Jam Circles and French Braids

I have over 2,600 spam comments that I need to sift through.
I have over 50 posts to write.
Despite hiring cleaning help only 13 days ago and having one successful cleaning day between then and now… my house is once again dirty.
And for some reason, the food still isn’t making itself.
The baby is continuing to outgrow her clothes faster than I can wash them let alone put them in storage.
My children are beginning to eat like real, contributing members to society and less like toddlers and my husband’s pay has not increased to make necessary provisions for their growing appetites and stomachs.

I remember seeing my mom cry once.

She was sitting in my Dad’s spot at the table (doesn’t every dad have “his” spot?) and her head was cradled in her hands.
“What’s wrong, Mom?” I asked… generally if I saw my mother crying, I high tailed it out of the room. Even as a small child, I liked to bury my head in the sand and pretend that no one ever cried or felt bad, ever ever ever. But this time, I was too curious to run away.
“Every morning,” she said, “I put the jam on the table. I put the honey on the table. I put the salt and pepper on the table. I put the milk on the table. I put the juice on the table. I make breakfast. I put breakfast on the table. Everyone sits down and eats in one hurried mess. And then? I put the jam in the cupboard. I put the honey in the cupboard. I put the salt and pepper in the cupboard…”
And then she broke down again and cried.

I couldn’t understand it. As a child, I thought, ‘Yes, I know! I watch you do that every morning. I know that’s why you do. WHY are you crying about it?’

I think of that often -probably because I find myself going, “Should I even put dinner in a pretty dish to serve it? Do we really NEED a ladle? Can’t we all just dip our paper cups right in the pot and get our dinner that way?”

I first and foremost need to say that growing up, my mother always made sure we had breakfast together. We had a lot of dinners together, sure. But breakfast? I have so many memories of that breakfast table: the sugar, the jam, the salt and pepper. I knew my family would eat breakfast together. I knew Dad would be at the head of the table. I knew we would pray, and I knew I was safe.
Those breakfasts meant more to me that Mom will ever know.
Her sacrifices to make it happen set the groundwork for her daughter and her daughter’s kids. I now insist that we WILL eat dinner around the table -not in front of the TV. We WILL talk about the highlights and lowlights of our day. Dad will be at the head of the table, and Mom will be in the background somewhere making it all happen at the sacrifice of her very sanity because somewhere deep, deep down she knows… IT IS WORTH IT.
(I don’t actually sacrifice my sanity because I know my limits, but I do push myself to make it happen more often than not, even when it would be easier to NOT make it happen which, as we all know, is every night.)
How do I know it?

Because I’ve been a direct recipient, thanks in full to my angel mother and her relentless jam-running circles.

This morning, my daughter thought her little sister might be capable of catching a book.

(I know, I know)

I got after my oldest daughter -more than I should have. One of my good friends called it something like “Mother Bear Confusion” -that feeling you get when The Someone hurting your child IS actually another one of your own children.
It wasn’t my finest moment.
I tried talking it out with her, but the rest of the morning followed suit. She was mean to her brother, taking any and all opportunities to make him cry. She didn’t obey me.
“What’s going on with you? This isn’t like my regular girl,” I said, looking her in the eyes, “What are you feeling?”
“Sad,” her bottom lip quivered.
“About what?”
“I didn’t mean to hurt Alice,” she said, and Lacy began to cry.
“What else are you feeling?”
“Scared that you are so mad at me.”
“It is okay to feel that. It’s okay to feel sad and bad and angry. It’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to make a bad choice. We ALL do it. Just know that when you make a bad choice, you will get a CONSEQUENCE. If you CHOOSE to make Trent cry, that’s fine. But the CONSEQUENCE is that you will get in trouble. It’s okay to feel bad about that. It doesn’t make YOU bad. But it is NOT okay to make Trenton feel bad just because YOU feel bad.”
And suddenly I remembered something else.

I can’t quite be sure if I dreamed this, or if Mom actually told me about it. I have no idea.
The point is this:
My mother’s mother has had more than her fair share of daughters. Daughters tend to fight, you know, on rare occasions :)

When the daughters would get to fighting and crying, Granny would take them, one-by-one, and french braid their hair.

So I dunked my daughter in a bubble bath, lit a few candles, put on some nice music… I hoped it would calm the stress that six year olds just shouldn’t have.
After her bath, I applied some homemade hair detangler (about two tablespoons of conditioner mixed in with water in a spray bottle -magic). I let her pick out some of my fancy lotion. I brushed her hair (she calls her rats “Templetons” since we’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web). I rubbed lavender on her chest.
And then I french braided her hair.

Did you know that today is cleaning day? It was supposed to be yesterday, but I ended up in the city for the day.
I have over 2,600 spam comments that I need to sift through.
I have over 50 posts to write.
Despite hiring cleaning help only 13 days ago and having one successful cleaning day between then and now… my house is once again dirty.
And for some reason, the food still isn’t making itself.

But I know what’s important.
I know for what cause came I into this life. I came to make jam-running circles and french braids. I came not to orbit clean children in a clean house, but to teach, love, and embrace important people in a holy place.
I KNOW that. I KNOW.
Because I was lucky enough to have a mother who knew it first.
Because she was lucky enough to have a mother who knew it first.
And YES! SHE was lucky enough to have a Namina who knew it first.

What a wonderful chain. What a sacred, precious chain.
A chain of Sisterhood and undying, eternal love.

My Mother’s Day gift to my Mothers who aren’t here to hold their chain of daughters is simply this:
A sweet assurance that I know you’re here. I can feel you with me now, and I know you can SEE the happy girl who left my arms this morning and bounded out the door with two wet french braids flapping behind her.

Thank you for your knowledge.
How sweet it is.
I love you, Mom. Thank you for your sacrifices. They are not for naught. Your link in the chain has been -by far and away -pivotal to this link.


  1. lisa nicole says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I’ve been going crazy trying to give my newborn everything important, making sure my husband knows he’s loved and organizing the house and working part time. And your last two posts really hit home for me. I’ve been reading the book “the five love languages” and the “nourishing traditions book of baby and child care”. the latter book was a reference for the beautiful babies book you pinned. Amazing books, you would really love them. Our society needs more women like you that get what’s really important and try their best living by their convictions. I know life is rough and too busy, but it sure is nice to know others who are fighting the good fight. So don’t get discouraged, you are ahead of the game.

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