Sisyphus and the Mother

I sweep up Cheerios for what seems to be the hundredth time today. Sometimes I’m not even sure why I clean, when at least ten minutes later, it looks like someone let the Tazmanian Devil loose in a Post cereal factory. My two devils, one and two, smile at me maniacally with blueberries stuck to their chins.

I scrounge up some time to meditate. I feel the lovely glow of a quiet mind for a few minutes, and then end up screaming at my big kids for hitting each other. Again. After I threatened to take away their summer video game privileges. For the fifth time today.

When I finally shower - ahhhhhh, showering - the water blinks scalding hot, freezing cold, never settling on anything my skin can handle, so I hop out shivering and red, with soap still in my hair. Shutting the door wakes the babies, and my shoulders sag a fraction.

I do these things again and again, many times a day, each day. And I know when I wake in the morning, I will do it all again. I strive to stay up until 10 pm, but by 9:45 my body alerts me that it’s been rolled over by a boulder all day and would like a little time at the bottom of the mountain. To tape up my sore legs. To pop my shoulders back in their sockets.

Existentialist author Albert Camus said, “I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
I liken Sisyphus to motherhood for obvious reasons - the seemingly endless repetition, the difficult tasks that face us daily, often with no tangible results.  And despite the exhausting nature of it, we mothers, for the most part, are happy.

Because unlike Sisyphus, we know that the grade of the hill will change one day. The boulder may have less heft sometime, possibly soon. We live in a short season of their lives right now - Cheerio-studded, loud, sloppy and golden.

And the reality of it is, we are not pushing boulders.We are hiking the summit as best we can, balancing tiny bodies on our shoulders. It is their weight we bear, and that is what makes all the difference.