Sunday, April 14, 2013

the Leftover Mom

Some days I want to create a title for myself. And some days, that title is

  "The Leftover Mom".

Example: When I take my 7 year old son to his music class and he has lost his music book (there is only ONE he plays from) yet AGAIN and I get 'that look' from the teacher yet AGAIN and I totally understand that look of frustration because I am feeling it with myself already.. Sometimes I just want to say "I'm sorry. It is just that he has a 'leftover mom'.

Example: When I go to get the kids out of their car seats at the store and I see that one little boy has on his pants backwards AND inside out and the other has 2 different shoes on, untied, with girl socks. And instead of sweet clean chubby soft cheeks that I had just washed before we left, all I see is chocolately dirty snotty faces... I want to just wear a t-shirt with big bold lettering across the front that says "Don't judge me... I'm a leftover mom".

Example: When I have to answer the door and it is nearly noon and I am in my pajamas with my hair all akimbo and no bra or make up on. I want to say, "Oh, hello. I'm a leftover mom. How can I help you?"

Example: When I am sitting in Church on sunday morning and I am so proud of myself because we are there a few minutes early and I didn't even forget my sharing time lesson posters - then I look over and see my 3 year old straddling the bench, shoes off, shirt untucked and hair all staticy crazy. So I say to myself, he's only 3 - it's ok. Then I look up during the sacrament and see my 12 year old with a huge boingy chuck of hair sticking up on the back of his head, and his pants are about 3 inches above his ankles. I just internally sigh and think to myself, "I'm just a leftover mom."

I mean - I used to have a TON of energy and drive and focus and I was FUN. Like - a LOT of fun. I used to take my oldest children to the park nearly daily and I would make fun treats all the time with them. My oldest children started in dance and sports at the stupid tender age of 3!! (THREE - what ever were we thinking?) I used to read books out loud to my kids every night. I used to help every child with every homework assignment. I used to attend every single school function, recital, performance, Primary talk, etc. that they had.

Then I had 3 kids. Then 4. get the picture.

A little bit of THAT mom faded away with each new child, with each passing day, with each passing year.

My gray hairs jumped from 18% of my total head coverage to nearly 55%.

My patience decreased along the way - I believe at last count I am down to the line just under "minimum fill level".

My waist line expanded, my wallet grew thin.

My scrapbooking and crafting and sewing hobbies sort of went from 'fun-exciting-can't-wait-to-do-this-every-night-when-kids-are-in-bed' to 'when-i-have-time-on-the-weekend' to 'once-a-year-when-on-a-retreat' to 'Viki-are-you-ever-going-to-get-rid-of-that-room-full-of-stuff-collecting-dust-on-it?"

My 'crank up the music and dance around the kitchen holding a baby without a care in the world' changed to 'please just go upstairs and watch cartoons for a minute (or 60) so I can clean the countertops for the 6th time today'.

My Halloween costumes went from 'planned in advance and hand-sewn' to '5 minutes before trick-or-treating-grab whatever is in that box that might fit you'.

In essence - I have become a shadow of what I used to be as a mother.

I am leftover. And sadly, that is what my kids get of me these days - just the leftover mother.

I have never been one who likes to heat up the leftovers - they are just never quite as tasty after sitting in the fridge all night - or several nights. But, my sweet hubby has always liked to eat the leftovers. He will even do it happily without re-warming them up. I do sort of admire him for this. And for his ability to really appreciate the leftovers.

There is something to be said here about the possibilities that a dish of leftovers hold. I have had some success with transforming some leftover noodles or sauces into some really wonderful casseroles before. And when my kids gobble it up and express gratitude for it - it gives me HOPE.

HOPE that I can still make something of my left-over self. HOPE that I can become better with each day - that I can 'spice up' my mothering, adding in a dash of wisdom, a teaspoon of experience, a cup of empathy in place of the missing energy and freshness.

After all, I am sort of 'living proof' that something halfway decent can come from a 'leftover' mother. I am number 10 of 11 children. I don't pretend to insinuate anything even remotely negative about my nearly perfect mother. I am just sayin' that I remember a time or two when my needs were not on the top of her plate - what with 10 other children, grandchildren, a husband that was not only traveling the world and gone all the time, but who quite frankly required her limitless assistance as a secretary, cook, etc.

What did I take away from my own 'leftover' mother? I learned from her example that her marriage and my father were her priorities. I learned that even though she was older and was tired, she always put us children and our needs and concerns ahead of personal comforts and even sleep.

I have seen evidenced in my own life the fruits that can come from a large family - the sibling camaraderie that is held between all 11 children, the endless amounts of love that overflows at every gathering, the inherent eternal prosperity that lies in posterity.

I have felt deep within my heart time and again as I was being raised by my own 'leftover mother' that my mother truly KNEW that she was a daughter of regal birth, that her place in mortality as a wife and mother were her sacred calling and duty.

I know that is where I need to be, to get to, to feel about my own roll as a mother to my seven children. I want to be able to one day look back on my days as a 'leftover mother' and know in my heart of hearts that I gave it my all. That I gave and gave and forgave till it hurt. That I shared and expressed and testified till my spark lit their own candles aflame. That I cherished and enveloped and loved my children until I truly had nothing left over at all.

But, until that day comes, one piece of understanding at a time, I hope that you will forgive me in advance for
the appearance of myself or my offspring
the screams that may inadvertently escape my lips with no forethought
the meetings that I will be late to
the practices I will forget
the children I will leave somewhere for too long cause I simply forgot
the meals I will burn or destroy with too much jalapeno
the teeth that will need cavities filled cause i didn't floss my kids well enough
the state of my home that on more days than not will merit the sign hanging near the front door
the car that is filled with crumbs or sticky lollipop sticks
the bedraggled and tired state of my eyes

After all, I am just a 'leftover mother!'


  1. I'd tell you are being to hard on yourself, but since I feel like your words could just have easily been my own, I'll settle for, "I feel ya!" When I got to "the teeth that will need cavities filled cause I didn't floss my kids well enough" I literally laughed out loud...I had the exact chew out session with myself last night! We truly are kindred spirits, and as a fellow leftover mom, I consider myself in good company. You are amazing! You are fun! And because of all of that plus a little bit more, you're the kind of mom I keep reminding myself to try to be more like. Love your wonderful guts!!!

  2. Brilliantly put. Amen, sistah...

  3. How is it that you figure out how to express my feelings exactly? I was just thinking something similar to this in sacrament meeting today as I remembered my oldest child at 2 knowing who Joseph Smith was by recognition, reading the Book of Mormon to him every day, teaching him so much more than I feel I am teaching my younger ones. I feel like I am pulled in so many different directions, and I don't take the time to be the same kind of mother that the older ones had. (In some cases that is a really good thing - I have learned a thing or two as well as just being a "leftover mom".) Anyway,thank you for echoing my feelings and giving me hope that my children can still learn from me and that I still have valuable things to contribute to their lives, even if other parts of my life are in chaos!

  4. Well said!!! And it's so nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling this same way often!

  5. absolutely perfect and beautifully written. I echo many of your sentiments.

  6. Perfect! I didn't know there was name for my condition....I will join you in the "leftover mother" club! As a note too...I absolutely LOVE leftovers and try hard to make extra one night just so I won't have to cook the next! AWESOME!!! Love Ya are way cooler than ME!!!

  7. There is nothing on the market that is more well stated than this! Please publish it somewhere so that I can buy it!!

  8. Beautiful and so full of hope.

  9. Thank you for the fun, inciteful read. You have expressed beautifully the life of a mother. I'm finding that motherly intuition reinvents itself when grandchildren come into the picture. Fun, fun, fun!!

  10. Loved this -- SO TRUE. I get discouraged when I compare the energy and zest I had when I just had a few kids to what I have now. But on the other hand, I've learned that kids don't care if you spent hours making a fancy birthday cake or just bought one from the bakery. =)

  11. Viki, May I share this on my blog?