Morning Dance

by | Jan 24, 2013 | Uncategorized


It all seems like too much and not enough. Being a mother.

I’m like the town crier ringing my bell over endless days of strewn socks and wet towels; coaxing Rip Van Winkle from slumber on mornings too cold for birds to fly. Praying circles around destiny and begging God for the imprint of mercy on the sagging middle cushion of their fleeting days of folly.

We’re playing tug-o-war with presence. Not sure when I should let go or hold on tight.

Early morning light sneaks through an absentminded shutter, her bright forefinger beckoning me to his bedside to see. The shape of his head, line of his jaw; the way his arms and legs sprout into every inch of the bed frame. Holding breath while memorizing the moment in my mind.

“I think you grew last night,” I whisper stroking the side of his face to begin our morning dance. “You look older.”

A quick witted response slurs through the slot machine of his mama’s laughter.

And time waves from the broad side of the crack, for the growing done below the surface. The pages of their lives, they are informing mine.

She’s out of breath at the bar, bending minutes to fit her frame. Focused on friendship, college forms, and the hinges of her faith between swallows of orange and time.

She doesn’t think he’s funny. But I  notice the way she lingers longer at the table, smiles at his gibberish banter, wants her friends to see him wearing his new hat. Curious how love looks like the lanky frame of  her brother.

I hold the door open for his armful of books and belts, shoes and sweatpants. Wait for the wave that halts our morning waltz.

Twirling in front of the mirror, we talk about plans and pins and pray for tests. “What do you think,” she says pressing her toes to make her heels tall.

Balancing books and breakfast, elbows hanging with  handles, I push the screen door open greeting the steam of her freshly brewed coffee.

And as I rest my forehead on the slats in front of the dining room window, time’s forefinger curls back toward me through the trails of her tail pipe.

And it all seems like too much and not enough. Being a mother.

A little bit of fun with the prompt: Mother over at Imperfect Prose.


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  1. Leslie Durham

    Love this! How true. It all seems like too much and not enough.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    What can I say?! Every time you talk about imperfect prose, I think, “But no!This *is* perfect”! (I realize you are referencing another blog)….but honestly, Shelly, you are the single most original author I know. You think on another ethereal plane, and your writing emanates an originality that is rare, soulful, and sometimes otherworldy in its unique form of expression. Breathtakingly written! And, of course, my mother’s heart is pulsing with every beat of yours, and is it ever enough? You’re wonderful!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my Lynn, I read your kind and generous comment out loud to my husband. Thank you.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Well, if you read that to H, I know you are singing to the choir. Surely he and I are in competition as your greatest fans! Please tell him he has good taste in authors and in wives! What does H stand for? Just curious.

        • Redemption's Beauty

          Yes, both of you have front row seats as raving fans. I’m so grateful. Herbert Green is his family name but he goes by HG. H for short.

  3. tara pohlkotte

    oh, shelly. this might be one of my favorites of yours ever. I’ve been out of touch, but never out of heart, sweet friend. You are helping me see a little further down my path. You are taking me right there with you. I ache with you that crooked finger of time. rejoicing for the pockets of moments we store from the present, that get tucked right up in with all of the millions of moments we’ve already tucked away. These moments that leave us smiling at the future and all the moments yet to come. xo

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Same here, never out of my heart Tara. I was thinking about you while you were on that trip, hoping you were overcome with joy. I think you are doing motherhood well, savoring every moment and not letting one drop go to waste. Doing that, its what prepares you for the slow release during their teen years.

  4. Jennifer Camp

    Wow, just gorgeous, Shelly. Thank you.

  5. Holly

    Oh how I love this, Shelly. And I am heartened to hear that even when they become these adolescent men/women children, that you are still so enthralled with the line of their jaws and the shape of their toes. It never ends, does it? Never.
    Too much and not enough, indeed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It evolves Holly, but the awe in who they become whether sitting on your lap or across the room, it remains. And grows.

  6. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, you were so dear and gracious to post over at Floyd’s blog. I hadn’t seen your comments earlier, so I just left you a message–a rather circuitous one at that! =]
    Love you!

  7. Amber

    Shelly, this is so richly soaked with imagery, and I, too, read it and have to drink it in, line by line. Truly. I love your voice.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Amber, grateful for your encouragement.

  8. Joy Lenton

    Can’t get enough of your breathtakingly evocative prose. No matter what is being described, I eat these soulful words and marvel at them. No, motherhood is never enough and always too much. Unlike your writing, we are imperfect people birthing with love tinged in pain.
    The sublime shadowed by the ridiculous. Heavenly gifts that weigh light and heavy. Even now, my own grown sons tip me sideways with glimpse of infant that was and man still developing. Precious throughout life. Heart’s joy and sadness inextricably mixed with love and poignancy.Thank you,Shelly, for another lovely reflection so perfectly expressed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s comforting knowing that we will always have the moments of remembering them as children, no matter how old they grow. I’m so touched by your kind and generous comment Joy, thank you. And for your tweet love too!

  9. HopeUnbroken

    what a beautiful and delightful read! loved every last word 🙂 to capture essence and put it into words. . . it’s what we all strive for. and you do it so well.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      That is actually a miracle Steph. I wrote this throughout the day in between errands and responsibilities. It felt so disjointed in my mind. But then, there is grace.

  10. Danelle

    I am almost at this stage of parenting too Shelly. The head pressed against the blinds as the sun streaks into the living room and my baby drives his own car down the road of life. True that I still have five years, but like others have said, you have painted a picture of beauty and truth in parenting through the teen years. And I already feel like too much and not enough. Maybe that never changes? Loved being here today as always my friend. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So much can happen in five years. Actually in just one. Grateful to be sharing this season with you Danelle. You are such a sweet mama.

  11. Dea

    Totally.get.this. I felt the aching and the joy of this post. We knew they would do this but we didn’t know it would happen when we weren’t looking.

    • Jillie

      True. So. very. true., Dea. It all seems to happen in the twinkling of an eye. Babe…to man.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yep, in spite of us Dea. Which is probably a good thing huh?

  12. Paula

    I loved this post. I think it is because I can picture you with your forehead leaning on the slats of the shutters in the dining room. And I also visualize you touching the side of Harrison’s face and telling him he has grown overnight. The way you express your deepest emotions is so “deep”. I just don’t know how else to express it. Love reading your thoughts……because, after all, that is what this is. Too much and not enough………truly a phrase to ponder.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well, you’ve stood at those shutters yourself, haven’t you?

  13. robinwalling

    Shelly…those days are behind me and I cry thinking about how I miss those sounds in my home. Now I stand in my carport watch them place their precious ones in car seats. Tell them to be safe (as I always have) and wave until they are our of sight. Thank you for warming my heart with memories.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my Robin, your comment touches me. Makes me think about how fast time goes by. I hope I have the privilege of having them in my carport and tucking their tinies into seats. May it be so Lord.

  14. Brenna D (@chicagomama)

    What a beautiful glimpse into the future. A peek into what could be. I am still looking forward to the day when diapers and pullups are no longer a fixture in our home. How beautiful this picture was, and the opportunity to imagine mine all lanky and long and almost grown. Thank you for your words today!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I remember those days of diapers and pullups and feeling like it would never end. And then I blinked. It’s so true, the thing you don’t want to hear during those exhausting years, about how time goes by so fast. It does.

  15. Alicia

    This is STUNNING, friend. And your opening and closing line— just ringing in my head and slipping into my heart where I’ll need to soak it in and ponder it more… “And it all seems like too much and not enough. Being a mother.” I remember when I told my husband I didn’t want to be “just a mom” and he wisely said, “the word mom doesn’t belong next to the word just”. And what a gift- this thing called motherhood which is so full and so emptying all at once. This post made me want to visit your house and savor the beauty unfolding there!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m not sure how beautiful you would find it Alicia, but I would pull out a chair, pour you some tea and laugh about it all with you any day.

  16. Jillie

    Dear Shelly…Been there, done that. Seriously, the only time my son and I came to words, was when he brought his ‘intended’ home. I wasn’t sure she was right for him. I should have trusted God with that. All worked out well, and she is perfect for him.
    There is a special bond between mother and son…I fully believe that…and the love I have for my son is so deep, it hurts sometimes. You have put this into words for me today in that unique way that is all your own. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      My son brings me so much joy, as I know your does to you Jillie. And to think how afraid I was to have a boy when I was pregnant. He has taught me so much about life.

  17. Lisa @ {4}SLP

    This is beautiful Shelly… My heart is tied right up in your words, as tears spring to my eyes. Oh the ache of motherhood. How it seems to much to handle some days, but I crave it all the time.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lisa, its like giving birth, the pain is outweighed by the joy.

  18. Quiet Girl

    Oh. This made me gasp. <3

  19. Nikki

    Oh mylanta, Shelly… I realized I wasn’t breathing around ‘tail pipe’. which is what motherhood does to me most days–takes my breath away…

    this is breathtaking, friend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Nikki. And yes, motherhood does do that often to me too, take my breath away.

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