How Motherhood Is Like An Icky River

BonBon Break


by Sarah Reinhart of Little White Whale

After I drop the big kids off at school in the morning I like to grab a coffee and sometimes have a small spontaneous adventure with Oscar and Mabel. Nothing serious. We choose one park or another. Or sometimes Target. Only Target if I’m feeling frisky though. Because Oscar and Target? They don’t mix. It’s hard. It’s so hard with him right now. He wants allthetrainsandcarsandtrucksandcontructionstuff. And me? Mama ain’t got the funds for all that. Or if I’m being honest, the patience either. I like to think I’m doing the public a favor too by not exposing everyone to my almost three-year-old’s tantrums so early in the morning.

So like I was saying, we mostly choose a park. Oscar runs around. Mabel wishes she could run around. I sip my coffee and take pictures and think.

One day this week we hit up Big Rock. Oscar was the only kid there, BUT much to his dismay, there were a lot of ladies getting their exercise on. “Too many kids here, Mom,” he told me. So we headed down to the banks of Beargrass Creek.

Now, if you know Beargrass Creek – it’s just your run-of-the-mill creek. A little stinky. A lot mucky. There are signs posted warning of possible sewage runoff in it. Don’t fish. Don’t swim. Etc. Which in general makes my nose get all crinkly with disgust. Lovely, lovely, lovely stuff right?

Well, Mabel was getting antsy in the Boba carrier and becoming increasingly frustrated that the thumb she’d jammed in her mouth wasn’t producing any milk. I said to Oscar, “Over here Bud,” where I’d found a nice wide, flat rock for us all to hang out on. He’d gotten his shoes and socks wet and thus peeled those off. He found some baby shells and began to stack them up. I unfastened Mabel and let her nurse in my lap. And there we were, quiet and peaceful. Me channeling my inner outdoorsy hippy. (Hahaha. Who am I kidding?) Oscar getting dirty and smelly. And my baby breastfeeding in the wild, wild of nature. I gave myself props for this. The whole landscape. Mad, crazy props. What a beautiful little scene was unfolding.

But as it happens when things are good and I allow my mind to wander, sometimes I start to come back around to all my screw-ups, particularly my motherly screw-ups. I think about little wrongs. Like the time Matilda told me, “Mom, when you get angry you hurt people.” She told me that probably a year ago but I still think about it. Those words were like a sledgehammer to my chest. Still are. And do you know why?

Because she is right. It is true. When I get angry, I yell and stomp around. I’m sure it is hurtful to those in my path. I can do better. I can do much better. I can do so much better. That’s what I tell myself.

I don’t want to be hurtful to those in my path.

Sitting there on that rock nursing Mabel, while Oscar stacked his shells and sang a little song to himself – Dave likes to wear, dirty underwear – I sighed and looked out at stinky, murky Beargrass Creek. I thought about how much more I have to learn and grow as a person.

And then I really saw what I was looking at. The creek. I gasped a little. And then I grabbed my camera because this is what I saw:

icky river original


Was this the same Beargrass Creek I’ve sat beside a thousand times? Huh. Lit up like this. I was stunned.

There are two sides to everything, no?

The ugly. The awful. The wretched.

The beautiful. The pleasant. The hopeful.

I imagine Good and Bad to be friends. Maybe best friends. Maybe they take turns rotating into the spotlight? Existing within a thing at the same time. Existing within people at the same time. And it’s just that where we put our attention becomes our awareness.

People and creeks and cameras alike, so much depends upon what is brought into focus.




How Motherhood Is Like An Icky River


Sarah Reinhart - Little White Whale - headshotABOUT SARAH: Five years ago mom-of-five, Sarah Reinhart, put down the key to her middle school classroom and picked up a camera instead. Now a photographer and freelance writer, she blogs at Little White Whale to share her love of photography, joy-seeking, all the daily capers that come with raising a bigger family.

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