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erin

erin

I'm Erin Jo. I'm thinking, writing, dreaming, mothering, loving, living, praising, BLESSED to be Fiona to my Shrek and Mommy to my four amazing kiddos.

dave

dave

Shrek is "like an onion with many layers" but has a heart of gold. He's my husband and my friend, and we just get better all the time.

lily

lily

Lily is my first baby and only girl. She's smart, funny, tall and kind. Keeping up with this girl is a challenge and a joy. She's terrific!

max

max

Max is one part ogre, two parts lover and all boy! Our little man has a temper but gives the best hugs of anyone I know!

colby

colby

Colby is as ornery as he looks. He flirts shamelessly, even with strangers. He's all mouth and curls and the loudest by far.

luke

luke

Luke is the baby of the family, but holds his own. He's happy and adorable. And he's a terrible sleeper. =)

The Driver’s Seat

A driver and her baby...

I often think about how “real” it would be if a reality show film crew would follow me around as I attempt to get myself and my four children out of the house to our various locations on the mornings that I work. Right now, that’s four days a week. And yesterday would have been the day. So many details, so many steps. Clothes, breakfasts, shoes, jackets, backpacks, lunches, sippy cups. Endless yelled commands from me, most of them not heeded. And then, finally, on the second set of (finally found) shoes for Colby that he rejected and more than 20 minutes behind schedule, I put my head in my hands and burst into tears.

This is not my typical behavior.

┬áBut yesterday, I cried. I was still trying to hold it together when I met my friend who takes Max to preschool twice a week in my driveway. And her sincere concern put me right back into it. I told her, no stranger to my plight, “Sometimes it’s just too much!”

And maybe that can be explained in part, by some of the text messages my husband and I (nearly) exchanged yesterday. While looking for Colby’s regular old tennis shoes, I was too busy to stop and text Shrek what I wanted to know: “WHERE THE HELL ARE COLBY’S SHOES????” And then later, a real text message this time, after work, from Shrek, “I forget where the kids r.”

Yep.

And I have to pause here to say that Shrek is amazing. Shrek helps. He helps cook, clean, bathe kids and do laundry, among other things. But he isn’t where the buck stops. His brain is not the command center of this family and all of its logistics. Nope, that’s mine. That’s my tired, aging brain.

So after I told Shrek where to pick up his kids, I thought about it as I walked the half mile or so to my van after work. And I tried to imagine me sending him a text saying, “I forget where the kids r.” And I couldn’t imagine it. Just couldn’t imagine not knowing the plan for what happens on a Wednesday with these four little ones.

But I think I’ve got it: When you ride in the passenger seat of the car always–like with your parents when you’re young or to away games with the sports busses throughout your athletic high school years–you have an idea of where places are, but you wouldn’t know where they are well enough to drive there. (Or at least I often don’t.)

And that’s what is happening in this house and in million other houses across the country. We women are keeping these endless details safe in our brains, plus taking the lion’s share of responsibility around the house, and sometimes working too. We’re signing the permission slips, taking the calls from school about sick kids or missed busses. We’re hiring the babysitters, asking our fellow mother warriors for back-up care. We’re rolling with the punches and covering our bases. We’re doing a lot of work, and sometimes crying in the midst of it.

And you know what? WE’RE DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB!! Yep, that’s right. YOU, fellow mother, well, you ROCK!

So my reality show would be real. It would be crazy and funny and unpredictable, like when Lily stomped down the stairs a half hour after we’d tucked in all the kids tonight to angrily report, “Colby threw everything out of his bed, took off all his clothes and his diaper and peed on the floor! He has been yelling for you forever!”

Yes. So, as I was saying, while being in the driver’s seat has its pitfalls, there are also perks. I can sometimes control where the vehicle goes. I can steer the family in the right direction. And now, I can pull over for a pit stop. A much-needed weekend rest. I can hang these keys up for a couple days and reflect on the fact that I am happy, fed and free. So blessed while also stressed.

And I can work on my perspective, which was sharpened just today by hearing the NPR story on Haiti and the need for safe drinking water and by viewing (with my heart breaking) the pages and pages of profiles of children in other countries in desperate need of adoption on Reece’s Rainbow.

I, the mother/driver of this family, can shed light on these incredible needs and the fact that we are all okay. We are stressed and busy and sometimes frustrated by our lots in life, but man, oh man, are we blessed!

10 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    Erin, I love reading what you write! You are so talented and insightful! (And a great Mamma!!) Love ya!

  2. julie says:

    I’m just going to say this…..”you’re going to miss this, you’re going to want this back…” and believe me, one day you will. Maybe only for a few fleeing moments, maybe for a week or so at a time. But, thru out your coming years, you are going to wish you had back the chaos and the yelling and the life running full force ahead. But, for now, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and get to destress a bit. Love you Erin.

  3. Patti Miller says:

    Sometimes I think you are Wonderwoman in disguise. The reality show would be great. You hit the nail on the head about the job of the woman in the household. Much as the man does, it doesn’t compare to the woman’s job of keeping everything running smoothly and yes; knowing where the kids need to go and “where they are”. You’re doing an awesome job.

  4. That is what I have always said! But you Really were able to communicate it so well. Yes mothers are the managers, the COO, the heart of the family. Mother warriors is a perfect analogy! Hang in and hang on!

  5. Ginnie Offenberger says:

    One of my favorites! From a fellow “driver” of 5 I so understand….(Im so glad to see that Ted maybe almost normal-when one of our kids is somewhere that we’ve talked of for a week and he looks at me and ask “where is :name: ??”
    I think alot of moms can’t be the passenger. I to am glad Im the driver. We all have those crying moments, I had one yesterday and while the youngest 2 were at practice I planned on returning to work but then decided to get a mcflury and my hometown newspaper, turned the radio up and put my seat back and I hid in my car for the 2 hours—just what I needed!! Keep up the good driving -I’ll be waving to you as we pass on the highway!!!

  6. Jessica Yost says:

    What a ride it is! It can be so overwhelming being the command center! I can relate to this so well! All we can do is our best and keep our chins up. Momma said there’d be days like this. Hope you get some much needed R&R this weekend! Love ya! You are one rock’n warrior momma!

  7. Candi says:

    Erin,
    It has been a long time since I took time and read one of these even though I love to read them. Perhaps I read this one by fate because someone finally and sweetly put into words what I always felt…well except the part about where your husband always helps…LOL. It is so overwhelming and so wonderful at the same time, no wonder we don’t know if we are coming or going. Well, having come out (kinda) on the other side, life is still overwhelming and will never be the same for me again. As hard as it was, it was the best time of my life. No one will ever need you like you are needed right now and that is essential to how we, (at least I), feel about ourselves. Soak it in, the good with the bad, it makes us who we are…Mom’s…the best job in the world!

  8. Krista Ross says:

    Wow!! That is all I can say. It is so great to know that I am not the only person who feels EXACTLY this way. There are so many times I feel like I am the “crazy” one and that noone else feels the way I do. Thanks for letting me realize that I am normal. Keep up the great work.

  9. Lucinda (Tilton) Kendall says:

    Thank you Erin. This was exactly what I needed to read. Well said…

  10. Lorilee Kern says:

    So nicely put Erin…you know there is a reason we moms are in the drivers seat…if we let the men drive, our families would certainly be LOST and they would never ask for directions! Looking back to my first moment of being a mom…I made the choice to be the driver. I never felt like anyone else could drive as well as I could and definitely not love the passengers more than I could. Those breaking down moments are really what holds me together. Thats when I ask myself why? why? and I remember, it was my choice and it is the best one I ever made. So drive on Erin….you are amazing, wonderful, and the best driver your family will ever have. Thank you for your perfect insight. Love you!

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