This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Nothing and Everything

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nothing and Everything

*This post has it's own soundtrack!  Press play on the youtube video to listen to the song that inspired this post.  Just for fun.  

One of my favorite songs is called So Many Ways, by the band The Mates of State.  I can't remember if I knew this song before I had kids, but one day after I was a mom I remember thinking, Oh I get this song's about having kids.  The Mates of State is a band that consists of a husband/wife duo who also happen to have 2 kids.  They've been making music for a long time, long before they had kids, and it's been interesting to see the progression of their music over the years.  Now I have no idea if So Many Ways is actually about kids, or more specifically about having kids, and in fact the lyrics to most of the song are rather cryptic but it's the chorus that resonates with my parental point of view:

oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
What have you given me?
oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, 
Nothing and Everything!  

The question is posed, What have you given me? with the answer yelled back in unison, Nothing and Everything!  That, I thought, is exactly what my kids have given me.  

Sometimes I daydream about having time to myself.  Time to sew, paint, read, watch movies...use the bathroom without an audience.  Sometimes I just long to be me.  To do those things that have always made me me.  One day as I was taking this idea of "me time" to the end I thought What if something happened to my kids and I no longer was a mother?  What if I could paint, sew and create all day long and have endless amounts of time to myself?  I knew the answer almost immediately, You would have nothing.  On the flip side, if I never have the time to really be an artist again or a seamstress, if I never had the time to pursue another creative endeavor because of my kids I would still have everything.  Of course I hope never to be faced with either scenario, but still...  I had this little epiphany some time ago, but it was all in theory.  Until about 2 months ago when my first trip to San Antonio to go house hunting fell through.  B had planned to take the girls to his sisters house that weekend while I would be in San Antonio.  After my trip was cancelled B still wanted to go to his sisters' house.  He told me to stay home and enjoy a weekend to myself and he would take the kids with him.  Talk about a dream come true!  I was giddy.  Are you sure?  Yes I'm sure, he said.  I helped them pack and they were out the door in no time.  I decided to run an errand as they were leaving.  As I drove behind them, my heart practically ripped itself out of my chest and followed them up the street.  I honked and motioned for my husband to pull over.  I can't do it!  I have to come with you.  He smiled and patiently followed my back to the house so I could pack and join the family getaway.  Something about watching my little family drive away without me felt horrible.  And we had a great weekend.    

It's easy to define ourselves by what we do, but those things don't always accurately portray who we really are.  As much as I long and still hope to reclaim the artist inside, I think my children have done more to chisel away at my ineffectual exterior revealing a truer and better me, than any amount of artistic exploration ever could.  Of course there are many days where it doesn't seem that way, many days where I feel like the worst version of myself and wonder who gave me stewardship over two human lives in the first place...but it's there.  The subtle changes, the small and large sacrifices, a little-bit-better me.  In one sense those helpless, beautiful creatures have given us absolutely nothing.  Instead they have taken almost all our time, energy and mindshare, not to mention a fair amount of our financial resources.  And because of that, they have somehow given us everything.

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day. ~The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis (stolen from my friend Erin)   

More favortie Mates songs here, here and here.


  1. I LOVE Mates of State! One of my favorites (I think) is called Nature and the Wreck...or something like that. I also think it's about kids...about holding them...maybe? "Lying down, I notice what you see...below us, your arms are like the trees..."

    Anyway, I absolutely loved this post. I love the story about asking your husband to pull over so you could come. The Girls will appreciate that when the are older. :)

    If I could share the perspective of someone who DOESN'T have kids...? My sister has a 9 month old and she says motherhood has made her more efficient. I just thought that was SO interesting. We don't have kids takes me WEEKS to make a skirt...because I KNOW I have the time. I see so many mothers tackle projects in 1/2 an hour that would take me days. I think it is easier to get off task "willingly" when you don't have kids. When you are a mom and you find you have the time to sew, you SEW because you've gotta get while the gettin's good! I think motherhood makes women BETTER versions of themselves. They're more efficient...more inspired...

    Anyway, just a thought. Here's to hoping you find a minute or two of solace.

  2. I love Mates of State! And I love your brain and thoughts it produces. Amen. Amen.

  3. Thanks so much for this. Really, I epically needed this today. So this was my first read and I will no doubt be back to this one a few more times today! Hope you're doing well. I have a friend in San Antonio who is pretty hip & I'll shoot him an email for some ideas for you all to find your groove. Cincinnati is decidedly less-cool now that your family has moved on.

  4. I just wanted to say that I have been following your blog for a few months and when I saw the TLC show "Born without arms" it made me think of your little one. It was seriously the most touching show I've seen in a loooong time. I tried to connect a link, but couldn't find a good one. Hope you get the chance to watch it and see all the great things that are possible:)

  5. I love this post. When I was struggling with two little ones under two years of age, a wise woman told me this...
    The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy them!
    That was nine years ago and I am sitting all by myself in my home while my husband has taken our two boys out to explore the Utah wilderness. Boy, do I feel lonely without my family. I would have given anything to have all this "me" time nine, very short, years ago. The CS Lewis quote is perfect!

  6. I asked a friend recently how she finds time to do all that stuff she loves with 2 little kids (one's an infant), and she admitted that she doesn't often actually "find the time." Which made me feel better about the fact that I never could, either, with little little ones.

    Now that my kids are older, it's nice that motherhood no longer feels like a choice between. It's coming together more and more. I love it.

    Great thoughts.

  7. I've been struggling with these very thoughts this week (the sacrifice of my artistic self) and this post really lifter my soul.

    Love you.

  8. thanks for being alive.

  9. Linda P.5:25 PM

    Such great food for thought, Miggy, and how sweet that you chased after your family because you couldn't bear being without them!

  10. Anonymous8:30 PM

    I have been struggling with this ever since my daughter was born almost 2 years ago. Logically, I know I need to enjoy her as much as I can because she is growing up so fast, but emotionally, if I don't get time for myself, I feel like I'm drowning. Still trying to find a balance... Great song, btw!

  11. Well put. I agree.

  12. ha - told you i'd be back. thought i'd share the blog post i wrote about your blog post.

    hope all is well in texas. btw - saw this and thought you might like "mid century mondays"

  13. I love this post, I can so relate!! I'm famous for wanting 'me time' but when I'm available to take it, I don't want it. I would love a break now and then but when it comes down to it, I'd rather have my kids right by my side.

  14. I LOVED this...just what I needed to hear/read at this time in my life! You put into words exactly the thoughts that float around in my brain day in and day out. THANK YOU for putting things into perspective for me. I also just watched this little neat video that helped me slow down and appreciate what I have.

    I need to stop stressing out and just play with my kids!

  15. I know exactly what you mean. I got a degree in creative writing and was all set to change the world through fiction. I may still do it some day, but in the meantime we're planning for #2.

  16. This is a great post. I linked to you today. :)

  17. Miggy, I love this post. Truly. Thank you. You are totally rad. :)

    We're missing you around here!

  18. Loved this post.

  19. thanks for putting it all in perspective. It's so crazy how often I need reminding of that.

  20. AHHH! I feel this so much right now. I love how honest you are about everything dear. I am sorry San Antonio is taking time to get used to. I think you are just great! Loving you from UT.