My dinner table is one of the most beautifully chaotic places in my life. It is where memories are made, no doubt. It can be noisy and intense and messy and loud. But at the same time it is full of joy and laughter and heartwarming. Sometimes I remember to capture its beauty and sometimes I am overwhelmed by its chaos.
A few nights ago I experienced the latter.
Immediately after the last plate was cleared, I quickly escaped and I hoped no one would notice. Nothing was wrong, it had just been one of those days….weeks…well you get the idea. I just needed a moment of silence.
I wanted to be alone and I didn’t want anyone to notice. They, my 4 daughters and my husband, were all so happy and I just wasn’t. I didn’t want to damper their mood so I simply did them the favor of removing my presence.
So without saying a word, I simply got up, walked down the hall and slipped into my bedroom. I didn’t close the door behind me because I wanted to avoid any sounds that may announce my departure.
I found a corner in my bedroom and sat quietly.
After a few moments of sitting there, I heard footsteps creeping down the hall. I listened as those little feet approached my door and I caught a quick glimpse of their owner as she peeked in and turned away quickly. I figured she needed something, so I called her back and I braced myself.
I assumed she would say, “Can you help me with….” or “Where is my…?”
But she didn’t.
She walked back in my room, walked close to me and said, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” I replied, “What do you need?”
Her next few words destroyed me—for the better.
She just looked me in the eyes and said, “Nothing. I just like to be around you.”
Having no idea of the imprint she had just made on my heart, she shrugged her shoulders and galloped back down the hall.
I buried my face into my carpet and cried.
In that moment I realized something that I had lost along the way.
I had forgotten that my actual presence matters. Honestly, I am not sure I ever truly realized that it did. Sure, as a mother, I know that I am needed. I know that I play a crucial role in my children’s development and wellbeing, but somewhere underneath the folded laundry, signed permission slips and gallon sized plastic bags of leftovers, I lost sight of a major truth. In my home, in this life of chaos and mess, I am not only needed but I am wanted.
Our children do not simply need us around to take care of them and grow them up. They long to laugh at our jokes, listen to the stories that make us just like them and see our smiles sitting across from them.
Mothering is about so much more than being needed. Your presence is actually longed for and desired.
If you are like me and find yourself in a moment of withdrawal, remember this:
They like being around you.
If on the other hand you press into mothering simply for the role of being “needed” for what you think you can do for your daughters or for what you think they need from you, remember to take the time to just be present. Take time to get to know them and allow them to really know you.
Your presence is what helps to make this place beautiful.