On a good day of parenting, there is this rhythm that happens. A certain cadence to everyone's patterns, a pleasant way of happening that feels natural and easy. Those are the good days, when everyone in the house — parents, children, and pets — feel nourished and supported by each other. Then there are the other days. The heavy days; the days when a parent, especially, carries the weight of each wound. One mom knows about such days and her post about being her children's "keeper" will strike a chord with anyone who knows what it is to house the cares of their children within themselves.
Cameron Poynter is a mother and the author of the blog Lucky Orange Pants, where she promotes the exceptionally succinct and brilliant idealogy to "Love Big. Love Hard." While her blog was initially about dealing with the loss of her father (who died not long after she started writing) it has become a forum for all the ways to love, including and perhaps most especially as a mother.
Poynter shared a post on her blog and Facebook page on Wednesday meant as a tribute to other mothers, and it should be considered required reading in my opinion. Her post "I Am The Keeper" has been shared more than 43,000 times on Facebook — and for good reason.
Poynter wrote in her viral post:
I am the keeper. I am the keeper of schedules. Of practices, games, and lessons. Of projects, parties, and dinners. Of appointments and homework assignments. I am the keeper of information... I am the keeper of solutions. Of bandaids and sewing kits and snacks in my purse. But also of emotional balms and metaphorical security blankets.... I am the keeper of preferences. Of likes and dislikes. Of nightly rituals and food aversions.
Poynter went on to point out that most days, being her child's "keeper" feels easy and weightless. Keeping all of those things that inhabit them, their worries and loves and hurts, is often "lighter than air, buoying me with a sense of purpose," she wrote. "It’s what I signed up for. It’s the one thing I am really good at."
But then there are the other days. Poynter's post continued:
But sometimes the weight of these things I keep pulls me down below the surface until I am kicking and struggling to break the surface and gasp for breath... Because these things I keep are constantly flickering in the back of my brain, waiting to be forgotten. They scatter my thoughts and keep me awake long past my bedtime.
And so it is with parenting, and perhaps with love in general. At the end of the day, when our little people are filled up with all of their external cares, we take them. We keep them, so they don't have to. So they can tuck in to their warm beds at the end of the day and dream of nothing in particular.
As Poynter noted, it's what we do. But that doesn't mean it's always easy.
It's lonely. Even when you are sharing that load with another parent; the "keeper" knows what it is to stay awake with the weight of it. The weight of every soul's worry in that household. It's overwhelming, especially when some of those things you keep are beyond your control. A wound you cannot heal, a fear you cannot assuage.
Which is why it's so important to feel as though we are seen. And Poynter wants parents to know... she sees.
To all of you who are keepers, I see you. I know the weight of the things you keep. I know the invisible work you do — which doesn’t come with a pay check or sick leave — is what makes the world go round.
The reaction to Poynter's poignant piece has been remarkable, although unsurprising after you read through it.
"I was humbled by the reaction to the post which I wrote standing at my sink the other night — it clearly struck a chord with people who perhaps feel the work they do is invisible but oh so important," Poynter told Romper of her viral post. "It's hard sometimes when you don't have an objective metric like a grading scale to figure out how you're faring. But sometimes all you need is for someone to say 'I see you.'"
While this post will undoubtedly resonate with many moms, Poynter also pointed out that there are "keepers" out there who are dads and who aren't parents at all. Because, at the end of the day, the defining characteristic of a "keeper" is love.
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