The prism through which all of life is seen


Motherhood is is both enormous and tiny. It is made up of emotions so unwieldy that I can’t put them into words, and of moments so small I would miss them if I blinked (and I’ve surely missed millions). Sometimes the feelings are so giant I feel swollen with them, taut, tight, very much like I was in the last trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes the minutiae is so small that it seems impossible to hang any meaning onto it, and every time I am surprised when somehow, the hook actually holds.

For me, motherhood is more than one facet of the human experience.

It is the prism through which all of life is seen.

In my struggle to make sense of the moments of emotion so overwhelming I feel as though I’m jumping off a tall pier into the ocean, or ducking through the heavy downpour of a waterfall, I turn to the page.  I read the words of others and I write and write and write, circling the same topics, over and over again.  I cannot fit my arms around the enormity of it, no matter how I try.  And as soon as I think I have, it expands, changes shape.  Motherhood is a balloon expanding all the time and floating upward; I watch it above me, face tipped up, standing in the shadow it casts.

For the tiny, the minute, I don’t have to look any further than right here. The moments flutter like magnolia petals around my feet, stunning, short-lived, and quickly turning to brown mush. When I write about them I’m trying to memorialize them in their pink beauty, their spring perfume wafting off of them in waves.  Motherhood is running into Michaels in a suit on the way to a meeting to grab a gingerbread house kit so that your daughter can make it that afternoon.  It is  sleeping on the top bunk on robot sheets because the resident of the bottom bunk was having a bad dream.  It is muting your conference call to advise on a homework question about fractions.  It is rushing home from visiting your mother in the hospital to have your daughter confront you about not spending enough time with her.  It is losing track of time while writing your son a birthday letter and then hurrying to a meeting with red eyes and the sheepish look of someone who’s clearly been crying.  It is missing your children with a visceral ache while they are at school and then, within five minutes of their reentry to the house, snapping at them to “keep it down!” with a surge of aggravation.

Big and small. Tiny and huge. Overwhelming and underwhelming. Tears and laughter. All of these tensions, some of them cliches, exist in every single day for me.

Some parts of this post were originally written four years ago.


19 thoughts on “The prism through which all of life is seen”

  1. This is beautiful! And oh so painfully, yet beautifully true! Motherhood, in its ordinariness and specialness, shapes me and teaches me more about myself, the world and my faith in one minute of everyday life, than reading the greatest thinkers over and over. Great post!

  2. A beautiful read this morning before the stir and rush. I’ve just discovered you through a post from Katrina Kenison. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Oh Lindsey. You’ve done it again. I love this post. Printing it for my journal so I can read it again and again.

  4. Lindsey, you are so right. “It is the prism through which all of life is seen” precisely describes motherhood for me, as well. I’m so happy you have recognized this about yourself while the kids are still close enough for you to enjoy them.

  5. So beautiful, and so true. My favorite part of this piece is the end, because right now, those “tensions” are running so high ALL. THE. TIME. I needed to read this after a tough night last night…it reminded me that this too shall pass;) Thank you!

  6. Yes, it shall pass! We had a very tough morning, and all went to school in a huff and in tears, and already I miss them … xoxo

  7. Oh, that brings tears to my eyes. Yes, I have. But I feel like our days are so finite, running out, almost. xox

  8. Thank you so much. I’m grateful that you commented and glad to know that these words resonated. Isn’t Katrina the absolute best? xox

  9. Absolutely. It’s such a unique, shifting combo of ordinary and special, isn’t it? I love the way you say that. xoxoxo

  10. I love that you can come back to some of your previous writing and it still feels like YOU. That just shows how in touch you are–how self-aware. I admire it.

  11. Cause that’s how it works, really, isn’t it? Side by side. Overlapping. Big and tiny. Monumental and mundane. xox

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