I'm not really all that good at anything, am I?  That's what I told myself as I looked at her little face fallen.  It was true what I'd said.  I was busy just then and the playing would have to wait.

The guilt squeezed me.  Grabbed right at my heart and clenched down as I finished up the stacks of dishes.  She wasn't around when the last plate was rinsed and set to dry so I moved on to the next heap of mess awaiting my attention.

I try to justify the duty by the nobleness of servant hood.  How I labor over miniature socks that need washed and folded, then shake out those brightly colored blankets pressed free of wrinkles.  It is one heroic task after another that pulls me away from the real saving of life.

I wonder sometimes if it's just me.  If I might somehow be the only mother who can't quite balance the work and the play.  I see the photos on facebook of mothers pouring into their children at parks and museums.  Then there are the strangers at Target who speak with their little ones as if they have all the time in the world to hang onto every last stutter.  I am the rushing fool who is trying to hold myself together long enough to grab toilet paper and milk so I can head home before the whole store sees my maternal inadequacies.

It seems to me that life has always been that way.  I feel it rushing past me, and its only in the quiet heart that the knowing grows all that needs to be savored slow.

My children, all four, have left their infancy.  They no longer fold perfect in my arms, but always I see an awkward arm or leg hanging haphazard beyond my reach. But still I am holding onto them as if these moments will be soon be memories.  I remember thinking that the nightly interruptions of crying babies and thirsty toddlers were years away from nonexistence.  I was right about the timing, I just didn't realize it would feel so soon.

I am trying to prune.  I am slowly cutting away the branches that won't produce fruit.  I am struggling to leave the unnecessary tasks quite forgotten as they fall barren to the ground.  And I am striving to nurture the tiny buds that hold the promise of flourishing life.

I should hope someday I have helped to grow the strength of four blossoming trees.

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