Broken Kitchen Cabinets

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The day started with a cold and dark awakening. Eyes open before the sun even began to peak over the horizon. I was squeezed in bed between two tiny bodies with a chorus of echoing cries; my children’s needs already pressing in on me from both sides.

As I dragged myself out of bed and began the marathon of racing from one emergency to the next as two children needed something and everything all at once, I realized it was not going to be one of those days where I could embrace the joys of motherhood. The darkness of the early morning never truly yielded, but simply faded to a cold grey; a staple of an unrelenting Chicago winter. The weather settled in for the day, reflecting the mood of our household. Smiles were overshadowed by tears, laughter drowned out by screams.

I wasn’t able to be in a space of responding to the kids, thinking and processing with depth and compassion. There was no time for all of that on this dark day. I was merely reacting, attempting to put out fires before another cropped up.

The day wore on and the needs of my children continued to pummel me incessantly, an attack on all senses. The sound of deafening screams exhaled from tiny bodies. The feel of little hands endlessly grabbing for and lashing against my own body. The smell of diapers that needed changing and a house that needed a good scrub. The sight of tears and chaos all around.

One child finally went to sleep, the other awoke. No break. No space to breathe. It was all too much.

I set a crying baby on the floor surrounded by a pile of toys. Grabbing myself a glass of water, I shut the kitchen cabinet a bit too hard. The sharp thwack of wood hitting wood, the freedom of swinging my arm with all its strength felt strangely liberating. I opened the cabinet door and slammed it again. And again. And again. The kitchen cabinet graciously granted me five swings before it’s fifty year old hinges finally gave way. The solid maple door landed with a heavy thud on our hardwood floor. Then a moment of silence.

I looked up, stunned. Glancing out the window I saw our dog in the backyard staring back at me. She had heard the thud. “Are you okay?” her soulful eyes seemed to be asking me through the smears of our dirty door panes and my own tears. Was I?

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Sometimes motherhood feels like this. Heavier than a kitchen cabinet. Darker than a winter night. Harder than I ever could have imagined. Often it feels as if I, like that cabinet, am being slammed by needs over and over and over again. Sometimes I wonder if the hinges will hold me or if I, too, will break. And there are days where I find myself broken.

But I hold on. And I realize that broken can often be a passageway to better, rather than a permanent state of being in which I must reside.

I learn. I learn about limits, both my children’s and my own. I learn about grace, for what I have done and what I can’t do. And I learn about fixing, what needs to be repaired and what needs to be let go.

At the end of the day, even the worst days, comes help and hope. I lean into my need for help, whether it’s a hug or a listening ear or a hand with the kids. I hold onto the hope that tomorrow we can be a bit calmer, tomorrow will be a bit easier for all that we have learned today.

My husband came home and fixed the broken kitchen cabinet, skillfully refastening the door without question or judgement. Words weren’t necessary to know that he was there for me, believing in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. His arms embraced me in the reassurance that even on my broken days, I’m doing okay.

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9 thoughts on “Broken Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Gosh- i can’t believe HOW MUCH this resided with my day yesterday. Some days are super hard, other days are much easier. Yesterday was one of the hard days. I felt like I was unraveling with all of the needs….the twins fighting over toys, screaming, whining, anytime I wanted to go somewhere. Even 2 cats and a dog add to the chaos. I told my husband I needed to get away when he got home, and without judgement he simply said- ok go- go get your nails done or something how about. It was just what I needed. I love my girls sooo much more than I could ever explain and they amaze me every single day with their sweetness and innocence..but some days their needs- and the never having a moment to myself to think feel like so much and just get overwhelming..it feels good to know other moms get it. Thanks for sharing!

    Monica ________________________________

    1. Thanks Monica for sharing your story and struggles. It’s so refreshing to know, even in the hard, we’re all in this together. To remember that fellow mommas are also going through difficult times and can relate. I cannot even imagine the challenges with twins, even with double the joy. Having friends who understand and supportive partners are so key in moving forward to the next day refreshed and a little happier. Wishing you peace and joy today!

  2. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing the reality of motherhood, a priceless but often maddening job. And I agree with Stephanie…… Am anxiously awaiting your first novel!!

  3. So beautifully written. As an older woman, I do miss those days of chaos with my children. I have found happiness in knowing that sometimes broken is ok as it can always be repaired. I do love your inspiration.

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