One of my favorite books of all time is Charlotte's Web. Each time I have read it, I have taken a different message from it. Perhaps, the message I received the last time I read it has stuck with me the longest.
It is near the end of the book when Charlotte is weaving her final web including the egg sack which holds thousands of her children. She has worked tirelessly to protect her babies and to save Wilbur's life. She is exhausted and knows her death is imminent.
Wilbur is afraid of losing her and tries to coax her into living, hoping and insisting that he can help her. Charlotte quietly explains that the best thing he can do to help her is to look after her children, her most precious possessions on earth. When talking of her egg sack, her children, she says something to the effect of "This is my magnum opus. My life's great work". And while I'm probably not quoting it accurately, this notion has stuck with me.
I often think of Charlotte when I imagine that my exhaustion matches her own. The work of motherhood is neverending. It is repetitive, messy, sometimes grueling, oftentimes thankless and always, always, it is constant. I often feel as if I am spinning my wheels, getting one child through a crisis or difficult phase, just to have another child enter a different phase with a different set of needs.
Mother's Day came this year and I found tears leaking out of my eyes as Tony asked me what he could make me for breakfast. Not because I was feeling sorry for myself or because my family wasn't taking care of me. But because I was so very tired and for just a few hours I didn't want to have to make the decisions, I didn't want to have to think or work or keep spinning. I just wanted to feel the sweet relief of someone taking care of me.
It has been a very hectic month. Sick kids, sick parents, soccer, lacrosse, dance recitals, dance competitions, dinner parties, jazz games, constant running, carpool chasing chaos. I'm exhausted, but I am also this: overwhelmed in my gratitude.
They wear me out, these three little loves. But, like Charlotte, I recognize that they are my magnum opus. My life's greatest work. I am profoundly grateful that I have the honor, the distinct priviledge really, of being mother to exactly these three children.