I see you, Mama. You can’t ever quite relax or let your guard down, in the house or out. And here’s why.

Because when you stop to check your email in the kitchen, a screech or a wail from the other room breaks the silence.

When you go to take a bite of dinner, a little voice requests more water.

When you think you’ve shut the door to go to the bathroom, a toddler wanders in and declares that he wants to “snuggle you”.

It feels like being in a manual car with a jerky transmission—go, screeching stop, go, screeching stop, go. And it’s enough to make you lose your mind.

From the beginning, motherhood is life interrupted.

It starts first with pregnancy. We all know it’s true. No matter how much you wait, wish, hope, or plan for it: when it happens, it’s a wake-up call.

Then when your baby is born, sleep and schedule are out the window. But I don’t have to tell you that.

And now here we are, at the point where the kids start responding back.

I’m right there with you. It gets to be so bad that I tense up every time I hear the word “Mama” (or even before it happens). I’m gritting my teeth every time I sit down, knowing it won’t last long. My conversations are punctuated with reprimands to my kiddos, like “Don’t touch that!” and “Stay over here!”

The interruptions are making me crazy. I’ve been getting frustrated and snapping more than ever. I relish my alone time, and usually have to leave the house to get it.

(Otherwise, “MAMA?!” Every. Five. Minutes.)

It’s an unavoidable stage of life. But how do we survive it?

I wish I could give you one nicely-packaged solution, and tell you how it’s changed me completely into the most patient mom ever. I can’t. It still makes me anywhere from a little nutty to an almost cartoon-like, steam-coming-out-of-my-ears mad.

But there is a perspective that is changing me, slowly.

We can choose to take those interruptions and make them pauses instead.

We need pauses in life. I need a breath of fresh air, a sip of coffee, a moment to scroll through my phone, a page or two of a book. We usually need to pause before we answer, a minute to make a decision, a moment to take it all in.

And I can choose to believe that my kids are gifting me with a precious thing—a pause. A reason to step back and be in this very moment.

Instead of getting caught up in my to-do list, I can stop and read a book with my toddler.

Instead of finishing cleaning the bathroom or loading the dishwasher, I can stop and get my son some water. And compliment him on how nicely he asked.

Instead of losing myself on social media, I can put it aside when my kids want me to put together a car track.

Those things will always be there. I can go back to them when it’s possible.

But these little interruptions, the ones that can make me explode in the moment, are actually precious and short-lived. The tugs on my pant legs, the vying for my attention.

And not only do I hope to remember them, I hope they remember me. Not as the mom who lost her cool over the zillionth “Mama!” that day. But the one who stopped and paid attention when she could. The one who made them feel important. And loved.

No guarantees, though. Especially if they interrupt me and my morning coffee.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Jenn Schultz

Jenn is a constantly caffeinated wife, and stay-at-home mom to two cute and curious little boys. She writes What You Make It, a mama lifestyle blog empowering women to live a full life, right here and now. Chat with her on social media (with a cup of coffee in hand) @whatyoumakeitblog.