Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

It is counterintuitive that chaos would bring order, but that is exactly what working from home has done for me. I know, I know. Kids are crazy—little vortexes of energy that suck all the concentration out of the room. But it wasn’t until a business trip took me out of town that I realized I need my children’s presence to force me to be productive.

It was the first time I had traveled alone in eight years and I approached it as such—a solo honeymoon for the work-from-home mom. It would be two whole nights away to network and be the professional adult human I once was before motherhood. But in the abundance of time, not just hours, but days to myself, I couldn’t do it. Without my kids at my heels, I could not work as well as I usually did. Somehow, time passed and I managed to get lessdone than on a day at home filled with trips to Target and the park and early mornings and late bedtimes. I needed their yammering and to know that I had to feed someone in twenty-three minutes. I need their storm and volume to get me going. And without it, I was most definitely the most unmotivated, the most at loose ends, I had ever been.

I never imagined I would stop working. I am a doer. I need incentives and projects and Post-It notes and a reason to visit Office Depot to purchase more Post-It notes. But when I found out I was pregnant with twins just after my first son turned one, I did the math. To continue working at my current job while also paying for daycare for three would actually cost me money. My paycheck would be in the negatives. So, I let go. I let go of the working-version of me and disappeared into the whirlwind of life at home with infant twins and an older son with special needs. In the beginning, when all three were still in diapers, it took all of me—every square inch of brain and physical space to keep us clothed and fed and relatively happy. And then a few years passed and we were all a little more mobile, a little more independent, and I started to think of my career again.

I began to work from home, just a little at first—five percent work and 95 percent parenting. I feared, in the beginning, that it simply wouldn’t be possible. The attention span of two-year-olds and a four-year-old is non-negotiable. But I worked in the early dark of morning, while everyone slept and then again at nap. I worked in the waiting area of the gym at a table in the sun while the kids spent an hour learning how to tumble in a space other than my living room. I grew used to these spurts of 10 or 30 minutes at a time. My mind trained itself to this rhythm and its intensity.

The kids are in preschool now two days a week, which should be every bit as freeing as it sounds. But when I have these chunks of time that I have not called my own in years, I lose the thread that kept me focused. With hours of uninterrupted work ahead, I flit from thing to thing like flipping channels. I decide to do laundry. I wander outside, stand on the deck, look at my toes and then up at the sky. I pull a few weeds. I pull up very fancy recipes on my phone that I will never make. Suddenly, an hour has passed and time is winding down faster toward school pickup and dinner and the more familiar commotion of my day. Only then can I begin to get things done. I need their dictatorial selves to put me on a deadline

This is the thing that every parent who works from home knows: working with your children in your periphery either sharpens your focus or obliterates it. This is the challenge, the constant tug-of-war between being “on duty” and “off duty”. But after years of at-home working, I am as surprised as anybody to find that my kids force me to be a better manager of my time. Because, as they like to remind me, when I’m on their clock I have no time to waste.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jamie Sumner

Jamie Sumner is the author of the middle-grade novel, Roll with It. Her second and third middle-grade novels with Atheneum Books for Young Readers will be coming out in 2020 and 2021. She is also the author of the nonfiction book on motherhood, Unboundand the forthcoming bookEat, Sleep, Save the Worldfor parents of children with special needs. She is also mom to a son with cerebral palsy and she writes and speaks about disability in literature. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Connect with her at Jamie-Sumner.com   

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading