on my weekly visits out to her house.

The complaint is exercised as I am racing back and forth through her bedroom, from the kitchen where I'm doing dishes or taking out the garbage, to the laundry room to clean out kitty litter pans. And then I might be up on a ladder changing the fire alarm battery that won't stop beeping, or sneakily, guiltily, tossing out charitable solicitations piling up on tables.


And I can imagine what I look like to her -- my hair askew, whipped out of shape by my whipping around – as she sits on the edge of her bed, going through her latest mail; more charitable solicitations, as she will give a few bucks here or there to every poster half-drowned kitty cat. "Would the boys like these?" She says, holding up animal stamps which she is thanked with by the hundreds. Cheap pens. Giant calculators meant for the near-blind.

"You need to slow down," she'll say, and I want to snap: "I have kids to pick up. After I drive the hour home. I have to rush. I have to hurry."

If it's not my mother reminding me that I'm unharmonious, harried, and hurried, it's my children. Usually at dinner time when I'm apt to burn things like rice: "Mom, I have a new trick to show you." My seven-year-old will lay out pompom balls on the kitchen counter to make them disappear beneath plastic cups. Or he'll make a nickel disappear. He likes to make things disappear.

"That's so magical, incredible," I effuse, to make up for the incredible fact that I'm not really watching. Which he realizes, anyhow, and doesn't care; he could practice just as well in front of the gerbils or my dried-up potted geraniums.

It's my other older son who isn't quite so adaptable to my hurrying-harried ways: "Mom, I need a band-aid."

He held out his pinky finger. He'd sought me out down in the basement putting a load of laundry into the dryer.

"Not this minute," I said, sniffing the laundry for mold; I'd forgotten it for a couple of days.

"It hurts," he whined. "I can't do anything. I can't even practice my guitar."

Now I'm feeling harassed; usually I'm the one harassing him, to practice that damn guitar that cost close to what this wifi-only mere 16GB iPad did.

But there are those who don't hurry, aren't harried nor so easily feel harassed. They do not tailgate those slow drivers in the fast lane; do not snap at the gas-station cashier to wake up. These are the harmonious, even happily humming moms, who, meandering up and down Stop & Shop aisles, are able to carry on a perfectly thoughtful phone conversation-recount of some chance run-in with a mutual old friend from high school, while comparing the sodium content on soup cans. They can grocery shop as you should shop at garden centers, contemplating all the beautiful variations of petunias.

And if they might complain about all they have to do, it's in a long relaxed yoga-like exhalation, while loading grocery bags ever-so-carefully into the back of their minivans (we wouldn't want to break any eggs). "Oh, where, oh where, has all the time gone? " they might sing, and I can imagine them lulling their children to sleep. I can imagine their children having their full attention during magic tricks. As for band-aides, I'm sure there is an emergency pack in the glove compartment, in a kitchen cabinet, and most certainly one next to the detergent on the laundry shelf.

So here's cheers to the harmonious. They probably have lower blood pressure, manage to fit into their hectic lives those recommended eight daily glasses of water. They get things done, even though rushing for them is unrushed as barefoot beach meanderings.

But what if I could become harmonious? What if it is all in my head, that I can't get it all done without feeling harried and hurried?

So I tried it. I started by breathing a bit more often. I tried to be in the moment while sniffing molding laundry or emptying my mother's the kitty litter pan.

And when my seven-year-old came in while I was cooking dinner to show me a new magic trick, I tried taking that moment to really watch. Magic! He slid his finger off and back on again. Wait, there was another one! He was learning to juggle, though only with two balls.

And guess what; I burned the rice again. The fire alarms went off.

So next time I will say what I usually do: "Just a minute."

And as much as us harried folk may hurry, perhaps we wind up having a bit more fun, as it takes more than a bottle of water for us to wind down. Maybe even a martini and a blast from our youthful past - dancing in the kitchen while dinner burns, to some iTunes download, so we can bop to we drop. Finally. In harmony.


Photo Credit: melle_oh.


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