when the days are long and the minutes are longer

Real quick, before I have to blow my nose again – I’ve pretty much been home with at least one drippy, coughy, feverish child for the past week. Scratch that. Today is day 10. So that’s practically two weeks. Or if you’d prefer to use mom-with-sick-kids math, that’s not a day less than a year and a half.

To top off the fun, a giant tank is following me around with two tiny hoses attached to each of my nostrils, pumping helium into my head. Couple that with the little men made of feathers dancing on the floor of my throat and I basically feel like a cartoon.

Or a Claritin commercial.

It must be March.


March still has gifts to unwrap – the time change means my sunroom catches the light at the perfect time of the morning now, my front yard tree is going to burst with new buds any minute, and spring break is within sight.

Still, I’m no pink unicorn fool. Hard days are hard and there’s no way around it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a thankful or loving person just because you kind of want to drive to Hawaii and leave everyone’s needs behind (I know, you can’t drive to Hawaii, but some days you’re willing to try).

It just means you need a break.

I’m a believer in showing up to the task of the day and entering into your calling no matter what it is. But part of embracing your calling also means tending to your soul. It’s not only okay, it’s necessary.

So when you don’t get that time, you might get a little nutty. Especially if there are also feathers living in your throat.

I love my children and I’m thankful down to my bones for them. I would throw myself in front of a bus for them but sometimes can’t manage to find the energy to get them another cracker.

And that is the crazy we call parenthood.

A few years ago I wrote a letter to myself 20 years from now for the simple purpose of reminding my mother-with-grown-up-kids self not to paint the past with only pastels. I read it again today, and even though my kids aren’t in diapers anymore, I still need to be reminded that some days are just plain hard.

Yes, it could be worse. Yes, someone else has it harder. Yes, you are thankful to have children. Yes, you live with great blessing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad day.


So friends with children sick at home or toddlers underfoot or babies sniffling and crying all through the night? Here’s to googling How to Play Mancala, re-heating your coffee for the fifth time this morning, serving meals on trays and distributing medicine like a pharmacist.

Here’s to knowing it won’t always be this way, to letting the dishes stay dirty for a while, to writing a blog post in the fifteen minute cracks you get during Max & Ruby. Here’s to alone time in the shower, to snuggling up next to feverish children while counting down the minutes until they have to go to bed.

Here’s to stealing a little time for yourself if you can manage it, to saving the last few pages of Sparkly Green Earrings because you kind of don’t want it to endto letting your six year old sleep in your room for the third night in a row and serving him ice cream for lunch.

Here’s to missing deadlines and falling behind because you were sitting in the doctor’s office for two hours and then had to come home and play airplanes.

Here’s to knowing we aren’t alone, to the hope of a future sanity, and to believing none of this is a waste of time.

Mothers (and fathers too), I raise my mug to you.

Still need a little encouragement in the parenting department today? Check out a few of these reads:


  1. says

    You could write about the color of poo and I ‘d read it. I’m raising my hot mint tea mug right back to you, Cold-Eeze lozenge in mouth, writing blogposts in between doing tax returns. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

  2. says

    You said it perfectly! There are bad days when all we want is a little piece and quiet…when we don’t want to have to do one more thing for one more person. But there are those days when we want to hold on so tight and not let go of our children for fear that they will grow up without us even realizing it. Motherhood is the greatest journey God has called me to and I wouldn’t change it for anything. On the hard days I need to remember that! Thank you Emily!
    Oh…I have preordered a million little ways & can’t wait until November!

  3. says

    It is amazing how fast they grow. And, it is true that sometimes you remember just the good times in the longing for your babies moments. It is good to remember the hard times too because they polish us into the women we become.

  4. amanda says

    Love this post. Love those links. This winter has been virus upon virus upon virus along with a little strep for good measure at our house. We live in the south so winter isn’t as dreary as other places, but oh how I am looking forward to spring this year.

    This was so encouraging to read today. Also, my heart melted a little when I read the letter to yourself in 20 years… the bit about the twins fighting. Thank you for that. My twins are 2, and they are boys, and some days I do believe they are training for MMA or some such. It helps to read about other twin-fighters. 😉

  5. says

    I needed this today. Found out what kept my child awake all night Monday was a perforated ear drum. Still trying to recover from the sleeplessness. Sitting on the couch right now with my toddler and preschooler watching endless WordWorld DVDs and trying not to feel guilty.

  6. says

    We are all sick here too. but the weather, oh that spring weather is calling us out, and it’s messy, muddy and runny noses. I know in the blink of an eyes this season, busy messy beautiful season of life will be over and will be welcoming a new one.

    Like the seasons, life is ever changing, ever beautiful in it’s unique way


  7. says

    The first blog post I ever read by you was a parenting one. Did you know that? It was the one about how you didn’t have a quiet time for a year. So reading this? Was so sentimental for me. I love when you share these glimpses. Maybe because we’re going on day 5 here of sick kids and the one I took to the Dr today has bronchitis and I came home and drank diet soda and ate a chocolate donut. Love you Emily Freeman.

    • says

      I’m so glad, Lisa-Jo. I couldn’t write a post on parenting without linking to you. You write so well about it. And have I mentioned I’m not eating sugar this month? It’s been stinking hard, let me just tell you right now.

  8. says

    OH friend. This is kind of in line with LJ, but I just ripped my house apart hunting for candy. It’s true.

    Love you so much. Thanks for linking. I’m always amazed by how you are so You, so beautiful.

  9. says

    We had such a night last night and I’m slowly waking up from a sorta nap my husband enabled me to take. This was beautiful. It helps knowing we’re all in this together. It’s hard and good and beautiful.


  10. says

    What a wonderful post! I love that you are willing to open your heart and just share. All of it. Because sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are not the only ones that can get mired down in the daily demands of parenthood.

    Thank you for your encouragement today. It was exactly what I needed to read. :)

  11. says

    Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your real life. I almost laughed, then thought better of it. Of course not at the sickness, but the crazy chaos. Ugh to allergies. They haven’t hit here yet and they can just stay away.
    Everyone says these years will be gone before we know it. With a 16 1/2 year-old on one end, I am closing in on some of those days, though my nest won’t officially be empty for another 14 or so years 😉
    Praying that your family gets better soon.
    Thank you!

  12. says

    I love your line about pink unicorns, I felt overwhelmed by the kids yesterday, but am getting some more “soul rest” today.

  13. says

    Hoping you all feel better very soon. I love the fact that you wanted to make sure your future self would not think it had all been rosy, but rather to have the realistic memory of this time of our lives!

    Also i have been wanting to buy a mancala set for years and you’ve inspired me to get that for my all-too-soon-turning ten year old daughter’s birthday (your set is prettier than most I have seen – where did you get it?)

  14. says

    When my youngest uttered the words “I think i’m barfy” today, for the fourth time this winter, I very nearly almost threw myself on the living room rug and wept. But instead I got out “the bowl” and sat on the couch with him and snuggled.

    I hear you, Emily. For the love of the land, when will spring arrive?!

  15. says

    Thank you for a little unromantic honesty! It was exactly what this Mama needed tonight. I actually thought about your Dear Me post the other day because a sweet older friend did not try to paint rosy the incessant talking of my three year old or the neediness of my infant – and it felt so nice I didn’t quite know how to respond! She must have written and re-read a Dear Me in 20 Years Letter herself! Thanks for keeping it real.

  16. says

    It seems we can all relate.

    Cory came home an hour early last night after working like a dog for the first part of the week. We ended up sending the kids out the front door to play in the snow then both falling half-asleep at awkward angles on the couch. I have to say, it did a world of good, even if the kids did keep knocking on the windows.

  17. says

    Um…did you write this just for me. My two babies were sick for January and February and I haven’t even been able to meet my friend’s new baby born at the new year. But that’s not the bad part…

    …the bad part is that last night I really thought that I get sick and tired only when there is someone around to watch my kids. I feel like I’ve been lazy. I take them on outings just for the 10 minutes in the car when they’re not pulling on me or pulling out a mess. I just told all this to my husband…that I’m officially a bad mom. It’s hard because I’m usually a “good mom” who loves and cherishes that slow time on the floor and giggle as they make messes. He tried to tell me about ebb and flow and we can’t always be “good.” Ugh…trying to believe it.

    You’re right. A little attention to my soul is needed…

  18. says

    Oh my gosh Emily, you had me wanting to cry and sigh with relief last night! Thank you so much for your words and for sharing others’… and for reminding me there is freedom to just feel what I am feeling.

  19. Katrina says

    Thank you. I feel like I just had a giant catharsis of exhausted relief reading what you wrote. I haven’t blogged in a few months just because I hit a parenting/personal/ creative wall in December that I haven’t been able to drag myself over. Yet this week this post and several other things have made me realize that THIS life, with snotty Kleenexes, Max and Ruby, and trying to dress Barbies in clothes that will never slide over those dang frictionless legs, THIS life is okay too. :) Being exhausted is okay. Dreaming of spring is okay too.

  20. Cara says

    Thank. You. This post gives us permission to remind ourselves that we are human! And you write to us gently, with love and without judgement.

  21. says

    Haha…two home for the second day and one has been home since Monday… and Daddy is out of the country. I had high hopes and was going to jump in the shower at 6:15 this morning when my youngest came in and announced, “Mommy, I don’t feel well”. So, scrap the plans of the day, we are home (still naked under my robe btw). My husband has had to travel a lot and it seems my kids only end up sick while he is gone. I actually think it is a bit of a blessing. We are in that stage of crazy schedules of sports practices and activities, which definitely requires two driving parents a lot of the time. Well, scratch all that. We are staying home. Sometimes it is a blessing to have the excuse to just cancel everything! Thanks for your post, Emily! Always great to know you are not alone! :)

  22. says

    So. Real. Life. Thank you! I love the idea of writing myself a letter now for the down-the-road me. Especially since it has been a hectic week. And I haven’t showered yet today. :)

  23. says

    I don’t have kids (yet?..maybe?), but I love your posts on parenting (well, ALL your posts, actually). They are simultaneously beautifully encouraging, heartening, and comforting, and also terrifying. And somehow I totally feel like I get the “willing to throw myself in front of a bus but can’t seem to get myself up to get them another cracker.”

    Hope you guys are all on the way to being on the mend.

  24. Claire says

    I have not read your letter to your future self nor have I read the comments on this post but can I tell you that, like childbirth, with time you only remember the wonderful parts of the experience. And yet and the same time, someday you will miss caring for sick children and playing airplanes when you need to be doing “more important” things. *sigh* Enjoy these days.

  25. Elise says

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today! Thank you, Emily, for saying it all so beautifully! The humanity of motherhood brings grace into my life!

  26. says

    thanks. this is what i needed to hear today. loved the line how about thowing yourself in front of a bus but not having enough energy to get another cracker. thanks for reminding me that i am normal…blessings to you today and may health and sanity be restored to your household once again. grace in abundance.
    heather 😉

  27. says

    that knowing we’re not alone – yes!

    and i smiled rereading dear me in 20 years.
    it’s what first “introduced” us i guess you could say..
    i still blush. you were nothing but grace and one of the reasons i keep coming back!


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