In Solidarity with the Butt Wipers

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Leslie Verner -Solidarity with the Butt Wipers3

Most days I’m responsible for wiping four out of the five butts in our household. Sometimes I change my clothes three times a day because of shoulder snot, spit-up or worse. My life is not glamorous by any stretch. And I know I can’t be the only one.

So today I seek solidarity with the mama who wipes butts other than her own. The mom who eats standing up, has given up on sleep as an inalienable right, and thinks going to the dentist is equivalent to a spa day.

I stand with the mom who sometimes wishes she could run away, and then feels guilty about it. The mom who is compelled to write, teach, create, study, or use her education the way she thought she would, but just can’t right now. The mom who thought her life would be a tad more adventurous. I stand with the mom who sometimes wants to jump in the car and just drive. Anywhere. As long as there is silence.

I stand in solidarity with the mom who feels like she can’t catch up. She is like a cell phone that never charges to 100 percent power but is constantly being unplugged, always needed. We can’t keep up with it all: sleep, cooking, shopping, planning activities for our kids, juggling job and home life, dusting, sweeping, folding laundry, sorting junk, organizing bins of teeny clothing, not to mention making love or talking to our spouses (which sadly makes the “to do” list). We never fall into bed at night thinking, I’m so satisfied by all I accomplished today.

I stand in solidarity with the mama who messes up. We yell, say the wrong thing, get frustrated, lose our cool and do everything “the books” tell us not to do. We fear we’re ruining our kids. We sometimes care more about what other moms think than we do about our relationship with our child. But then we kneel down, peer into their little faces with their tiny noses and earnest looks and we know they forgive us. They adore us, in fact.

I stand in solidarity with the mom who longs for meaningful friendships but isn’t sure how to string together enough play dates to equal one in-depth conversation. As children, we had sleepovers, played in the backyard, then whispered together about our crushes, our fears, and hopes for the future. In college, we shared rooms, clothes, and cars. But marriage and needy children complicated our old habits of friendship cultivating. We need each other more than ever but lack the time, energy and gumption to reach the same level of intimacy we enjoyed when we were single. We turn to social media instead of putting forth the effort to befriend people we can touch and see in real life. Sometimes this is our only option, but we yearn for the flesh, blood, and tears of face-to-face sisterhood.

I stand with the mom who is trying to make the most of these days with little ones because everyone warns us they go so fast. We’re trying to believe that, aren’t we? Baby chub gives way to gangly colt legs and climbing too high, running too fast and talking too much. Every once in a while we catch a glimpse of the door at the end of this finite room of mothering little ones. Mostly we believe we’ll be in here forever. But we’re trying to love them well and not wish it all away. We really are.

I stand in solidarity with the mom who is beginning to discover this is not a season to escape, but a journey to enjoy. We know social media makes our lives appear charmed, yet is glaringly devoid of context. Our photos do not share the shrieking, yelling, arguing, tears over biting, falling, hitting, head-bumping, stolen toys, or a parent denying them the privilege of driving the car, stirring the boiling soup or streaking naked at the public park. And yet there’s something in the taking of pictures that helps us extract magic from the mundane. (And also empowers us to later revise history as we remember it.) 

I stand in solidarity with the mama longing to connect with God. Remember those hours we used to spend with Jesus when we were single? (Or at least that’s how we remember it.) Eye rolling commences when we’re told to just get up before the kids do, pray while we empty the dishwasher or memorize verses at the kitchen sink. We wonder how we will teach our children about Jesus when we feel so depleted.

But what if motherhood itself is a way to actually grow closer to God? To understand more about his character? In the book Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNeil, the book’s subtitle, “Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline” subscribes dignity to the humdrum life we live. McNeil suggests we are studying God “hands-on through an intensive internship developed just for you.” I stand with the mom who hopes she doesn’t have to wait until the “right season” to walk with God but believes he’s here with her right now, polishing and buffing out the rough spots along the way.

I stand with the mom who bends down to wash the feet of the “least of these” in her very home. We cut tiny toenails, wrestle wispy hair into pigtails, change soiled sheets at 3 am and yes, we wipe wee bottoms several times a day. We are loving our closest little neighbors in the best ways we know how.

We are overtired, overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, but we can’t deny the value of our days. If you feel any of these things, know you are not alone. At least this one mama feels the same as you today. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

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Leslie Verner
I am a goer who is learning how to stay. I’ve traveled all over the world and lived in northwest China for five years before God U-turned my life and brought me back to the U.S. to get married to an actor in Chicago. I’m a former middle school teacher, mama to three little ones and like American cuisine the least. I currently live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and write regularly about faith, justice, family and cross-cultural issues at Scraping Raisins.
Leslie Verner
Leslie Verner

Latest posts by Leslie Verner (see all)

  • Tracy Nelson

    deep exhale ….. she GETS it! …. <3

  • Leslie, have you been spying on my life? 😉 Thank you for this – for standing with those of us in the little years trenches. (And those who are in their own motherhood trenches.) Thank you for reminding me that in the midst of this chaos and lack of quiet time (on any level) I am, in fact, drawing near to God.

    • Heh. Maybe… This post came after three sleepless nights where I wanted so badly to write about social justice and solidarity, but just couldn’t think past the poo. I know you get it and it makes me so happy to know I’m not alone. Thanks for commenting and showing your solidarity;-)

  • Catherine McNiel

    Love this, Leslie. (And thanks for the shout-out!) It helps so much to remember we’re all in this together. *insert international sign of motherhood solidarity* 😉

    • Ah, the expert herself;-) Thanks for reading–and for writing such a profound book on motherhood. I haven’t read one quite like it (and I am an overachiever, so I’ve read a lot of them!). Thank you for your wisdom and grace!

      • Catherine McNiel

        Oh, you are too kind. Thank you, sister.

  • “We wonder how we will teach our children about Jesus when we feel so depleted.” This. This, is probably my deepest fear. Thanks for the solidarity, Leslie. I will need to check out that book, too! Xoxo

    • When we are weak, He is strong, right? Right?;-) Yes, definitely check out that book–it is a guilt-free take on motherhood that is beautifully written and has changed my perspective on motherhood in many ways! Good to read your words, thanks for connecting!!

  • Megan Gahan

    Gosh, this is stunning Leslie. The writing is beautiful (bonus marks for the word “gumption”!), and I bawled my way through all. the. paragraphs. Because they are all me at different moments, on different days, though I probably cycle through most of these feelings every single day. Thank you for putting words to the intense joy and the fear and the loneliness and the not-so-shiny parts of motherhood. I feel less alone. And that is truly a gift. Thank you <3

    • I was hoping you’d read this since I know you are very much in this stage as well.;-) It does help to know we’re not alone even though we feel like we’re the ONLY ONES out there. It’s hard to believe so many women do this job! Love you, sister. God sees our efforts and makes up for all we lack. Our little people will one day be likeable adults! xoxo

  • Stephanie Thompson

    Leslie, your words breathe into the soul of many sleep deprived and exhausted mamas. It is so tempting to compare our parenting identity with our “before kids” identity. Sometimes, it feels like two lives. While teaching “Sacred Parenting” by Gary Thomas, I was struck by the lifting up of Matt. 25:40 as an application to parenting. “What if motherhood is a way to actually grow closer to God? To understand more about his character?” He, too addresses this question. It’s baffling how parenting is separated into a “secular” context; when, God addresses the Israelites repeatedly about the connection between parenting and the revelation of God’s character (ie: Deut. 6:7). Though my kids are older, I relate to everything here. Thanks for putting it out there.

    • Stephanie, I LOVE Sacred Parenting. I also love how God does not separate the sacred and secular like we are so prone to do. There is so much freedom in that.

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  • Adrienne Folsom Gross

    Right there with you sister! Thanks Leslie.

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