jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

It’s Almost Like Remembering (Seize the Day)


I wish I had written more during my first six years of motherhood. When I try to remember back, everything looks so fragmented, like a poop-filled, life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment. If I had journaled or kept a diary I think my entries would have gone something like this.

A doctor said I had impetigo today and asked if I could put cream on all the sores four times a day. So I pointed to the four children crawling on the table, pumping the blood-pressure cuff and pulling tissues out of a tissue box and asked, “What do you not understand?” He gave me pills instead.

Who keeps putting Matchbox cars in Mica’s onesies?

Reid rode the garage door all the way up into the ceiling of the garage today when Jasper hit the garage door opener.

Almost peed in my underpants today because I forgot to pull them down when I sat on the toilet.

I searched my laptop to see if I had actually written anything about motherhood during the last three years and I found a journal I began on January 1, 2011. The sum of all entries is as follows:

January 15, 2011. New Year’s resolution for January 2011… keep a diary/journal. Write in it every night. (Also- be nicer to Reid and do something nice for Tim every night… also, when I have bad thoughts about Tim, stop!) Good to see it’s now January 15 and I’ve managed none of it.

 IMG_1350Observations for the day- went outside and Jas, Mica, Reid and I climbed huge snow drifts in the front yard made by the snow plow. Reidie and I lay in the powdery drift looking up at the sky, cuddling in the snow. Did my mother ever do this with me? No way.

Cabot won’t nap in the afternoon. It kills me. It’s the only time I want to shake her. Otherwise, she is glorious

Tim has thCure playing on Pandora and I want to say, “This music was good depressing music when I was 19 and in college, painting throughout the night, a whole world of possibility before me.” As I crawl around the living room floor organizing Jenga pieces, Legos, small cars and baby keys, wearing flannel pajamas with a nursing bra and leaking breastpads, I can’t help thinking, “What was I thinking, being depressed in college? Honestly.”

That’s it. That’s literally, all. she. wrote. I want to grab every minute of my time with them. It is so very fleeting, it flies away, away.

My mother gave me a huge box of letters, hundreds of letters, that she sent to her mother and received in return during her first years of motherhood in the early 60’s. They have the loveliest most poignant moments recorded. Thus far it is the one legacy left to me by my mother, that and the love letters exchanged with my father just before and after their marriage while he was in the military. They tell me everything in their telling of nothingness.

And yet it’s so hard. Capturing these moments for my children is like trying to put sunscreen on four children between the ages of 2 and 5 after you’ve already arrived at the beach. The water! The sand! The squirming! You cannot hold on, no matter how hard you try.

A couple weeks ago I was lying in bed with Jasper at bedtime reading with him. We were cuddled under his quilt and he had grabbed my face begging me to stay. This tradition of reading extra with him, tucking him in last, talking about his day, is something we’ve done since the twins arrived. Special time. Talk-about-my-day time.

And for some reason that night, I felt it. He would grow big and start to smell and have crusty sheets and I wouldn’t lay down here anymore, no siree. I held his face nose-to-nose and said, “Will you remember this? When you’re my age? Can you promise me you’ll remember that I read to you and cuddled with you and talked about your day?” I felt like Christopher Robin.

My sensitive boy got it. His eyes got watery as he gazed into mine and he whispered, “I won’t. I won’t remember, Mama.” Heart. Breaking. And then he said, “But write it down for me, Mama. Put it in my special box and I’ll read it, and then it’ll be like I almost remembered it myself.”

7 comments on “It’s Almost Like Remembering (Seize the Day)

  1. Jen Osborne
    October 10, 2013

    Crying my eyes out. Just beautiful. Particularly to a mommy whose baby buy is now smelly. Not so sure if his sheets are crusty as the bed is covered with laundry. Dirty? Clean? Um…yes? It really does just fly by. You have some really lucky kids 🙂

  2. jgroeber
    October 10, 2013

    Oh, thank you. I so appreciate you reading. Where does the time go?! There’s an Erma Bombeck column where a young mother asks how to get through her days when everyone keeps undoing whatever she does. Clean the room. They make it messy. Make the dinner. The kitchen is trashed a half hour later. And Bombeck replies that someday the mother will clean the room and it will stay clean because they’ll all be off living their own lives. It makes me cry every time!

  3. Michelle D.
    October 11, 2013

    Beautiful, Jen. No matter where we are in life, there seems to be this feminine thread of reminding ourselves of what we haven’t done, should have done, instead of what contributions we have made and obstacles we navigate with fortitude and sensitivity on a daily basis. Sometimes I quietly recite “Phenomenal woman” by Maya Angelou for inspiration. The sensitivity and understanding of your child is the lasting manifestation and record of your real work. Love you.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      Just looking back over past posts to see how my writing has changed over the months and I find TWO comments I never read?! What is the world coming to?! Clearly I still haven’t figured out this blog thing.
      Thanks for hanging in with me! And yes, Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman was one of the things I found in my twenties that helped me break the cycle of self-criticism I’d been perpetuating since puberty. It’s the poem I gave my nieces on the advent of their 13th birthdays so that they could know to never start the cycle. No more self-loathing. We are phenomenal!

  4. jdavi339
    February 9, 2014

    Love this so true where doe the time go and we do wonder will they really remember.. I ask my daughter what she remembers and she says lots of stuff and she is now 13 so I have hope. treasure them and they will remember:) keep em coming enjoyed yours.

    • jgroeber
      February 28, 2014

      How in the world did I miss this comment and then just now find it?! It was meant to be! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And thanks for the words of hope. Perhaps they will actually remember the love more than the time-outs? Fingers crossed!

  5. Margie S
    March 5, 2014

    A ride on the garage door?! Now that is a first. Sadly for us moms, I don’t think the underwear snafu is, but still humorous. While it would have been nice to have chronicled more with writing, your pictures say a thousand words. When the kids are that young and we walk around in a chronic, sleep- deprived state, survival mode is about all most of us can muster.

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2013 by in Memory, Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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