Mother Muscles


In motherhood, moments of self-doubt are mixed with moments of competence and pride, the yin/yang balance of life, the sweet success of a perfect moment sprinkled on top of a shitty day. I know attitude is 75% of the battle, that and patience, health, and a good night’s sleep.. and sometimes, a simple distraction from your struggle is all it takes.

Last week, while Andrew was in Iceland and Finland (that lucky duck), a huge storm blew through St. Louis. It was the kind of storm that invokes fear — going beyond the cozy safe feeling of being inside your strong house, and instead moving into the zone of wondering how strong the roof is, and how much wind those big trees can withstand. The storm was quick but intense, which is what we’ve come to expect from this part of the country since moving here.

Afterward, everything was fine, but there were downed trees, branches and debris covering the streets, and plenty of power outages. In our own yard, a substantial branch fell from our enormous old sycamore tree, leaving a 6-inch deep hole in the yard just from impact. The branch was too small to call anyone about (we don’t have a chainsaw), too big to break apart by hand. So I began to saw it into manageable pieces and stack it in our garage for firewood for this coming fall and winter. Milo and Oliver were very curious and asked me if they could help. So I taught them to use a hand saw right then and there.

I asked each of them to take a photo of the other one learning, not because I had planned for a blog post, but because I was proud. I wanted them to see and remember that their mama taught them to do this.

I think as a stay at home mom with all boys, I am sensitive to gender roles and stereotypes, and of course I want them to see women doing all sorts of things — being doctors and judges and teachers and artists, raising families and breastfeeding and using their muscles to lug around their chubby babies, mowing lawns, cooking dinners, using power tools, fixing things, giving hugs, and… yes, sawing branches into firewood. Oliver put in the most time and as a result, became quite good at it. Once we had finished, he exclaimed how hard it was to saw through that wood, and how strong I was to do it so fast. I told him it was just because I was a grown up, and that he would become stronger as he grew. Then he told me I was bragging. Ha! DSC_0278DSC_0285DSC_0288

So what if I was?

Have a wonderful day, however you are using those muscles.

3 thoughts on “Mother Muscles”
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  1. Love this! My boys have been using tools their daddy and I taught them to use since they could walk practically. They are 3 & 5 and are seriously a great help chopping wood with their (dull) little hatchets. The 5 year old has even been helping my husband run the log splitter since he was 3. I love to see other responsible young boys.

  2. Another reminder of how being at home is never the only stereotypes. You taught your boys a wonderful lesson, and even more, you showed them how physically strong their mommy is (once again!)

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